People go through different phases in their lives, and most times, their lifestyle and financial goals also align with these changes. People often seek options for changing their expense patterns to accommodate shifts in their life chapters to suit their new financial capability. This could mean upgrading or downgrading their credit cards to help them start a new chapter. 

Sometimes, changing cards, or what most credit card issuers call “product change,” doesn’t have to involve any financial transitions. For others, it simply means a shift of their priorities – like choosing rewards over low APR or evolving to premium cards to gain access to more relevant perks. 

Whatever the reason – financial stress or simple preference change – restructuring to a new credit card within your existing card issuer’s ecosystem poses more benefits than withdrawing your account altogether. Besides saving your credit score, changing cards within the same issuer’s ecosystem offers several advantages, including preserving your credit history and limit. 

This comparison review of the two elite credit cards in the market hopes to empower credit cardholders to decide to transition to a new type of card based on their existing accounts. This article will help individuals interested in choosing between the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Gold while also considering your financial projections. Hopefully, it will guide you to weigh your options with the most critical areas covered.

Chase Sapphire Preferred – Downgrading and Upgrading Paths

Upgrading Your Rewards, Status, and Perks

Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card users have various options in whichever direction of change they want to take. One of the most enticing changes for lifestyle upgrades is transitioning to Chase Sapphire Reserve. An upgrade would mean boosting your points value and access to exclusive travel perks. 

This more premium credit card offers very generous 10x bonus points for every dollar spent on hotels and car rentals, 5x points on flights, and 3x on other travel-related purchases when you transact through their Ultimate Rewards® Travel Portal. This upgrade will also give you access to their Priority Pass lounges, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credits, and a $300 annual travel credit – a significant step up from what the Preferred card offers. 

Although everything about Chase Sapphire Reserve seems alluring, it also comes with a hefty increase in your annual fee. You will be subject to a $550 yearly fee and not eligible for their sign-up bonuses. Before sealing the deal, you should also weigh the perks you will lose from your original Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You will also be losing 10% of your anniversary bonus. This may warrant waiting to upgrade until after this bonus has been posted in your account if you’ve accrued substantial expenses before your anniversary date. 

Downgrading to More Simple, Cost-Effective Options

Alternatively, if you are more interested in reducing fees accrued from a more advanced credit card, downgrading to Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom Flex may be the right path. Both cards are designed for those just starting their credit card journey and are in the same family with Chase Sapphire Preferred. 

This means you earn Ultimate rewards with no cost of annual fees, though at a significantly lower rate. Nonetheless, a maximum of 5% cashback on your purchases can still be equally appealing. If you’re seriously confused about which of these low-level cards suits you, this a worthy reference to guide you to your decision:

Amex Gold – Downgrading and Upgrading Paths

Upgrading to Elevate Your Rewards Game

For American Express cardholders or those interested in applying for one, the Amex Platinum Card is the natural upgrade path for the current Amex Gold users. With the upgrade comes an increase in rewards point earning rate from 3x points to 5x for flight and hotel bookings. 

Read here for a great reference on fully maximizing your newly upgraded Amex Platinum Card.

With Platinum, you also get access to more luxurious experiences, such as entry to Amex’s flagship Centurion Lounges, as well as the ability to breeze through airport security checks through fee credits that the card offers for Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, TSA Precheck®, and CLEAR® Plus. With more significant chances of room upgrades as an automatic Gold elite member with Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors, you are definitely in for a more upscale vacation.

With a promise of such lavish benefits comes a considerable annual fee increase of $695. An addition that cannot be offset by a sign-on bonus that you will no longer be eligible for. The upgrade also means a downgrade on everyday expenses, such as dining, takeouts, deliveries, and groceries. With this increase, you will need to carefully discern if the added fees do outweigh the benefits based on your expense pattern and lifestyle.

Downsizing As a Financial Requirement

The best option when downgrading is to get the American Express Green Card. This option makes sense if the annual fee of the Amex Gold Card is too excessive for your financial capability and spending habits. It allows you to retain Amex’s strong rewards program while saving on annual fees. However, you must also remember that downgrading your card within the first 12 months can get you on Amex’s blacklist, so make sure you downgrade after that window.