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How to upgrade a Citi card

Tips on upgrading or downgrading your Citi credit card and eligibility requirements

Summary

Citi is one of the more generous card issuers when it comes to granting upgrades and downgrades – but it can be hard to know what you qualify for before you call.

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If you have a Citi credit card that no longer suits your needs, you might want to apply for a new card or cancel your current card. But both of these strategies will cause a hit to your credit score.

Instead, you can request an upgrade or downgrade to a different Citi card. Known as a product change, upgrading or downgrading preserves your account with Citi while allowing you to switch to a card that better aligns with your habits. That way, you can get a better rewards rate, lower annual fee or different benefits without a ding to your credit score.

Citi seems to be one of the most generous issuers when it comes to granting product change requests, but its policy is also one of the hardest to understand. Rules vary by card type, so you’ll have to be proactive about asking the customer service representative about details of the process when you request your upgrade or downgrade.

Read on to learn more about how to upgrade or downgrade a credit card with Citi, including eligibility requirements.

Upgrade process

Occasionally, Citi might extend a targeted offer by email to change to a new product. If you are targeted for a Citi product change, you can complete the entire product change process online via the link provided.

Everyone else will have to call the customer service number listed on the back of their card to upgrade or downgrade.

Before you call, you should do careful research into the new Citi card you’d like to request, so you can ask any specific questions regarding your new terms – especially when it comes to your annual fee and rewards. The customer service representative can walk you through the upgrade or downgrade options available to you and complete the entire process over the phone.

By most accounts, Citi product changes can take quite a bit of time to process, so the switch might not be official for the first month or two. Just ask the customer service representative for an estimated wait time for your new card, as well as how long it will take for updated rewards to appear on your statement.

Eligibility requirements

All Citi product change requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so there are no eligibility requirements set in stone. Nevertheless, you should always consider the following before requesting a new card.

How long you’ve had your current card

Unlike some issuers with strict requirements around how long you must have a card open before you can upgrade it, Citi has no public rule on this. You might be able to upgrade or downgrade after just a few months of card ownership. However, a good rule of thumb is to wait until the year mark. This is due to protections in place from the CARD Act, which protects cardholders from a higher annual fee in the first year.

The type of card you want

In most cases, credit card issuers restrict product changes to a single family of cards – meaning ones that offer the same rewards currency. Citi, however, does not seem to impose this type of restriction, making it one of the most flexible issuers.

As long as your account is in good standing, you should be able to switch to any other Citi card that you qualify for. This goes for product changes between rewards currencies (points to cash back or vice versa) or even to one of Citi’s many co-branded credit cards. Just keep in mind that all product changes are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so you might not be able to replicate an upgrade or downgrade offered to another cardholder.

Account standing

If you are planning on requesting a card upgrade or downgrade, you should always ensure that your current account is in good standing. Product changes are designed to keep customers with an issuer, but Citi will be less motivated to extend you a good offer if you have a history of late payments.

Changes to your credit card

So what can you expect to change when you upgrade or downgrade your Citi card? Unlike most issuers, Citi does not lay out a clear-cut set of details on what happens to your account when you opt for a product change. Instead, you should ask the customer service representative about each of the following details during your switch.

Card number, APR and credit limit

A product change preserves your account, but you should confirm with the customer service representative if your card number and APR will remain the same on your new card.

Rewards balance

If you switch to another Citi card, your rewards will carry over only if the new card offers the same rewards currency. So if you switch between two cards that offer ThankYou points, you don’t have to worry about losing your balance.

If you switch from a card that offers points to one that offers cash back, however, you might sacrifice your rewards. Citi will notify you before your current rewards expire so you can redeem as much as possible. When speaking with the customer service rep, be sure to ask how long you have to redeem any remaining rewards before they expire.

Annual fee

Unfortunately, there are conflicting reports as to whether or not you can get an annual fee refunded if you downgrade a Citi card. Since the policy seems to vary by card type, you should always ask the customer service representative about a full or prorated annual fee refund when downgrading.

If you upgrade to a card with a higher annual fee, the new fee will post on the first statement after the product change is processed.

Benefits of upgrading or downgrading your card with Citi

Since Citi has such a large portfolio of top-notch rewards cards, there are a lot of good reasons to upgrade or downgrade your card with the bank. Most notably, you can ensure that your card’s rewards are always working for you.

Say, for example, you signed up for the Citi Premier℠ Card to take advantage of its high rewards rate on travel, dining and entertainment purchases. But now, you find that you don’t spend as heavily in those categories, and you could benefit more from a card that offers a flat rate on every purchase. Rather than apply for a new card and suffer a hard pull to your score, you could request to switch to the Citi® Double Cash Card – which offers one of the best flat rates of cash back available on a rewards card.

Requesting an upgrade or downgrade is also a great way to manage how much you spend on annual fees each year. So if you signed up for the Citi Prestige® Card to take advantage of its generous travel perks – but now find the $495 annual fee is out of your reach – you can downgrade to a more moderately priced card, like the Citi Premier.

Tips for making the most of your upgrade or downgrade

  • Read your desired card’s terms and conditions carefully before requesting a product change.
  • Before applying for another card, check for other Citi cards that might suit your needs. You might be able to upgrade or downgrade instead.
  • Always ask the customer service representative about your approved product change options – in case you are missing out on a better one.
  • Ask to have your annual fee prorated if you downgrade to a card with no fee.
  • If you are switching to a new rewards currency, don’t forget to cash in your current rewards balance before it disappears.

Popular Citi credit cards

CardRewards rateAnnual fee
Citi Rewards+℠ Card
  • 2 ThankYou points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar)
  • 1 ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Every purchase rounded up to nearest 10 points ($2 soda earns 10 points, $13 movie ticket earns 20 points)
$0
Citi® Double Cash Card
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • 1% additional cash back as you pay off those purchases
$0
Citi Premier℠ Card
  • 3 points per dollar on travel, including gas
  • 2 points per dollar on restaurants and entertainment
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
$95
Citi Prestige® Card
  • 5 points per dollar on air travel and restaurants
  • 3 points per dollar on hotels and cruise lines
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
$495
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar on gas station and restaurant purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
$99 (waived first 12 months)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® 
  • 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
$450
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
  • 4% cash back eligible gas purchases (first $7,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter)
  • 3% cash back restaurant and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back Costco purchases
  • 1% cash back general purchases
No annual fee with paid Costco membership ($60)

Final thoughts

Despite a policy that is difficult to understand, Citi offers some of the most flexibility among card issuers when it comes to product changes. Eligible cardholders can easily upgrade or downgrade to another Citi card that better suits their needs just by calling the customer service number listed on the back of their card. Plus, you can switch without a hard pull to your credit.

If you are considering a product change with Citi, the number one thing to keep in mind is to ask as many questions about your new card as possible before accepting an offer. You should ensure you can spend or retain your rewards before the change is in effect and know exactly what to expect in terms of your new card details.

Information about the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige cards has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: November 18th, 2020
Business
13.91%
Airline
15.50%
Cash Back
15.85%
Reward
15.75%
Student
16.12%

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