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How to upgrade or downgrade a Chase credit card

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Over time, your credit card spending goals will likely change, and you might want to apply for a new credit card to get new benefits or rewards. Before you apply for a new card, you should consider upgrading or downgrading your existing account. With an upgrade or downgrade, there’s no hard inquiry into your credit report, you’ll keep your same account information and you’ll get to maintain your credit history—the only change is the type of card you have.

If you’re looking to upgrade or downgrade your Chase credit card, Chase offers its cardholders a variety of options, with more than 30 credit cards advertised on its website. So, whether you’re a student, traveler or business person, there’s a card for you. Just make sure that you meet Chase’s requirements for the new card before you apply.

If you want to do a product change, however, you will have to switch to a card in the same category. For example, you can’t change from a personal card category to a business card category. Chase also has co-branded credit cards, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, so you could switch this card with another Chase Marriott card, but not with a different co-branded card.

Luckily, Chase offers clear steps for navigating a product change. Here’s what you need to know about Chase’s product change options and how to make a switch.

Should you upgrade your Chase credit card?

Upgrading to Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are two of Chase’s premium credit cards, and they’re best known for their generous travel rewards. If your spending goals are focused on travel, upgrading to one of these cards is a great idea.

Benefits of upgrading

  • Better rewards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2022); 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); and 2X points on all other travel purchases. You’ll also get a 10 percent annual point bonus on every account anniversary. Alternatively, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an annual $300 travel credit, after which you’ll earn 5X points on air travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You’ll also earn 10X points on Chase dining, hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 10X on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2022); and 3X points on general travel and restaurant purchases. Both cards offer 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Travel perks. Both of these cards come with premium travel perks. With the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get perks like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip delay reimbursement. The Sapphire Reserve provides access to all of that as well, plus a Priority Pass Select membership (with access to more than 1,300 airport lounges) and up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • More redemption options. Chase offers a Pay Yourself Back feature that allows customers to redeem points spent on eligible travel and dining purchases at an extra 50 percent value (through March 31, 2022). Customers will receive rewards in the form of a statement credit.

Disadvantages of upgrading

  • Annual fees. Premium rewards packages usually come at a cost. The Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95, while the Sapphire Reserve comes with a much higher annual price tag of $550.
  • Travel focused. Although Chase’s August 2021 Sapphire card updates made the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve more friendly for everyday use, these premium travel cards are still rewards cards. This means you can maximize your rewards earnings for travel purchases, but many other everyday purchases will only yield 1 point per dollar spent. Also, using your points for rewards like cash back or gift cards will not yield as much value as using them for travel.
  • No intro APR offer. While these premium cards offer great rewards and perks, you will not get the benefit of a 0 percent APR period for purchases or balance transfers. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a variable APR of 16.24 percent to 23.24 percent, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a slightly higher variable APR of 17.24 percent to 24.24 percent.
  • No welcome bonus. Because a downgrade is not a new application, you’ll miss out on the great welcome bonuses offered to new cardholders. For example, the Sapphire Preferred offers the chance to earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. The Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

How to upgrade your card

Upgrading your current Chase card to either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve can be as easy as making a phone call to Chase. Upgrading is considered a product change, so it won’t require a hard inquiry or a new application. However, you will need to meet the conditions for the card you’re upgrading to. For example, upgrading to the Sapphire Reserve requires an excellent credit score.

When you upgrade, you’ll keep your same account and you’ll likely keep the same credit limit. If you want to request an increase to your credit limit, different steps are required. It’s also important to note that you won’t be eligible for any sign-up bonuses, although you may be able to negotiate a targeted offer when you request your upgrade.

You’ll also likely have to wait at least a year after opening your account to upgrade. This is because the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act states that a credit card issuer can’t charge a cardholder a higher annual fee on the same account within the first year of opening the account.

Should you downgrade your Chase credit card?

Downgrading to Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Slate Edge

Downgrading your credit card may sound like an unappealing option, but it can offer a lot of benefits. You want to make sure that the card you have is meeting your spending needs, and a downgrade may help with that. Three options you may want to consider include the Chase Freedom Flex℠Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Slate Edge℠.

Benefits of downgrading

  • No annual fee. The Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Slate Edge are available for no annual fee. If you currently have a Chase card with an annual fee, you may want to consider downgrading your card if you’re not making up for the cost of the annual fee in rewards and perks.
  • General rewards earnings. The Chase Freedom Flex offers 5 percent cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent) and on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases; 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2022); 3 percent cash back on dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases; and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Alternatively, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 5 percent cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025); 5 percent cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3 percent cash back on dining and drugstore purchases; and 1.5 percent cash back on all other purchases. The Chase Slate Edge, on the other hand, doesn’t offer any cash back rewards, but it does offer other interesting perks, such as a yearly 2 percent APR reduction when you make consistent on-time payments.
  • Lengthy intro APR offers. If you’re looking to pay off a balance or finance a large purchase over time, the Chase Slate Edge is certainly worth considering. It offers a 0 percent interest APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months (15.24 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR after that). The Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited are also good options to consider—both offer a 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (15.24 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR after that).

Disadvantages of downgrading

  • Fewer rewards. In exchange for not paying an annual fee, you’ll get fewer rewards and more restrictions. For example, the Freedom Flex offers a generous 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases, but that’s limited to quarterly categories that require activation in advance, which can be more inconvenient for some cardholders. And, as mentioned, the Chase Slate Edge doesn’t offer any rewards.
  • Foreign transaction fees. The Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited and Slate Edge all charge a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. If you plan on traveling abroad, it would be better to use a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • No welcome offers. Since you’re not submitting a new application, you won’t be eligible for the Freedom Flex’s and Freedom Unlimited’s welcome offers. (The Slate Edge doesn’t include a welcome offer for new cardholders.) The Freedom Flex offers new cardholders a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 within your first three months, while the Freedom Unlimited offers an additional 1.5 percent cash back on top of all purchases’ original cash back rate for the first year (on up to $20,000; offer through Bankrate).

How to downgrade your card

The process of downgrading your card begins the same way as upgrading. Simply call the number on the back of your credit card to get started. Because downgrading doesn’t involve an increased annual fee, you shouldn’t have to deal with a waiting period. And if you complete your product change within 30 days of paying the annual fee on your old card, your fee will likely be refunded.

When downgrading your card, you won’t be eligible for welcome offers. However, you can try to negotiate a targeted offer with the issuer. Also, before you go through with a downgrade, make sure you know what will happen with your rewards points.

How to make the most of your upgrade or downgrade

Whether you are planning to upgrade or downgrade your Chase credit card, there are some points to keep in mind to make the most of the transition. Most important, make sure you are changing to a card that better suits your spending habits and rewards goals. Here are a few other things to do to get the most of your product change.

Time your switch

Timing is everything when you are switching from one card to another. If you are changing to a card with an annual fee, make sure you time your switch in advance because of the waiting period. If you are moving to a card with a lower annual fee or no fee, make sure you change within a certain time frame to avoid paying the fee for the old card.

Ask about how your rewards will transfer

You have likely accumulated rewards on your current card that you would like to keep. When you transition to a new card, make sure you have a clear understanding of how your rewards will be transferred. Your rewards will transfer to your new card, but their value might shift.

Check eligibility for bonuses

When you apply for a new credit card, there is often a welcome offer that comes along with it. However, when you do a product change, you are not automatically eligible for a bonus offer. Check with your card issuer to see if you can negotiate a targeted bonus offer. Many times, card issuers will be open to this option to keep you as a customer.

The bottom line

If your current Chase card is no longer meeting your needs, upgrading or downgrading your card could be a worthwhile option. Do some research to see which Chase credit card would be best for you and your spending habits, and make sure you meet all of Chase’s requirements before making a switch.