Should You Upgrade Your Capital One Card? – Forbes Advisor

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Upgrading your Capital One card might be a good option if you want the extra benefits and reward earning of one of the issuer’s more premium cards but don’t care about earning a new welcome bonus. Capital One may allow cardholders to upgrade to cards with different rewards, meaning you could go from a travel rewards card to one with better cash back offers.

A few drawbacks come with an upgrade, and whether or not you should upgrade depends on you and your financial situation.

Should You Upgrade Your Capital One Credit Card?

Upgrading your Capital One card does have advantages—you may be able to earn better rewards or find a credit card that offers benefits that better match your lifestyle. But deciding whether to upgrade depends on you and your financial and credit situation.

Before considering a credit card upgrade, make sure your account with Capital One is in good standing. A low balance and on-time monthly payments is typically the best way to remain in good standing.

Upgrading can be useful if your spending habits have recently changed. If you used to travel frequently but now you barely use your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can upgrade or swap to a different Capital One card to earn cash back rewards instead.

Secured cardholders can also upgrade to an unsecured card when ready for a traditional credit card. Capital One will typically notify secured cardholders when it considers them eligible for an upgrade.

If you’re hoping to take advantage of a welcome bonus and potentially cancel the card later, upgrading may not be for you—welcome bonuses are typically not offered with account upgrades.

Does Upgrading Your Capital One Card Affect Your Credit Score?

Upgrading your Capital One card does not directly affect your credit score, but any change to your financial situation comes with the risk of a credit change. Capital One will transfer your existing line of credit to a new card instead of opening a new account. There’s no hard credit check required.

Despite there being no direct effect to your credit score, it’s important to maintain responsible spending habits after upgrading to a better card. A low credit utilization can help improve a credit score, so if a card upgrade comes with any credit increase, beware of the risk in increasing spending

Pros and Cons of Upgrading Your Capital One Credit Card

Upgrading to another Capital One card has its benefits, but try to be aware of the potential downsides, too.

Pros To Upgrading Your Capital One Card

  • A hard credit check isn’t necessary: Upgrading your credit card means you are transferring an existing account to a new card. No formal application is required, which means your credit score should stay untouched.
  • It may be easier to get approved for a card with more rewards: As long as your current Capital One account is in good standing, you’ll have a better chance of receiving approval for a different card. Keep in mind there may be a suggested credit score for certain cards.
  • Your card number, credit limit and APR will stay the same: The most important parts of your account will likely stay the same. If you want a higher credit limit, ask Capital One when requesting an upgrade.
  • You can upgrade between different types of rewards cards: Capital One allows cardholders to pivot among reward types by upgrading from a cash back card to a travel rewards card, for example.

Cons To Upgrading Your Capital One Card

  • You likely won’t be eligible for introductory offers or bonuses: Capital One’s terms state welcome bonuses and introductory APRs may not be available to previous or existing account holders.
  • Your annual fee may increase: Capital One charges high annual fees for its premier cards like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Going from an annual fee of $0 to $395 is a big step—and without a welcome bonus to offset the first year’s cost, it might be difficult to justify or keep up with fee costs.

How To Upgrade Your Capital One Credit Card

Before you request an upgrade from Capital One, make sure your current account is in good standing, meaning that you have consistently made on-time payments and have kept your balance fairly low.

Cardholders can initiate a request by calling the number on the back of the card. Use Capital One’s online pre-approval tool to find out which cards you might be eligible for. For those whose cards already feature annual fees, time your request before your next annual fee is due—this way you don’t pay two annual fees within a short period.

Wait at least six months before upgrading to a new card. If upgrading to a card with a higher annual fee, you’ll want to wait at least a year after opening the first account. The CARD Act prevents card issuers from increasing a cardholder’s annual fee within a year of opening a new account.

Make sure to track the transfer of rewards from the old account, especially when switching to a new card with a different type of reward. For example, if you’re upgrading from a cash-back card to one with travel rewards, your value may remain the same but the cash back might turn into airline miles. Ask a Capital One representative to confirm terms and conditions and to initiate a transfer.

Cardholders in good standing may receive a direct offer for an upgrade from Capital One—especially those consumers with a secured card account. Any offer should include instructions on how to move forward.

Bottom Line

Upgrading to a different Capital One card can be useful if your spending habits change or if you want to maximize your reward potential. Downgrading can also be beneficial if the annual fees cost too much. Welcome bonuses and introductory offers may not be available to upgrading customers. If a welcome offer is important, try asking Capital One for an exception while requesting an upgrade or apply for your new card with a formal application—just remember a new account and application may affect your credit.

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