Should I Upgrade My Credit Card or Apply for a New One?

Depending on your situation, both choices could be worth considering


Are you missing out on potential rewards and benefits with your current credit card? Maybe your spending habits have changed since you got it. Or maybe you’re ready to start earning better rewards for your purchases. If so, it might be time for a change.

It helps to start with your card issuer. If you’ve been using your credit card responsibly and your account is in good standing, two options could help you get more from your card. Keep reading to learn more about upgrading your current credit card or applying for a new one.

What Happens When You Upgrade to a New Credit Card?

When you upgrade to a new credit card, you may be able to keep your existing account but replace the card associated with it. Depending on how your issuer treats upgrades, it could be a great way to change to a card that fits what you’re looking for while maintaining the account’s credit history. 

What may change with an upgrade? Your new card could feature additional benefits and rewards. It could also have a different annual fee—or no fee at all. There could be other small changes, too. 

When you upgrade, a lot from your original account could stay the same, too. That includes your account number, credit limit, card network (like Visa® or Mastercard®) and APR. Check upgrade offers for specifics.

Steps to Upgrade Your Credit Card

Every credit card company’s policy is different. So contact your card issuer to learn what to expect from an upgrade—and how your existing account may change. 

The steps you take to upgrade your card may look something like this:

  1. Evaluate your situation and consider options. Are you interested in changing the type of card you have—like going from a cash back card to a miles card? Or do you want the same type of card with a different rewards rate or annual fee? If you have a card in mind, does it fit the level of your credit score? Examine the cards your issuer offers, and consider which card might be right for you. Even if your credit is less than perfect, there may be credit cards available.
  2. Sign in to your account online to check for upgrades. You can also call the number on your current card to ask whether you’re eligible for any upgrade offers. This could be a good time to get more information about how your issuer handles upgrades.
  3. Learn about what happens to your balance and rewards. If your current card has an existing balance or unclaimed rewards, find out how they’ll be treated if you switch cards. If your rewards don’t transfer, you may want to redeem them before you upgrade. 
  4. Read terms carefully before accepting. If you decide to move forward with an upgrade, your new card will likely arrive in the mail. Once you have it, you may need to update any online accounts where your payment information is stored. 
  5. Update card information. If you’re a Capital One cardholder, the Capital One Mobile app can give you access to your new card information—even before your new card arrives in the mail. You can also sign in to your account online to get a list of recurring charges. And Eno, your Capital One assistant, can also help by providing virtual card numbers, which keep working even if you get a new credit card. That means you won’t need to manually update your card information on the sites where you’ve stored one.

When Should I Upgrade My Credit Card?

Deciding when to upgrade your credit card will depend on your situation and your preferences. If you think back to when you got your current card, you could consider a couple of questions: What’s changed about your life? How might a new card help you?

If your spending habits have changed, think about how a miles, cash back or points card might help you maximize your rewards. An upgrade might not always mean “more.” You could also consider a change if you want to avoid paying an annual fee.

Is It Better to Apply for a New Credit Card Altogether?

Everyone’s situation is unique, but applying for a new credit card might make sense for a number of reasons.

New accounts may also be eligible for additional rewards, such as bonus miles or cash back, if you spend a certain amount after being approved for a card.

Perks aside, it can also be helpful to have an extra line of credit on hand in case of unexpected expenses. And with a new card, you might have the option to transfer your existing balance, which may allow you to save on interest.

How Could Applying for a New Credit Card Affect My Credit?

Applying for a new card typically requires a hard credit inquiry, which may temporarily lower your credit score. And submitting multiple applications in a short amount of time could also give lenders a negative impression of your financial situation.

Your credit utilization, another factor involved in credit scoring, is worth considering, too. In general, experts say to avoid using more than 30% of your total credit. If you’re approved for a new line of credit, the percentage you’re using is likely to change.

Changes to your credit score also depend on how much credit you’re approved for and whether you close your original account—especially if it’s your oldest line of credit. That’s because credit scores are partly based on how long your credit accounts have been open.

Check Upgrade Offers and Compare Credit Cards

To get started with a card upgrade, check with your credit card issuer to see what upgrade offers are available to you. You can do this by calling the number on your card or accessing your account online.

If you’re a Capital One cardholder, you can sign in to your account to see if you have any offers available.

Not a Capital One cardholder? Or thinking about applying for a new Capital One card? Explore Capital One rewards cards and benefits to see if one might be right for you.


Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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