When you first get a credit card, your credit line (also called a credit limit) may not be as high as you’d like. After you’ve had the card for a while, you may be able to request a credit limit increase.

What is a Credit Limit?

Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can charge on your credit card. The amount of your credit line will be listed on your credit card statement. If the credit limit on your credit card is not as high as you’d like, you may want to request a credit line increase.

But there’s more to credit limits. Understanding the factors that go into your credit limit can help you know when it’s time to ask for an increase.

What If Your Credit Limit Seems Low?

A low credit limit is not the same as a low credit score. A lack of credit history can lead to a lower limit. This is because the credit card issuer doesn’t have enough information to justify giving you access to a large amount of money via a high credit limit on a credit card.

Opening a credit card is like starting a new relationship: You have to build trust. Your initial credit limit reflects your issuer extending you a small amount of trust. If you establish a good credit history — i.e., build trust — they may be more comfortable increasing your credit limit in the future.

What Factors Lead to a Higher Credit Limit?

Lenders look at a variety of factors to assess your financial stability and determine the amount of risk involved with lending you money when they decide on your credit limit. These may include:

  • Your payment history
  • Your credit utilization percentage
  • Your monthly income/expenses
  • The length of your credit history
  • Your employment history
  • Any recent credit inquiries

Why Should You Ask for a Credit Limit Increase?

A bigger credit line can be helpful when paying for unexpected emergencies, larger purchases over time, or smaller, day to day expenses.

Getting a higher credit limit improves your credit utilization ratio if you keep your spending the same. Generally speaking, a credit balance that is a low percentage of your total available credit is considered responsible credit use and may help your credit score.

That credit score is important for a variety of reasons. If you want to buy a house or a car, the better your credit score, the more likely you are to land that loan. You may also have a lower interest rate, because the higher your credit score, the less you seem like a risk to the bank.

Employers may also conduct a background check before bringing you on board, and they may want to understand your handling of credit, especially if your new job will entail handling money or finances.

When Should You Ask For a Higher Limit?

People have many reasons for requesting a credit line increase. Perhaps you travel frequently and want to be able to put flight and hotel purchases on your card to accrue extra miles or rewards, or perhaps you have a lot of work expenses for which you’re reimbursed.

Building a good credit history is partially about showing the credit issuer you can repay your balance on time, every month. If your credit score has increased since first getting a credit card, you may be in a good position to request a credit line increase.

Credit card companies look for a long history of good repayment behavior. If you have been using your card responsibly and repaying it consistently, you may be in a good position to ask for a higher credit limit. However, it is important to understand and recognize that each credit card issuer will have a set of criteria that they use to review whether or not to offer a credit line increase, and that no one action guarantees that you will receive the requested credit line increase (similar to when applying for a new credit card). Fortunately, if you apply for a credit line increase and do not receive it, you’ll receive a letter from the issuer describing the reason why your application was denied.

Similarly, student credit card (a great way to start building your credit history) may also offer the ability to request a credit line inccrease. If you’ve been using your student credit card responsibly for at least a year, demonstrating on-time payment history and are able to prove that you have extra income or assets, you can call and ask for a credit limit increase. That doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed, but it never hurts to check with your credit card issuer to understand your options.

Relatedly, once you earn your diploma you can ask your credit card company to change your student status to graduated, which might help you get an increase on your limit especially if you’ve found a job after graduation. This allows you to maintain your credit history and makes you eligible for potential limit increases.

If you’ve gotten a raise or a new, higher-paying job, it may be a  time to request a higher credit limit. Having more income signals to the credit card issuer that you will be able to maintain your good repayment behavior, even if your spending increases.

But it’s always important to remember that your credit card issuer may have to pull your credit report when considering a credit line increase request, which may result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. Hard inquiries can impact your credit score.

How Do You Ask for a Discover Credit Limit Increase?

To reach a customer service rep who can help you request a credit line increase on your Discover Card, call the phone number on your credit card. You can also select “Card Services” and then “Credit Line Increase” in the online Discover Account Center or “Services” and “Credit Line Increase” in the Discover Mobile App.

When Should You Avoid Asking for a Credit Line Increase?

  • Reduced income since you got your credit card

If your income has gone down since you got your credit card, it might lower your chances of having your credit limit increased. Your credit card issuer will likely see a lower income as an indication that you’re able to afford less spending than when you were first approved for your card.

  • Your credit score has decreased since you applied for your card

If you missed a credit card payment or were late with a loan, you may have a lower credit score than you did when you first applied for your credit card. It’s best to work on improving your score before request a credit line increase.

How Often Can You Request a Credit Line Increase ?

There’s usually no set timeframe to wait after requesting a credit line increase, and every issuer will have their own criteria for how frequently they will approve credit line increase requests for those in good standing. If you were approved for a higher credit line and your credit score has continued to improve, you may be approved for additional credit, but potentially not for months after your last request. After a denial, you’ll likely want to wait longer before submitting an addition credit line increase request and instead focus on good credit habits that can help improve your credit score (such as paying off balances and making all payments on time).

Published November 20, 2017.

Updated August 9, 2021.

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