How to Ask Your Credit Card to Increase Your Credit Limit

The first credit card I ever got was an AT&T Universal Card because someone had a table outside Doherty Hall at Carnegie Mellon University, my alma mater. I may have gotten a t-shirt out of it too.

The biggest appeal of the card? The fact that I could get one as a freshman with no income (the guy told me to put my tuition for a salary… I'm pretty sure that wasn't legit).

Fast forward a million years and I no longer have that card (it no longer exists, but for a while, you could still see an application page for it and its fantastic offer of 35 cents per minute domestic calls!) and instead use a series of three cards depending on the situation. All told, our total “credit limit” across every card (several of which are in the desk drawer) is over a hundred thousand dollars.

How did we get that much credit? Simple. We just asked for more.

And kept asking. And asking.

You can get more credit too, all you have to do is ask!

Why would you do this? It can improve your credit score. Credit utilization is a major factor in your credit score and credit utilization is a simple math calculation – total credit used divided by total credit available. When you increase your credit limit, you are increasing your total credit… thus lowering utilization.

There are three ways you can get your credit card to increase your credit limit:

  • Wait – As you demonstrate that you can use and pay off credit, card issuers will increase it automatically. But you're not the type to wait around for things to happen, so let's talk about the other two.
  • Ask via telephone – Call the customer service number on the back and navigate your way to a human being. Then ask about the process for increasing your credit limit without a credit inquiry. This is always an option but I've never actually done this myself because you can also…
  • Ask online – Almost every credit card issuer has a way to request a credit line increase online. Customer service representatives in a call center cost money, computers do not. This is the way I've always done it and this is what I recommend. You can get a credit line increase faster than you can reach a human being on the telephone. There are some issuers, like Chase for example, that require you to call in.

When doing this online, and on the phone but it's less obvious, you want to get the increase without a credit report request. When it doubt, especially on the phone, ask if the increase request will require a credit review. If it does, don't submit the request. If you don't know, don't submit the request. Better safe than sorry.

We include screenshots for Citi, CapitalOne, and American Express below but each issuer follows the same basic flow. Find your credit management area of the account and look for Request Credit Limit Increase. On the request page, confirm that the issuer will not initiate an inquiry with your credit bureau or request your credit report.

This is very important.

You should look for language like “instant approval” or “automatic” – which means a computer will have made the decision based the numbers they have in front of them. If it requires a manual review or a credit check, stop. That hard inquiry will more than negate the positive effects of an increase.

If in doubt, don't make the request.

Citi

Log into your account and click on Account Management in the top menu.

Under Balance Transfers, Lines & Loans, click on Request a Credit Line Increase.

Citi Credit Limit Request

This is the screen you'll see:

Update March 4, 2016: I've requested credit limit increases since I originally published this article. Citi will not always ask for Other Annual Income, it's just one Income field. The rest of the screenshots are the same.

As you can see, it says “A credit bureau report will not be requested and you will receive an instant decision.”

Citi Credit Limit Increase Results

For Citi, you don't even need to enter in the amount you want. Just enter your annual income, your housing payment, and boom!

It took 10 seconds and my credit limit went from $16,000 to $18,200 with no credit pull. A 13.75% increase in the limit of my card with no risk involved.

I could ask for more but it would require a credit review, which includes a credit report hard inquiry, which would decrease my score. I don't need the credit limit for the limit, so I stop.

Capital One

Log into your account and click on Services in the top menu.

Under Card Services, click on Request Credit Line Increase.

CapitalOne Credit Line Increase Request

This is the screen you'll see:

Again, it states that “Checking your eligibility will not affect your credit score.”

CapitalOne Credit Line Increase Request Results

I submitted in my information, confirmed on the subsequent page (not shown), and boom!

A $1,000 increase on a $10,000 credit limit, increasing my credit line by 10%.

If those were my only two credit cards, my total credit would've increased from $26,000 to $29,200. For thirty seconds of work, I've increased my total limits by $3200 (+12.3%).

American Express

Log into your account and click on Profile in the top menu. On the next page, click on Credit Management in the sidebar.

You will see an Increase Line of Credit option, make sure you are on the correct account before continuing.

American Express will require you to enter the 4-digit number on the front of your card first, followed by the total amount of credit you want. For the previous two, you simply requested an increase and found out.

Rejections & Further Review

Sometimes your request will not be automatically accepted, this will happen if you requested and were granted an increase recently. “Recently” could be as few as six months or as long as 18 months, it depends on the issuer's practices.

Capital One Further Review Required

Here's what Capital One will show you if your request requires further review:

In this case, Capital One will not increase an account that's less than 3 months old or received a credit line increase or decrease in the last six months.

With the American Express walkthrough, I was actually given a “further review” notice. I requested a 10% increase to my credit limit and was given this message:

Your request for a line of credit increase has been submitted.
You will receive a written response within 7-10 days.

But there's no cost, except your time, to asking and not getting the increase.

How often can I do this? It depends on the issuer but most will only approve increases every six months. They will also require you to have a card for more than a few months, sometimes as little as 60 days. They just granted you a line of credit based on your application, they want to see how you behave with it before making a decision on giving you more. Each issuer will answer this question in a FAQ on their site.

There are some folks who request an increase every 6 months like clockwork. I'm not nearly that diligent, I ask when I remember and that usually works out to be once a year for the cards we use regularly and never for the ones we don't.

If you want to do this regularly, I recommend creating a calendar notification that reminds you every six months to request an increase.

Over time, your limit will creep up and then you too can live the American Dream of having way more credit than you need. (which could be important if we move towards a cashless society!)

What happens if they do make an inquiry? If it's a hard inquiry, expect a single-digit fall in your credit score for about 12 months. It's as if you just applied for a new credit card. Hard inquiries will cost you a few points but the impact subsides after a year. The higher your credit is now, the bigger the dip.

If you haven't asked for an increase in the last six months, I urge you to try now and report back what you find!

Have you done this? What's your total credit limit and what's your system?

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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  1. Kevin says

    When I tried to do it online, my Bank of America Royal Caribbean card said very specifically that it would run a credit report before increasing my limit. What can I do to increase my limit without hurting my credit score?

    • Jim says

      Ahhh, that stinks. They may not have a system for automatic increases OR it was increased within the last X months (sometimes X is 6 or 12) and so automatic increases are off the table.

      I would try calling them and asking if there’s a way to review it for an increase without a credit inquiry, that’s the only option available to you. When they do, I recommend asking them what the process is so you know for next time (and let us know!) It could be they don’t do automatic increases at all!

    • Tony says

      Bank of America sucks. They are one of the few credit card providers that will not give you a credit line increase without doing a hard pull. And even after the hard pull, they will increase by only $2000 or less which is not worth the effort. I was able to get increases of $5000 on Discover and Chase without credit pulls.

  2. Shaun says

    Wow! You really know what you’re talking about. Citibank just increased my credit limit from $6000 to $7200 instantly. One of my Capital One accounts gave me an increase of $1000 the other Capital One account said it’s under review and they will be in touch in a few days . All of this was done with no credit check and in only a few minutes. Awesome tip!

    • Jim says

      Once you know the rules of the game, it gets much easier right?

      Just don’t carry a balance! They give you more credit for a reason – you’re creditworthy, they believe you’ll pay it back, so they give you more. Just don’t fall into the trap of accruing debt and paying their absurd interest rates.

  3. Marcos says

    I just tried this tick on 2 credit cards, Citi and a Capital One. I was instantly approved for an $1100 and $500 dollar increase. Thanks for the tip Jim!

      • Darvin says

        Chase will always require a hard pull.
        Bank of America – will always require a hard pull.
        USAA – will always require a hard pull.
        CITI – you can request for an increase every 6 months and it will be soft pull.
        AMEX – you can request for an increase every 6 months and it will be soft pull. You can request up to 3 time your current credit limit. But cannot be more than $25K
        Discover – you can request for an increase anytime, but you are better off requesting every 6 months, and it will be a soft pull.

      • Mike says

        It might be necessary to do via phone not web.

        I just called Best Buy, after not being able to do it online.

        The first person I spoke to said it was not possible. I was skeptical.

        I called back and spoke to another person, who said it was possible, and walked me through the process without requesting a hard pull.

        Just to answer your question of “why would you want to do that instead of via the web?” 🙂

  4. Jennifer says

    Hi Jim,
    I just opened my american express credit card account last week. I have a fraud alert on my credit file so will that make them do a hard inquiry every time? When should i apply for credit limit increase next 90 days or 6 months? Thanks for you time!

    • Jim says

      When you open a new credit card, it’s always a hard inquiry.

      You will likely need to wait 6 months on a new card before asking.

    • Tami says

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’ve had my Amex for 1 month now. I called to inquire on when I can request an increase. They said I may 60 days from my opening date. From my understanding Amex allow you an initial request within 90 days from opening the account. Then every 6 months after. Call to double check. Hope this helps!

  5. Taylor Blessing says

    Just got that exact message from Amex, was yours good or bad news? seeing a lot of conflicting answers from different sites.

  6. Mark says

    After reading this, I followed the steps and got a $1500 increase on each of 2 cards with Citi. six weeks ago, I increased with Chase over the phone. They said they’d need to place a hard pull but so far it hasn’t showed up on TransUnion or Equifax reports. I don’t think they actually did one. I opened 2 brand new BofA cards six months ago and they never did a hard inquiry.

  7. william says

    all my credit cards are maxed out but never misse a payment and my score is a 700 you think i should ask for increse so my balances will be less then 30 percent

    • Jim Wang says

      I doubt you’d be able to get your utilization under 30% but asking for an increase could help your score.

      A bigger issue is that you’ve maxxed out your credit cards in the first place. Have you looked into ways to paying down your debt so it’s at a lower level?

  8. Jennifer says

    I got a credit increase 2x the link it I had ( cl $1,000 increased to $3,000) you only have to wait 62 days after opening your card per the American Express rep/ agent! Amen it #1 in my opinion in customer service. I love the amex manage your online account. So just fyi, you don’t have to wait 6 months after opening an American Express account Jim

  9. Wayne says

    Does anyone have a positive or negative experience asking for a credit increase on a card that has not been used in a few years? It is a Capital One. I use other cards for my expenses. Or should I make a few purchases on the card and ask 6 months later?

    • Jim Wang says

      I tried this yesterday (specifically with a Capital One card too) and was denied because I didn’t have any activity to make a determination. So you need activity before they’ll increase it.

          • chris says

            I have a capital one venture rewards that i use for business expenses of sometimes $2-$3k/mo and then immediately paid off. Had it 6months. Never late. Score is 700 with 0% utilization. Had $5k SL and with this tip just requested thru app and got an ADDITIONAL $5k! Now at $10k total and will probably ask again Jan 2019. Thanks for the tip!

  10. rajesh says

    Hi,

    I have two Amex credit cards opened in 1 week gap, can i request credit limit increase for both cards when i reach 61 days mark.

  11. Nova Skyy says

    Jim,

    You are awesome!!! I’m in the process of paying down all of my credit cards and I’ve noticed that two of my credit limits were increased without asking. I will wait 6 months to inquire for an increase. I did however make a rookie mistake. In the process of paying down my cards, I did cancel some cards with balances that I continue to pay on. Should I ask to reopen my card or will this cause and hit on my report?

    • Jim Wang says

      I would call and ask how they would do that – if they closed it and are just giving you a new account, that’s bad. Not only did you lose the account’s age on your average but you’ll now add a fresh new account. If they’re able to re-open the recently cancelled (which feels unlikely), then that would be beneficial.

  12. M. Ramsey says

    Hi Jim,
    You seem to be a wealth of information so my question is I’ve gotten several upgrades from store cards to Store/Mastercard (ie Wal-Mart, Target, Nordstrom, etc) Is this good or bad and do/will I lose my history established with store card?

  13. Christopher Winters says

    I have two Capital One Cards, and I only receive $500 increases for several years now. Is there any way to get the increase higher than that? I don’t know the formula these companies use to grant higher increases. Should I indicate less money that I pay for rent/mortgage? Should I indicate that I spend a lot on all my credit cards? On this credit card?

  14. Jen says

    Have two long-standing accounts with BB&T with $2500 limits each.
    One has a zero balance and the other has a $300 balance.

    How much of an increase should I ask for on each card?

    806 credit score, no late payments ever

    • Jim Wang says

      Personally, I’d probably ask for an increase to $3,000 on each and see what happens? I don’t think it’ll impact your score that much though but that depends on the limits of your other cards. Your score seems pretty good as it is (but it never hurts to improve!).

      If they don’t automatically grant the increase, and start asking for more information, decline because you don’t want a hard inquiry.

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