How and When to Downgrade Your Amex, Chase or Citi Credit Card

How and When to Downgrade Your Amex, Chase or Citi Credit Card

You may have been using a particular credit card for a while, but the time may come when you’re not happy with it anymore. Sometimes it’s when the annual fee hits after the first year. There are also other very compelling reasons why you may not want to continue including a reduction of benefits and changes in your own lifestyle and travel habits. Sometimes you simply want to get one that is a better fit for your travel goals. You can check RewardExpert to see if a different card might help you achieve your travel dreams sooner.

For example, if you live in Atlanta, which is the main Delta hub, you would probably be happy with the perks offered by Delta Gold or even Platinum card despite the annual fees. But if you move to New York, where you have a much wider choice of carriers, it might not make sense to you to remain loyal to one airline anymore. Paying that annual fee for a Delta card may not seem like a good idea any longer.

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Why Not Just Close the Card

When you feel that your credit card doesn’t fit your needs, your first impulse might be to get rid of it. But you need to be careful. Closing a credit card can have an impact on your credit score. When you close down a line of credit, your debt-to-credit ratio, also known as your utilization rate, may change and lower your score. This is not a good thing, as it’s a vital component of the FICO score, and many credit experts recommend to keep it under 10%.

Close_Credit_Card

Another reason might be that downgrading your card can open the way to some other benefits and preserve the points you’ve earned. When you downgrade a credit card, it is considered a product change, which doesn’t hurt your credit score. Let’s analyze your options for three major credit card issuers of travel rewards: American Express, Chase and Citibank.

American Express Downgrading Options

Here you can find the most important requirements of how to downgrade amex credit cards. Downgrading American Express cards may be rewarding, but it’s tricky for two reasons. First, you can’t downgrade a charge card to a credit card or vice-versa. Second, the representatives often give you different answers depending on who you speak to. Do make sure to advise the agent that you don’t want to fill out a new application and get a hard inquiry. That defeats the purpose of downgrading your credit card in the first place. If the agent tells you there is only one or two options available, and neither appeals to you, just thank her and call again. You might get luckier with another agent.

If you don’t have specific preferences, the Amex Everyday Credit Card is a great no annual fee option to downgrading one of your other American Express cards. You will get some premium benefits without paying a premium for it – two points for every dollar spent on groceries plus 20% more if you make 20 transactions per month. You can use these points to transfer them not only to Delta, but over a dozen of other Amex Membership Rewards partner airlines. If you want to downgrade to Amex Everyday, make sure to mention that card specifically to the agent.

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
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Get 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
2X points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X).

There is no way to downgrade an Amex charge card to a credit card, which is unfortunate because it would resolve the issue of losing Membership Rewards points. The problem is that when you close an Amex Membership Rewards card you shouldn’t have any points in your account. So unless you have used them to buy something or transferred them to an Amex partner’s program, they will be forfeited if you close the card. You might find yourself with a bunch of points when you want to close and you’re not ready to commit to transferring them. This is when the EveryDay card would work nicely, as it’s the only no-annual-fee card from the Membership Rewards family that allows you to transfer the points freely.

One of the cheapest options to downgrade the Amex Platinum or Gold Rewards card would be to Amex Green which carries a $95 annual fee, but aside from preserving the points, it’s not a good choice because Amex Green is one of the weakest Amex cards in terms of sign-up bonus and earning. In order to avoid carrying a card with an annual fee that you don’t need, you could apply for the EveryDay card before canceling your expensive Amex charge card and transfer your points to the EveryDay card. That’s not exactly downgrading, as there will be a hard inquiry on your credit report, but it’s the only sensible thing to do.

Bonus
Must Spend
Annual Fee
Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card® from American Express
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Bonus
60,000
points
Must Spend
$5,000
Annual Fee
Annual Fee of $550.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
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Bonus
25,000
points
Must Spend
$2,000
Annual Fee
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year of Card Membership, then $195.
American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green Card
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Bonus
0
points
Must Spend
$0
Annual Fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year of Card Membership, then $95.

Chase Downgrading Options

Here you can find the most important requirements of how to downgrade chase credit cards. In the issue of “product-changing” or downgrading the card Chase also has very specific rules. You can’t change or downgrade a Chase card to a co-branded card and vice versa, and you can’t change or downgrade co-branded cards to other co-branded cards from a different family. For example, if you want to change a United card to a Marriott card, Chase won’t let it happen.

Due to these limitations, you can find the best downgrading values with cards from the Chase Ultimate Rewards family. For example, you could downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred card ($95 annual fee) to the no-fee Freedom Card. This way, not only would you preserve your UR points (although you won’t be able to transfer them), but also get another great card with quarterly five percent bonus earning options. Even if you already have a Freedom card, another one can come handy, since each five percent quarterly category is limited to $1,500 in spending. Yes, you can have two Chase credit cards.

Bonus
Must Spend
Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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Bonus
50,000
points
Must Spend
$4,000
Annual Fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95.
Chase Freedom® Card
Chase Freedom® Card
Chase Freedom® Card
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Bonus
15,000
points
Must Spend
$500
Annual Fee
Annual fee $0.
Ink Cash® Business Credit Card
Ink Cash® Business Credit Card
Ink Cash® Business Credit Card
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Bonus
30,000
points
Must Spend
$3,000
Annual Fee
No annual fee.

If you need to downgrade the Chase Ink card, you could downgrade it to the Ink Cash card, which is a great no-fee business card that still allows you to earn two percent on gas and five percent on office supplies. Your UR points will also be preserved, although you won’t be able to transfer them to partners.

Citi Downgrading Options

Citi doesn’t have any firm rules in place, except that the change is only allowed after you have an account for at least a year. That means that you can downgrade any card to any other Citi card. If your annual-fee card doesn’t fit your needs anymore, there are three no-fee credit cards that you might want to consider.

  • Citi Double Cash card is basically an uncomplicated two percent cash back card. You get one percent when you buy something and one percent when you pay off the charge.
  • Citi Dividend is another excellent downgrade option. You get quarterly rotating five percent categories for up to $6,000 in annual spending.
  • Citi Preferred is a Citi ThankYou card that you might want to choose if you value Citi ThankYou points more than cash. This card offers two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment. Citi Preferred will also preserve your ThankYou points when you close the Prestige or Premier card. However, you won’t be able to transfer these points to a partner airline program. At least not until you apply for one of the upgraded ones again!

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
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Earn 0 points after spending $0 within months

  • RewardExpert

    You can downgrade after 12 months of account opening and if the annual fee is charged, Citi may not make a full refund. They usually make prorated annual fee refunds on the card when you are downgrading after the fee’s applied.

    • Carol Yu

      Thank you! I’d love to try downgrade to DC few days before my strictly 12-month come and hopefully Citi could approve so that there’s no need to pay annual fee and refund some later.

  • Veronica

    I need to downgrade Ink business prefered chase credit card. Which card can i downgrade?

    • RewardExpert

      You can downgrade your card to Chase’s Ink Business Cash card.

  • Theory

    Citi has no hard rules – does this mean I could downgrade the AA Platinum Business card to the Doublecash (a non-business card)?

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