Believe it or not, credit cards occasionally change issuers. Several popular co-branded credit cards have changed issuers at some point, and retail credit cards in particular are notorious for switching from one credit issuer to another. The Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®*, for example, was originally issued by Synchrony before the card changed issuers in 2019. And the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi* was issued by American Express until 2016, when an expiring contract gave Costco the opportunity to establish a relationship with Citi and Visa.

Card issuers change for many business reasons, and new credit card issuers can cause problems for cardholders who aren’t prepared. Here’s what to know and steps to take after you’re notified of a change to your card’s issuer.

Why credit card issuers change

Credit cards change issuers for many reasons, among them:

  • Co-branded issuer contracts expire, allowing the brand to shop for a better offer.
  • Credit card issuers no longer want to partner with the brand.
  • One credit card issuer sells its credit accounts to another bank or issuer.
  • Two or more banks merge, consolidating their credit card portfolios under a single issuer.

In short, credit cards change issuers when one of the financial entities involved has the opportunity to end a partnership it no longer wants — or, in some cases, begin partnerships or mergers that could be more profitable. While these kinds of industry details might interest some cardholders, pay closer attention to the specifics associated with your new credit card — including rewards, interest rates and fees.

What does it mean to have a different issuer?

Some credit card issuer changes will have little to no effect on your credit card, while others may result in significant changes to your credit card’s terms and conditions. After any issuer change, read the fine print that comes with your notice or card. You may have a different credit card interest rate, for example — or you might see a change in the way you earn and redeem credit card rewards.

In a few cases, switching to a new credit card issuer might make it more difficult to access credit card statements issued by your previous issuer. If you used your old online account or app to track monthly expenses and manage your household budget, you might also want to make a record of that information before your new issuer requires you to change accounts or apps.

Steps to take when your card issuer changes

If your credit card changed issuers, the new issuer will send important information to help you navigate the transition. To protect yourself and your finances, take these three important steps.

1. Read your terms and conditions

Your new credit card issuer should send you an updated copy of the terms and conditions associated with your credit card. Read these documents carefully, paying close attention to details like interest rates, annual fees, credit limits and payment due dates.

In some cases, you might find that your new credit card issuer offers better terms than your previous issuer. In other cases, you may find yourself with higher interest rates or additional fees. If you’re unhappy with any of your updated terms and conditions, you can close your credit card — or, to keep the account active, use the card to make one small monthly payment and then set up autopay to cover the credit card bill.

You’ll also want to review your credit card rewards. If your new credit card issuer changes your rewards structure, you may want to redeem the rewards you previously earned with your credit card issuer. In some cases, you may be required to redeem your rewards within a specified time period — so make sure you understand exactly what you need to do to maximize the rewards you’ve earned.

2. Download your old credit card statements

To avoid losing access to the credit card statements provided by your previous credit card issuer, log in to your credit card online account and download your statements. Try to get this done before your new issuer asks you to transition to a new account or app.

By downloading and saving your old credit card statements, you’ll retain access to important information like your payment history. This could help you if you ever spot an error on your credit report, for example — which happens more often than you think. You’ll also be able to review previous transactions whenever you need them, which can be useful for everything from planning a budget to preventing fraud.

3. Update your credit card information

If your credit card issuer changes, you may end up with a new credit card number or an updated credit card expiration date. This may require you to update your credit card information with various apps, accounts and online retailers — whether you’re using your credit card to cover your Netflix subscription or make purchases on Amazon.

If you pay bills with a credit card, make sure to update your card information as quickly as possible. That way, you’re less likely to accidentally miss a payment. You may also need to update the credit card information in your digital wallet, especially if you use services like Apple Pay or Google Pay to quickly complete transactions online and in-store.

Finally, don’t forget to update your credit card information with apps like Venmo, PayPal, Lyft and Uber. The last thing you want is to be stuck without a payment method when you’re trying to get a ride home.

The bottom line

When your credit card issuer changes, your new issuer will do its best to make the transition as smooth as possible. Yet you may need to take steps to update your credit card information with online retailers and bill pay systems, as well as download credit card statements you received from your previous issuer to avoid losing access to important documents.

You’ll also want to compare your new issuer’s terms and conditions with the terms offered by your previous credit card issuer. If you are unsatisfied with the changes, take the opportunity to compare top credit cards and find a new card that better fits your shopping habits, rewards goals, short-term budget and long-term financial plan.

*Information about the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® and Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.