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It's natural for your credit card needs to change over time. Perhaps you no longer need that 0% APR balance transfer card, and you'd rather start racking up travel rewards instead. Maybe your spending patterns have shifted and a card that rewards you more for groceries instead of entertainment could now be more worthwhile.
A handy option in some circumstances is to switch your current credit card to a different one with the same issuer that better suits your needs.
But there are times when product-changing your credit card isn't a good option, or isn't possible at all. Here are eight times you probably shouldn't make the switch.
1. You're hoping to snag a welcome bonus
New credit card holders are often rewarded with lucrative bonuses when they're approved for new cards and meet the cards' spending requirements in a specific time frame. When you switch your credit card to a different one, though, you probably won't be eligible for such a bonus.
Instead, you could close your current credit card and apply for the card you really want. But weigh your options carefully — closing that card could affect your credit scores.
2. You can get an incentive to keep your current card
Questioning the value you get from your current credit card? You may be able to get something extra in exchange for keeping it open. Many cardholders may not realize that it's possible. Still, by asking the issuer for a retention offer, you may be able to get the annual fee waived or receive bonus points or statement credits. If the reason you're considering a product change is to downgrade to a no-annual-fee credit card, getting the fee waived this year on your current card could change your mind.
3. You got a retention bonus
If you've already considered switching your credit card in the past year and received a retention offer to keep it open, congratulations. In exchange for the waived annual fee or extra points you received, however, you likely had to agree to keep that card open for a set period. So, if you try to change your card again too soon, your request will probably be denied since it would violate the terms of your agreement with the issuer.
4. You're carrying a balance
It's best to pay off the balances on your credit card each month to avoid paying interest. But if you're carrying a balance on the card you have, pay close attention to the ongoing annual percentage rate on the card you want. If it's higher than the rate on your current card, the amount you'll pay in interest on that balance will increase.
While it's possible to do a balance transfer of debt to a new card with a 0% intro APR option, it's not possible if you do a product change. That's because credit card issuers won't allow debt transfer among their products. So if you want a card that offers a 0% APR period on a balance transfer, it will have to be from a different credit card issuer.
5. You'll lose your rewards
In some instances, you can switch your credit card to a different one and keep your rewards balance intact. But other times, you could face losing all your accumulated rewards if you no longer hold that credit card. Make sure you ask the issuer to clarify all the rules and restrictions when you're inquiring about a product change.
6. You want to jump into (or out of) a card 'family'
Many credit card issuers offer a suite of cards that all earn the same rewards "currency." Chase, for example, has cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom Flex℠, among others, that earn Ultimate Rewards® points. Citi has several cards that earn ThankYou points; American Express has a family of cards that earn Membership Rewards; and Wells Fargo offers Wells Fargo Rewards on several of its cards.
In most cases, you’ll have to product-change your credit card to a different card within the same rewards family. For instance, you can’t switch a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards® to a co-branded Chase card like the World of Hyatt Credit Card. In another example, you won’t be able to change an Amex EveryDay® Credit Card to a similar-sounding Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, because one card earns Membership Rewards points but the other earns cash back.
Sometimes you can pool your credit card points together with other cardholders. Check our guide to combining credit card points to see the rules for each issuer.
7. Your card is a relic
The adage that "the only constant in life is change" applies to credit cards, too. Issuers often launch new cards and sunset older cards to better suit business and consumer needs. Sometimes, a credit card will close to new applicants, but existing cardholders can keep the legacy card open. If you have such a card and decide to request a product change to a different version, there's a chance you'll never get that old card back. So, if you have buyer's remorse in your product-change decision, you're out of luck.
8. You want a business version of your credit card
While many issuers offer credit cards for small businesses in addition to personal consumer credit cards, they usually aren’t interchangeable. Because the bank’s underwriting process differs for these two types of credit cards, you generally can't switch your personal credit card to a business credit card, or vice versa. For example, you can’t trade your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card for a Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, even though the cards earn the same type of rewards and both are issued by American Express.
And one reason NOT to second-guess
Requesting a product change is unlikely to have any effect on your credit score. A product change switches the card that's linked to your account, but it doesn't create a new account. The account will continue to be reported to the credit bureaus with the same information — account opening date, credit line, payment history. So don't let the fear of "losing your history" on a longstanding account prevent you from making a beneficial switch.