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How to upgrade or downgrade your Capital One credit card

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Your spending patterns and financial standing will naturally change over time, so it makes sense for the credit cards in your wallet to change, too. Fortunately, if you’re a Capital One customer, you can easily upgrade (or downgrade) your credit card with the same issuer. You can also open a new account.

An upgrade could be the right move for you if your credit score has improved and you want to start racking up rewards for your purchases. But, a downgrade can be a smart decision if you want to get away from a card with a high annual fee.

While an upgrade or downgrade will usually meet your needs, opening a new account might be your best bet if you want a card’s introductory bonus. Such bonuses are only available to new cardholders, and getting an upgrade or downgrade to a given card usually doesn’t qualify. Please note that Capital One reserves the right to withhold introductory bonuses if you’re a current or previous cardholder.

Upgrade or downgrade eligibility for Capital One

Capital One doesn’t spell out eligibility requirements for upgrading or downgrading your account. But, as a general rule, your existing account must be in good standing at the time of the change, and you must have a positive payment history.

Plus, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act prohibits card issuers from increasing your annual fee within a year of opening your account. That means you’ll probably have to wait until the year is up to upgrade if your card of choice has a higher annual fee.

Your upgrade and downgrade options will vary based on several factors, including the card you currently have. For example, when a Bankrate writer and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card account holder called the bank’s customer service department, they were informed that their account could not be downgraded.

Does upgrading or downgrading affect your credit score?

Upgrading or downgrading your card won’t affect your credit score because you’re transferring your existing credit line to a different card, not opening a new account. That means Capital One won’t have to run a hard credit check to approve the switch.

Downgrading your card instead of closing your account can also help you preserve your credit score. That’s because when you close an old account, your average age of credit decreases, so your score could take a minor hit—especially if you held the account for a long time.

Plus, canceling your card increases your credit utilization ratio because your available credit goes down while the amount of debt you carry stays the same. Since credit utilization accounts for nearly a third of your credit score (approximately 30 percent), the increase could have a noticeable effect.

Should you upgrade your Capital One credit card?

Upgrading your Capital One credit card could be a good idea if the change helps you achieve your goals. But, you should weigh the pros and cons between the old and new cards to make an informed decision.

Upgrading to the Venture, Venture X, Quicksilver or Savor

If you want to earn airline miles or cash back when you use your account, upgrading to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card could be a great move.

Benefits of upgrading

  • Travel rewards: With the Venture card, you’ll earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car purchases made through Capital One Travel and 2X miles on all other spending. With the Venture X card, you’ll rack up 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel and 2X miles on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees: You won’t have to pay a fee when using your Venture or Venture X card in a different country.
  • Cash back: With the Quicksilver card, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. And with the Savor card, you’ll earn 8 percent cash back on Vivid Seat purchases until January 2023, 4 percent back on dining, entertainment and streaming services, 3 percent back at grocery stores and 1 percent back on everything else.

Disadvantages of upgrading

  • No introductory bonus: When you upgrade, you generally won’t be eligible for any welcome bonuses offered to new cardholders.
  • Annual fees: The Venture and Savor cards each have a $95 annual fee, and the Venture X card charges $395 each year for the privilege of being a cardholder. So, if you don’t use your card often, you may not earn enough rewards to offset the fee.
  • No introductory 0 percent interest period: Since introductory APRs are generally only available to new cardholders, depending on the Capital One card you upgrade to, you’ll pay a variable APR of 15.24 percent to 25.24 percent.

How to upgrade a Capital One credit card

Capital One frequently reviews your profile and might recommend other cards that could be a good fit for you. So, you should check your online account or call customer service periodically if you’re thinking about upgrading. You can also ask about upgrading to a specific card if you have one in mind.

Capital One will look over your existing account and determine if you meet the qualifications of the new card. Generally, you’ll receive a decision instantly (whether you request the upgrade online or over the phone). If approved, the bank will mail you the new card.

Should you downgrade your Capital One credit card?

Downgrading your Capital One credit card can be a smart idea if doing so aligns with your financial plans. But, you should consider your options carefully before deciding.

Downgrading to the VentureOne, QuicksilverOne or SavorOne

Switching to the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card or Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card could be a wise choice if you want to downgrade your existing Capital One card to avoid paying a high annual fee.

Benefits of downgrading

  • No annual fee: The VentureOne and SavorOne cards don’t charge a yearly fee for the privilege of being a cardholder.
  • Travel rewards: With the VentureOne card, you’ll still earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, plus 1.25X miles on all other spending.
  • Cash back: With the QuicksilverOne, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. And with the SavorOne card, you’ll earn the same 8 percent cash back on purchases from Vivid Seats (until January 2023), plus 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and 1 percent back on everything else.

Disadvantages of downgrading

  • Possible annual fee: The QuicksilverOne charges a $39 annual fee.
  • High APR: The QuicksilverOne card charges a variable APR of up to 26.99 percent, and the VentureOne and SavorOne have a variable APR of up to 25.24 percent.
  • No introductory bonus: You most likely won’t qualify for the card’s introductory bonus.
  • Reduced rewards: You’ll earn fewer miles and less cash back than if you held the Venture, Venture X or Savor card. For example, if you downgrade from the Venture to the VentureOne, you’ll earn 0.75X fewer miles on non-travel purchases.

How to downgrade a Capital One credit card

When it’s time for a Capital One credit card downgrade, you’ll follow a similar process as you would if you wanted to upgrade your account. First, contact customer service to review your options. Then, choose the card that best aligns with your current spending and goals. Once the bank processes your request, you’ll receive your new card in the mail.

How to make the most of your upgrade or downgrade

Choosing a new financial product is an important decision. Here’s what you need to know before switching credit cards so you can make the most of your Capital One credit card upgrade or downgrade:

Time it right

Timing your downgrade is essential. If you want to avoid paying an annual fee, be sure to make the switch before the fee gets assessed.

Ask about rewards transfer

If you’ve banked rewards by using your old card, you need to determine what will happen to your earnings. Generally, Capital One will convert your old reward type into your new one. For example, if you switch from a cash back card to a travel rewards card, your cash back balance will get converted into airline miles. The card issuer can tell you the exact conversion rate.

Negotiate for an introductory bonus

Introductory airline miles or cash back bonuses typically get reserved for new cardholders. But, you may be able to negotiate with Capital One when you upgrade or downgrade. It’s worth asking because the company wants to keep you as a customer.

Written by
Laura Gariepy
Laura Gariepy is the owner of Every Day by the Lake, LLC, a written content creation company that helps brands stay top of mind with their target market. She specializes in writing about personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.
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