There’s something to be said for loyalty. But when it comes to credit cards, if you haven’t updated your preferred card in years, you could be missing out on benefits, or paying too much in fees. Here are eight signs it’s time to go shopping for a new credit card.
1. You aren’t earning any rewards
If you’re debt-free and using a credit card for convenience but not earning rewards, you are leaving real money on the table. Even a simple, no-annual-fee cash-back card that offers 1.5% back on every purchase could help you rack up free money over months of regular use. But you can do better than that. Some of the best cash-back credit cards offer 2%-6% cash back on bonus categories (supermarkets, gas, dining — everyday spending stuff).
If you’re not earning any rewards, you should be, because 1.5% back is absolutely better than nothing.
2. You’re earning the wrong type of rewards
Another sign you’re not optimizing your credit card use is if you’re earning rewards points that you can’t really use. A common example of this is when someone clings to their old airline credit card and the idea of earning miles when they haven’t flown for years. If this is you, it may be time to switch to a simple cash-back card or even a flexible travel rewards credit card, which lets you earn points you can redeem for travel expenses, cash back, or gift cards. With this strategy (and a new card in your wallet), you’ll never be stuck with points you can’t use. (See also: Choose the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card with this Guide)
3. The card you use is lacking consumer protections
If you’re using credit for convenience but your credit card is strictly bare bones in terms of the benefits it offers, you should definitely shop around. While all cards are different, many of the top rewards credit cards offer special insurance products and shopping protections that can help you save money or protect yourself financially.
These include trip cancellation/interruption insurance, guaranteed product returns, damage and theft coverage for purchases, travel accident insurance, and auto rental coverage. If your card isn’t offering these protections and you want one that does, you’re probably ripe for an upgrade. (See also: Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know You Had)
4. You want amazing travel perks
If you haven’t traveled a lot in the past but plan to ramp things up in the future, having a credit card that offers travel perks can lead to a more pleasant, convenient experience. Some of the top travel credit cards offer perks like a Global Entry credit, airport lounge access, and annual travel credits to cover splurges like seat upgrades and in-flight meals. (See also: 5 Best Credit Cards with Free Airport Lounge Access)
Most of the time it’s best to keep your options open and choose a credit card that allows you to redeem points with a variety of travel partners. But if you have a preference for one particular airline, it’s beneficial to get their co-branded credit card. These cards generally offer perks like priority boarding, discounts on in-flight purchases, and free check-in baggage, along with big bonuses for purchasing airfare directly from them. But many of the top travel credit cards charge annual fees, so you should make sure the benefits will outweigh your out-of-pocket costs before you sign up. (See also: Which Credit Cards Have the Best Travel Redemption Value?)
5. Your interest rate is too high
If you carry a balance on your credit card each month, earning rewards should be the last thing on your mind. Any rewards you earn will be wiped out by the interest you’ll pay. Instead, your biggest concern should be your interest rate. You should be looking for a card with the lowest interest rate you can find. Not only do some credit cards offer low long-term rates that can save you money, but some cards offer 0% APR on new purchases for up to 21 months.
6. You want to transfer a balance
Besides cards that charge zero interest on new purchases, numerous cards let you transfer balances and pay them off with zero interest for a promotional period. This period may last anywhere from 12 to 21 months.
When you’re not paying interest, you can pay more toward the principal of your credit card balance every month, which will help you save money and pay down debt faster. If you have a huge credit card balance with big interest payments, it’s definitely worth exploring the upsides of 0% balance transfer credit cards.
Before you do, just make sure to check out any balance transfer fees that will be charged so you can determine whether it’s worth it. While a handful of cards let you transfer balances with no balance transfer fees, some charge 3%-5% of your balance for the privilege. (See also: Which Balance Transfer Credit Card Is The Best For You?)
7. You are paying foreign transaction fees.
Whether you’re purchasing products and services from foreign countries or you’re using your credit card abroad on your travels, you shouldn’t be paying a fee to do so. Most cards with annual fees will have zero foreign fees, but there are also no-annual fee credit cards that offer zero foreign transaction fees.
8. You are paying annual fees but not using the benefits
No doubt holding a premium credit card can make you feel like a VIP, and certainly these cards offer a wide variety of exclusive and valuable benefits. Most of the time the value of these benefits far exceed the price of the annual fee, if you add up the face value of all of them, but if you’re not actually using them, then you’re just paying for the potential access. Far better than chasing rewards is holding onto cold hard cash that you would have shelled out for an annual fee. Check out other outstanding credit cards with no annual fees.