A credit limit increase is a net-positive scenario for your credit rating and report. You just have to avoid spending your balance and carrying a higher debt. If you can accomplish that, your credit limit increases will benefit your utilization rate. This is huge as it accounts for 30 percent of your FICO score calculation.
However, there is always a right and wrong time to try for a limit increase. You need to know the best approach for this process before moving forward. To understand more, read the advice found below.
How You Request a Credit Limit Increase
You can call the support line for your credit card issuer. From there, it is possible to inquire about adjusting your limit higher. This might result in a hard inquiry, but it is not always necessary. It all depends on your card provider and the strength of your credit report on your initial application.
Some card providers even offer the chance to request a limit increase online. Check your dashboard for this option to find out more. Also, take a look below for an idea on which card issuers require a hard inquiry to qualify.
Hard vs. Soft Inquiry, What Will Your Card Issuer Do?
Many cases vary based on the amount of the increase. For instance, anything above $1,500 through Wells Fargo typically requires a hard pull. Below that amount, however, would be a soft pull.
Here’s a look at what to expect from many popular card issuers:
- American Express: No hard inquiry is required.
- Bank of America: Usually a hard inquiry through TransUnion.
- Capital One: No hard inquiry is required.
- Chase: A hard inquiry when you request an increase.
- Citibank: Some increase requests require hard inquiries.
- Discover: Larger increases require a hard inquiry.
- USAA: Usually a hard inquiry through Equifax.
- S. Bank: Larger increases require a hard inquiry.
- Wells Fargo: Certain cases require a hard inquiry.
Of course, these claims are not set in stone and can change with time. Your issuer might treat your situation different than others. It is best to ask first. If you are offered a credit limit increase suddenly, chances are you are pre-approved and the inquiry might not be necessary.
When to Ask for a Credit Limit Increase
You can ask your card provider for an increase at any time. The likelihood of approval will boil down to your credit history and your repayment history with that company. Sometimes there will be a hard rule in their system for accepting increases, such as only after so many months.
If your credit score is less than perfect, you might not hear about the possibility of increasing your limit any time soon. You can always ask your card issuer to see if there is a typical time frame for when the offer increases.
Tip: Wait until you get your first increase from the card provider, as it is likely to happen, and then inquire 3 to 6 months later about a further increase.
Requesting Credit Limit Increases on Secured Cards
This is where things get a little tricky. Secured cards do not work the same as unsecured cards. Some can transition into an unsecured card, and you might get your security deposit back, but not all issuers offer this.
You need to look for a secured card that converts to unsecured. This action lets you continue with the same credit line, which won’t hurt your average account age. You can take on the higher limit as well and get the utilization rate boost. Plus, it gives you the chance to give a higher deposit to build off.
What to Avoid When Asking for a Credit Limit Increase
First off, you should not make it look like you need the extra money. It should be about growing your overall credit availability and proving yourself with higher balances. This is necessary to show that you are a good borrower, beyond a measly $300 or $500 credit card. It will help you with proving yourself to an auto or mortgage lender, too.
The biggest sign of needing the extra cash flow is requesting the increase when your balance is near the limit. This shows you potentially cannot repay what you owe right now and that you might need extra financial assistance at the moment. So bring your credit utilization rate for that particular card to 30 percent or less.
You can always put the balance on a difference card for the month leading up to when you inquire about raising your limit. This is even more effective if your card issuer does not plan to pull your credit file. However, if a hard inquiry is necessary, it is better to reduce your overall debt load before you inquire.
Credit limit increases are golden opportunities for people looking to build credit. But it can be hard to get them if you have a lower credit score. You never want to deal with rejection, and hard inquiries can hurt your credit. However, the better credit utilization rate and long-term effects make it all worthwhile.
Take your time to plan out when and how you ask for a credit limit increase. Your issuer wants to make more money — so chances are you will get an offer soon enough. But you should still learn how your issuer typically handles increases and make your own request when it seems right.