Dear Cashing In,
I opened a Barclay Visa card last August. I am now kicking myself for that, since I have now realized I could really use a card that has airline miles rewards. Barclay has recently presented an airline rewards MasterCard. If I decide to switch to the new MasterCard, how will that affect my credit score? Will it be the same as closing my first account and opening a new one even though it is through the same company? -- Audrey
You're in a position many of us have experienced. Not long after we've gotten a new credit card, we see a sweeter deal or realize that other cards are a better fit for the way we spend our money or the way we want to redeem rewards.
When your preferences change, you shouldn't have any qualms about ditching a card that no longer suits your needs, especially if it charges an annual fee. But I wouldn't recommend opening and closing accounts frequently, as that approach can harm your credit score.
From your question, I'm not sure what card you currently have. I'm guessing that the card you want is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, which the company introduced in December 2012. With that card, you accrue miles that you can redeem on airlines, hotels and other travel expenses in the form of a statement credit. There's a no-annual-fee version, which comes with a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus (worth $200) and gives you 2 percent back on dining and travel and 1 percent on all else. The $89-a-year version (fee waived first year) comes with a 40,000-mile sign-up bonus (worth $400) and gives you 2 percent on all purchases.
Barclaycard also offers co-branded cards with Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Lufthansa and US Airways.
I checked with Barclaycard, and the company's spokeswoman told me that you would need to call and talk to customer service to switch cards. She said that because each card requires a new application with a new credit line, the company would conduct a credit check (also known as a hard pull), which would mean a small negative effect on your credit score.
But assuming that you pay your card off every month, on time, that small dent should just be temporary and a small price to pay for giving you rewards better suited to your needs.