How to switch to a new credit card

A woman smiles while looking at her credit card and mobile phone
September 27, 2018 | Maggie Tomasek

Thinking about switching to a new credit card for your everyday spending? Keep reading to find out how to help make your transition to a new credit card seamless.

Find the right card for you. Are you looking for a rewards card? Or maybe you’re looking for a card with a low intro rate to do a balance transfer? Do your research and really think through what kind of credit card will best suit your needs now and into the future.

Timing is everything. Are you looking to buy a house or a car in the next 12 months? Then you might want to hold off on opening a new credit card, so you don’t get the extra hit on your credit score.

Understand your upgrade. Even if you’re upgrading from one card to another at the same financial institution, you’ll likely still need to have a credit inquiry, and that can lower your credit score. Also, be aware that you might lose any rewards you have accumulated on your current card when you upgrade because, in reality, you’re opening a whole new account.

Update your automatic payments. Once you have your new credit card in hand, look at everywhere you’re using your old card and make updates. You might pay your bills automatically with your credit card (especially if you’re trying to earn rewards or cash back), but don’t forget about other places like your Amazon, Apple Pay or Google Pay accounts.

Don’t close your old card. Keeping your old card open is good for your credit score, especially age of credit and credit utilization factors. Unless you’re paying an annual fee on a card you never use, it’s best to keep the old card open and put it away for emergencies. Or, you can do like I did, and keep one small automatic monthly payment on the old card. I switched to using an Alliant Visa credit card in 2018 because it earns more than my old Capital One credit card did, and that card could only be redeemed for travel perks, while my Alliant card is redeemable for cashback. So, I still automatically pay my monthly gym membership fee on that card (and then set up an automatic monthly bill pay to my Capital One card). Set it and forget it.

Maggie Tomasek is the Social Media & PR Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is a seven-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.

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