When you apply for a new credit card and have little to no credit, the credit card companies are taking a chance you will pay off the charges that you put on your card. To protect themselves from a cardmember maxing out their shiny new card buying all their friends pizza and not being able to pay the bill, issuers start you out with a small credit limit. The good news is these small initial limits are not permanent.
As your credit limit is one of the biggest components in determining your credit score, you may be wondering how you can increase the amount of credit available you to. Here are 4 simple ways to get a higher credit limit:
Request A Credit Line Increase For Your Existing Cards
The simplest way to increase your line of credit is by making a request with a credit card that you currently have. This is as easy as calling the customer service phone number on the back of the card, filling out an online form, or performing an online chat with a representative.
Here are some general guidelines for different issuers on requesting a credit increase:
How to Get a Credit Limit Increase with American Express
There are no hard inquiries for credit limit increases. American Express initiates random soft inquiries from Experian during the life of the account. For many people, you can increase your credit limit up to 3X your initial credit amount after 60 days from the opening of your account.
Besides calling the number on the back of your card, cardholders can request a CLI via the American Express website by logging into their account at www.americanexpress.com and going to Account Services > Request Credit Limit Increase. With the online method, Amex lets you enter the desired credit limit. Depending on their scoring algorithms, they may counter with a partial increase that you can accept or refuse.
For certain credit requests, Amex may ask for income verification by requesting a signed 4506T to obtain tax return transcripts from the IRS. This additional documentation should not be confused with the dreaded American Express Financial Review. If you fail to send back the 4506T within 30 days, your CLI request will be simply denied but your account(s) will stay active. People have speculated that proof of income is more likely if your credit limit exceeds $25,000 for a card or $34,500 over all Amex accounts.
How to Get a Credit Limit Increase with Capital One
Request a CLI by calling Capital One on the phone at 1-800-CAPITAL (or 1-800-227-4825) or visiting www.capitalone.com
To be eligible for a credit line increase, your Capital One account should be open for at least 3 months, it cannot be a secured credit card account, you haven’t had a late payment in the last 12 months with Capital One or any of your other creditors, and you haven’t had a credit increase or decrease in the last 6 months.
Boost the chances of getting a credit increase by keeping your employment and income information up to date. Capital One also wants to see you make more than the minimum monthly payment on time in the last 3 months.
To make your request online, first, log into your account. Then click on the I Want To… link and look for the Request Credit Line Increase under Offers and Upgrades. The online form will then ask for your total annual income, employment status, occupation, monthly mortgage or rent payment, how much you plan to spend each month on the card, your desired credit line, and the reason for the increase.
Capital One states that the higher your credit line, the higher your credit score needs to be to qualify for more credit.
When you request more credit, it may be approved instantly or take a few business days. Capital One performs a soft inquiry when you make your request.
How to Get a Credit Limit Increase with Chase
To qualify for a credit limit increase with Chase credit cards, you typically need to pay your bills on time for at least six months to be eligible.
If Chase initiates the offer for more credit, it will be a soft inquiry on your credit report. However, if you are the one who initiates the request for a higher spending limit, Chase will perform a hard inquiry into your credit history.
Request more credit by calling Chase customer service at 1-800-935-9935
To increase the chances of Chase making an offer to raise your credit line, you should use your card regularly, consistently pay your bills on time, and keep your income information updated on your account profile on Chase’s website at www.chase.com.
How to Get a Credit Limit Increase with Citi
For Citibank cards, you can request a CLI by phone by calling 1-800-950-5114 or online by logging into your account at www.citi.com
Citi will usually do a soft pull of your credit report when you ask for a higher limit. If Citi needs to do a hard pull, you will be notified first.
If you want to get an automatic credit increase, be sure to keep your income information updated by clicking on your Profile and going to the Income Information page. Periodic reviews will be conducted after your account has been opened for about six months.
To get an instant credit increase online, you can log onto your online account. In the top menu bar, choose Services, and select Credit Card Services. On the next page under Card Management, click the link for Request a Credit Limit Increase. Citi will ask for your total annual income and your monthly mortgage or rent payment. After confirming the information, Citi will let you know the decision after the request is submitted. If you are approved, your new credit limit will be available immediately.
How to Get a Credit Limit Increase with Discover
Discover cardholders have a couple of ways to request a CLI – online or by phone.
Those who wish to speak to customer service can call 1-800-DISCOVER (or 1-800-347-2683). Residents of Ohio, New York, and anyone needing to fill out an application for a joint credit card will need to speak to a representative.
Members who want to increase their credit line using the website can sign into their account at www.discover.com. After you are logged in, click the Manage tab and look for the Credit Line Increase link. You will then be asked for your total annual gross income, the name of your employer, and your monthly housing or rent payment. After providing all the requested information, hit submit at the bottom of the page.
On the credit limit increase form, there is a notice that Discover may pull a credit bureau report that could affect your credit score (aka hard inquiry). In cases where they will perform a hard inquiry, Discover states they will only proceed with the application if you consent.
How the credit pulls work is when you enter the credit amount desired, if Discover accepts the amount it will be a soft inquiry. If not, they may counter with a lower offer. If you accept the counteroffer, it will still be a soft inquiry. However, if you push for the amount you had entered, it will be a hard inquiry.
Discover recommends that you wait at least 6 months before applying for another credit limit increase.
Apply for a New Credit Card with a Larger Limit
Opening a new credit card account may be an easier way to get a big jump in your credit limit than trying to get an increase on one of your existing cards.
After a certain point, issuers tend to get a little hesitant giving out more credit increases without salary info backing up the amount of credit being extended to you. The more credit a credit card issuer makes available to you, the greater the amount of risk they take on if you run into a financial difficulty. You might not even need to fall onto hard times for the credit card company to end up with a big loss if your credit card gets stolen.
Sometimes a particular credit card may have its own internal credit limit cap because of its target consumer. Don’t expect a student card or a card for consumers with fair credit ratings to have lofty limits.
People may pass on opening a new account because of the hit on their credit score from the hard inquiry or they don’t want to carry around more plastic in their wallet. If your credit score has improved since applying for your other cards, getting approved for better cards with higher limits and lower rates is much easier. Your score will recover after a short period and your credit will be even stronger from more diversity in your cards and as your credit history ages.
If your issuer is going to perform a hard pull on your credit history for a CLI, you might as well consider applying for a new card. An additional benefit of signing up for a new card is when issuers are offering a signup bonus, which may include member points, airline miles, or cashback.
Sometimes you don’t even need to apply with a different issuer. You can apply for a card with your current credit card company and reallocate your credit line among your various cards. For example, American Express lets you change your credit allocation online instantly.
Add To Your Deposit for A Secured Card
A secured credit card can help people with a thin credit history who may not otherwise qualify for an unsecured credit card, establish a credit profile. The secured card’s credit limit comes from the refundable deposit you put down when you opened the account.
In most cases, you can increase your limit simply by adding additional funds to your security deposit up to a set maximum amount. To start the process, log onto the card’s website or call customer service to make a deposit over the phone, online using a checking account, or mailing a check or money order.
Cross Your Fingers and Wait for an Automatic Limit Increase
Finally, the last way to get a credit limit increase is to simply do nothing. You show your issuer that you are a responsible credit card user by using the card regularly; make your payments on time; keep your credit utilization low, and not exceed your credit limit.
After about 6 to 12 months the credit company may evaluate your account and reward you automatically with a higher limit without you lifting a finger.
If you are the type who’d rather sit back and wait, one thing you can do to increase your chances of getting a surprise credit increase is keeping your income information updated if you’ve gotten a new job with better pay or a raise.
Automatic credit increases tend to be in smaller increments than those from the other methods listed above though.
Pros and Cons of More Available Credit
Like many things, there are pluses and minuses you have to consider when you get access to more credit.
Improve your credit score. More credit can help improve your credit score by lowering your credit utilization ratio. This number is calculated by taking the total amount of credit you are using on your cards divided by the total amount of credit available. The lower the ratio the better you look to lenders.
More purchasing power. If you have a big purchase planned or an unexpected money emergency, having a higher credit limit will let you pay for it without having to write a check or applying for a loan. Be sure to pay off the balance as soon as you can to avoid excess interest charges.
Hard inquiries. Sometimes asking for more credit may result in a hard pull on your credit report. This will result in a small drop in your credit score. Get too many hard inquiries in a short period of time and it will look like you are having financial difficulties.
Overspending temptation. If you are not careful, you could find yourself getting deeper into credit card debt that could take years to pay off because of the high APR that comes with credit cards. You should not ask for more credit because you are close to maxing out your current cards and need more headroom.
Follow the above tips to increase your credit limits on your cards. Many people look at having a high limit as bragging rights or social status, but there are some benefits to having more credit available. These include helping improve your credit score, which would save you money on interest, or allowing you to put more charges on your card, which could lead to earning more rewards.
No matter how much or how little credit you have on your cards, you should always plan to pay off your cards every month for the most benefit.
What are your experiences with requesting more credit for your cards? Is there such a thing as having too much credit?