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Don’t Cancel Your Chase Credit Card – It’s Smarter to Downgrade It Instead

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Don’t Cancel Your Chase Credit Card – It’s Smarter to Downgrade It Instead

Jasmin BaronDon’t Cancel Your Chase Credit Card – It’s Smarter to Downgrade It InsteadMillion Mile Secrets Team

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When an annual fee is due, it’s a good time to assess whether or not a credit card is worth keeping.  To decide if you should continue with a card, consider if the perks make it worth the expense, or if you have other cards that overlap benefits and spending categories.  In many cases, credit cards can get you an ongoing value worth far more the annual fee.  But if that’s not the case for you, it may be time to let go.

After tweaking my credit card strategy, I just retired my beloved Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (still the #1 credit card I recommend to friends and family starting out with miles and points) after the annual fee came up.  It’s my oldest travel credit card with a high credit limit, so has a big impact on my credit score.  But instead of canceling it, I downgraded it – that is, changed it to a no-annual-fee card – and kept the same account number, credit line, and length of credit history.

This is important.  When you cancel a card, you can lose ground on your credit score because your length of credit history and amount of available credit will decrease.  If you’re thinking of canceling a Chase credit card, don’t do it until you’ve explored all of your options to change it to a different card product first.

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Don’t Cancel Your Chase Credit Card – I Just Changed Mine to a No Annual Fee Card Instead

I’ll explain why downgrading instead of canceling a Chase credit card makes sense.

Don’t Cancel a Chase Credit Card If You Can Help It

If you’re on the fence about keeping a credit card when the annual fee comes due, it’s always worth calling first to see if you can snag a retention offer.  Sometimes, credit card issuers will give you extra points, a spending bonus, credit, or other goodies to encourage you to keep the card.

Canceling a credit card outright should be a last resort.  If you can product change to a no-annual-fee card instead, that’s your best bet, because you’ll preserve your credit history (super important for your credit score if it’s a card you’ve had for a while) and credit line.

I downgraded my Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee) because I recently got the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which has some overlapping benefits and spending categories.  It only took a few minutes to call the number on the back of my card and explain what I wanted to do – and I kept the same card number and credit limit.

Although I already had a Chase Freedom, it didn’t matter to Chase (because you won’t earn a welcome bonus on a card you product change to).  So now I have 2 Freedom cards.

Harlan had a similar experience when the annual fee came around on his British Airways Visa Signature® Card.  When he called Chase to discuss his options, they offered him a no-annual-fee version of the card (with fewer benefits), which you can’t apply for directly.  He kept his credit line and card number, although the actual card looks exactly the same as the old version.

The information for the British Airways Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets.  The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Harlan’s No Annual Fee Chase British Airways Visa Card Looks Identical to His Old One

Not all Chase credit cards can be product changed (downgraded or upgraded) to a different card, though.  Here are a few other rules to keep in mind:

  • You can’t change a business card (like the Ink Business Preferred) to a personal card (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve), or vice versa
  • You can’t change a charge card (like the old Chase Ink Bold) to a credit card, or vice versa
  • You can’t change a Chase Ultimate Rewards card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred) to a co-branded credit card (like The World Of Hyatt Credit Card), or vice versa
  • You won’t be allowed to product change a card unless you’ve had it for at least 12 months
  • There’s not normally a credit pull when you product change a card, but you should always confirm to be sure
  • You should be able to keep the points you’ve earned from the previous card

Similar principles apply to most other banks.  You can read Scott’s post about why it’s smarter to downgrade rather than cancel a card here.

Bottom Line

Instead of canceling a Chase credit card, see if you can downgrade it to a no-annual-fee card first.  It’s better for your credit score, because you’ll keep your credit line, history, and account number.

You can’t change all Chase credit cards to a no-annual-fee card, so it’s best to discuss your options with a Chase representative by calling the number on the back of your card.  Also be sure to confirm there’ll be no credit pull and that you’ll keep your existing points before pulling the trigger on the downgrade.

I just swapped out the card I’ve had the longest – the Chase Sapphire Preferred – for a Chase Freedom with no annual fee.  It didn’t make sense to continue paying the annual fee on the card when I also have the Ink Business Preferred.

Admittedly, I’m a little sad about getting rid of my trusty old Sapphire Preferred.  But it had to be done as part of my bigger credit card strategy this year.  So … goodbye for now, old pal – may you rest easy in the great sock drawer in the sky (and maybe I’ll see you again one day).  😉

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

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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Thanks for the valuable article. I was wondering, if I were to product change from the preferred to freedom, would I still be able to apply for another freedom in the future AND GET THE WELCOME bonus then?

Hello!

Just to confirm, you cannot downgrade within the first 12 months of the product? I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and got my $300 travel credit, and would like to downgrade to the Preferred at some point.

Thank you!

Yeah, based on what a lot of people are also reporting in online forums, it’s 12 months.

That’s what I was told over the phone, too. Appreciate further confirmation.

An additional question/recommendation… We are getting married in October 2020, eyeing a honeymoon sometime in the first half of 2021. Considering downgrading to the Preferred next June when my 12 months are up and still racking up the points, and then re-upgrading for the honeymoon for the lounge access and $300 travel credit. Reasonable idea?

Do anyone know how to get across with the Chase to request a British Airways card downgrade.

I tried a couple of time. They told me there is no such card to downgrade?

Hi Joe,

I read a few reports in online forums from 2018 that said there is a no-fee version of the British Airways Visa card.

If you’ve called in a few times and gotten the same answer that there is no option though, it’s possible they may have quietly discontinued it.

I am planning to get the sapphire preferred but would like to downgrade to the regular sapphire when the annual fee comes up. I currently have the freedom card. My plan is to combine points from freedom and the preferred so that I can transfer points to partner airlines. If I downgrade, will I still be able to do that? I used to have the regular sapphire card many years ago and it closed maybe 3-4 yrs ago due to inactivity.

Hi Natalie,

I might be wrong, but I don’t think it’s possible to downgrade to the no-annual-fee Chase Sapphire. At least, not anymore.

I did a quick search and it looks to be a discontinued product.

you can still downgrade…just call…you’ll never find it on the Chase site. Its not offered to new applucants.

Thanks, that’s good to know!

I called to downgrade the Chase British Airways card before upcoming annual fee. In the past years, I have only used it to get 10% off on BA flights but this is not important for me anymore.

To my surprise, I was denied to switch to Freedom Unlimited. I would have to cancel and apply. Rep was very adamant and also has not offered a fee waiver.

The card might be 10 y old from the time it gave us the 100 000 miles bonus. Will try in local Chase branch.

Don’t think you can change an airline card to a Freedom. My annual fee just came due on my BA card, and I downgraded it to the no annual fee version. It earns .5 points per dollar, but I don’t care, I don’t plan on using it. If I need Avios, I can transfer them from UR, MR, or TYP. Kept the same number, card does not look any different.

Author

Hi David – Ron R. is correct, you can’t change an airline or a hotel card to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card (like the Freedom) or vice versa. But you can downgrade to the no annual fee version of the British Airways card (Harlan did this also).

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