How to Know When to Switch Credit CardsMany people like to think that they use the best financial tools available to them, including their credit cards, but data shows that’s not always the case. A research paper by the Reserve Bank of Australia published in 2018 found that most people would benefit more by using a different credit card, and they’re losing out on potentially hundreds of dollars per year by paying too much in interest and missing rewards opportunities. Lives change, credit card offers change and the best card for you 2, 5 or 10 years ago probably isn’t the best card for you today. If you’ve been using the same card for a while, here are four ways to know it’s a good time to change credit cards, as well as some examples of great cards you may want to consider.

When your benefits run out

Not every credit card carries the same set of benefits forever, and it’s actually fairly common for a card’s APR, perks or even rewards rates to change over time. It’s especially hard to notice when timed offers on cash back and rewards points/miles run out because they don’t affect your bill, and it may not be obvious you’re earning fewer rewards on your purchases if you don’t check your rewards balance often. Many limited-time benefits don’t last more than a year or 2 (or less), so if you’ve had the same card in your wallet for that length of time or longer, you may want to check on your card’s features to see if they’re the same as when you first got it. If not, it’s a good idea to change credit cards to something that provides the benefits you care about; just be aware that some of the added benefits are less common than they used to be.

When you’re paying a lot of interest

That same paper from the Reserve Bank of Australia also points out that people are generally bad at estimating the amount of interest they’ll pay with a credit card, and frequently underestimate how likely they are to carry a credit card balance. As a result, most consumers don’t actively look for cards with low interest or 0% interest introductory periods. Once you know your spending habits, including whether or not you regularly wind up paying interest on credit card balances, it’s a good time to re-evaluate which card you use for spending. Putting new purchases on a card with a low ongoing APR or a long 0% intro APR on purchases could save you a lot of money over time. And if you’re currently carrying a high balance on one or more credit cards, a balance transfer might be the right next step. That’s because a balance transfer credit card can help you start paying down what you owe while giving you a break from interest. If that sounds useful to you, here are a couple of good low APR credit cards to get you started.

BankAmericard credit card

When to Switch Credit CardsWhether you’re trying to avoid paying interest on your current balances or future purchases, the BankAmericard credit card has you covered. Its 18-month 0% intro APR covers your purchases as well as any balance transfers made in the first 60 days of opening your card account (with a balance transfer fee of 3%, $10 minimum). Plus, there’s no penalty APR, which means paying late won’t increase your APR at all, and every month you’ll get a TransUnion FICO score for free to help you monitor your credit. The BankAmericard credit card requires good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher) to qualify and charges no annual fee.

Discover it Balance Transfer

When to Switch Credit CardsThe Discover it Balance Transfer card is a fantastic option for those looking to escape high interest on their current credit cards, providing 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers (with a balance transfer fee of 3%) and 6 months of 0% intro APR on purchases — after the 0% intro APRs expire, a variable go-to rate applies. What makes this card stand out among balance transfer cards is that it’s one you’ll want to keep using well after the intro APR runs out. That’s because it also earns 5% cash back on rotating categories every quarter you activate (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1% cash back) and 1% cash back on all other purchases, then at the end of your first year of card ownership, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned. For example, if you earn $150 cash back in the first year, Discover will match that $150 to give you a total of $300 back. Additionally, this card comes with a variety of useful perks, such as a free TransUnion FICO score every month, no foreign transaction fees, free identity theft monitoring and Discover it Freeze, which lets you lock or unlock your account from a computer or mobile device in case you lose your card. Best of all, you’ll get all of this for no annual fee! The Discover it Balance Transfer card is also requires average to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 670 or higher) to qualify.

When your lifestyle changes

Sometimes, the card you have from several years ago that fit your life perfectly isn’t so suitable anymore. People gain new interests and opportunities over time, so it’s entirely possible that you could get more use out of a credit card that you wouldn’t have even considered previously. As an example, maybe you discover a love for travel, and you start booking flights and hotels more often. Your current credit card gives you a small amount of rewards, but if you switch to a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you could earn 10 miles for every $1 you spend booking lodging on Hotels.com/Venture (until Jan. 31, 2020), and 2 miles for every $1 you spend on other purchases! There are all sorts of different credit cards for different kinds of people, so whether you’re a new parent or embarking on a small business venture, it’s important to find the card that’s best for your current lifestyle.

When you can earn a sign-up bonus

These days, one of the big trends in credit cards is offering sign-up bonuses for new cardholders, which give you lots of rewards points or cash back when you meet a certain spending goal within a specified amount of time. When you have some big purchases on the horizon, you can change credit cards to one with a sizable sign-up bonus and net several hundred dollars in rewards, almost like a rebate. Plus, many credit cards with sign-up bonuses also earn ongoing cash back, so they’re useful even after you’ve achieved their bonuses. If sign-up bonuses have you intrigued, these are a couple of our favorites.

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card

When to Switch Credit CardsThe Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card has a nice sign-up bonus with a requirement that’s easy to meet, in addition to being a great cash back card. Spending just $500 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account will earn you a $200 cash back bonus (though you’re only eligible for this bonus if you apply for the card online). For ongoing rewards, you’ll earn 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores (on up to $2,500 in combined gas, wholesale club and grocery store purchases per quarter, then it’s 1% cash back) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you’re a Bank of America banking customer, you can earn an extra 10% rewards bonus by redeeming your cash back into your Bank of America checking or savings account, and if you’re a Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors customer, your bonus will scale even higher — ranging from 25% to 75%, depending on your account. In a pinch, this card can also save you some interest with its 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and on balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening (note that there is a balance transfer fee of either $10 or 3%, whichever is greater). The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card requires good to excellent credit to qualify, which is often considered a credit score of 700 or higher.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

When to Switch Credit CardsWith its massive $500 cash back sign-up bonus, which you can earn by spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of card ownership, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is a sure winner. If you love going out, earning that bonus will be a breeze, as this card also offers some pretty nice cash back rewards that will help incentivize your spending. It earns an unlimited 4% cash back on restaurants and entertainment (e.g., purchases at movie theaters, zoos, live theater and more), 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with a number of perks to help you shop with confidence, including extended warranties on purchases, no foreign transaction fees and price protection, which can reimburse you the difference in price if you find an item you bought within the past 120 days on sale for less. The card does have a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year, and given the high sign-up bonus and cash back you can earn, it’s pretty easy to recoup that cost. If you’re still not feeling the fee, consider its annual fee-less sister card, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. Both Savor cards requires good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher) to qualify.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

When to Switch Credit CardsIf you’re a traveler, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard will probably be the perfect addition to your wallet. That’s because this card offers a 60,000-mile intro bonus offer (equal to $600 in travel) to cardholders who spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. As if that isn’t enough, you’ll earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase you make with the card. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard also comes with a 12-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers made in the first 45 days of account opening (with a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater), no foreign transaction fees and an $89 annual fee that’s waived for the first year. Cardholders will also receive World Elite Mastercard benefits. Finally, the card requires good to excellent credit (considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

People tend to stick with what they know, but to get the most out of credit cards, it helps to look around, take stock and change things up from time to time. To learn more about which credit cards can improve your financial life, follow our credit cards blog.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.