The Pros and Cons of Increasing Your Credit Card Limit

Ready to get a little more spending power? See how to ask for a credit limit increase—and when (and why) you should.


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You’ve been paying your credit card on time every month—so now it’s time to get a little extra credit for your good work. Increasing your credit limit can give you more buying power, but it may have some unintended consequences on your financial picture. Here are the pros and cons to consider before requesting a credit card limit increase.

How Do You Increase Your Credit Limit?

You’ll need to call your credit card company to start the (pretty simple) process and pose your request: Can you increase my credit limit? Here’s how to do it successfully.

Prep the info they need

They’ll need some numbers from you to make the decision, so make sure you have everything they need on hand. “They’ll likely want to know your current annual income, employment status, and potentially outstanding debts or payment obligations, like how much you pay for housing each month,” says Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma

Time it right

To maximize the chances of a yes to your request, try to ask when your financial situation is great—you recently scored a promotion or raise, or you’ve finally paid off a student loan or car payment. McCreary suggests asking yourself these questions: “Is your credit in good standing? How long have you had the card for? Has your income changed?”

Know how much you need and why

Think about how much of a credit increase would help you, and have a good answer for why you need it. “Perhaps you have a big event coming up that requires you to spend more, such as planning a wedding or furnishing a home, or maybe inflation is causing you to incur more expenses for necessities like groceries and gas,” McCreary says. 

Be prepared for a denial

If you get turned down, ask why. “Then you can work on getting your finances in order for a better chance of approval down the road,” McCreary says.  

Pros of Increasing Your Credit Limit

Increased spending power

This may be why you’re requesting a limit increase—to be able to swing that vacation or other big purchase you’re eyeing, or because you regularly come close to the limit (even if you’re paying things off every month). 

Potential to decrease the overall amount of credit you’re using

One part of your credit score calculation is the percentage of your overall credit that you’re using, called credit utilization. When that’s low, your credit score goes up. If you continue at the same spending levels, you’ll likely have a much lower credit load. “An increase may help you lower your credit utilization, and therefore improve your credit,” McCreary says. 

Cons of Increasing Your Credit Limit

A dip in your credit score

Your credit card company will likely pull your credit report from one of the major credit reporting agencies, like Experian or Transunion, to see how you’re managing your finances. The “hard pull,” as it’s called, could temporarily ding your credit score—which could be a problem if you’re looking to take on any other debt (like a mortgage or an auto loan) in the near future. “An important [question] might be whether your card issuer will need to conduct a hard inquiry to your credit to determine your eligibility,” McCreary says. 

More room to get into debt trouble

An increased credit limit can leave you with more opportunities to finance a lifestyle that you can’t afford—and a larger amount of potential debt you could accumulate. “If you’re not confident that you won’t overspend beyond what you can afford to pay off, and/or you have other outstanding debts, it may not be wise to increase your credit limit,” McCreary says.

Odds are, if you’ve been granted a credit limit increase, you’re the type of person who has been super responsible with your credit, and doesn’t have a large amount of outstanding debt. So if you can continue your responsible ways, the increased credit limit won’t hurt you. 

When Your Credit Card Company Increases Your Credit Limit on Its Own

It’s nice when you get that email from your credit card company saying you have even more spending power at your disposal.

“If your credit card company raises your credit limit, it’s a good thing as that likely means you’ve paid your bill on time each month and have managed your credit card responsibly,” McCreary says. “In that case, you might even increase your credit score because your credit utilization should go down if you maintain your same credit usage amount.”

But, if you’re concerned that the increased limit might be too tempting, you could call to ask for a credit line decrease. “If you struggle sticking to a budget and a higher limit might tempt you to overspend, it might make sense for you to talk to your credit card company about sticking with a lower limit,” McCreary says. “But don’t just assume that’s the right call. Have the conversation with your issuer to see what makes the most sense for your needs and goals.”

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