How to upgrade or downgrade a Chase credit card

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Over time, your spending goals for a credit card will probably change. You might choose to apply for a new credit card altogether, but you can also upgrade or downgrade your existing account. With an upgrade or downgrade there’s no hard inquiry into your credit report and you keep your same account information. This means you get to maintain your credit history. The only thing that changes is the kind of card you have.

Chase offers its cardholders a variety of credit card options, with 26 different Chase cards available. So whether you’re a student, traveler or business person, there is a card for you. When doing a product change, however, you will have to change to a card in the same category. For example, you can’t change from a personal card category to a business card. Chase also has co-branded credit cards, for example the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. You could switch this card with another Chase Marriott card, but not with a different co-branded card.

If you’re looking to upgrade or downgrade your Chase credit card, you will need to make sure that you meet Chase’s requirements for the new card. Luckily, Chase offers clear steps for navigating a product change. Keep reading for some of the product change options you have 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 card properties and are 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 an unlimited 2x points on travel and restaurant purchases. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an annual $300 travel credit, after which you earn 3x points on travel. You also earn 3x points on dining and 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022. Both cards offer 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Access to perks: As great travel cards, both of these cards come with premium travel perks. With the Sapphire Preferred, you get travel perks like trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, and trip delay reimbursement. The Sapphire Reserve gives you access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select, up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®, and one year complimentary Lyft Pink.

Disadvantages of upgrading

  • Annual fee: 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: These premium cards are primarily travel rewards cards. This means you can maximize your rewards earnings for travel purchases, but other everyday purchases will only yield 1x point per dollar spent. Using your points for rewards like cash back or gift cards will not yield as much value as using them for travel.
  • No introductory APR: While these premium cards offer great rewards and perks, your purchases will not get the benefit of a 0% APR period. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a variable APR of 15.99%–22.99%, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a slightly higher variable APR of 16.99%–23.99%.
  • No welcome bonus: As a downgrade is not a new application, you’ll miss out on the great welcome bonuses offered. The Sapphire Preferred offers the chance to earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 bonus points for the same conditions.

How to upgrade your card

Upgrading your current Chase card to either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve can be initiated by making a phone call to Chase. Upgrading is considered a product change, so it won’t require a hard inquiry or a new application. You will, however, have 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 keep your same account and probably the same credit limit. If you want to request an increase to your credit limit, you will have to take different steps. 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 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 or Chase Freedom Unlimited

Downgrading may sound like something negative, but 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. The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards offer great perks for cardholders.

Benefits of downgrading

  • No annual fee: The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are available for no annual fee, meaning you can stop paying for the privilege of a card when you know you’re not earning it back (and then some) in rewards and perks.
  • General rewards earnings: The Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases each quarter (activation required), plus 1% back on everything else. On the other hand, the Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Both cards enable you to earn rewards on day-to-day shopping expenditures.

Disadvantages of downgrading

  • Lower rewards earning: The Freedom Unlimited offers a flat (but unlimited) 1.5% cash back on all purchases.  The Freedom offers a generous 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases, but that’s limited to quarterly categories that require activation while all other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Foreign transaction fee: Both the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited charge a 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • No welcome offers: Since you’re not submitting a new application, you won’t be eligible for either of the welcome offers for these cards.
  • No introductory APR period: You’ll also miss out on the 0% APR offered on both cards for balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. Instead, you’ll be immediately subject to the variable APR of 14.99%–23.74% on both the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited.

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 the ball rolling. 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. 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 card, there are some things to keep in mind to make the most of the transition. Most importantly, 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.

Have good timing

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 wait period. If you are moving to a card with a lower annual fee or no fee, make sure you change within a timeframe to avoid paying the fee for the old card.

Ask about rewards 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. When you do a product change, you are not automatically eligible for a bonus. However, you can check with your card issuer to see if you can negotiate a targeted bonus offer. Many times card issuers will be open to this in order to keep your business.