Do You Keep Your Account History When Upgrading a Credit Card?
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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
As more and more premium rewards cards hit the market — occasionally offering targeted bonus offers — product changing your existing credit cards is becoming a more popular strategy. Maybe you opened a card to take advantage of a large welcome bonus and want to downgrade to a cheaper version, or maybe you want to upgrade to a card with better perks while avoiding application restrictions. TPG reader Kim wants to know if her account history will transfer over to the new card …
I just upgraded my Hilton Ascend to a Hilton Aspire to get the 150,000-point bonus. Will I get a new card number? Will I keep all my old account history?TPG READER KIM
Kim is one of the lucky ones who was targeted to upgrade her Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card to the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. This decision brought not only an upgrade bonus but an array of perks she can now maximize. But what does this mean for her old account?
There are two parts to this question. Whether you get a new card number is typically a matter of personal convenience, but preserving your account history can have important ramifications for your credit report.
While the exact policies vary from issuer to issuer, you will generally be sent a new card in the mail whenever you product change from one card to another. However, in most cases, the card issuer will keep your number the same to avoid any unnecessary confusion. It may have an updated expiration date and will likely have a new three- or four-digit security code, but the actual account number should remain.
While this isn’t a product change per se, this is what happened when I first received the rose gold version of the American Express® Gold Card a few months ago. Amex mailed me a new card with a new design, but it had the exact same account number. This is also what will happen when Amex begins shipping the limited-edition design on the Marriott Bonvoy Amex card (not available to new applicants), the product that has replaced the old, personal Starwood Preferred Guest Amex.
The second part of Kim’s question has to do with her credit report and history. There’s a real incentive to keep your oldest cards open and preserve your length credit history and average age of accounts, which together accounts for a decent-sized chunk of your credit score. This is a big driver behind many people’s decision to downgrade a credit card as opposed to closing the account outright. The good news is that all Kim’s information from her old account — length of account history, payment record, credit limit, outstanding balance, etc. — should all transfer to the new product.
In addition, since you’re not opening or closing a credit account, there won’t be any hard inquiries on your credit report. While these inquiries don’t permanently impact your score, they do result in a temporary drop. Applying for a brand new credit card is a surefire way to have an inquiry; product-changing a card almost certainly will not. And since this account remains largely intact, it typically won’t count as a new card under Chase’s 5/24 rule.
Opening, closing or changing a credit card is not a decision you should make lightly. Kim is smart for thinking through all the possible implications of how this could affect her daily use and her overall credit score. She can rest assured that the switch will be pretty seamless, and she can focus her energy on maximizing her Hilton Aspire card and figuring out how to redeem the free weekend night and the targeted upgrade bonus she’ll (hopefully) be receiving soon.
Featured photo by Stella/Getty Images.
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