Your credit card limit is the maximum amount you’re permitted to rack up at any one time on a specific credit card. If you exceed it, you’ll likely wreck your credit — plus you risk getting hit with fees, a decreased credit limit or other penalties, according to Experian, one of the three leading credit reporting agencies. In addition to avoiding penalties, you should pay attention to your credit limits because they help determine one of the most important factors in credit scoring: your utilization ratio. Your utilization ratio is the amount of credit you’ve used versus the amount available to you.
How to Increase Your Credit Limit
You might want to ask your credit card issuer to increase your credit limit for several reasons: A higher limit might help you decrease your utilization ratio — provided you don’t charge your card up to the new limit — which might improve your credit score. An increased credit card limit could also come in handy if you have an unexpected medical expense or if you plan to do a credit card balance transfer to that card.
Ask your credit card company how to increase your credit limit. Generally, you can request a credit limit increase by phone or online. You might need to provide information such as your income, monthly housing status — whether you own or rent, monthly housing payment and the total amount of credit limit you want. The credit-issuing company will review your information and might pull a credit report. Some credit card companies might provide an instant decision.
Take a look at these eight tips to increase your credit limit so you can improve your chances of being granted a higher limit.
1. Calculate How Much Credit You Need
To determine how much you might want to increase your credit limit, figure out how much credit you need for your normal everyday spending. Make sure you can pay this amount in full each month. If you’re consistently spending more than you’re earning, increasing your credit card limit would only make the problem worse.
2. Keep Your Credit Record Clean
A credit card issuer won’t want to increase your credit limit if you’ve been irresponsible — for example, if you routinely exceed your existing limit or pay late.
Make sure you’ve got a clean record for at least six months before you apply so that you look less risky to the bank. Requests to increase credit limits might be a warning sign that you’re in financial trouble.
3. Don’t Request a Credit Limit Increase on a Whim
Think carefully before you request a credit limit increase. When you apply, the credit card issuer might pull your credit report which results in a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many inquiries can negatively affect your credit score.
4. Apply to Increase Your Lowest Credit Limit
Although you might be tempted to increase an existing credit limit that’s high, strategically you’re better off if you seek to increase your lowest credit limit. By raising a low credit limit, you’ll lower your utilization ratio which could improve your credit score.
5. Don’t Request a Big Increase
A bank’s application might require you to specify how much total credit you want, whereas other banks will decide the amount if you’re approved. If you’re not satisfied with your increase, you could apply again later. Wait perhaps a year, provided you’ve been using all your credit responsibly.
6. Ask for a Credit Limit Increase Before You Do a Balance Transfer
If your credit card has good balance transfer terms, ask for a credit limit increase before you initiate a balance transfer. The credit issuer might be willing to approve your credit limit increase if it means you’re moving your business from their competitor.
7. Ask for a Temporary Credit Limit Increase
If you think the credit-issuing company might reject your application, consider asking for a temporary credit card limit increase. Some credit issuers might offer this option if you need the extra credit for a specific expense like medical costs. However, although the credit issuer might grant a temporary increase, it might limit how long it will last and how much time you have to repay the extra debt.
8. Don’t Give Up If You’re Rejected
If you apply for an increase and get rejected, don’t give up. More than 24 percent of people surveyed were denied credit at least once in the prior twelve months, according to the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014.
If you think you have a good case, call the credit card issuer’s customer service line. Politely ask the credit analyst to reconsider your application. If you’ve been a good customer they will likely want to retain your business and might grant the credit limit increase you desire.