Is It Time to Look for a New Credit Card?

Woman using credit card at computer
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A February 2016 survey from CreditCards.com revealed that 25 million consumers have had their favorite credit card for at least 10 years. If you haven’t explored a new credit card in several years, now’s a good time to see what other credit cards are available. It’s likely that you’ll find a credit card with benefits better than the ones you currently receive.

Not sure whether you should look for a new credit card?

Here are 11 signs you should at least check to see what else is out there.

1. Your credit has improved. When you have bad credit, your credit card options are limited. You may have to open a secured credit card or accept a less attractive credit card so you can rebuild your credit and qualify for something better. As your credit improves, you should look for a new credit card with better terms – no annual fee, low interest rate, and maybe rewards.

2. You’re getting offers for better credit cards. If credit card issuers are mailing offers for credit cards with better terms than the one you’re currently using, consider taking one of those offers. First, compare what you’ve received in the mail to credit card offers on the internet. Then, call the credit card issuer or apply online once you’ve made a final decision. Not receiving any credit card offers? Make sure you haven't opted-out.

3. Your interest rate is high.

Before you switch to a new credit card, try negotiating a lower rate with your credit card issuer. Be ready to move your balance to a new credit card if your credit card issuer won’t work with you. You can move your balance to a credit card with a 0% introductory rate and pay of the balance without having to pay another dime of interest.

Or, you could at least pay off a significant chunk of the balance interest-free. Check the internet for great balance transfer offers. As of February 2016, Citi Simplicity is offering a 21-month 0% APR on balance transfers!

4. You’re not earning any rewards. These days, there’s almost no reason not to have a rewards credit card when so many credit cards have great rewards programs - Discover even offers a secured credit card with rewards. If you use your credit card often and habitually pay your balance in full, a rewards credit card is a better option than your current credit card that doesn’t give you any additional benefits for using their credit card.

5. You’re not earning rewards in the categories that you spend the most money. If you spend a lot on gas and groceries - $500 or more per month - consider the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card which pays 6% cash back on those categories. Frequent travelers may benefit from the Chase Sapphire Preferred which pays two points per dollar on travel and dining purchases. 
 
6. You haven’t received a credit limit increase in years. If your credit limit has remained stagnant while your income and credit score have increased, it’s time to look for a new credit card.

Some credit cards have a max credit limit that applies to all cardholders regardless of income and other factors. Consider another credit card if you can’t get a credit limit increase on your favorite credit card.

7. You’re paying an annual fee but not getting any additional benefits. There are generally two times you should pay an annual fee for a credit card: you’re rebuilding your credit and the only cards you qualify for have an annual fee or your credit card perks far outweigh the annual fee. Otherwise, ditch your annual fee credit card for a card without the extra cost.

8. You want to take advantage of signup bonuses.

Lots of credit cards are offering bonuses for cardholders who spend a certain amount of money within a specific timeframe, usually three months. The catch is that you have to be a new account holder to qualify for the bonus. Does it really make sense to stick with your current credit card that won’t give you this kind of reward when you can switch to another credit card and get a benefit from it?

9. You don't have a credit card of your own. If your only credit card is one that you're an authorized user or joint accountholder, it may be time to apply for your own credit card. As long as you have a credit card with someone else, your credit history is dependent on how they use the card. Once you're able to qualify for a credit card on your own, look for a new credit card of your own, even if it's with the same issuer.

10. Your current credit card is going away. Sometimes credit card issuers decide not to continue a certain credit card. The Costco American Express, for example, is discontinuing because Costco has chosen to use a Citi Visa as its store credit card. Your credit card issuer may give you the option to switch to another credit card within its portfolio, but if you prefer, you can look for a better credit card elsewhere.

Should You Close Your Old Credit Card?

It’s generally best to keep your old credit card open because the account age benefits your credit score. So, even if you switch to a new credit card, use your old one periodically to keep it active and included in your credit score. On the other hand, you may close your old credit card if it’s charging an annual fee that you no longer want to pay. Make sure you pay off any outstanding balance before you close the credit card to avoid spiking your credit utilization.

Be Wary of Debt

Opening a new credit card also opens up additional capacity for debt. Be careful that you don’t overspend now that you have more than one credit card open. Continue to charge only what you can afford to pay in full each month even if you divide that amount between your two credit cards.