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In 2020, the average credit card credit limit was $30,365, according to Experian data. This was a 3% decrease from the previous year's average. However, average credit card limits also vary by age range, and people who are new to credit or rebuilding their credit may have lower credit limits.
How Credit Card Issuers Determine Your Credit Limit
When you apply for a new credit card, your initial credit limit may depend on various factors, including:
- Your credit scores
- Your income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI)
- Your history with the card issuer
- The card issuer's policies and goals
- Current economic conditions
Generally, higher credit scores and income can lead to higher credit limits, but it's not always that simple.
For example, a credit card issuer may review your credit, income and monthly payments to determine how much you can afford to repay. But if you already have several cards with the issuer, it might not want to extend you additional credit, even if you have an excellent credit score.
Your credit card limits may also be impacted by factors outside your control. For instance, some credit card issuers lowered card limits at the start of the pandemic. However, they may have slowly increased limits for cardholders who showed they could afford to make payments or take on additional debt.
How to Increase Your Credit Limit
Increasing your credit limit can make using your card easier, especially when you're making large or frequent purchases. A higher credit limit may also help your credit scores because it can lead to a lower credit utilization rate—an important scoring factor.
There are a few ways you can try to get a credit limit increase:
- Update your income information. Keep your income information up to date with your card issuers, particularly when your income rises, and you may be offered or automatically receive a credit limit increase.
- Focus on building your credit. Card issuers also monitor cardholders' credit reports and scores, and improving your credit scores could lead to automatic credit limit increases.
- Ask for an increase. You can always reach out to your card issuer and ask for a credit limit increase. However, it may be best to wait until your credit scores or income have increased, your monthly housing payments decrease or you've made on-time payments and paid down your card's balance. Some card issuers will check your credit with a hard inquiry, which may hurt your credit scores even if the card issuer declines your request.
- Transfer available credit. If you want a higher credit limit for a specific card and you have other cards from the same issuer, you may be able to transfer your available credit. This isn't always an option, and you may have to call the card's customer service line or send a secure message after logging in to your account to request a transfer.
If you can't get a credit limit increase right now, you can focus on the factors that may help, such as making more money, improving your credit scores and paying down credit card balances with on-time payments.
Also, keep in mind that you might not be able to submit one request after another. If you're asking for an increase to a specific amount, a practical request could make more sense than trying to double or triple your credit limit.
Monitor Your Credit for New Opportunities
Keeping an eye on your credit report and score could help you determine when it might make sense to ask for a credit limit increase. You can use Experian's free credit monitoring to get your monthly updated credit report and a FICO® Score☉ based on your report.
Once you're logged in, you can also use Experian CreditMatchTM to get personalized credit card offers based on your unique credit profile. Opening a new card can give you more available credit and come with extra benefits, such as an intro bonus or promotional interest rate.