You might want to upgrade your Capital One credit card to take advantage of more benefits and greater earning potential, or downgrade your card if you can’t justify paying its annual fee.
Either way, the process is relatively simple and straightforward. You typically just have to contact Capital One to see if you’re eligible for a “product change.” This is the official term for upgrading or downgrading a credit card.
Let’s explore how upgrading and downgrading Capital One credit cards work, tips to keep in mind, and whether a product change might make sense for you.
- Rules for upgrading
- Pros and cons of upgrading
- How to choose which card to upgrade to
- Rules for downgrading
- Pros and cons of downgrading
- How to choose which card to downgrade to
- 5 ways to make the most of a card upgrade or downgrade
- Refund your annual fee
- Earn an upgrade offer
- Get a lower annual fee
- Look for valuable benefits and rewards
- Don’t lose your points or miles
Rules for upgrading Capital One credit cards
Capital One doesn’t publish eligibility rules for upgrading any of its credit cards, but it’s safe to assume Capital One won’t consider you for an upgrade unless your card account is in good standing (that is, an on-time payment history with no missed payments).
NoteWhen we mention “credit card upgrades,” we aren’t referring to credit line or credit limit increases. Capital One provides credit line increases to eligible cardholders, which means you receive a higher credit limit. You might be able to receive a credit limit increase by requesting one and getting approved, or Capital One could proactively offer you an increase.
You also must consider whether there’s an upgrade path available for your specific credit card. For example, you might be able to upgrade to the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card if you already have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
That’s because the Venture X is a higher-tier card than the Venture Rewards. You can tell the difference between card tiers by looking at their annual fees. The Venture X has a $395 annual fee, while the Venture Rewards has a $95 annual fee.
This doesn’t always mean you can upgrade to a card with a higher annual fee than your existing card, but it’s a good rule of thumb. In the case of the Capital One Venture X, there’s no upgrade path because there’s no higher card tier.
Also note that you typically can’t complete an upgrade within a year of opening a credit card, so you’d have to wait one year after opening the Venture to upgrade to the Venture X.
Keep in mindCredit card issuers are often restricted from upgrading you to a credit card with a higher annual fee within your first year as a cardholder. This is because the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act generally limits any interest rate or fee increases for the first year.
Pros and cons of upgrading a Capital One credit card
|Pros of upgrading||Cons of upgrading|
Pros of upgrading
Increase your earning potential
Credit cards with annual fees often provide better rewards rates than no-annual-fee cards. Your existing credit card might not earn any rewards at all, so an upgrade could help you earn more value from everyday purchases.
For example, take the Capital One Platinum Credit Card. This card doesn’t offer a rewards program, meaning you don’t earn any points, miles, or cash back on your purchases.
But if you were able to upgrade your Capital One Platinum to a Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, you could earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). Even better, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards has a $0 annual fee.
Access more benefits
You can generally find more credit card benefits on cards with higher annual fees. For example, many of the best travel credit cards have annual fees, but they might also provide airport lounge access, travel credits, or other perks to justify the high annual cost.
You have to decide whether receiving more benefits is worth the potential cost, which shouldn’t take much time if you know your general lifestyle and spending habits.
Let’s say you want to move from a Capital One Venture Rewards ($95 annual fee) to a Capital One Venture X ($395 annual fee).
|Capital One Venture Rewards||Capital One Venture X|
|Annual fee||$95 annual fee||$395 annual fee|
|Rewards rate||2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel||2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel|
In this case, an upgrade could be useful if you travel enough to take advantage of the many travel benefits available on the Capital One Venture X.
Earn an upgrade offer
Just because you’re upgrading a card doesn’t mean you have to miss out on earning some rewards. You won’t necessarily receive a welcome bonus for doing a product change, but you might be able to qualify for an upgrade offer from Capital One.
In most cases, Capital One will reach out to you with an upgrade offer if you already have a credit card and are eligible for an upgrade. You might be able to contact Capital One yourself and see if you have any upgrade offers available.
Upgrade offers function similarly to welcome bonuses in that you might have to spend a certain amount of money within a specific time frame to earn a reward (e.g., spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after upgrading to earn 50,000 bonus miles).
Capital One decides how many rewards you can earn with an upgrade offer, so exact amounts vary. Sometimes, you might not have any upgrade offers available.
Cons of upgrading
Increase your annual fee
If you upgrade your credit card, you typically have to pay an annual fee or a higher annual fee than what you already paid.
For example, let’s say you have a Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which has a $0 annual fee, but you’d rather have the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card for its increased earning potential. Upgrading to the Capital One Savor would mean paying a $95 annual fee.
Miss out on a welcome bonus
You might qualify for an upgrade offer from Capital One if you upgrade a credit card. But doing a product change, whether it’s an upgrade or downgrade, means you wouldn’t qualify for any applicable welcome bonus.
If you upgraded from a Venture Rewards to a Venture X, you wouldn’t qualify for any available welcome offers on the Venture X.
You can have two Venture cardsYou don’t have to upgrade the Venture card to get the Venture X. Capital One allows cardholders to have both cards at once, so you can apply for the Venture X separately even if you already hold the Venture Rewards card.
It might make sense to apply for a new credit card outright if it makes sense for you and there’s a particularly valuable welcome bonus available. For example, when Capital One released its Venture X card back in 2021 with a welcome offer of 100,000 miles plus a $200 vacation rental credit, it was easily one of the best welcome offers we’d seen at that time
Pass up a 0% introductory APR offer
Similar to missing out on a welcome bonus, upgrading to a new card typically means you can’t take advantage of any applicable 0% intro APR offers. But this only matters if you want to do a balance transfer or need extra time to pay off purchases made during a 0% intro APR period.
How to choose which Capital One card to upgrade to
- Check for upgrade offers. Even if you haven’t been notified about an upgrade offer, it doesn’t hurt to check with Capital One to see if you can get one.
- See what cards are available. If you’ve received an upgrade offer, see if there are multiple options available for cards to upgrade to. From there, you can assess which one has the best features.
- Consider the annual fee. How much are you willing to pay each year for your credit card? If you have multiple upgrade options, a card with a lower annual fee might make more sense.
- Check for rewards and benefits. A higher annual fee might not be a big deal if your new credit card can provide enough value to justify the cost through rewards and benefits.
Rules for downgrading Capital One credit cards
Similar to the rules for upgrading Capital One credit cards, there isn’t any officially published guidance on eligibility for downgrading Capital One cards. But you can reasonably expect that your credit card account needs to be in good standing with a positive payment history.
You would also need a legitimate downgrade path for the credit card you want to downgrade. For example, you might be able to downgrade a Capital One Venture X to a Capital One Venture Rewards, but you likely wouldn’t be able to downgrade a Capital One Platinum to any other card because there’s no lower card tier.
Contact Capital One to see which downgrade paths might be available to you.
Pros and cons of downgrading a Capital One credit card
|Pros of downgrading||Cons of downgrading|
Pros of downgrading
Avoid an annual fee
The Capital One Venture X has loads of perks and rewards. But it’s a travel-focused card and typically benefits frequent travelers the most since they can always use the $300 annual travel credit, airport lounge access, and 10,000 anniversary bonus miles.
If you find you aren’t using the benefits enough to justify the $395 annual fee, ask about downgrading to a credit card with a low or no annual fee. This could possibly mean downgrading to the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, which has a $0 annual fee.
Maintain your credit utilization
It might be tempting to cancel your credit card altogether if you don’t find yourself getting much value from it. But it’s often better to downgrade a card rather than cancel it.
Canceling your credit card removes its credit limit from your total available credit. Less available credit means a potentially higher credit utilization rate, which impacts your credit score. Using 30% or more of your available credit usually lowers your credit score.
Keep up the average age of your accounts
Canceling your credit card might reduce the average age of all of your credit accounts, which affects your credit score (both VantageScore and FICO credit score). In general, the longer your credit history, the better.
Downgrading a credit card rather than canceling it keeps the credit card account active so it contributes to the average age of your credit accounts.
Cons of downgrading
Lose benefits and rewards
Even if you enjoy the airport lounge access provided by your Capital One Venture X, maybe you can’t swing the $395 annual fee. In this case, you can try to downgrade to the Capital One Venture Rewards card with its $95 fee.
You could save hundreds of dollars on the annual cost, but you would miss out on all the premium benefits from the Capital One Venture X. But that might not matter if you rarely use those benefits.
WarningYou might also lose any rewards you’ve earned on your credit card if you downgrade to a different card. This depends on the situation, but it’s worth checking with Capital One to see if you can hang onto your rewards after downgrading.
Reduce your card’s rewards
A lower-tier rewards card usually has lower earning potential. You can see this if you compare the rewards rates on the Capital One Venture Rewards and VentureOne Rewards cards:
- Capital One Venture Rewards: 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards: 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
Though the Venture Rewards charges an annual fee, the higher rewards rate is probably worth it for most travelers.
Miss out on a welcome bonus or intro APR offer
If you downgrade a card, you’ll miss out on earning any welcome bonuses or intro APR offers on the card you product-change to.
How to choose which Capital One card to downgrade to
- See what’s available. Contact Capital One to see which downgrade options, if any, are available for your credit card. Depending on the card, you might have a couple of options or no options at all.
- Consider the annual fee. This is typically one of the primary reasons to downgrade a credit card, so be sure to ask about annual fees on your downgrade options to ensure savings.
- Check for benefits and rewards. Though you’re downgrading a credit card, you can still take advantage of the new card’s rewards and benefits. You might find a no-annual-fee credit card that provides more card perks and benefits for your personal spending.
5 ways to make the most of a card upgrade or downgrade
1. Refund your annual fee
If you meant to downgrade your card before the annual fee hit but forgot, you might still be able to get it back. This isn’t an official published rule, but you might be able to have the annual fee waived on your original credit card if you downgrade within 30 days of the annual fee posting. This is a huge reason to make a plan for when to downgrade your credit card so you don’t pay an annual fee for no reason.
2. Earn an upgrade offer
You might already be excited about the prospect of earning more rewards or having more benefits by upgrading your credit card. But you might also qualify for an upgrade offer, which could make the product change that much sweeter. If you haven’t already received an upgrade offer, reach out to Capital One to see if any are available.
3. Get a lower annual fee
Paying an annual fee doesn’t make sense for everyone. Maybe you’re traveling less than you thought you would, making the Capital One Venture X the wrong fit for you. Moving from a $395 annual fee to something lower (possibly no annual fee) could be the right move.
4. Look for valuable benefits and rewards
A product change might come with a higher annual fee, so it likely only makes sense to upgrade if you’ll get more than enough value from the card to offset the fee. The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of rewards and benefits you might not be receiving on your current credit card.
For example, the Venture Rewards card gives you up to a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which is more than enough to offset the $95 annual fee for at least one year if you’re a frequent traveler. And that’s without considering the value you could get from other benefits or by earning rewards.
5. Don’t lose your points or miles
It’s common to be able to product change between cards of the same “family,” or similar types of credit cards with slightly different earning rates or benefits. For instance, the Venture family of cards includes the Capital One VentureOne, Venture Rewards, and Venture X.
Product changing between any of these cards wouldn’t typically affect whether you might lose your miles because they all earn the same types of rewards.
But, in some cases, you might product-change to a different type of credit card and risk losing rewards you’ve already earned. To prevent this from happening, check with Capital One to see if you can hang onto your rewards after a product change.
What is the difference between a Capital One Platinum Credit Card and a Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card?
The main difference is that the Capital One Platinum Credit Card doesn’t earn any rewards, while the Capital One Quicksilver provides 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply).
The Quicksilver is a more valuable card overall when compared to the Platinum.
What is the difference between upgrading a Capital One card and closing a Capital One card?
Upgrading a card keeps the account active, while closing a card completely closes the account. You typically want to upgrade a credit card if you have an upgrade offer or want more rewards and benefits. Closing a credit card can negatively impact your credit score by lowering your total credit utilization and the average age of your accounts.
How long does it take for Capital One to upgrade my card?
If you already have an upgrade offer, it might not take more than a few minutes for Capital One to upgrade the credit card on your account. But it’ll take a few business days to receive your new physical card in the mail.
It could take longer for Capital One to upgrade your card if its reps need to review an application or verify any information. Once approved, it takes a few business days for Capital One to send the new card.
If eligible, you can upgrade your Capital One credit card to a different card. This could be helpful if you want to take advantage of a better rewards rate or more benefits.
You can also downgrade your Capital One credit card if you’re eligible for a product change. You might want to do this to avoid an annual fee or to avoid closing your card, which could negatively impact your credit score.
If you don’t have the option to upgrade or downgrade your credit card, you could still make a change by applying for a new card. Compare credit cards and see which offer might work best for you.
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
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