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A Guide to Switching Credit Cards

By Sarah Li Cain · September 01, 2022 · 6 minute read

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A Guide to Switching Credit Cards

Whether you’re interested in switching credit cards because you found one with better rewards or due to another reason, such as wanting to change to an option with no annual fee, it can make sense to do so. Also called a credit card product change, some banks allow you to make a switch without much consequence.
But before doing so, it’s best to understand how changing credit cards works and how to switch credit cards properly.

What Is a Credit Card Product Change?

A credit card product change is where a cardholder switches from one credit card to another credit card offered by the same bank or issuer. Because each credit card offered by an issuer is referred to as a different product, a product change is simply switching credit cards.

In theory, switching credit cards within the same bank won’t affect your credit as you’re not applying for a new credit card. Typically, your credit limit will stay the same for your new card as it was for your previous card.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

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How Does a Credit Card Product Change Work?

When you undergo a product change, you’re not canceling a credit card. Rather, you’re either making a switch to an equivalent credit card, upgrading to a card with more benefits, or downgrading to a card with fewer benefits. In many cases, your bank may send you targeted offers for different credit cards, and you may be able to switch to one of these credit cards.

Once you switch credit cards, you’ll no longer be able to use the credit card you previously had and can start using the new credit card instead. Features and benefits will most likely differ, and in some cases, so may your credit limit.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Rules for Credit Card Product Changes

When it comes to following the credit card rules, each credit card issuer will have its own rules regarding product changes. For instance, some won’t allow you to change to certain credit cards, while others may allow a product change only if you’re switching to a similar type of card.

In general, though, there are some rules that are usually the same across the board. For one, cardholders can’t switch from a business credit card to a personal one and vice versa, since these are considered different classes of cards and may have different credit limits.

Additionally, issuers typically only let you change credit cards as long as they’re within the same family of cards, as this can impact how credit cards work. However, each issuer has a different definition of what that means.

For instance, if you have a travel rewards credit card and the bank offers two other cards that use the same travel portal to redeem points, all of those cards could be considered in the same family. Or, if you have a co-branded card with an airline, other co-branded cards with that airline may also count as within the same family of cards.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find information about whether you can switch your specific credit card to another. Even if you can find details from another bank, your card may not have the same rules and processes. Your best bet is to call your credit card issuer and ask them directly.

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Pros and Cons to Switching Credit Cards

There are certainly upsides to converting credit cards rather than closing out your account and starting over. However, there are downsides to take into account as well.

Pros of Switching Credit CardsCons of Switching Credit Cards
Generally won’t affect your credit score if the bank doesn’t conduct a hard credit inquiryNot easy to find definitive information online about product change rules
Possible to get more benefits with the new card you switch toMay not be able to switch to your preferred card, depending on issuer’s rules
Won’t need to submit a new credit applicationMay lose existing credit card rewards or points

Guide to Switching Credit Cards

Switching credit cards can be a relative straightforward process, but it does involve contacting your bank or credit card issuer. Here are some best practices to keep in mind before making the switch.

Decide Which Card You Want

You want to make sure your new card will be a good fit for you. Before making moves to change your credit card, check your bank’s website to see what other products are currently on offer. In some cases, you may find that you’ll get upgrade offers in the mail or after logging into your bank account online.

Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Issuer

You’ll also want to contact your bank to ask whether you can switch to the card you’ve decided on. If you can get the credit card you want, ask the bank what else you’ll need to do before you can officially make the switch.

You’ll also want to ask about certain features and benefits you’ll receive if you do decide to change credit cards. Specifically, make sure to ask about the following:

•   Whether your credit limit will remain the same after switching cards

•   If you need to pay off the balance before switching

•   Whether you’ll be subject to a hard credit inquiry

•   Whether you can keep existing rewards you’ve earned with your current credit card

•   What your new APR will

•   If you’re eligible for credit card bonuses with the new card

Learning these answers will help you to make an informed decision and avoid getting caught off guard after making the switch. You may even be able to negotiate for things like bonuses or perks that you may not have gotten otherwise.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Effects of a Product Change on Your Credit Score

It’s important to determine whether switching credit cards will have an adverse effect on your credit score. When it comes to your credit utilization, as long as you’ll have the same credit limit with your new card, you should be able to maintain it. This is unlike closing a credit card, where you’ll lose that credit limit, which could result in an increased credit utilization ratio and a negative impact to your credit score.

In some cases, your card issuer may require a hard credit pull before allowing you to switch credit cards, which could temporarily ding your credit score. Your issuer may make this request for a variety of reasons, including to ensure your credit profile is still good and to determine whether to continue offering you the same amount of credit (especially if you tend to max out your card). You’ll be asked permission before the hard inquiry is conducted, so you’ll know it’s coming.

Effects of a Product Change on Your Credit Card Rewards

Depending on what card you want to switch to, you may be able to keep your existing credit card rewards. For instance, if you’re switching to a credit card that has the same rewards structure or program, you’ll probably be able to keep the points or miles you’ve earned.

However, if you’re going from a travel rewards card to a cash back program, for instance, your bank may not allow you to keep your existing rewards. That means you’ll have to use up your rewards or forfeit them, though it may still be worth speaking with a customer representative to see what they can do.

If you want to get sign-up bonuses on a credit card that you plan on switching to, check with your bank to see whether you’re eligible. Some cards don’t allow bonuses for existing customers.

The Takeaway

Requesting a credit card product change can be an easy way to switch to a new credit card without going through the full application process. Before you make any moves, however, take the time to confirm whether or not converting credit cards will impact your credit and whether you’ll be able to keep the rewards you’ve earned using your existing credit cards. After all, valuable credit card rewards aren’t something you want to lose out on.

If you’re on the search for a rewards card, you might look to get a credit card with SoFi. With the SoFi credit card, cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1 And for a limited time, new credit card holders who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22.

Learn more and apply today for a SoFi Credit Card!

FAQ

Does a product change reduce your credit score?

A credit card product change may affect your credit score if your issuer requires a hard credit inquiry to make the switch. This should only impact your score temporarily though.

How do I request a product change?

To switch credit cards, you’ll need to contact your bank or credit card issuer to determine whether you can switch the card you want. From there, it will inform you of the other steps you need to take.

What are the downsides of a credit card product change?

You may lose the rewards you’ve earned on your current card if you decide to switch credit cards. Your credit score could also be temporarily affected if your issuer conducts a hard credit check when you switch cards.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: 4/5/2022-12/31/2022. SoFi reserves the right to exclude any Member from participating in the Program for any reason, including suspected fraud, misuse, or if suspicious activities are observed. SoFi also reserves the right to stop or make changes to the Program at any time.

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions ("Direct Deposit") into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

New SoFi Checking and Savings customers and existing Checking and Savings customers without direct deposit are eligible to earn a cash bonus when they set up direct deposits of at least $1,000 over a consecutive 30-day period. Cash bonus will be based on the total amount of direct deposit. Entry into the Program will be available 4/5/22 to 5/31/22. Full terms at sofi.com/banking. SoFi Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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