Can You Go Over Your Credit Limit?

Woman using credit card to pay for a purchase
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If your credit card comes with a credit limit, the maximum amount you’re “allowed” to charge on your credit card, you’ve probably wondered if it’s possible to go over your credit limit. Maybe you want to make a purchase larger than your available credit. Or maybe you’re just wonder what will happen if you swipe your credit card for a purchase bigger than your credit limit. Whether you can go over your credit limit is actually up to you.

Credit card issuers have to give you the option of whether you want transactions that would put you over the limit to go through. You can opt in or opt out at any time.

You may opt in to avoid the embarrassment of having your credit card declined or simply for the convenience of being able to go over your credit limit. If you’ve opted in, you've chosen to be able to go over your credit limit, then purchases that exceed your available credit will usually go through, but typically only by a certain amount preset by your credit card issuer.

Opting out, on the other hand, would cause any transaction that would exceed your credit limit to be declined. This can save you from any credit limit fees your credit card issuer charges and keep you from creating more debt than you can afford to pay.

Once your balance is already over your credit limit, additional transactions may be declined, even if you’ve opted-in because you’ve already exceeded your available credit.

Many credit cards have eliminated credit limit fees that would be charged if you go over your credit limit. If your card issuer does charge a fee, the fee can’t exceed the amount that you’ve gone over your limit. For example, if you go over your credit limit by $15, the maximum fee you can be charged is $15.

Check your credit card terms or call the card's customer service to find out whether you'll be charged a fee for going over the limit and the amount of your phone.

Even if your credit card issuer doesn’t charge a fee, there are other penalties for going over your credit limit. Your credit card issuer may enact the penalty rate for exceeding your credit limit. The credit card issuer may raise your minimum payment to compensate for the amount that you’ve exceeded your credit limit.

Going over your credit limit is a sign that you’re not able to manage your credit. Even though they may permit you to exceed your limit, credit card issuers may view it unfavorably. Some credit card issuers may even lower your credit limit or close your credit card account.

Your credit score could be impacted if your credit card balance is over the limit when your creditor reports your account to the credit bureau. This usually happens on your account statement closing date. You can avoid having the high utilization reported to the credit bureaus by paying your balance down before your account statement closes.

If you need to make a purchase that would exceed your available credit, first ask your credit card issuer for a credit limit increase.

You can also try splitting the transaction, paying for a portion on your credit card and the remainder in cash.