If you’ve outgrown your current credit card and are looking for one that better fits your spending and offers rewards, you can either apply for a new card or ask your issuer for an upgrade.

Upgrading your card with your current issuer can simplify the approval process and you may avoid a hard inquiry on your credit report.  However, you might lose out on a sign-up bonus.

If you’re leaning more towards staying with your current issuer, we can help walk you through the process while also providing tips on how to pick the best upgrade for your needs.

What you need to know about upgrading credit cards

You might wonder if an upgraded card is considered an entirely new account. The answer: probably not. If your card issuer upgrades or changes your card for you because your card is being phased out, it’s treated as the same account. If you ask for the upgrade, some issuers may treat it as a new account and pull your credit, which is known as a hard inquiry and can lower your score. Typically, though, issuers treat upgrades as the same account, even if you get a new account number.

The ability to bypass the credit check is a big plus, but there’s also a notable drawback: You likely won’t receive an introductory bonus if you upgrade since you won’t be a new customer. So if you have your eye on a 100,000-mile bonus offer, you’ll need to apply the old-fashioned way.

How to upgrade a credit card

1. Call your card issuer

Because the upgrade process varies from issuer to issuer, you’ll want to call your credit card company to ask for the details of how they handle upgrades and learn what cards would be a good fit. If one option sounds like a beneficial upgrade to you, move on to the next step.

2. Negotiate

While you’re on the phone, ask if the representative might offer an introductory bonus or a higher credit limit for switching. Sometimes representatives will make you an offer. Plus, it never hurts to ask, right?

3. Decide if an upgrade is better than a new card

Whether you upgrade your card or go for a whole new one depends on what you want. If you’re really after a fantastic introductory bonus, you may need to go with a new card. If you’re worried about lowering your credit score, consider an upgrade.

4. Approve the upgrade

If you decide you want to upgrade, call them to let them know. Financial institutions can’t perform a soft credit check or an update without your approval. Calling verifies that you have made your decision and are ready to go forward.

5. Get your card in the mail

Monitor the mail because your new card should arrive within 7-10 days. Ask the representative how long the wait will be. Soon, you’ll be earning better rewards that make sense for your life.

Choosing the best card to upgrade to

You need to know several key features before upgrading to a different card. First, you need to like the company. If there’s a feature about the overall company that you don’t like, reconsider taking out another card with them. Perhaps the issuer is entirely online, and you would prefer to talk to a representative in person. Or their phone app never functions properly. Whatever it is, make sure you want to stay with the company first.

Next, there are several components to look at for the card you’re considering.

  • What is the annual fee?If it’s higher than your current card, you’ll need to weigh if the benefits are worth the additional cost.
  • Does the APR remain the same? Card companies often maintain the same APR for many of their cards, but you’ll want to confirm that yours won’t change or if they’ll extend a lower APR introductory rate.
  • Does it offer rewards, and, if so, what type? You might as well get rewarded for your everyday spending. A credit card can provide travel points or cash back rewards. Before upgrading, review the types of rewards cards your issuer offers.
  • Do the rewards categories make sense for you? If you never travel, a travel rewards card probably isn’t the best pick for you. Make sure you can maximize the rewards the upgraded card offers without having to change your lifestyle. Also, check if you have to keep track of rotating rewards categories, or if it’s a simple program.
  • What are the added benefits? Most cards come with under-the-radar perks on top of rewards. Look into things like travel assistance, waived foreign transaction fees, low interest rates and statement credits for specific purchases to see if they’re the best fit for you.

Remember, if your credit is good and your cards are in good standing, there should be little reason your issuer wouldn’t upgrade you. Keep in mind that you have multiple issuers and cards to choose from, so don’t limit yourself by staying with the same issuer. You could miss out on benefits and sign-up bonuses that give you greater rewards and potentially more money in your pocket with a 0% introductory APR period.

The bottom line

Upgrading to a new credit card from the same issuer you already hold a card with is easy. As long as you do your research, you’ll likely end up with a card better suited to your day-to-day spending. Most card issuers have several types of credit cards in their lineup, so it’s up to you to look into each one and choose the one that makes the most sense for you. Whichever route you take, you’re on your way to finding the best credit card for you.