Can I Upgrade My Credit Card Without a New Application?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
TPG reader Brock emailed me to ask about upgrading a credit card:
“I currently have an Amex EveryDay card and use it a ton on groceries and other purchases, but I'm interested in the Everyday Preferred card. Could I call American Express and convert from one to the other? If so, will they run another credit check, and will I have the same credit limit?"
American Express introduced the EveryDay cards back in 2014, and they continue to be strong options for earning Membership Rewards points with a relatively low annual fee (or none at all). Both the Amex EveryDay Credit Card and Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card let you transfer to airline and hotel partners, but they offer different earning rates and transaction bonuses, so you might find that one of them suits you better based on your spending patterns. Fortunately, Amex makes it easy to switch between the two.
You can request an upgrade (or downgrade) by phone or online. Either way, be sure to check if there are any bonus points available for upgrading your card — these are separate from the sign-up bonuses offered to new card applicants. Amex phone reps should be able to see those offers in your account, but sometimes there are offers online that don't show up on their screens.
To check for online offers, log in to your American Express account, click the Menu button and select Cards > Personal Credit Cards > View All Personal Charge & Credit Cards. Find the card you want (not the one you already have) and click Apply for an Upgrade. Upgrade bonuses come and go, and vary from person to person. You'll probably be offered less than what you would get from a new sign-up bonus, but getting upgraded may not restrict you from earning a sign-up bonus down the road (despite Amex's tight application restrictions).
Note that you won't be eligible to upgrade if your account is less than 13 months old, since the CARD Act prevents issuers from raising your annual fee in the first year (even if you want them to). If you're still in your first year as a cardholder, you'll have to either wait to upgrade or put in a new application.
The good news is that upgrading an Amex card won't result in a hard credit pull, since you're just changing products and not opening a new account. That means you don't have to worry about your FICO score being impacted by new credit inquiries or account closures.
When you upgrade (or downgrade) an Amex card, your account number and credit limit will remain the same. However, your card expiration date and security code will change when you activate the new card. Charges made using the old information will continue to go through for 45 days, but beyond that you'll need to update any automatic payments you've scheduled. You can use the old card until the new one arrives, but you'll get the benefits of your new card starting the day after you upgrade.
As for whether you should upgrade, these posts can help you decide:
- Amex Everyday vs. Everyday Preferred: Which Should Be in Your Wallet?
- One Year of Earning and Burning with the Amex Everyday Preferred Card
- Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. the Amex Everyday Preferred Card