If you’ve decided to ask for a limit increase on one of your credit cards—either because you’ve outgrown your lower limit or are working to improve your credit—there are a few things you can do along the way to help you improve your odds of a creditor saying yes to your request.
Here are five steps you can take to increase your credit limit:
1. Understand why you need the increase. Maybe you’re still using a credit card you opened 10 years ago, and now that you’re charging most of your monthly household expenses, your decade-old credit limit isn’t high enough to handle your current spending patterns. That makes sense. But if you’re requesting an increase because you’re regularly spending beyond your means, you could be asking for trouble.
Bear in mind that if you’re looking to help improve your credit score, increasing limits on one or more of your cards but not actually charging more might be a good option. This is because your credit utilization, or amounts owed on your cards as a percentage of your overall available credit, accounts for 30 percent of your credit score.
2. Pick the right card. If you’ve paid your account late within the last six months, your credit card issuer won’t be anxious to approve your increase request. In fact, this could actually backfire on you, says credit card expert Beverly Harzog, author of “Confessions of a Credit Junkie: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid the Mistakes I Made.” If you suddenly ask for a limit increase, “it might make you look as if you’re desperate for credit. If your credit card company gets worried about your financial situation, you could end up with a credit limit decrease,” says Harzog.
3. Solidify your track record. If you’ve opened a new credit card within the past few months, it’s too early to ask for a limit increase. Harzog suggests asking for an increase only after at least six months paying your account on time and keeping a low monthly balance. “Your goal is to make sure your credit card company believes you’re a great customer and that your requests are worth considering,” says Harzog.
4. Check your credit. Your credit card issuer will likely pull a copy of your credit report, as well as ask you for updated employment and income information. If you haven’t looked at your credit report recently, check it to be sure it’s correct and there are no negative marks on it. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies once each year through AnnualCreditReport.com.
5. Make your case. Some credit issuers let you request a credit limit increase online, while others may require you to call and talk to a customer service representative first. If you must call, Harzog suggests writing down a few talking points ahead of time, such as why you want the increase and why you’re a good credit risk. It doesn’t hurt to remind them how long you’ve been a loyal, paying customer.
If you get resistance from the customer service rep, ask to talk to a supervisor. If the answer is still no, ask for the reason so you can determine what your next step should be. “Once you find out the reason for the denial, you’ll be able to decide what you need to do next to position yourself for a limit increase sometime in the future,” Harzog says.
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