When you upgrade a credit card, you move from a card with a lower level of benefits to the same series of card with a higher level of benefits. For example, you might get 3% rewards on gas on a lower-level card but could get 6% gas rewards by upgrading to the next-level credit card in the series.
However, you may have to pay higher annual fees when upgrading to a higher-level card. So before upgrading, evaluate whether the potential rewards outweigh the costs.
We’ll share information about an American Express credit card upgrade, including how to do it and when it makes sense.
In this guide:
- When it makes sense to upgrade your American Express card
- Limitations to upgrading your AmEx card
- How to upgrade an American Express credit card
- Changes to your AmEx account after upgrade
- What if you were unable to upgrade?
When it makes sense to upgrade your American Express card
The decision to upgrade your American Express card depends on your circumstances and financial needs. You may pay a higher annual fee when upgrading to another card, so consider whether the benefits (e.g., points or rewards) outweigh the increased cost.
When upgrading a credit card, providers often use their internal knowledge of how you manage your credit to decide whether to grant the upgrade. The card issuer might run a “hard” credit inquiry depending on the circumstances (e.g., if you request a limit increase simultaneously).
With these ideas in mind, ensuring your current card has been open for at least a year before upgrading it provides a reliable payment history. Also, ensure you make all your payments on time. Your credit utilization shouldn’t be too high (30% or less).
If you’ve made late payments in the past year or are carrying a high balance (e.g., above 30% of your limit), it’s wise to get your credit in order before considering an upgrade. For example, work on making timely payments and reducing your credit card balance.
Limitations to upgrading your AmEx card
When upgrading your American Express card, the first limitation is that the upgrade depends on your card type.
You can upgrade or downgrade your card within the same card type. For example, if you have an American Express Blue card, you can upgrade to another card in this series (i.e., AmEx Delta Blue to Delta Gold).
You can’t upgrade your American Express card to a different card type. For example, you can’t upgrade your AmEx card from a Delta SkyMiles® card to a Hilton Honors card. You may, however, be able to upgrade your Amex Platinum Delta to a Delta Reserve card.
How to upgrade an American Express credit card
After logging in to your American Express account, you can explore the upgrades you might get and the upgrade terms. For example, if you have an American Express Blue Cash Everyday card, you might apply for an upgrade to an American Express Blue Cash Preferred card.
You can apply for the upgrade online by logging in to your account. If you have questions, contact American Express customer service for help.
Before applying, however, the first step in upgrading is to consider the additional benefits you might receive and compare them to any added costs. You should only get an upgrade if the benefits outweigh the costs.
For example, if the upgraded card has an annual fee of $95, but you earn 6% back on grocery purchases, do the math to determine whether the fee is worth it.
Changes to your American Express credit card account after upgrade
When you upgrade your American Express credit card, in most cases, nothing will change except the following:
- Type of card
- Associated benefits
- The card itself
The terms of your card (e.g., rates, due dates, and limits) and account number won’t change.
You can often keep using your card until the new one arrives. If you add an authorized user when you upgrade your card, the card issuer will send their new card simultaneously. Your balance and rewards should transfer to the new card.
Request these changes to make other changes to your credit card terms (e.g., limits or due dates) at the same time as the upgrade. Your issuer will evaluate them separately from the upgrade to determine whether you qualify.
Whether the upgrade or other changes affect your credit score depends on whether American Express pulls a hard credit check. You’ll authorize a hard credit check beforehand, and it may be a requirement to increase your limit or make other changes in terms.
What if you were unable to upgrade your American Express credit card?
If you can’t upgrade your American Express credit card, the next steps depend on your circumstances. If AmEx denied the upgrade due to credit issues (e.g., your credit score is too low, your balance is too high, payments have been late), work on improving these before you apply for another card.
You might have other options if AmEx denied the upgrade for another reason—such as requesting an upgrade too soon (e.g., before you’ve had the card for a year). If you don’t have an immediate need, you could wait and apply once you’ve had your card for a year.
You could also forgo the upgrade and apply for a new credit card. Remember: It may affect your credit score if you apply for and receive additional credit cards. Your score might also decrease if you close your current card.
While these potential negative impacts on your credit score are often temporary, lasting a year or less in some cases, you should consider them. Unless the benefits outweigh the costs—monetary and possible credit score impacts—the wisest decision may be to keep your card as is.