Should You Upgrade Your Amex Card? – Forbes Advisor

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Upgrading your American Express card might be a good idea if you’re ready for better rewards and more incentives from your credit card. For one, it likely won’t have a significant impact on your credit score — American Express typically doesn’t perform a hard credit check on existing customers’ accounts (unless the payment history isn’t long enough to rule out the customer being a risky borrower). Upgrading does, however, forfeit the opportunity to earn welcome bonuses and your annual fee could increase significantly.

That said, American Express has been known to offer enticing upgrade bonuses on certain products from time to time. Before you hit “submit” on that offer to upgrade, here are the things you should consider.

Should I Upgrade My Amex Card?

Whether you should upgrade your American Express card depends on you, your credit and financial needs. If you’re ready for a new card with better rewards earning rates but would rather avoid a hard inquiry, upgrading might be a good idea.

If a cardholder has a basic card such as the American Express® Green Card*for example, they can upgrade to a American Express® Gold Card (Terms apply) or The Platinum Card® from American Express (Terms apply) to earn more points when spending in specific categories and ultimately take advantage of better benefits.

The downside to upgrading, however, is that you might pay a much higher annual fee for a better card and you likely won’t be eligible to earn the hefty welcome bonus many Amex cards feature. Missing out on a welcome offer, especially as so many have been all-time highs with Amex, shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Read More: American Express Gold Card vs. American Express Green Card

Will Upgrading My Amex Card Affect My Credit Score?

Upgrading your credit card with American Express does not affect your credit score directly. Typically, when you apply for a new credit card, a card issuer will perform a hard credit check as part of the review process, but if you already have an open account in good standing with American Express, the company may not need to do a hard credit check to determine your eligibility. Instead, Amex will move your existing line of credit to a new card rather than opening a new account.

Pros and Cons Of Upgrading My Amex Credit Card

While trading in one card for another might seem appealing, American Express has a few strict rules that could influence your decision.

Pros of Upgrading an Amex Card

  • Amex won’t perform a hard credit check: Upgrading your Amex card doesn’t require a formal application, so the issuer doesn’t need to perform a hard credit check to review an applicant’s eligibility. An open account is sufficient.
  • It’s easier to get approved for a better card: As long as your existing Amex account is in good standing, you’ll have a chance of being approved for a new and better card. Be sure to practice responsible spending habits and pay bills on time — a reputation as a responsible customer with the company may help your chances of approval for an upgrade.
  • Your credit limit and APR won’t change: Switching your existing account to a new card means you’ll likely maintain your credit limit and APR. If you want a higher credit limit, ask American Express when requesting an upgrade. Learn more about tips for asking for a credit limit increase.

Cons of Upgrading an Amex Card

  • You won’t be eligible for a welcome bonus: American Express makes it clear welcome bonuses are for new card applicants only. If you upgrade from the Gold card to the Platinum, you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus available to new account holders.
  • Applying for the same card later still won’t earn you a bonus: The “once in a lifetime” rule restricts welcome bonuses to first-time cardholders — meaning you’re not eligible for the bonus if you once held the same card or previous versions of it. Even if you upgrade to the Platinum, cancel it, then apply for it as a new applicant a couple of years later, you still won’t earn the welcome bonus.
  • Your annual fee might increase significantly: American Express’s top cards offer exclusive benefits to consumers, but the price to hold one can be hefty. It’s especially harsh without the ability to earn a welcome bonus and offset the cost in the first year.
  • You must upgrade to a card offering the same type of rewards: For example, if you have the American Express Cash Magnet® Card*, you can only upgrade to the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Terms apply) or Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Terms apply). In short, you’re not allowed to upgrade from co-branded cards to non co-branded cards or from one co-branded card to another with a different co-brand.

How Do I Upgrade My Amex Credit Card?

Upgrading your American Express card is fairly easy. You might even receive an upgrade offer in the mail or by email — the notice will give you directions on what to do next if you’re interested.

Call the number on the back of the existing card to request an upgrade to a different American Express card. You can also start the conversation online via the Live Chat feature.

You may also want to time your upgrade with your annual fee payments — if you upgrade just a month or two before your next annual fee charge, you can avoid paying a fee twice (once for the existing card, then again for the new card) .

During the upgrade process with American Express, be sure to keep track of your Membership Rewards and cash back. Make sure your reward balance is transferred to the new card.

Your existing account should be in good standing before requesting an upgrade. If you’ve just opened a new account with American Express, we recommend waiting at least a year before upgrading. Amex’s terms say cardholders who downgrade or cancel a card in the first 12 months may not be able to retain their rewards or points earned. Consistently canceling cards in the first year may lead Amex to ban cardholders from being American Express customers.

Bottom Line

Perhaps the best part of upgrading to a new card with an American Express is being able to lean on an existing relationship instead of on a hard credit inquiry. You may also ask to downgrade your American Express card if the annual fee is too high. Business cards are eligible for upgrades as well, but be aware of the pros and cons so you can make the best financial decision.

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