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A higher credit limit can give you more buying power and help your credit score by lowering your credit utilization ratio. Many credit card issuers track your account usage and creditworthiness to determine when to automatically increase your credit limit. But you can also proactively request a credit limit increase whenever you want a higher credit limit.
What Happens When You Request a Higher Credit Limit?
When you request a credit limit increase, your card issuer will consider various factors to decide if and how much to increase your limit.
The card issuer might ask about your current income and monthly housing payments, and request your credit report and a credit score. Depending on the credit card company's process, the credit check could result in a hard inquiry whether or not you are approved. Any impact from a single hard inquiry is usually minimal, but you could see a temporary dip in scores as a result.
Credit card issuers also use internal data, such as your history with the lender, how often you use the card and whether you regularly carry a balance or pay your bill in full. Then, they feed all this information into computer models that help them determine what credit limit to offer.
You might get an increase if the card issuer thinks your risk of running up a balance and not paying is low.
When to Request a Credit Limit Increase
You might want a higher credit limit if you find yourself regularly hitting your limit and wanting to spend more in a billing cycle without having to repeatedly pay down the current balance. Or perhaps you're planning a large purchase and know your credit limit won't be enough.
Card issuers don't have to approve your request, but you might have a good chance of getting a higher limit if one of the following scenarios apply.
Your Income Increases or Housing Costs Decrease
Card issuers need to be sure you have enough income to support a higher credit limit. You may qualify if your household income increases or housing costs decrease; you may be asked about these when you make the request. Additionally, you can report your new income to your card issuer at any time to improve your chances of getting an automated credit limit increase.
You've Paid Off or Closed Other Credit Accounts
Card issuers may consider your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which compares your monthly income and loan payments. Your DTI could decrease when you pay off installment loans or other credit cards, which could help you qualify for a higher credit limit.
Your Credit Score Improves
Your credit score can also impact whether you qualify for a higher limit. Check your credit score for free with Experian, and get free score tracking to monitor it over time. Improving your score can also help you qualify for lower interest rates and better offers on new loans and credit cards.
You Have a Good History With the Issuer
The card issuer may review your history with the company—with the card and your other accounts—when considering your credit limit increase request. A long history of paying your bills on time and paying down balances may improve your chances.
When Not to Request a Credit Limit Increase
You might want to hold off on requesting a higher limit if you likely won't get approved and the request results in a hard inquiry. For example, it might make sense to wait when one of the following situations apply.
You Just Opened the Card or Got an Increase
The card issuer set your credit limit when you opened your account, and it likely won't increase the limit in the first couple of months. Similarly, if you just requested an increase, you may want to wait several months before requesting another.
You Recently Missed Bill Payments
You also might have trouble getting approved if you've fallen behind on bill payments—either with the credit card or with other credit accounts. Your card issuer can see the late payments that appear in your credit report, and it might not want to let you borrow more money if you're struggling to pay what you currently owe.
You Recently Applied for Other Credit Cards or Loans
Your credit report will also tell the card issuer if you've recently applied for or opened new credit accounts. Card issuers might feel like you're desperate for money or will be overextended if you're trying to borrow a lot of money quickly, which might make them less likely to increase your credit limit.
How to Request a Credit Limit Increase
Card issuers generally let you request a credit limit increase by:
- Submitting the request online
- Calling your card issuer
You may receive a response right away, or it could take several days if the card issuer wants to carefully review the situation before making a decision. If approved, some issuers show you the maximum credit limit they can offer and let you choose a lower-than-maximum limit if you'd prefer.
If your card issuer declines your request, you could try to call the issuer to see if there are other options. For example, if you have multiple credit cards with the issuer, you may be able to move available credit from one card to increase another card's limit.
You may also receive an adverse action letter if the issuer used information from your credit report in its decision. The letter explains which credit-related information led the issuer to decline your request, which you can then focus on to improve your chances of getting an increase later. You'll also have the right to request a free copy of the report from the same credit bureau(s) the issuer used—Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.
Improve Your Credit Score and Consider New Cards
Check your Experian credit report and credit score for free and find out what's impacting your score the most. You can also use the free credit report and score monitoring to track your progress as you improve your score.
Also, consider whether applying for a new card rather than increasing your current card's credit limit could help you reach your goals. A new card's intro bonus or promotional interest rates might even make it a better option at times. You can use Experian CreditMatch™ to get credit card offers based on your unique credit profile.