How much credit increase to request

6 Expert Tips: Increase Your Credit Limit (Get Approved Now)

How much credit increase to request

By: Ashley Dull • May 22, 2017

Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

First and foremost, ask yourself why you want to increase your credit limit. If it’s to go on a shopping spree or purchase things you can’t afford without credit, stop right there. You’ll need to have proven to yourself and the bank that you know how to use credit responsibly in order for them to approve you.

This means that you’ve exemplified yourself as a good customer for at least 6 months. If your cards are maxed out, you’ve been late making payments, or you’ve even missed payments, your chances of approval are slim to none.

With that said, if you are indeed one of the wise consumers who’s followed the golden rules of credit card usage, here are 6 tips for getting your credit limit increased:

Sometimes, applying for a new card altogether is the simplest option. You can choose a credit card company, apply, get your new card and be done — or you can apply for a new card with your current lender and, once approved, reallocate a portion of your new credit line to the card you originally wanted to be increased. Yes, you can do this, assuming you have better-than-average credit, and it can get you significantly more than you originally requested.

Here are our best overall offers with generous credit limits upon approval.

  • Our Take: "One of our favorite cards, with long 0% intro APRs, low ongoing APRs, awesome cash back rewards, and lots more.
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases
  • With Cashback Match you could turn $200 into $400, as the card matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
  • See application, terms and details.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
  • See application, terms and details.
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • See application, terms and details.

Pick a card in your wallet you want to have the limit increased on. Don’t assume if you ask all of your credit issuers that your chances of being approved are greater.

How much credit increase to request

Choose one card to request an increase on.

When you request an increase, the issuer will need to pull your credit history to see if you’re creditworthy.

This credit pull will be noted on your credit report and will slightly lower your credit score. If multiple issuers are pulling your report, it won’t be so slight. Not only that, the issuers will be able to see that other issuers are reviewing you as well, meaning you’ll come across as desperate for money. This is a red flag in the eyes of credit companies and can easily hurt your chances for approval.

Remember: Banks like to loan to people who don’t really need money. This leads us to our next tip:

If you call the credit issuer crying that you have an emergency you need money for and think your sob story will make them empathize with your situation and up your limit, think again.

Don’t tell them why you need it, tell them why you deserve it. Here are some good reasons why:

  • You’ve been a loyal customer for X years/months and have never missed a payment. (Don’t ask for an increase if you’ve been a customer for less than six months.)
  • You pay your balance in full each month or
  • You always pay more than the minimum balance
  • You’re utilizing 30% or less of your current limit
  • Your payments are always on time
  • Your income has recently increased

And remember, being kind to the person on the other end of the phone can also help — they’re just doing their job, so don’t take your financial frustration out on them.

Asking for too much of an increase can be seen as yet another red flag, which may cause you to be denied and you’ll have to wait a few more months to reapply.

How much credit increase to request

Expect an increase of 10-25 percent.

Don’t ask the representative how much you should request, either. Credit card companies prohibit their employees from providing this advice to you. There’s a not-so set-in-stone standard that says 10 to 25 percent is a good percentage to aim for, so if you have a $1,000 limit, expect to see up to an additional $250 or so made available to you.

This is not a hard and fast rule, however — those with good credit histories can receive substantially more and every situation is different. If you do receive considerably more, don’t let the new credit limit entice you into overspending.

Banks love balance transfers like Joanie loves Chachi. If you don’t know how balance transfers work, all it means is you’re transferring your balance from one credit card to another.

These can be a pretty sweet deal, as many credit issuers nowadays offer zero percent interest on transfers for up to a year or longer. That means you stop paying interest for that time period if you move your balance from Card A to Card B. It’s actually a pretty smart move, financially speaking. This can save you hundreds of dollars.

So what’s in it for them?

  • A balance transfer fee. Check if there is one and the amount to see if it’s worth it. If the fee equals the same amount you’d save, it’s not such a sweet deal after all.
  • If you don’t pay the amount in full by the time the no-interest period is over, the new issuer gets to make the money from the interest they’re now charging you that would have gone to your previous issuer.

If you tell your issuer you want an increase so you can transfer your balance, they’ll likely want to make this work, assuming they can trust you to make the payments (i.e., having a decent credit history).

Credit issuers review accounts generally every six months, and those in good standings will naturally receive limit hikes periodically. Continue to be a good customer by always making payments on time, and if you can swing it, pay the balance in full each month. Be patient, grasshopper — good things come to those who wait!

You’re now prepared to request the credit limit increase you’ve earned by being a responsible consumer.

Understand that a higher limit can easily tempt you to charge more and lead you down a dangerous road. Don’t change your spending habits on a false sense of increased wealth. Continue to use credit for emergencies only, or if you know you can pay the balance in full each month, and always keep your credit utilization ratio under 30 percent.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

How To Get An Instant Credit Limit Increase With Citibank

There are a variety of reasons to get higher credit card limits, including improving your credit score by using a lower percentage of your available credit, and also the ability to get more free money from credit cards, and thus make more interest. Some people say there are disadvantages too, but it’s really easier to decrease your credit limits if somehow you need to.

Sometimes your issuer will automatically increase your limits without asking, like Citibank and MBNA. But many times you need to ask and it often involves a credit check. To be honest, I haven’t very aggressive recently in getting my credit limits as high as they could be. The only thing that I do, because it literally takes 5 seconds to do, is to occasionally request an instant credit limit increase online with Citibank. It doesn’t even hit you with a hard credit pull! Here’s how:

2) On the menu bar, go to Manage My Account > Credit Line Increase Request

How much credit increase to request

3) After that, you’ll get one of two screens. Either you’ll be instantly approved or you’ll have to ask for a manual review.

a. Instantly Approved – Your account will be instantly analyzed and you’ll be offered a specific increase to your current credit limit. Here’s my results from my Citibank Card (click to enlarge):

I got an extra $1,000 to $10,000. Note that it clearly states no credit report was pulled. You can either accept, decline, or ask for a higher increase. Asking for a higher increase is the same as…

b. Manual Review – Here, in order to get a limit increase you’ll have to restate your income and even list some bank account information so they can check your balances. A hard credit pull is also required if you agree to a full review. If you decline then nothing happens.

You can usually get an “free” increase about once every six months. Being rejected usually means you asked already too recently. I usually just try whenever I remember, like today, since rejection does no harm. I’m currently collecting information about the other card issuers.

How to Avoid Turning a Credit Limit Increase into a Holiday Debt Hangover

How much credit increase to request

The holiday season is at its peak and research firm RetailNext predicts that December 23 will be the biggest shopping day of the year. For many shoppers, a credit card will be the payment of choice. Americans opened 500,000 new store card accounts on Black Friday alone.

Opening a store credit card, even to enjoy a discount off your first purchase or to take advantage of 0% APR financing, can backfire in more ways than one. Not only do these cards tend to carry higher regular purchase APRs than traditional credit cards but owning one could encourage you to spend more than you normally would (and possibly, more than you can afford).

Credit Sesame took a closer look at store credit card trends and how they could affect your holiday spending habits. The average store card credit limit increased over the last two quarters. Average balances have also increased.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers, followed by tips for keeping your credit utilization in check over the holidays and beyond.

How much credit increase to request

Credit Sesame analyzed balance and limit data for three specific categories of credit cards: bank cards, department store cards and Target cards.

In the second quarter of 2016, bank card limits declined by 1% on average, while department store card limits saw an increase of 10%. Over that same period, Target card holders received a 6% average credit limit increase. In the third quarter of 2016, bank card limits increased by 1% on average, while department store card limits and Target card limits jumped by 11% and 7%, respectively.

That’s a significant change over the same time period in 2015. In 2015 Q3, bank card limits increased by an average of 1%, while store card limits decreased by 1% and Target store card limits increased by less than half a percent.

In Q2 2016, we see no major jumps for bank or store card balances. In fact, the average balance for both fell by 4%. Target card users, on the other hand, increased their balances by an average of 11%.

In Q3 2016, shoppers start to cash in on the additional available credit. The average balance for bank credit cards rose by 6%, while department store card balances increased by 11%. Target card average balances saw the biggest increase, spiking by 21%.

How much credit increase to request

At first glance, the data suggest that more available credit could cause shoppers to charge more to their cards. People certainly charge more in the third quarter, presumably in anticipation of the holidays.

The fact that credit card limits increased over the same time frame is very likely a strategic move on the part of credit card issuers, but also reflects creditworthiness overall (the bank is not likely to increase the credit limit for consumers with poor credit habits).

According to the New York Federal Reserve, total credit card debt in the U.S. increased by 2.5% in Q3 2016, topping $747 billion. In fact, every type of non-housing debt—including student loans and car loans—rose between July and September of 2016. The aggregate credit card limit increased for the 15 th consecutive quarter.

On par with the national averages, Credit Sesame’s credit card data for 2015 shows that limits and balances rose in 2016. The takeaway: Americans have more available credit and are using it.

Tips for managing your credit utilization over the holidays and into the New Year

How much credit increase to request

Running up credit card debt over the holidays or at any of time of year can hurt you in more ways than one. First and foremost, if you don’t pay your balance in full right away, you risk paying expensive finance charges. A card with a 0% introductory APR for purchases can cut down on the cost but only if you pay it off before the promotional interest period ends.

Note that many store cards offer deferred interest promotions. That means that if you don’t pay the entire balance off before the promotional period ends, you’ll be charged interest on the entire amount, from the date of purchase. On a straightforward zero percent offer, you will only pay interest on the balance you carry after the promotional period ends, so some savings are still possible.

Another potential downside involves your credit score. Approximately 30% of your FICO credit score is based on your credit utilization. Higher credit limits can work in your favor only if you keep your balances proportionately low. The higher your balances, the more harm to your score.

A lower credit score could stand in the way of your financial goals or increase their cost.

Control your credit utilization over the holidays to minimize any negative impact to your score. Here’s what you can do.

Know your limits. Healthy credit utilization starts with knowing your credit limits and balances for each card. If you open a new bank or store card, crunch the numbers to figure out how much you can charge before you hit 30% of your limit, and keep your spending below that amount. If you need to charge more than that, pay the bill before the statement closing date (well before payment due date).

Set up balance alerts to track spending. It’s easy to lose track of spending during the holiday rush. Set up text or email alerts to keep tabs.

Request a credit line increase. Paying down balances is not the only way to lower your credit utilization. You can also ask your credit card issuer to increase your available credit. Two things to remember: (1) this will usually result in a hard inquiry on your credit report; (2) your utilization only goes down if you avoid adding to your balance after the limit is increased.

Open new store cards carefully. Consider the benefits strategically before you sign on the application’s dotted line. Be sure the new card fits within a responsible spending plan. Also, be mindful of the number of inquiries you allow on your credit report. Each inquiry is likely to hurt your credit in the short term. Too many inquiries could lead future creditors to reject your application. Some creditors, for example, will automatically reject your application if you have more than two inquiries in the last six months or three in the last year.

Pay early. Waiting until the due date to make a payment to your store credit cards may simplify your life financially but it also causes maximum damage to your credit utilization ratio. Balances are reported on or right after your statement closing date; payments are due about three weeks later. If you pay your bill before the balance is reported, or in portions at multiple times during the month, your credit utilization will be reported at its lowest.

Your credit utilization significantly impacts your credit health and score, no matter how high or low your limits are. Don’t fall for temptation when more credit is made available to you. The folks with the highest credit scores have available credit but leave it unused.

To find out how your spending patterns may be affecting your score, get your free credit report card from Credit Sesame today.

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