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Two Ways to Increase Your Credit Limits
The credit limit of a credit card is the maximum amount that can be spent before some of the balance needs to be paid off. Some credit cards come with small limits of just few hundred dollars, while some come with larger limits of several tens of thousands of dollars.
Higher credit limits, or credit lines, are important because they provide more spending ability and they drive down your total credit utilization. There are two basic ways to increase your credit limits on credit cards: a fast way and a slow way.
- The fast way is to simply request an increase, either online or by phone.
- The slow way is to use your credit cards responsibly, and wait for the card issuers to automatically increase your credit limits as you demonstrate that you are a good customer and can handle a larger limit.
In some cases, depending on the card issuer and the amount of the increase, a request will require a hard inquiry on your credit report, which has a slightly negative effect. However, the effect is temporary and small enough that you can generally ignore this when compared to the benefits of having a higher credit limit.
Q&A Video: How Can I Raise the Credit Limit on My Credit Card?
Method 1: Requesting a Credit Limit Increase
Requesting a higher limit is much like applying for a credit card in the first place. You are asking for a line of credit, and to see if you deserve it the card issuer will check your credit. The same factors that are used to determine whether or not you’re approved for a credit card can be used to determine if you’ll be given the increase.
There are usually 3 possible results of a credit limit increase request:
- You’ll get the increase you asked for
- You’ll get a counter-offer by the issuer of an increase for a lesser amount
- You’ll be denied for the increase
The quickest and easiest way to request a credit limit increase is usually online, through your credit card account on the issuer’s website. We are working to verify that every card issuer will let you request an increase online; if you have some information that we don’t, please contact us and let us know!
It may be a prominent link or you may need to do a bit of digging to find it, depending on your card issuer. Bank of America, for example, makes it quite easy with a link on your account profile, while Chase requires you to call the phone number on the back of your card instead of requesting online.
See the list of credit card issuers below for more information on how each one lets you request a credit limit increase and how they handle it afterward.
How to Increase Your Credit Limit Online
- Login to your credit card account on your issuer’s website
- Find the “Credit Limit Increase Request” link or section; see the list below for issuer-specific details
- Proceed according to the issuer’s instructions, filling in all requested information
- Wait to hear back from the issuer; you may receive the increase or be denied immediately, while in other cases (usually for larger increases) it can take at least several days to process the request. Depending on the issuer, your personal preferences, and the size of the increase, you may receive either an online notification or a letter.
Alternatively, if you can’t request an increase online or would prefer to do it by phone, start by calling the customer service number found on the back of your credit card. If you can’t use this number for some reason, take a look at our listing of “backdoor” credit card company phone numbers »
Usually, the customer service representatives you’ll speak to will be authorized to increase your credit limit a small amount if they think you deserve it, usually no more than $1,000. If you’d like a larger increase, you’re probably going to generate a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Requesting a credit limit increase over the phone is much like the online request described above. On the phone, however, you’ll want to prepare some information beforehand. You may not end up needing all of it.
How to Increase Your Credit Limit over the Phone
Have the following information ready:
- Personal identifying information
- Current employment status
- Total monthly and annual gross income
- Monthly mortgage or rental payments
- The amount you’d like to increase your credit limit
- Your justification for requesting the increase: a history of on-time payments, frequent usage of the card, better credit score than before, an increase in income, if you plan to make a balance transfer to the account, etc.
After you have that info ready, do the following:
- Call the number on the back of your credit card, or use our listing of “backdoor” card issuer phone numbers »
- Tell the customer service representative that you’d like to request a credit limit increase; you may be transferred to a different representative in a “credit risk” department
- Be courteous when requesting your increase
- You request may be accepted, countered, or denied almost immediately over the phone; in other cases, you’ll need to wait for an online notification or letter from your card issuer with the results.
Method 2: Waiting for Automatic Credit Limit Increases
Credit card issuers will usually increase your credit limit automatically if you show that you are a responsible card user and also use the card enough to warrant a higher credit limit. Issuers tend to give out these automatic increases in intervals of about 6 or 12 months.
This long-term strategy will be always be working for you, and will be maximized if you:
- Don’t make late or returned payments
- Use the card fairly frequently, generating swipe fees for the bank
- Revolve a balance (can be costly for you, but profitable for the card issuer)
If you are a responsible credit user but you don’t use a particular card, don’t expect to see automatic credit limit increases on that card. If the issuer doesn’t see a need for you to have a higher credit limit, you might not be given one automatically.
In my experience, waiting around for credit limit increases isn’t very effective. I have several cards that have never received an automatic CLI. Personally, I keep a few cards around that I never use just to keep my utilization lower, but I never expect those to get automatic credit limit bumps on their own since I’m not using them at all.
– John Ganotis, Founder, Credit Card Insider
How Issuers Handle Credit Limit Increase Requests
When you request a credit limit increase from your card issuer, some issuers will do a hard inquiry on your credit, while others will do a soft inquiry.
While we can’t guarantee 100% whether an issuer will do a hard or soft inquiry when you request a credit limit increase, we’ve put together this table based on our research to help you understand what might happen for different issuers. We’ve also included instructions for increasing your credit limit online.
This section was last updated in June of 2015; if you experience something different from what we have here, or have information about how an issuer provides online credit limit increase requests, please contact us and let us know!
- Hard inquiry
- You will either receive approval almost immediately or receive a message saying that a decision will be delivered to you by mail in 7-10 days. The 7-10 option usually means there will be a manual review.
- It is important to note that American Express does not increase an accountholder’s credit limit during the first 60 days after the account is opened, or until at least six months after the last credit limit increase.
- Online Credit Limit Increase Request: Log in, and then click “Account Services” in the top navigation bar; then click “Credit Management” in the left-hand bar; then click “Increase Line of Credit.”
Bank of America
- You can request a credit limit increase online approximately every six months. Bank of America will typically do a hard pull on your account and then make the decision.
- Soft inquiry for small increases (under $2,000), or after other recent increases, or after heavy usage with the card
- In many cases, you must be an account holder for at least 6-12 months before you can request a credit limit increase.
- Online Credit Limit Increase Request: Log in and then click “Information & Services” in the mid-screen bar; then click “Credit line increase.”
- In many cases they will approve the increase immediately, though it could take a few days to process your request. If this happens, you will receive a letter in the mail with the decision in approximately ten days.
- Capital One allows credit limit increase requests at any time. Once they have increased your credit, you typically will not be approved for another increase for at least six months.
- Be sure to keep in mind that Capital One generally declines requests from accounts that have not been open for at least six months.
- Usually a hard inquiry, unless Chase initiates it
- Chase used to allow customers to request credit limit increases online, but now they require that you call the phone number on the back of your card if you want to request a credit limit increase.
- If you request a credit limit increase through your online account, you will either be instantly approved or you will have to ask for a manual review.
- In a manual review, you will have to restate your income and list additional bank account information so that they can check your balances. A hard credit pull is also required if you agree to a full review. However, if you decline the full review, nothing will happen.
- Citi usually provides a free credit increase about once every six months. In the rare case you are rejected for an increase, it is generally the result of a previous increase within the last six month period.
- Online Credit Limit Increase Request: Log in, then click the “Account Management” link in the navigation bar near the top; then click “Request a Credit Line Increase.”
- You can only make a general request for an increase, you can’t request a specific amount.
- You’ll need your total annual gross income, employer’s name, and monthly housing payment/rent.
- Discover will start with a soft inquiry, and you may be approved instantly. If you are, you’ll be given a maximum amount to increase your limit. You can choose an increase of a smaller amount if you’d like.
- Discover will do a hard inquiry on your credit if you’re not instantly approved, meaning that your account requires more review (you can choose to cancel at this step if you’d like). This process will take a bit longer, and you’ll be contacted soon with the result.
- Discover, like Citi, is known for automatically increasing your credit limit every 6 months if your credit card is used responsibly.
- Online Credit Limit Increase Request: Log in and then hover over the “Manage” button in the top navigation bar; then click “Credit Line Increase.”
- Soft inquiry if automatically generated by card issuer
- Hard inquiry if you call to request a a credit limit increase
- Hard inquiry
- Most accounts receive a credit limit increase every 6 months without a hard inquiry
- Soft inquiry if done automatically
- Soft inquiry if you call and ask for an increase without a hard pull. If they say no, try calling a different representative later and trying again
Transferring Your Credit Limit
If you have already been denied for a credit limit increase or the increase wasn’t the amount you requested, you have another potential option. You can apply for a new credit card from the same issuer. Once you are approved, you may be able to transfer a portion of that new credit limit to the card you want to have a higher limit. Be sure to check with the card issuer beforehand to make sure that you’ll be able to do this.
If you have excellent credit there is no reason why you shouldn’t be approved for a new card and eventually the re-allocation of your credit limits. Depending on the issuer, you may find out immediately or not for a few months if your credit limit transfer has been approved.