Changing Credit Cards: How to switch credit cards | finder.com
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Changing Credit Cards: How to switch credit cards

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If you’re not happy with your current card, you can switch to another one.

Maybe you’ve been eyeing your friend’s card because of all the complimentary perks and rewards they get that your card doesn’t provide. Maybe it’s a 0% for 21 months balance transfer that seems too good to pass up. Or perhaps you’re just looking for a card that offers a lower standard interest rate or no annual fee.

Whatever the reason for switching credit cards, it’s important to be mindful of a few factors to ensure the process goes as smooth as possible.

How do I switch credit cards?

These steps will help guide you through the process of changing cards:

  1. Compare credit cards to find an option that suits your needs. Set intentions for what you’re looking for in a credit card, whether that be cash back, low interest, no annual fee, etc. Compare cards within your chosen category and find the one that best suits your needs.
  2. Apply for the credit card. Make sure you satisfy the card’s eligibility requirements before applying. Applications are mostly done online and usually take around 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Include details of your balance transfer if you have existing card debt. Be sure to call your current credit card provider to ask for your entire outstanding balance for closing the account. This will help ensure you are transferring the full balance and don’t get stuck with a small amount owing on the old account.
  4. Wait for card approval, then activate your new card. It can take just one minute to receive an approval notice once you apply online and your application is approved. Your new card may take up to two weeks to arrive. Activate it following the instructions provided with the card.
  5. Transfer direct debits to your new card. Before you cut up your old card, you need to make sure there are no direct debits still attached to it. These could attract penalty fees if they’re declined because you have closed the account. An easy way to check what direct debits you had on your old card is to look over your transaction statements for the previous 12 months. Then call these companies and inform them of your new credit card details.
  6. Settle the balance on your old account and close it. This will help avoid any more potential charges on the account, e.g. annual fees, and also eliminate the possible temptation of using it again.

What to consider before switching credit cards

Before you apply for a new card, make sure you ask yourself the following questions so you’re clear on what type of card to look for.

  • Which credit card features are you looking for with a new card? If your current credit card isn’t giving you enough value, pinpoint which features you want with your next card.
  • How will you be using the card? Changing cards isn’t without its inconveniences, so thinking this through first will help ensure you choose a card you’ll be happy with long term. Think about how and how often you will use the card, as well as the benefits you want to be included with the account. Once you’ve identified your needs, you can start to look for the card that will best cater to them.
  • Do you meet the requirements for a new credit card? Your switch could go sour if the card you want is out of your reach, particularly if considering an upgrade. Always make sure you meet the eligibility requirements before getting ready to switch.
  • Do you have existing credit card debt? If the answer is yes, you might want to consider balance transfer credit cards, or a credit card with a balance transfer offer that also fulfills your other needs, such as a 0% intro APR period.
  • Is there any connection between your current provider and the new card provider? When it comes to introductory promotions such as balance transfers, you will also need to consider this: are your current credit provider and new credit provider affiliated? Are the two credit cards in question issued by the same credit issuer despite bearing different names? Depending on the offer, this could limit your options when you want to switch cards for a promotional offer.
  • Do you have direct debits on your current card? This is more of an inconvenience than an actual deciding factor, but one you have to address nonetheless. When changing cards, you’ll have to take stock of existing direct debits and make the necessary calls to update your service providers with the details of your new card. This will help prevent any possible late fees or dishonor fees.
  • How will switching credit cards affect your credit score? Applying for too many credit cards will affect your credit score. Before going on a credit card shopping spree, consider which card will be best suited for your needs and apply only for that card.

You can upgrade your card with the same provider

Most credit card providers allow you to upgrade your card, often without making a hard pull on your credit. Contact your card provider for more details.

What to look for in a new credit card

Once you’re clear on why you’re switching, you can start comparing your options for a new card. Here are the key features and details to consider:

  • Promotional interest rates. This could be the very reason you’re changing cards, but look widely and look carefully. There is usually more than one credit card provider offering the same promotional rates. Sometimes you might even find a better offer than the one you had in mind.
  • Standard interest rates. These are the interest rates that normally apply for transactions on the account. If there’s a promotional rate offer, the standard rates will apply at the end of the introductory period. Make sure you consider these rates when looking at new cards, because you don’t want to be stuck with high-interest charges in the long term if you decide to keep the card beyond the promotional period. Interest-free days on purchases are an ideal way to avoid paying interest.
  • Rewards. If you’re looking to earn points for spending on your new credit card, it’s worth comparing the rewards you can earn and redeem. Many card providers offer their own reward programs, while some are linked to specific frequent flyer programs such as Delta or American Airlines. Whatever your preference in a reward program, make sure you consider the number of points per $1 you’ll earn, as well as how many points you’d need for a reward such as a flight or a gift card.
  • Complimentary extras. Many credit cards come with additional perks such as complimentary travel insurance, personal concierge services, purchase protection insurance and flight vouchers. Some premium credit cards even offer airport limousine services and airport lounge access. But these benefits often attract a higher annual fee, so they may not be worth it if you’re not a regular credit card user or frequent traveler.
  • Annual fees. Some cards charge an annual fee, and generally, the cost goes up based on the range of perks available. The rule here is to make sure you’re not paying more in fees than the actual benefits you’ll derive from the card.
  • Other fees. Always read the fine print before signing up for a new card, and be aware of any possible fees you could incur. Some of the most common include balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, ATM withdrawal fees, foreign transaction charges and late payment fees.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
Earn 90,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$0
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.24%, 22.24% or 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
$95
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
3% cash back on all purchases in first year up to $20,000 spent, then 1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

%
Name Product Amount saved Balance transfer APR Balance transfer fee Recommended minimum credit score Filter values
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.24%, 22.24% or 26.24% variable)
3%
670
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$10 or 4% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
0% intro for the first 12 billing cycles (then 15.99% to 25.49% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus. Rates & Fees
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$10 or 4% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.24%, 22.24% or 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
15.99% to 25.49% variable
$0
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus. Rates & Fees
4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
16.74%, 22.24% or 25.74% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn $300 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
$95
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
26.99% variable
$0
300
Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
19.64% variable
$35
300
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
9.99% fixed
$48
300
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
20.74% variable
$29
300
Build your credit with all three major credit bureaus.
13.99% fixed
$39
300
Open a personal savings deposit account to secure a credit line from $200 to $5,000.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values Annual fee Purchase APR Recommended minimum credit score
$0
24.9% variable
580
A no-annual-fee credit card and discounts when you shop at Target.
$0
29.99% fixed
300
Build your credit history with low monthly payments.
$0
29.99% fixed
300
Get access to purchase items in the Fingerhut store with no overlimit fees.
$0
5.75% to 23.99% fixed
300
Buy now, pay later — low monthly payments make shopping easier
$0
5.75% to 23.99% fixed
300
Buy now, pay later with payments as low as $20 a month.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Whatever your reasons for switching, and whichever credit card you decide on, always make sure you thoroughly compare cards and fees beforehand so that the change is worthwhile. Remember to think long term, because changing cards too often can sometimes look bad on your credit report.

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