Downgrade or Convert to these Credit Cards

Which Credit Card

Downgrade or Convert to these Credit Cards

This post is a combination of my recommendations and the recommendations from readers.  Thank you for contributing to this post.  The big question is, why should you downgrade or convert a credit card instead of closing it outright?

Pros of downgrading or converting a credit card:

  • Downgrading/converting your credit card lengthens the average age of your credit card accounts and improves your credit score (learn more about your credit score here).
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card keeps your credit utilization ratio lower, which is good for your credit score (see link above).
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card keeps your miles/points from expiring or being forfeited back to the credit card company.
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card results in no hard pull of your credit report.
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card is sometimes easier than outright applying.
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card makes it possible to get the same credit card multiple times (like 2 Chase Freedom or Bank of America Better Balance Reward cards).
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card may result in a sign up bonus on the new card (sometimes not, see cons below).

Cons of downgrading or converting a credit card:

  • Downgrading/converting your credit card may result in not get a sign up bonus for the new credit card.
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card may take a long time for the conversion process (Citi takes 60+ days).
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card may cause you to have “too much available credit” and may make it harder to be approved for future credit cards (mostly Barclays, but you can do recon calls to reverse their decision).
  • Downgrading/converting your credit card may interfere with the “churnability” of the credit card.


Without further ado, here are the best no annual fee credit cards for downgrades or conversions.  If you have a better recommendation, please let me know in the comments.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (or any Chase credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: Chase Freedom (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 5% cash back up to $75 per quarter from rotating cash back categories ($300 annual cap).
  • Bonus Feature: Click here to view the current 5% cash back categories.

Chase Freedom


Citi American Airlines (or any Citi credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: Citi Dividend Platinum Select (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 5% cash back up to $300 per year (no quarterly cap) from rotating cash back categories.
  • Bonus Feature: Click here to view the current 5% cash back categories.

Citi Dividend Platinum CC


Bank of American Alaska Airlines (or any other Bank of America credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: Bank of America Better Balance Rewards (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn $25 per quarter when you pay your bills on time ($100 annual cap).
  • Bonus Feature: Earn an additional $5 per quarter if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account ($20 annual cap).

B of A Better Balance Rewards Credit Card


Bank of American Alaska Airlines (or any other Bank of America credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: BankAmericard Travel Rewards (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases (no quarterly/annual caps).
  • Bonus Feature: Earn a 10% bonus on your cash back if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account.
  • Preferred Rewards: Earn up to 75% bonus on your cash back if you qualify for Preferred Rewards.  Read Frequent Miler’s post for more info.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards


American Express Blue Cash Preferred (or any other American Express credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: American Express Blue Cash Everyday (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 3% cash back up to $180 per year from grocery purchases, plus earn 2% cash back from gas stations and department stores (no quarterly/annual cap), and earn 1% cash back on everything else (no quarterly/annual caps).

AMEX Blue Cash Everyday


American Express Premier Rewards Gold (or any other American Express credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: AMEX EveryDay (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 2 Membership Reward Points per dollar on grocery purchases (12,000 Membership Reward Points annual cap) and earn 1 Membership Reward Point per dollar on everything else.
  • Bonus Feature: Use your credit card 20+ times per month and get 20% more points on qualifying purchases.

AMEX EveryDay


US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards (or any US Bank credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: US Bank Cash Plus (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 5% cash back up to $100 per quarter from cash back categories ($400 annual cap), plus earn 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, and earn 1% cash back on everything else (no quarterly/annual caps).

US Bank Cash Plus


Barclays Arrival Plus (or any Barclays credit card that has an annual fee).

  • Card Name: Barclays Sallie Mae Rewards (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 5% cash back up to $12.50 per month from gas ($150 annual cap) and grocery purchases ($150 annual cap), plus earn 5% cash back up to $37.50 per month from bookstore purchases ($450 annual cap), and earn 1% cash back on everything else (no quarterly/annual caps).
  • Bonus Feature: Earn a $25 cash back statement credit for using your credit card within 90 days of account opening.

Barclays Sallie Mae Rewards


Discover (no Discover credit cards have annual fees, but you can always convert to the Discover It credit card).

  • Card Name: Discover It (link)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Features: Earn 5% cash back up to $75 per quarter from rotating cash back categories ($300 annual cap).
  • Bonus Feature: Click here to view the current 5% cash back categories.

Discover It CC

If you have any questions or better recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized.

About Grant

Grant is an expert in frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points, credit card rewards, and cash back deals. He also has a pretty cool travel blog. Find him on Twitter @travelwithgrant.

35 thoughts on “Downgrade or Convert to these Credit Cards

    1. Grant

      You can try calling back and seeing if you get a different answer. When did you get this card? You might have to wait until your annual fee is closer. If you still cannot downgrade, tell them you want to move the credit line to another card before canceling the credit card.

  1. Mike

    We canceled 4 of our 6 Citi Exex cards with 100K bonuses after getting the miles. They somewhat cheerfully acknowledged that keeping more than 1 each didn’t make any sense. So, we each got back the $450 annual fee (4 X $450 = 1800) while keeping the 3rd card each and paying the fee. I’m very curious as to how Citi regards this in the longer run. On the surface, net of the $200 spend rebate we got on each card, Citi gave us $150 and 300K Advantage miles each for spending a combined $30K across each card. Across both me and my wife, we netted $300 and 600K miles. $300 is about what it cost to manufacture the spending, so we effectively were given 600K miles for about 4 hours of “work”.

    I got into the speculative argument with a friend about the risk of closing 2/3 of the cards and getting the annual fee returned. He contends that it WILL damage the relationship. I certainly think it’s possible, but $1800 seemed worth the risk. I wouldn’t accept $1800 to permanently shut off my relationship with Citi, but I have to believe that the chances are more likely it might be short term damaged than permanently damaged. And let’s face it, there is a dollar amount that we would all accept to permanently walk away from an issuer. For me, that number is much higher for Chase and Amex than Citi.

    A spate of posts came about after the Citi Exec promo became so famous, the fee was so high, and people got multiple cards. Centered around the annual fee refund policy of providers. I’d be very interested to get feedback from people where they cancel the card to get the annual fee returned after exploiting the bonus………….on any card.

    1. Grant

      I don’t recommend closing credit cards shortly after getting the sign up bonus. I take the long term approach (5-10 years down the road). Maybe there are no good cards today or tomorrow, but maybe down the road they will have a great sign up bonus. I would hate to be stuck on the sideline. I know people who got banned for life from Chase, I’m sure you can imagine how much that sucks. Therefore I will do my best to be a “good” customer to the bank. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Andy F.

    Can you have more than one Amex Blue Cash Everyday card? Say I already have one, can I downgrade another Amex card to this one?

  3. Mike

    That’s much easier said than done when the annual fee is $450 :)

    Other than B of A’s Alaska Airlines card, which they seem to have zero problem with closing immediately after receiving the bonus and prior to paying the annual fee, I’ve always held a card at least up until when the annual fee is due. And I always spend more than the bonus to at least create the illusion that the card was “in-play” as a keeper prior to making the tough decision to utilize other cards.

    And this year, I will GLADLY pay the annual fee on the Barclays Arrival card for all three members of the family. That card at 2.2% and the Cap One at 2% are outstanding for filling holes not covered by the bigger programs. In fact, I don’t understand how any serious traveler, or anyone who likes to stay at smaller places, doesn’t have at least one of those cards. And Barclays is so easy to redeem it’s ridiculous. Point and click. B&B’s, amusement parks, taxis, etc. can be just as expensive as the plane flights to get you there.

    There are very few cards that I pay the annual fee for and don’t grit my teeth.

    1. Grant

      If only Barclays would approve me for a credit card…

      I agree that the Barclays Arrival Plus is a great day to day card, worth the annual fee.

  4. alex

    The only caveat in my opinion to the Barclays Arrival is that if you have a large checking/savings/retirement account balance with BOA (>$50k in accounts) then the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is actually a better card, and nearly identical in terms of redemption. Best of all NO ANNUAL FEE. You can redeem your rewards for any travel purchases on the card.

    Short version: if you have $50k in balances with BoA, you get 2.25% cashback
    If you have $100k or more in balances with BoA you get 2.625% cash back.

    Frequentmiler has a posting from a few days ago with more details. I’m kind of wondering whether or not to jump ship from my Barclays to this but not sure …… Barclays has a better sign up bonus for sure though (40K vs. 10k)

  5. Alex

    With BOA better balance if u spend anything on it at least once a month u can get $120 a year. With BOA travel rewards, if u have less than $50k but do have a bank account you’d need to spend $7272 at 1.65% cb to get that same $120. ($4528 if at 2.625% cb w >$100k accounts…).

    BOA travel reward’s really if u intend to use it as a regular spend card I think…..

  6. Raul

    I believe you can down grade from an American express blue cash preferred to the “old” blue cash card. On a side note for those who are not having luck getting approved for Barclays CCs, barclays would not issue me any CC even with a very high credit score so I went and applied for a bunch of chase CC sign ups. I then took a 5 to 6 month break from apps because chase told me i had too many CC approvals within 8 months time so i concentrated on sum MSing. I recently applied for Barclay’s arrival plus and was approved instantly, feeling lucky I applied for Cap1 venture card then two chase cards all approved even though had to transfer sum of my credit limit for one of the chase cards.

  7. Jivepicnic

    I wanted to share my recent experience in getting the old Amex Blue card. I applied online and received a call saying that I already had the maximum number of Amex credit cards (4). I asked if I could close one of my existing cards to be approved for the Amex Blue, I closed my Hilton Amex, and my entire credit line (>$10k) moved over to the Amex Blue card. This may be a way for people to avoid getting approved for a low credit limit on this card.

  8. Mike

    What are your thoughts? On the surface it seems like an AWESOME way to MS. But wouldn’t this easily tempt a financial review?

      1. Raul

        I only had a 2000 credit limit w old blue cash but was able to hit the 6500 spend requirement in under 2 months by using the check spending ability feature under account services on amex web site. This will usually approve u to spend past ur credit limit. In my opinion the old blue cash card is the best card out there for MS. Unlimited 5% cash back on groceries pharmacies and gas stations ($400 cash back limit on gas per month so I guess that part isn’t unlimited) after your first $6500 spent. Best part is the cash back at groceries since that’s were I get my gift cards. I figure spending $500 @ grocery store will not set off any red flags, for all amex knows I have a very hungry family. I would recommend reading the whole flyertalk post on this card so you know which grocery stores gas stations and which pharmacies count for the 5% cash back before applying.

        1. Grant

          Good advice. I usually buy gift cards at Ralph’s with my BCP, so I would assume the old Blue would also qualify Ralph’s as a grocery store. How much MS do you do per store visit/month?

          1. Raul

            Yup Ralph’s owns foodco were I buy my GC. My MS varies. I think the most I have ever done with old blue is 4000/ month with the 2000 credit limit. Ivw never tried more than twice credit limit. Figured I shouldn’t go too crazy until I transfer sum Credit limit from BCP. I had two foodco stores that would sell GC but the one on the bad side of town recently started cash only policy but still manage around 7000 a month on average sum times more buyingI spread it around though between Old Blue BCP and Citi dividen and of course hitting spending requirements on sign up bonus. Usually only buy one $500 GC at a time. Sometimes I’ll come right back in and buy another GC with a different cashier.

  9. Mike

    One word of caution to those living in the Pac NW that shop at Fred Meyer grocery stores. I went in and bought $6K in gift cards to get the 6% and be done with it. They didn’t post the credit. I was then told that Fred Meyer is considered a superstore and normally wouldn’t be credited. They made a “one-time” exception and posted the credit.

    Also, for those applying for Amex cards that have Prime memberships: if you don’t need the Prime membership for any reason, just tell Amex that you couldn’t get the link to work with Amazon. They’ll credit your account $99 and be done with it. We actually couldn’t get the link to work AND didn’t want the Prime membership. The woman told me they are instructed to just issue a credit.

    1. Grant

      Nice, that is a really good deal. I’m surprised they offer a $99 statement credit considering the annual fee on the card is lower than that. Strange AMEX. Glad you got your 6% cash back to post for the BCP!

  10. Mike

    They pretty much had to issue a $99 credit as that was the advertised value of Prime. Since I couldn’t get the service through no fault of mine (which they acknowledged), they made good on it. And yes, we had a statement credit balance just after.

    1. Grant

      Not closely, but I have seen many other blogs mention it. My Old AMEX Blue seems fine, but I haven’t even met my $6,500 minimum yet. What’s the latest on our good friend old Blue?

      1. Raul

        Not sure what’s going on myself but I will be putting this card back in sock drawer until the heat dies down. The only common link I’ve found is that the accounts that were shut down had been used within an hour or two before shut down. Those who called CS rep were told shut down was due to abuse of reward program. Hoping Amex is just making an example out of a few to to scare the rest of us from doing the same.


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