What to Do When Your Credit Card Is Discontinued

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When you think about getting a new credit card, you generally want to use it for the long term. But from time to time, credit card companies may discontinue some of their cards. Depending on the card issuer's decision, they may control what happens next or give you options to choose from.

Here's what to know about discontinued credit cards and how to proceed if yours gets the axe.

Why Do Credit Card Issuers Discontinue Credit Cards?

There are a few reasons why a credit card issuer may decide to discontinue a credit card. One is that the card isn't generating enough interest from consumers or revenue to justify holding on to it.

Credit card companies are usually for-profit businesses, so if they're not getting enough return on their investment in the form of fees and interest on a particular card, they may decide to stop issuing it or discontinue the card altogether.

Another reason could be that the card issuer wants to release a new version of the card. In some of these cases, the issuer may simply beef up or change the features and benefits on the original card. But in others, they may rebrand the card with a new name and better features.

Finally, a card issuer may decide to discontinue a co-branded credit card because the co-branded partner—whether it's a hotel brand, airline or retailer—entered a partnership with a different card issuer.

What Happens if Your Credit Card Is Discontinued?

Depending on the situation, here are some potential things that can happen if your credit card gets discontinued:

  • You can still use it. Even if a card issuer is no longer accepting new applications, it may still continue to service its current accounts. In this case, cardholders can maintain their regular benefits unless the card issuer decides to make changes down the road.
  • You can switch to a different card. Depending on the situation, you may have the chance to do what's called a "product change" to another credit card offered by the same issuer. In the event that the issuer has discontinued the card because it introduced a newer version, you may have the chance to "upgrade" to the new version without needing to apply.
  • You'll be switched to a different product. If a bank is discontinuing a card because it's introducing a new version, it may automatically transition you to the new one. Also, if the card issuer has decided to stop servicing the card altogether, you may be switched to another card offered by the issuer. Finally, if your card is being transitioned to a new issuer, you'll typically get a new card from the new issuer.

Now Is a Good Time to Review Your Card Benefits

If your credit card is being discontinued, now might be a good time to reevaluate whether it's meeting your needs. This is especially true if you haven't opened a new credit card in a long time.

Over time, our spending habits and preferences can change, and credit card issuers launch new credit cards relatively often. As a result, the best credit card for you a few years ago may no longer be the best.

If you're being switched to a different card or a different card issuer, you can decide whether or not the benefits on the new card—and fees, if applicable—are worth it for you. In some cases, you may be able to ask the card issuer to convert your account to a different card that it offers. In others, you may simply need to apply for another card that fits your spending habits and needs better.

Even if you can continue to use your current credit card, it's still a good idea to research and compare some other options.

Consider using a tool like Experian CreditMatch™ to help you find the best credit card for your needs. Keep in mind that the top rewards cards require good credit. If this is an option you'd like to consider and aren't sure where your credit score stands, you can get your free score and credit report from Experian.

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