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When to Downgrade Your Chase Credit Cards

During the 70,000 point sign-up bonus promotion, many of you picked up an Ink Plus credit card. Now, some of you may be considering whether to keep or downgrade the card. I’ve also heard from lots of people who are considering downgrading their Sapphire Preferred card, something I will do in the next month or so. If you’re leaning towards downgrading the Ink Plus to Ink Cash or the Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Freedom card, you will need to wait until the 12 month mark. 

Twitter follower @JGR called to downgrade his Sapphire Preferred 10 months after account opening and was told he would be ineligible until his account was at least 12 months old. I called to inquire about downgrading the Ink Plus card I picked up back in September and was told the same thing: I was ineligible for a downgrade. When I asked why, I was told because my account had only been open for four months and that I could either cancel or call back at the 12 month mark. I hadn’t actually planned on downgrading the card, but I wanted to see what kind of reaction I’d get and pass the information on in case any of you were having trouble. 

In my case, the information wasn’t volunteered, so I imagine some people might not even ask for a reason and simply cancel to avoid the annual fee when it comes up. Lately, I noticed banks aren’t quite as apt to offer a retention bonus or convince me of the virtue of their credit cards when I call to cancel. So it wasn’t a huge shock when the agent offered me the option to outright cancel the card or call back in 8 months to downgrade.

My brother recently called Barclay to cancel his US Airways card and aside from a long-winded monologue about the benefits of the card, the agent didn’t offer him a retention bonus. I had instructed him not to take anything less than 10,000 miles anyway, but was pretty shocked when he reported back that the cancellation was complete. This is especially surprising since Barclay has been offering spend bonuses of up to 20,000 miles to existing cardholders – just to rack up spend, rather than as an incentive to keep the account open. They may not be as desperate for new customers as I thought.

In any case, I’m curious to see what kind of feedback you’ve been getting lately during cancellation/downgrade calls with various banks. Please share in the comment section.

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Ariana Arghandewal

20 Comments

  1. A couple of months ago I cancelled my Barclays Miles and More card and US Airways card and they offered me nothing.

  2. No offers, so cancelled my US Airways card. But I got approved for a new US Airways card the next day with 50K bonus!

  3. I have the Chase Ink Bold. Would Chase approve me for the Ink Plus? Or is it considered the same product? I like the points I get from office supply stores but not worth the annual fee.

  4. Am I correct in assuming that you need at least one card with a fee to transfer points to hotel and airline partners. So would you keep the Sapphire or the Ink plus as the one card you pay a fee on?

  5. Since business cards do not show up on your personal credit report, what is the motivation to downgrade? I always just cancel my Ink Plus/Bold as long as I have another one or the Sapphire preferred for transferring points still.

    • I think some people like the 5% cash back categories and if they can get it year-round without paying an annual fee, that’s a good reason to downgrade. Downgrading is also a better option than canceling if the Ink card is one of your oldest accounts. It’s better for your credit to hold onto old accounts.

  6. The Citi AA Executive cards have been giving all sorts of bonuses for not canceling. First they offered 1K bonus points for every $1K spend for 16 months. Now they’re giving another $200 statement credit, and this before the AF hits. They also just gave me an offer on one of my 4 cards for 3x points at supermarkets, gas stations and drug stores, up to 2500 bonus miles. With the initial $200 credit they gave on signup the card ended up costing $50 for the year plus an additional 10K bonus miles and Admiral’s Club access. If I get the $200 credit on all of my Exec cards I may end up keeping one for the club access and the additional bonus miles.

    The British Air card offered us 9500 Avios to retain, which we did. The SW Plus gave us 3K bonus miles when we tried to cancel 2 months before the AF hit. We also got 3K miles on the anniversary date, which we got to keep when we still canceled after the AF hit.

    • That’s pretty impressive! I was offered nothing when I canceled each of mine, but I would have considered keeping it a bit longer if they offered the equivalent of 1 extra miles per $1 spent.

  7. I had my Chase card comp for the annual fee only after I asked to cancel. initially I just asked for retention bonus but was offered nothing. huca later called to cancel and immediately got the $95 offer, the funny thing was, I didnt put that much spend on the card all year long , this is the second bonus retention for this card, going on the third year.

  8. Sorry, but the no-fee Chase Sapphire card was discontinued just a couple of months ago. But you can still request to downgrade your Chase Ink Plus to the no-fee Chase Ink Cash.

  9. Chase didn’t offer me anything, but for my AMEX PRG, I got 25K retention bonus. Of course, I have to pay $175 AF, but it’s worth it to me. The entire spend last year on my AMEX PRG card is less than $1,000.

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