Learn what factors go into deciding your credit card limit and whether your application for an increased credit limit will be approved.
Every credit card comes with a credit limit and is determined by the information you provide when applying. The card provider uses this information to arrive at a suitable credit limit.
There is no definite way to determine what your credit limit might be, as card providers often follow their own unique policies when deciding your credit limit. However, developing an understanding of how certain factors may determine your credit limit could help you make a more accurate estimate.
What is a credit card limit?
At its most basic, a credit limit is the largest balance you can hold on your credit card at any one time. It’s decided using the full range of information you give a credit provider, such as your income, debts and liabilities.
When you’re comparing your credit card options on Credit Card Finder, you’ll notice where available, we’ve included the maximum credit limit for a particular card. It’s important to note that this may not be the limit you end up with. For example, a credit card which features a maximum limit of $10,000 may only allow you to have $2,000.
What factors can affect my credit limit application?
Whether you’re applying for a new credit card or an increase in your existing card’s credit limit, know that the card provider in question will look at several factors before making a decision. Just about every credit card provider in the United States considers the following when it comes to making credit limit decisions:
- Your monthly income
- Your creditworthiness
- Your employment status (full-time, part-time, self-employed)
- Your residential status (homeowner, renter, boarder)
- The card in question (for example, silver, gold, platinum)
- Your history with the provider in question.
How to use an online credit limit calculator
Online credit card limit calculators can give you a vague idea of what your credit limit might look like. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine exactly what your credit limit is and you can’t be entirely sure of how your credit card provider will calculate your limit.
If you do end up using an online credit card limit calculator, bear in mind that the result should only work as an indication of what you can look forward to, and don’t expect your card provider to rely on similar parameters. At the end of the day, it’s your card provider who establishes exactly what your credit limit should be.
How can I calculate my own credit limit?
There is, as mentioned, no concrete way to calculate probable credit limit, and the process to arrive at a credit limit can vary from one credit card provider to the next. Taking into account aspects that affect your card’s credit limit, on the other hand, can help you get a better idea of what to expect:
- Credit history. When you apply for a new card or an increase in an existing card’s limit you can expect the provider to refer to your credit file while making a decision. They do this in order to assess risk levels of lending to you. Details in your credit file like repayment history, outstanding debts, and unsuccessful applications for debt can have an impact on your credit limit.
- Income. Income is a definite consideration when setting credit limit, and a number of cards come with minimum income requirements. You credit limit, in most instances, should stay in direct proportion to your income, where higher income normally translates into higher credit limits. Frequency and reliability of income can also affect your credit limit, an example in case being self-employed individuals who’re usually considered high-risk by most card providers.
- The provider. Credit card providers can offer you different credit limits even though you submit exactly the same information through their applications. If you’ve banked with the provider in the past, a reliable history on your part can lead to a higher than usual credit limit. Some credit card providers list out aspects they look at when determining credit limits, which you can use for reference. Certain providers, like American Express, have stringent processes when it comes to arriving at credit limit levels, which you should factor in as well.
How can I increase my credit limit?
If your credit card is not at its maximum allowed credit limit, you can consider applying for an increase in its limit, and just what you have to do in order to move forward depends on your card’s provider. You might, in all likelihood, have to submit an application for increase in credit limit, which many providers accept online. As part of this application you would have to provide identification details and income details, along with information about your existing assets and liabilities.
Before you submit an application for an increase of your credit card’s credit limit, there are several things you can do to increase chances of approval, and here’s what can help:
- Establish creditworthiness. If you can prove that you’re a reliable borrower, there’s a good chance that the lender in question would approve your application for increase in credit limit. In order to establish creditworthiness make sure you don’t make late payments, and try paying off as much as possible each month.
- Don’t exceed your credit limit. If you’ve exceeded your card’s limit once or more in the past, the provider would not look upon the same with favour, so it’s ideal that you keep your expenses in check and stay well within the card’s available limit.
- Regular use. Using your credit card regularly demonstrates that you’re well aware of the spending and repayments cycle that a credit card entails. Making large value purchases and repaying them in a timely manner can work well in this regards.
- Talk to the lender. In some instances, discussing your need for an increased credit limit directly with the card provider might help. If nothing else, you should at least get a good indication of what your provider expects.
- Patience is key. You can’t get a credit card today and hope to get an increase in its credit limit the next day or the next week. To qualify, you have to build a relationship with the provider, and you should give yourself at least six months before you consider applying for an increase.
What should I be wary of when changing my credit limit?
Increasing your card’s credit limit gives you access to more money as and when you need it, and decreasing it can help you keep your expenses in check. In either case, it is important that you account for the following.
- Overspending. An increased credit limit translates into you getting more money to spend, and this could lead to a build up of debt that you may have issues repaying. The higher the credit limits, the higher the chances of overspending.
- More interest. The outstanding balance in your account that rolls over from one month to the next attracts interest, and an increased credit limit can work in increasing the outstanding balance, resulting in you paying more in the form of interest. If you don’t pay your account’s balance in full every month, a credit limit increase might not be a good option.
- Defaulting. An increased credit limit gives you more spending power, and, again, the more you spend, the more you have to repay. Apart from repaying the principal, you also have to pay interest, which, over time, can add up to a sizeable sum. If, at any point, your outgoings exceed your income, you stand the risk of defaulting.
- Not enough money. Before you ask for a decrease in your card’s credit limit, establish if you’ve ever used the card beyond the new limit you seek. If you have, you might find yourself in need of the money again, and with a lower limit, you might find yourself at a loss during an emergency.
The credit limit your card comes with defines how much you can spend using your card, and while changing a card’s existing limit is possible, it requires several considerations. Some of the factors that can affect your application for increase in credit limit include your income, your creditworthiness, and the card provider in question. While increasing your credit limit may seem like the resolution to your financial problems, there are a number of considerations you should also be wary of before applying for an increase.