If you have a credit card that you don’t want anymore, there are two options for what to do with it: cancel it or request a “product change” to a different card that you do want.

This can be a useful strategy for lengthening the average age of accounts on your credit report (in most cases, the account will keep its original opening date), obtaining a new card without having it count against the Chase 5/24 rule or gaining access to a card that isn’t available for new applicants (like the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card).

It can also be a way to earn a bunch of points without opening a new credit card—including for cards for which you wouldn’t otherwise be eligible to receive a welcome offer.

For example, American Express is known to offer targeted upgrade offers periodically, which you may find in your email or in the Amex Offers section of the American Express website. In almost all cases, these offers don’t have restrictions against receiving bonus points for upgrading to a card that you’ve had in the past, unlike most new card applications.

However, it’s important to know that product-changing to a card you haven’t had before will likely prevent you from receiving a new cardmember welcome offer for the same card. So it’s best to product-change to cards you’ve had in the past or cards without a bonus you may be interested in earning in the future.

Unfortunately, product-changing isn’t as simple as just saying, “I have this card, and I want to change it to that card.” There are several restrictions that can affect your product-change strategy. Here are some of Amex’s rules.

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American Express Product Change Rules

Credit Cards vs. Cards without Preset Limits

American Express offers two types of cards: cards that don’t have preset spending limits and must be paid off every month and traditional credit cards that have a credit limit and can carry a balance from one month to the next (for a hefty fee, of course).

You can’t change an Amex card with no preset spending limits to a credit card or vice versa—it has to be another card in the same category.

Cards without a preset spending limit include the American Express® Gold Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express Green Card and the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, to name a few.

Almost all other cards from American Express are credit cards, including co-branded cards (with Delta Air Lines, Hilton and Marriott), the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express as well as all of Amex’s cashback cards.

The two types of cards also have different limits on how many cards you can have open at once. You’re allowed to hold an unlimited number of cards without preset spending limits and up to five credit cards (this cap has changed a few times and may vary depending on which credit cards you have).

Business Cards vs. Personal Cards

You can’t product-change a personal card to a business card or vice versa. This means that you can change the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card to the no-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card, but you can’t change either of those cards into The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

Keeping It in the Family

If you have a co-branded card, you’re able to make a product change to another card in the same brand only. So you can change from the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card to the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, but not from either of those cards to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

Similarly, Amex cashback cards, such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, aren’t interchangeable with Membership Rewards cards, such as the Amex EveryDay Card—cashback cards have to stay cashback cards, and Membership Rewards cards need to stay Membership Rewards cards.

One-Year Minimum

American Express generally won’t let you product-change to a card with a higher annual fee until you’ve had your card for at least a year. Product-changing to a card with a lower or $0 annual fee may be possible within a year of opening, but it’s extremely risky—doing so may result in Amex clawing back any welcome bonus you received and/or blacklisting you from future welcome offers.

If you receive a bonus offer for completing a product change, you should also wait at least a year from when you receive the rewards before closing the card.

Good Standing

Your account should be in good standing at the time you request a product-change. If you’ve had issues with payments or any other similar issues, your product-change request may be denied.

Don’t Lose Your Membership Rewards Points

Make sure you always hold at least one card that earns Membership Rewards points —if you close your last Membership Rewards card, you’ll lose all of your points. The Amex EveryDay® Card or the Blue Business Plus Card (see rates & fees) are good $0 fee options that will keep your Membership Rewards account active (and maintain your ability to transfer points to airline partners).

How to Request a Product-Change

If you received a targeted offer to upgrade one of your cards, be sure to use the link provided in the communication you received—generally this allows you to complete the process online without interacting with anyone.

Otherwise, you can request a product change through the Live Chat feature on the American Express website or mobile app, or you can call the phone number on the back of your card. Tell them you want to request a product change, and they’ll walk through the process with you.

In both cases, it’s easiest if you already know which card you want to change to, but the customer service representatives will also be more than happy to tell you which cards are available.

What Happens Next?

You should see the new card appear in your account on the Amex website and mobile app shortly after the request has been processed. A new card will be mailed to your billing address on file within a week or two. It’ll likely have a new expiration date and security code, but it may or may not have a new card number.

If you have any authorized user accounts, you’ll also receive new cards for each of your authorized users. You and your authorized users can continue using your existing cards until the new ones arrive. In the meantime, you can continue to use your existing card.

Once you have the new card(s), be sure to update your password manager, digital wallet and anywhere that you have the card saved as a method of payment (especially for subscriptions and other recurring transactions).

And if you had a welcome offer attached to a card upgrade, be sure to make a note of the deadline to meet the minimum-spending requirement and set a reminder not to cancel or product change the new card until at least a year after you received the upgrade bonus.

Bottom Line

American Express allows product changes, and there are many compelling reasons to request one. However, before you go ahead with an upgrade or a downgrade, you should be aware of the important rules and restrictions outlined here so you maintain your bonus eligibility for welcome bonuses going forward.