Short Answer: Many credit card companies will give you an automatic credit limit increase after your account has been in good standing for about six to 12 months. The best way to get a credit limit increase without asking is to make consistent, on-time monthly payments of at least the minimum amount due. Automatic increases will also not result in a hard credit inquiry. For more details about automatic credit limit increases, as well as how to request one, see below.
How to Get a Credit Card Limit Increase Without Asking
You’ll often get an automatic credit limit increase about six to 12 months after opening a new credit card account, as long as your account is in good standing. This means you’ll need to be making consistent on-time payments of at least the minimum amount due. Once you begin missing payments, your issuer will not consider offering an increase until you bring your account current and prove that you can do so consistently. Keep in mind, this is a general rule; credit limit increases and amounts depend on your individual credit profile.
We contacted American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, and Discover corporate customer service representatives to find out more about their policies for credit limit increases. We were told that after five or six on-time monthly payments, you may be offered an automatic credit limit increase. The credit card company may notify you of an automatic credit limit increase by mail or email. Your online account and next monthly statement will also show the increase. A customer service representative at Discover told us that your credit limit increase will usually go into effect immediately.
Capital One has a few credit cards — Quicksilver One, Secured Mastercard, Platinum, and Journey — that are eligible for credit limit increases after five on-time monthly payments. Capital One typically notifies cardholders of a limit increase by email. Once approved, your limit increase will go into effect immediately.
Requesting a Credit Limit Increase
If you don’t want to wait for an automatic credit limit increase, you can request one by calling a customer service representative for the credit card issuer or by accessing your account online. Some credit card companies, such as American Express, will consider a credit limit increase as early as 60 days after opening your account. Others require you to wait 12 months before requesting an increase if you are not automatically given one. You can typically choose how much of an increase you want to request, and if your issuer decides your request is too high, it may deny your request, provide a counteroffer, or approve you for a lower amount.
As mentioned above, credit limit increase amounts are specific to each person’s individual situation. For both automatic increases and increases you request, your issuer will likely take into account things like your employment status, monthly income, mortgage and rent payments, monthly credit utilization, and your repayment history across all of your accounts.
Depending on all of these factors, your issuer may choose to increase your limit by as little as 10% to 20%, but some customers report success with a request to double their current line of credit.
When determining whether or not to increase your credit limit, your credit card issuer will perform either a “soft” or “hard” inquiry of your credit history. If it does a hard pull, this can have a negative (but temporary) impact on your credit score. Fortunately, if you don’t request the increase — if it comes automatically from your issuer — it will not require a hard credit pull.
Each issuer has a different policy for pulling credit when you request a limit increase. In general, the higher the potential increase amount, the more likely it is that your issuer will do a hard pull. If you’re concerned about a hard inquiry, you can contact your issuer to ask about its policy and/or request a soft pull. The company may or may not comply with your request. Some of the issuers known to do hard credit inquiries for limit increases — especially large increases — include:
- American Express (varies by account)
- Bank of America
- Citibank (for manual review)
- U.S. Bank
Companies like Barclays, Capital One, Discover, and Wells Fargo are known to more frequently use soft inquiries.
Keep in mind that it could still be worth asking for an increase even if the company does a hard credit pull; getting a higher credit limit can help to improve your credit score by lowering your credit utilization ratio. This can counteract the temporary negative effect of the hard inquiry.
Improving Your Odds of a Credit Limit Increase
You can improve your odds of a credit limit increase by making payments on time, paying down your highest credit balances, disputing any errors on your credit report, and keeping track of your total credit utilization. You can see our related research about the Victoria’s Secret credit limit increase policy for more information on how creditors determine your credit limit; the same guidelines generally apply to all credit cards. For more information about credit limits, see our research on over-the-limit credit card transactions.