New Series: Keep it, Downgrade it, Dump it

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The few posts I have done about what to do with rewards credit cards after the first year have generated some good discussion, so I thought it would be fun to do a series entitled: Keep it, Downgrade it, Dump it.  This series will look at the pros and cons of keeping the rewards credit card, downgrading the card to a fee-free version, or canceling the card (aka “dump it”) after the first year.  I plan to do this for many of the major rewards cards that lots of us have in our wallets (or in our drawers, safes, etc.)  It is a decision we all have to make on each card annually, so while talking about cancelling isn’t quite as fun as talking about sign-up bonuses, I think it is just as important.

The first card featured will be the American Express Platinum card – I have to make my own “keep it, downgrade it, or dump it” decision on that card this month, so it was a logical starting point.  Look for that post to launch within the next week.  However, I would love to hear what other cards you would like to see discussed.  I know the Chase British Airways card is one that I have received requests to post about in the past, especially since I know lots of folks got that card last year during the 100,000 mile sign-up bonus frenzy.  Let me know what other cards you would like to see featured in this series, and I look forward to some great discussion about what to do with each of these cards after the first year!

Pingbacks

  1. […] Mommy Points is going to be doing a series of posts called Keep It, Downgrade It, Dump it. Similar to what I did recently with my American Express Platinum, the posts will look at different credit cards and evaluate what should be done when the annual fee comes due. In fact, the Amex Platinum is the first card she plans to write about. I look forward to seeing her analysis on some of the cards I have in my wallet (or office file). Details HERE. […]

Comments

  1. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this. My Amex Platinum isn’t up for renewal for another 9 months. I’ve carried it for 6 years, and I think I take near full advantage of its many benefits. Then again…I go 6 x 450 = 2,700…and that make me go hmmm.

  2. I would really like to see a more general discussion of things to consider when making these decisions. And also the best timing for calling CSR to ask about a retention incentive or downgrade.

  3. I’d really like to see your thoughts on the Chase Southwest Airlines card. I have only had mine for 4 months, and don’t plan to cancel until at least 10-11 months, but still would like to know your thoughts for it then! It will probably be my first major cancellation (only card I have canceled yet was my JCPenney card–who needs that when you can get airline miles, UR points, and more!?!?).

  4. To bargain with Chase, I let the British air go back. Citi American air was first card we got each and I got 750 mile with matches 750 when spent that amount each month. The wife got 500 matched. Each also $85.00 credit. Next is my Chase Sapphire. Question is the points transferable if my wife gets approved for her the card? Next to cancel is both of our Alaska air. I have used my 50,000 miles. She still has her 50,000. Thoughts? Thanks as always.

  5. I got both of the Citi AA personal cards for the 75K bonuses back in September. I’m thinking of keeping the Amex one since Amex runs so many great programs (Small biz Saturday, gift chain, twitter and facebook promos) that it more than pays for the annual fee, but having the Visa doesn’t seem to be worth anything to me. Thoughts are definitely welcome.

  6. Great idea! I’ve seen very little info out there on converting/downgrading cards, and think it can be useful to those of us looking to protect/boost our credit scores while playing this game. As someone with a relatively low average age of accounts and hoping to maintain my low utilization, I’m very interested in keeping cards open (when I can do so for free!) and learning which cards can be downgraded to which no fee cards — this is useful both when thinking about what to do with my existing cards and as when picking which new cards to apply for.

    Special request: I’m particularly interested in which cards can be downgraded to the Chase Freedom and Citi Forward cards, which I think are two of the very best no fee cards given their 5x bonus categories (and Freedom’s ability to pair w/SP). Both have relatively low sign-up bonuses so I don’t want to “waste” a new account and credit inquiry on them and would prefer to convert a higher-bonus card. Converting the Chase BA to Freedom and a Citi AA card to Citi Forward would be awesome, but my understanding is that generally airline-specific cards can’t be converted to cards not specific to that airline — is this true?

  7. @AS regarding your last question about airline-specific cards, I was trying to downgrade my Chase BA card to the Freedom card and they said I would have to make an application for the Freedom card, that they couldn’t downgrade me to that card.
    I am interesting in finding out what cards can be downgraded to fee free cards.

  8. Great idea for a series! Would love to hear your take on the US Airways card. We’ve struggled a little with this in spite of the 10k annual bonus, as we’d like to get as many of these cards as possible…

  9. This is great! I noticed most of the comments are for airline cards, but I’d like to see some hotel credit cards in the mix as well. For instance, I have the Priority Club Visa that gives you a free night every year, which tells me it might be worth hanging on to despite it’s only okay earning potential.

  10. When looking at Chase hotel cards, it seems like since most are not “churnable” it would make sense to keep them…especially if there is a free night attached on renewal. I just got an SPG Am Ex for the 3rd time. The first 2 times they gave me the initial sign up bonus. Not this time! But they did give me the 15K bonus when I met the $5000 spend!

  11. @Nadine: did you actually get the $25 small biz credit from Citi AmEx? Multiple reps told (after the fact) that Cit was not part of that program.

  12. For those with the BA card, I got rid of my card before the renewal came up. I took advantage of the 100K and the free $50 credit for dining at the Michelin star restaurants but that’s about it. If you utilize your Chase Sapphire card correctly, you’ll get more miles (2x dining and travel or more when shopping, better than 1.25 spend on BA card) and you can still transfer over to BA through the UR portal.

  13. I think it would be a keeper but the IHG Priority Club Visa. I picked it up for the 80k pts. The guaranteed gold status and free night seem like a no brainer for the yearly fee.

  14. I, too, think it is a good topic.
    I’ll be closing my old CO Onepass card, probably this week. It made good sense when I got it. And Chase made good money off me in the deal. But now it longer gets much use, and Chase will benefit from me having a better suited Chase card because my spending has shifted away to a card issued to me by one of Chase’s competitors.

  15. US Airways… I got the 40000 miles bonus after the 1st use. it’s says 10000 miles bonus at anniversay, and 10000 miles bonus 1st year. Does it mean I will get 20000 miles after the 1st year anniversary. if so then $89 for 20000 miles is not bad.

  16. Yay! Glad to hear many of you are excited about this idea as well. It may take a while to get to all of these card suggestions, but we will get there eventually. 😉 To answer Fred’s question, it is 10,000 after the first anniversary of account opening
    and 10,000 each subsequent account opening anniversary. Basically a long winded way of saying 10,000 each year you keep the account open.

    The first post in this series should launch early next week, stay tuned!

  17. Thanks for offering to cover this. Can you share your thoughts on which Amex cards to keep and which ones to dump? I have the Business Open and the Premier Rewards Gold cards. The Gold one comes up for renewal first so I’m thinking of keeping the Business one only to earn MR points and dump the other one. I also have the SPG Amex, which I’m planning on keeping, and the Hilton Amex, which I want to drop but I’m reluctant to just because it’s one of my older cards and fee free, but in the end Hilton has devalued its currency so much I might just drop it. Got declined for the SPG Business Amex and I think already having 4 accounts played into their decision.

  18. I think one rule of thumb is NEVER cancel without calling and negotiating a transfer of credit limits. I know AmEx charge products are different, but in terms of a typical credit card, don’t ever just call or secure message and ask to cancel. I did that with AA citi, asking for a retention incentive, and they said no and just cancelled it without any further notice. Oops LOL. Well I didn’t want it anymore anyway, was going to try to turn it later, but kind of startling LOL.

  19. I have the same dilemma with Amex Plat. I like the transfer bonus deals they tend to offer, club access, upgraded car rental status and Ofcouse the $200 travel reimbursement.

  20. I know for certain (tried with three different customer service reps) that Chase would not let me downgrade my old United MileagePlus card into a Freedom or *anything* other than another (no-fee, 1-mile-for-$2) United card.

    I’d love to find out that Citi is different, e.g. to turn an AA card into a Forward or a Dividend card with them.

  21. Keep in mind, re: US Airways, that the card is doing some heavy promotions as well. $1,250 per month for 3 months was worth an additional 15K points for me. If they keep bringing the heat to keep me spending, I’ll surely keep this one. My issue is that my oldest accounts are non-rewards cards. Do I just close the oldest rewards cards (Citi AA AMEX) to save a few bucks?

  22. I have to make this decision soon re: the Cap1 Venture card w/the 100K points.

    Even though the great Hyatt very redemptions are history, I still like the idea of credits for purchased travel. Sadly, I’m not quite sure that feature is worth the annual fee.

  23. Was there ever a follow up post to this? I wasn’t able to find it via searching. I’m debating over what to do with my Amex Plat!

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