When you get a credit card, it comes with a credit limit. This is the maximum amount that a cardholder can spend on the card before needing to pay the credit card’s balance. A credit limit is sort of like a loan maximum — the higher the credit limit, the more money the cardholder can charge on the credit card.
If you know your credit limit, you may be wondering how it compares to the average credit card limit. Read on to find out, and to learn how you may be able to increase your credit limit.
What Is the Average Credit Card Limit?
The average credit card limit for Americans was $30,365 in 2020, according to a recent report by Experian . However, individual credit card limits can vary depending on a variety of factors, and can be as low as $300. For instance, there’s variance in the average credit card limit by age, as well as by creditworthiness.
Whatever your credit limit may be, it’s a critical part of understanding what a credit card is. Knowing your credit limit will help you to be aware of how much you can spend at places that accept credit card payments.
How Credit Card Issuers Determine Your Credit Limit
When you apply for a credit card, your initial credit limit depends on a variety of factors, including your credit scores, your income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI), your history with the card issuer, the card issuer’s policies and goals, and the current economic conditions. Every card issuer has its own process for determining an applicant’s credit limit.
Your Credit Scores
Your credit score is a large factor in determining your credit limit. Just like your score can affect your APR on a credit card, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to receive a higher credit limit.
In addition, the average credit limit increases with the age of the credit history. Generally, the longer someone has had credit, the more likely they are to use it responsibly. That’s why credit companies may be more likely to offer a higher credit limit to applicants with an older line of credit and a higher credit score. Obviously, the age of your oldest line of credit is limited to your own age, so be sure to be aware of how old you have to be to get a credit card.
Your Income and Debt-To-Income Ratio (DTI)
Due to how credit cards work, card issuers are taking a risk when they extend credit to cardholders. If they think the applicant is a riskier customer, they may offer them a lower credit limit. A high income can indicate that you are able to repay what you borrow. Therefore, a high income can help you get a higher credit limit.
However, credit issuers will also consider your existing debt obligations when deciding your credit limit. Specifically, they will look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which compares the amount of money you owe each month to the amount of money you earn each month. Your debt-to-income ratio can also affect factors like whether your interest rate is above or below the average credit card interest rate.
Your History With the Card Issuer
Your history with a card issuer can also influence your credit limit. If you have an existing positive relationship with the card issuer, it may help you to get approved for a higher credit limit. However, if you have too many existing cards with an issuer, the card issuer may not want to extend you additional credit, even if you meet other criteria like having an excellent credit score.
The Card Issuer’s Policies and Goals
The card issuer has the authority to determine your credit limit, based on how risky they think you are as a customer. Each card issuer has its own policies and goals that it uses to determine what credit limit is afforded to each customer. In other words, your credit limit will also depend on your credit issuer.
Current Economic Conditions
One factor that’s completely out of your control when it comes to your credit limit are the current economic conditions. Since it relates to risk, the current economic environment does play a role in how credit card issuers determine your credit limit. For example, some credit card issuers lowered card limits at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to global economic uncertainty.
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How to Increase Your Credit Limit
There are several ways to increase your credit limit. Sometimes, your card issuer will offer you a revised credit limit after you update your income information or build your credit. Other times, you may need to be more proactive by directly requesting an increase or transferring your available credit.
Update Your Income Information
One way to increase your credit limit is to keep your income information up to date with your card issuers. Sometimes your card issuer may periodically ask you if your income has changed. If not, you may need to let them know when your income rises, as a higher income can lead to a higher credit limit.
Build Your Credit
One of the best ways to increase your credit limit is to increase your credit score. You can do this by paying your bills on time, keeping your balances low by making more than your credit card minimum payment, and maintaining a low credit utilization rate.
Although this method may take the longest, it may have the most benefit because it could help you in many other financial aspects as well. For instance, it may make it possible for you to secure a good APR for a credit card.
Request an Increase
Most card issuers allow you to request a credit limit increase online. If this option is not available, you also can call your credit issuer to request an increase. However, be aware that a request for an increase sometimes results in a hard credit inquiry, which may hurt your credit score.
Transfer Your Available Credit
If you need a higher credit limit for a specific card (like for a large upcoming purchase), you may be able to transfer available credit from another card from the same card issuer. To check if this is an option for your cards, call your card issuer’s customer service line to request the transfer.
Looking for a new credit card?
Your credit limit represents how much you can spend on your card before you’ll need to pay off your balance. While the average credit card limit was $30,365 in 2020, per Experian, credit limits can vary widely depending on age, creditworthiness, your credit card issuers, current economic conditions, and more. Plus, there are ways you can increase your credit limit.
If you’re considering a new credit card to increase your overall credit limit, check out the new SoFi cash back credit card. For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/23.
What is a reasonable credit limit?
A reasonable credit limit may depend on a variety of factors, including your credit score, your income, and the current economic conditions, among others.
Can lenders change credit limits?
Lenders can change credit limits after you have been given an initial credit limit. Sometimes the card issuer will offer you a new credit limit after you update your income information or build your credit. Other times, you may need to directly request an increase. You can also consider transferring your available credit to increase your limit on a specific card.
What is available credit?
Available credit is the amount of money that is available to you to borrow, considering the current balance on your account. Credit limit, on the other hand, is the total amount that you can borrow.
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