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What to do when your credit card is discontinued

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When you open a new credit card, the last thing you think about is what could happen if it is discontinued — but it’s a reality you may face. Credit card issuers frequently make changes to their inventory, whether it’s offering new cards or removing old ones.

The reasons for an issuer to discontinue a card can vary. There may be a change of partnerships between a bank and airline or hotel group, like Hilton severing its ties with Citi so they could issue cards with American Express exclusively. Mergers can also cause a shake up, such as when Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) merged in April 2016.

However, these changes can take a while to sort out. For example, Marriott and SPG didn’t officially rebrand to Marriott Bonvoy until February 2019, nearly three years after the merger was approved. Old SPG cards were discontinued and Chase and Amex began issuing new Marriott Bonvoy cards — Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, respectively.

If you’ve been notified your card will be discontinued, you’re probably wondering if that means it’s going to be canceled, converted to a new card, or if your account will still be active. Cancellation is rare, especially among cards from major issuers, since they’ll often convert you to a new card or allow you to keep using your current card.

We’ll provide some guidelines to help you decide what to do after the news breaks that your card is no longer accepting new applicants.

What happens when your credit card is discontinued

If your card has been discontinued, you may receive notice from your card issuer — via email or mail — explaining what will happen next, but this doesn’t happen in every case. Either way, make sure your email and mailing address are up-to-date so you can receive any communications the card issuer sends.

The card issuer may send notice of the date your card is going to be discontinued and inform you of any changes that may occur. The message may state that your card is going to be converted to a new card or that you can continue to use your current card. We’ll review what those two options mean for you.

You’re being converted to a new card

A common action issuers take when a card is discontinued is to convert your card to a new card. This often happens with mergers. For example, the Marriott and SPG merger converted the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express to the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, keeping many of the same perks and even adding new ones. Soon after the conversion, Amex stopped accepting new applicants for both cards; however, existing cardholders can still use the card.

Other times, a card is no longer available to new applicants and current cardholders can no longer use it. In these cases, your old card will be converted to a new card offered by the issuer. This happened back in 2017 when Chase discontinued the Fairmont Visa Signature® Credit Card and converted existing cardholders to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Questions to ask if your card will be converted:

Does the new card you’re converting fit your spending habits?

The new card may not be a good lifestyle fit. In that case, you may want to reach out to the card issuer to request a different card. Check out the other cards your issuer offers to see if there’s an alternative that may be a better fit. While there’s no guarantee your card issuer will approve the move, it’s worth a try.

If there’s a new annual fee, is it worth it?

If the card you’ll be converted to has a new, higher annual fee, make sure it’s worthwhile. Consider any rewards and added perks of the new card that can offset the fee. If the benefits don’t outweigh the fee, consider switching to a no annual fee card with the same issuer.

You can continue using your current card

In some cases, card issuers will stop accepting new applicants for a card, but still allow current cardholders to keep their cards active. This can be referred to as being “grandfathered in” to any existing rewards and perks previously associated with that card. If you are fond of your existing card’s rewards program, then being able to keep using the card can be a good thing.

Some prominent cards that stopped accepting new applicants but remained in use for existing cardholders include the United MileagePlus® Presidential PlusSM Card and the United MileagePlus® Select Card. Chase now offers new United-branded cards, such as the United℠ Explorer Card and the United Club℠ Card, but old MileagePlus cardholders may not want to let go of their cards — and don’t have to.

While continuing to use your card may be an option, you also have the chance to request conversion to a new card. For example, Citi discontinued the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card and the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students in 2018, but existing cardholders were still able to use their cards. Shortly after, Citi released two new cards, the Citi Rewards+® Card and the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card.

If an existing cardholder preferred one of the new cards over their current, discontinued card, they could request a card conversion instead of submitting a new application and having two cards. Just know, there’s no guarantee your request will be approved, since various factors are considered in the decision process. Also, be aware your credit report may be pulled, but you can check with the bank prior to requesting a conversion.

What to consider if you can still use your card:

Does the new card offer better rewards or benefits?

The new card offerings may have more enhanced rewards programs that your existing card. Do a side-by-side comparison to see if your old card stacks up. Just know, while you may convert to a new card, you’ll often miss out on any sign-up offers, so you may be better off applying for the card instead and then canceling the old one after you’re approved.

If there’s an annual fee, are you still able to offset it with rewards and perks?

Reevaluate the annual fee on your current card (if there is one) to make sure the perks provided help offset it. If you no longer use all the benefits provided by your card, it may be time to consider switching to a no annual fee card.

Bottom line

The last thing a card issuer wants is to lose valuable customers. So, if your credit card is going to be discontinued, know that your issuer probably has you covered. You may be able to keep using your card or be converted to a new card with bigger and better perks. If not, you may prefer a different card offered by your issuer. You always have the option to close your credit card, but make that decision carefully, as closing a longstanding card with a good payment history can do more harm than good to your credit score.

The information related to the United MileagePlus® Presidential PlusSM Card, United MileagePlus® Select Card, United Club℠ Card, Fairmont Visa Signature® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, and Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students has been independently collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.