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What Happens to Your Length of Credit History When You Downgrade a Card?

What Happens to Your Length of Credit History When You Downgrade a Card?

Million Mile SecretsWhat Happens to Your Length of Credit History When You Downgrade a Card?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader, CJ, commented:

When you downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred, do you lose the length of time the account was open?  Or does that transfer to the Freedom Unlimited?

Great question, CJ!

When you downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred, everything transfers over to the new card, including the account number, credit line, payment history, and length of time you had the card open.

That’s why instead of canceling, folks choose to downgrade when possible.  Because it can help you keep an excellent credit score with lots of cards.

The major drawback to downgrading is you give up the opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus on the new card.

Downgrade Credit Card Impact On Credit History
When You Downgrade the Sapphire Preferred, You’ll Keep the Length of Credit History. This Is a Good Way to Keep an Excellent Credit Score!

I’ll share more details about downgrading a credit card.  And what you should consider before making a change!

Downgrade Credit Card Impact on Credit History

Link:   Avoid Duplicate Card Perks and 2 Annual Fees by Downgrading the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   How to Keep an Excellent Credit Score While Applying for Lots of Credit Cards

Instead of canceling a credit card with an annual fee, I typically recommend switching to a no annual fee card, if possible.

Because you’ll keep your length of credit history, which is good for your credit score.  And the new card will NOT show up as a new account on your credit report.  This is great news if you’re concerned about Chase’s tougher application rules.

Downgrade Credit Card Impact On Credit History
Downgrading an Existing Card to One With No Annual Fee Can Help Folks With Lots of Cards Keep an Excellent Credit Score

Just remember when you downgrade, you will NOT be eligible to receive the new card sign-up bonus.  But these things will stay the same:

  • Account history
  • Credit card number
  • Credit line

I’ve written why folks who got the Chase Sapphire Reserve should downgrade their existing Sapphire Preferred.  Because you can avoid duplicate benefits and save on annual fees.

What to Know If You Decide to Downgrade a Card

But not all cards are eligible to downgrade.  For example, you can downgrade a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  But most co-branded airline and hotel cards can NOT be downgraded.

And keep in mind, downgrading your card is not automatic.  The bank will review your account for eligibility.  And you’re typically required to have the card open for 1 year before making a change.

Downgrade Credit Card Impact On Credit History
Before Canceling, Call the Bank to See If You Can Downgrade to a No Annual Fee Card

To check if you’re eligible to downgrade, you can call the bank at the number on the back of your credit card.  Or send a secure message after you log into your online account.

What About Upgrading?

Link:   Can You Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

When you upgrade a card, you will also keep the same account history and credit card number.

I’ve shared why folks impacted by Chase’s tougher application rules might upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve card instead of submitting a new application.

Team member Harlan decided to upgrade to take advantage of the card’s amazing perks, like $300 annual travel credit and 3X bonus for travel & dining purchases.

Downgrade Credit Card Impact On Credit History
Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on Dining Purchases With the Sapphire Reserve

Again, you must have an eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards card open for 1 year to upgrade.

And you must qualify for a $10,000 credit limit with Chase because the Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card.  For example, if your Chase Freedom Unlimited has a $5,000 credit limit, Chase will need to review your information to make sure you’re creditworthy to get a higher limit.

Bottom Line

When you downgrade a credit card, you will keep your length of credit history, which is good for your credit score.  And the new card will NOT show up as a new account on your credit report.

To check if you’re eligible to downgrade, call the bank or send an online message when you log into your account.

Downgrading the Sapphire Preferred to the no annual fee Freedom Unlimited is a better option than canceling for folks who now have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Just remember, when you downgrade, you will NOT earn a sign-up bonus on the new card.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Just an fyi – it has to be exactly one year and 2 weeks Chase just told me. I just hit my one year and they will not let me downgrade to Freedom for 2 more weeks. He told me the exact day to call back and I will do so then. This is the 3rd time I’ve tried – it seems extremely b&w that there is NO downgrading until after exactly one year (and 2 wks) has passed.

My Chase United Explorer card has added a $95 yearly fee to my account, which I never had to pay before. I called them and was told that I could downgrade, but would be getting a card with a different credit card number. Would that affect the card longevity rule?

By downgrading from Chase Sapphire Preferred to Freedom Unlimited, does that mean that the Freedom Unlimited will not count towards 5/24? Or would it still count towards 5/24?

Million Mile Secrets

It will NOT count toward your “5/24” limit.

funny my name is cj also —- but if i downgrade sapphire preferred to freedom unlimited will i be able to earn the sapphire preferred bonus again in 2 years ?

Million Mile Secrets

Yes, you’re eligible to earn the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred again if it’s been 24+ months since you earned the sign-up bonus AND you don’t currently have the card open.

I will be having the capital one secured card very soon is it possible after a while to upgrade a card from the secured to unsecured?

Million Mile Secrets

It’s up to the bank if you’re eligible to upgrade. But usually after establishing credit and payment history, you’ll qualify for other cards. Hope this helps!

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