When to Ask for a Credit Line Increase

There Really Is a Best Time to Ask for More Credit

A woman sits a table in a quiet cafe and considers getting a credit limit increase.
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Calling up your credit card company to ask for a credit line increase can give you more purchasing power if you're approved. Raising your credit limit could also give your credit score a boost if you're able to improve your credit utilization ratio. While you may know how to ask for a higher credit limit, you might be wondering whether timing matters. Here's what you need to know about how to strategically increase your credit card's limit. 

Credit utilization ratio is the amount of total available credit you have used. If your credit limit is $10,000 and your balance on that account is $4,000, then your utilization ratio is 40%. This ratio is a key part of your credit score. Credit experts advise keeping the ratio at 30% or below

Timing a Credit Line Increase Request

Technically, you could apply for a higher credit limit online or call your card issuer to ask for one directly as often as you like. But whether or not you'll be able to get approved for a higher credit limit depends largely on your card issuer's policies. Many of them impose waiting periods or have guidelines on how frequently you can apply for a credit line increase. 

This chart shows how different card issuers compare with their respective policies.

Card Issuer Credit Limit Increase Waiting Periods
American Express New accounts must wait 60 days to request a credit limit increase.
Bank of America

New accounts must typically wait a minimum of six months to request a higher credit line. 

Existing accounts typically need to wait three to six months between requests.


 
Barclays No set rule for how long new or existing accounts must wait to request an increase.
Capital One

Based on account history. Accounts must be at least three  months old and you can’t have gotten an increase within the previous six  months.


 
Chase Chase reviews accounts periodically to offer automatic credit limit increases. There's no firm rule on how often you can request credit line increases directly, but it's advised to have your account open for at least six months.
Citi Citi reviews accounts periodically to offer automatic credit limit increases. There's no set rule for requesting increases but you stand a better chance if your account has been open three to six months.
Discover Citi reviews accounts periodically to offer automatic credit limit increases. There's no set rule for requesting increases but you stand a better chance if your account has been open three to six months.
Wells Fargo New accounts must typically wait at least 12 months before requesting a credit limit increase.

These are just the policies at larger banks and credit card issuers. If you have a card from a smaller regional bank or a credit union, the guidelines for timing credit line increases may be very different. 

Why Waiting Periods for Credit Line Increases Exist

The simplest answer is that waiting periods are a way for credit card companies to control risk. When they are lending you money by giving you a credit limit to spend against, it's with the assumption that you'll pay it back. Controlling your credit limit allows the credit card company to control what you owe, since many cards don't automatically allow you to make purchases over your credit limit

The waiting period is a way for the credit card company to gauge how responsibly you're using the credit limit you already have. When you request a credit limit increase, the credit card company will look at your account history and credit history to decide if you can handle a higher credit limit based on how you've used the card so far. 

Some credit card companies will conduct a hard pull of your credit history when requesting a credit limit increase. Each inquiry for new credit can take a few points off your credit score. 

When to Ask for a Credit Line Increase (and When Not To)

The credit card company's timing is just thing to consider when deciding whether to ask for more credit. You also need to consider your own personal financial situation to determine if requesting a credit limit is the right move. 

It Could Be the Right Time to Ask for a Aredit Line Increase If:

  • Your annual household income has increased.
  • Your credit score has recently increased.
  • You've had your account for at least three to six months and you've used it responsibly. 
  • You haven't applied for any other new credit lines in the last three to 12 months. 

Under those conditions, your request for a higher credit limit may have a better chance of getting approved. 

You May Want to Delay Asking for a Higher Credit Line If:

  • You have recent inquiries for new loans or lines of credit.
  • Your income has recently decreased.
  • You've had a recent late or missed payment on one of your credit card accounts.
  • You're at or close to your limit on the card you're planning to request an increase for. 

Those factors could be red flags for the credit card company and cause them to deny your request.

If you're not sure where you stand credit-wise, consider getting a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com before requesting a credit limit increase.

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