Your credit limit is the amount of money you can borrow from your credit card issuer at any given time. But your initial credit limit isn’t fixed -- many credit card companies slowly increase your credit limit over time as you show signs of responsible use. Using your card regularly and always paying your bill on time are two indicators to credit card companies that you can handle a higher credit line.
If you don’t receive an automatic credit limit increase, you can always request a higher credit limit directly from your issuer. Besides more purchasing power, a higher credit limit can also help boost your credit score.
Can a credit increase help your credit score?
While the biggest impact of increasing your credit limit is the ability to borrow more money, it’s not the only reason to boost your limit. Raising credit limits on your credit cards can also help improve your credit score, which has a number of benefits -- from getting lower interest rates to a better chance of approval for loans and insurance.
The key credit score factor here is your credit utilization ratio, which shows how much credit you’re using versus how much credit is available to you. For instance, if your overall credit limit is $5,000 and you’ve spent $3,000, you’re using 60% of your total credit, which is a higher ratio than the maximum 30% that experts recommend.
Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your FICO score, the most common scoring model used by lenders. If you increase your credit card spending limit, that will automatically lower the percentage of credit you’re using and generally raise your credit score.
For example, if your $5,000 overall credit limit increases to $10,000 and you still owe $3,000, your utilization ratio immediately drops from 60% to 30%.
How to increase your credit limit
Ready to ask for an increase on your credit cards to help your credit score? The main ways to ask for a credit limit increase are by phone or online.
Have you ever considered asking for an increase to your available credit to help your credit score? You can request a credit limit increase by picking up the phone or making the request online.
Call your credit card issuer
To ask for a credit limit increase by phone, call your card issuer (the phone number is on the back of your credit card) to find out if you’re eligible.
The customer service representative will likely ask questions related to your income, employment status and housing payments, as well as why you want to increase your credit limit. If your request is approved, ask how long it will take before you’ll see the credit increase on your billing statement and credit report.
Request a credit increase online
You can request an increase online through your credit card account page.
After you’re logged into your account, look for a link that says “Request Credit Limit Increase” or similar. You may need to enter your annual income to keep it current. For instance, you may be earning more now than you were when you opened your account. Also, be aware that the issuer may need to run a hard credit check to make its decision.
Once your request is submitted, your credit limit may be increased automatically, depending on your credit card issuer. Otherwise, keep checking your account to see if your request has been approved and when it will go into effect.
If you’re not approved for a credit limit increase, don’t worry. Keep working on improving your credit score by making on-time payments and keeping your credit utilization low before making another credit limit request.
How much should I request for an increased credit limit?
You can request a credit limit increase for any amount, but when the goal is boosting your credit score, the higher the credit limit, the better.
When you speak with your card issuer by phone or make an online request for a higher credit limit, you might be given some options to choose from. If a customer service representative presses you to give an exact number or percentage, you can always ask for double the credit limit you have now, or any percentage increase, such as 50%.
Remember that you might have to answer questions about why you’re requesting the credit limit increase. The agent might want to know how you plan to use the higher credit limit if approved or if you have specific plans to use the money.
Prepare an answer in advance. You might want more purchasing power to have access to more credit in case of an emergency. Or you might want a higher credit limit to boost your credit score so you can get better rates for a loan.
Will my credit limit increase automatically?
Many credit-building cards and secured credit cards review your account after a set period of time (usually six or seven months) to see if you’re eligible for an automatic credit line increase. The Capital One Platinum Credit Card* for fair credit is a solid example of a card that offers this benefit.
Editors’ note: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.
*All information about the Capital One Platinum Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.