How to increase your credit limit
August 1, 2023 7 min read
If you’ve been using a credit card responsibly, you might be wondering about a credit limit increase, sometimes called a credit line increase.
There are no guarantees that a credit card company will increase your credit line. But there are some steps you can take—or keep taking—to help your chances of qualifying for a higher limit. In this article, you’ll learn how credit lines work and when to consider asking for an increase.
- Your credit limit is the amount you have available to borrow on a credit card account.
- You might be able to get a credit limit increase by asking for one, or your lender could offer one.
- Keeping your financial information up to date, making on-time payments and monitoring your credit reports can help if you’re looking to get a credit line increase.
- How you use the credit determines the effect it has on your credit scores.
What is a credit limit?
Your credit limit is the maximum amount of money a lender allows you to spend on a credit card. As you use your card, your available credit goes down. When you make payments, your available credit goes back up—minus any fees or other charges.
What determines a credit limit increase?
Credit limits are set by lenders. Here are some potential factors they may consider when setting your credit limit:
- Payment history: Do you pay your bills—including monthly credit card bills—on time? Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or had a debt sent to collections?
- Current accounts: How many accounts do you have open? And what kinds of loans do you have open?
- Account history: How long have you had your current accounts? Have you applied for a bunch of new credit recently?
- Credit utilization ratio: What is your level of credit utilization? In other words, how much credit are you using compared to how much you have available?
- Income: Do you make enough money to cover your monthly bill?
Changes to your credit limit: Why do they happen?
Your credit limit won’t necessarily stay the same. It can change over time as your credit scores, job or credit use change.
Credit limits can go lower or higher than they originally were. Lower credit limits mean you have less money available to borrow. Higher credit limits mean you have more money available to borrow.
How to increase your credit card limit
There are two types of credit limit increases:
- Customer-initiated credit limit increases: A customer requests additional credit from a lender.
- Lender-initiated credit limit increases: A lender offers additional credit to a customer.
In general, additional credit is usually offered or given to customers who have shown responsible financial habits and behaviors over time. You can learn about how Capital One handles credit limit increases in this article about Capital One’s credit policies.
While credit limit increases might be best for long-term needs, eligible Capital One customers may also be able to go over their limits for occasional spending needs with no over-the-limit fee. View important rates and disclosures. If your account has access, you can use the Confirm Purchasing Power tool to check whether an overlimit purchase may be approved. You can also disable the ability to spend over your credit limit in your overlimit preferences.
Is it hard to increase your credit limit?
Getting a credit line increase can depend on your personal situation. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances:
- Keep your financial and personal information up to date. Federal regulations require that credit card companies use up-to-date income information when considering an account for a credit limit increase. So check your account details at least once a year to make sure they’re up to date. Your lender may want to know information like your total annual income, employment status, monthly rent or mortgage payment.
- Pay monthly statements on time. Paying loans on time is one way to improve your payment history. It’s one indication that you’re using credit responsibly. If you have trouble staying organized, consider automatic payments or electronic reminders to help you avoid missing payments.
- Pay more than the minimum on your credit card bills. Even if you don’t pay your full credit card balance, try to make more than the minimum payment when you can. It’s a good rule of thumb no matter what, because it can help you save money on credit card interest and improve your credit utilization ratio.
- Review your credit report for errors. You can get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn how. And take some time to make sure your information is current and up to date. If you find a mistake, take steps to correct the error on your report.
- Monitor your credit. You can use a tool like CreditWise from Capital One to keep an eye on your credit. With CreditWise, you can access your TransUnion® credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score—without hurting your scores. This also helps you ensure your accounts remain secure and you catch any potential fraud or errors on your credit report. You can even explore the potential impact of your financial decisions before you make them with the CreditWise Simulator. And CreditWise is free for everyone, even if you’re not a Capital One cardholder.
When to request a credit limit increase
When exactly you should ask for a credit limit increase is up to you. And it depends on your own unique circumstances.
Policies for credit limit increases differ from issuer to issuer. At Capital One, for example, accounts that have been open only a few months are generally too new to be considered. If an account has received an increase or decrease in the past few months, it typically won’t be considered either.
If you are eligible for a credit limit increase, your request may be approved immediately. But sometimes requests can take a few days to review. And sometimes your issuer may ask for additional information before it can approve your request. Once your request has been reviewed, you’ll find out whether you’ve been approved for an increase through an email, an online notification or a letter.
How much is too much for a credit limit increase?
The amount you request is a personal decision. Whether you’re looking for extra flexibility to help with an unexpected emergency, a large purchase or everyday expenses, examining your goals and your financial situation can help guide your request. Just make sure the amount you request is one you’re comfortable paying off without overextending yourself.
Keep in mind: Your request for a credit limit increase could be approved by your credit card issuer for a lower amount than what you asked for.
Does a credit limit increase request hurt your credit scores?
Whether you’re looking to improve your credit scores or maintain good credit scores, it’s a good idea to be aware of how changes to your credit limit impact your credit scores.
You may experience a temporary dip in your credit scores if you request an increase to your credit limit, as your lender may conduct a hard inquiry in processing that request. However, your credit utilization—how much of your available credit you’re using—may also dip with an increased credit limit, which can improve your credit scores.
Your credit utilization ratio is an important factor in determining your credit scores in the long term. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends you keep your ratio under 30%.
For example, if you have only one credit card account and it has a $5,000 balance and a credit limit of $15,000, your credit utilization ratio would be 33.3%. If your credit limit were increased to $20,000, your credit utilization ratio would drop to 25%.
But it’s important to remember that credit utilization changes as you use and pay down your statement balance every month. So while a credit limit increase has the potential to positively impact your credit scores, that’ll only be the case if you use your increased limit responsibly.
Other ways to access more credit
Applying for a second credit card is another way to try to access more credit.
But applying for a new card can affect your credit scores. And it also means another account to keep up with and use responsibly. If you’re considering applying for another card, it might help to think about how many credit cards you should have.
Credit limit increases in a nutshell
Your credit card company may decide to automatically increase your credit limit because of changes in your financial situation or improvements in your credit scores. Or you could request an increase yourself.
Remember, a lender isn’t guaranteed to give you an increase when you ask for one. You’ll likely be asked to provide information like your income, employment status, and monthly mortgage or rent payment. Your credit card company may weigh these along with other factors to decide whether to approve your request.
You can learn about how Capital One handles credit limit increases in this article about credit policies. Or you can check out these frequently asked questions about credit line increases at Capital One.