Checking your credit card's available credit before you swipe or use your card for purchases ensures you stay within your credit limit. You can avoid any over-limit fee charged by your credit card issuer by staying aware of your balance and available credit. And, if you're concerned about building or maintaining a good credit score, knowing your available credit is key to managing your credit utilization.
Available credit is the difference between your credit limit and your outstanding balance. It's the amount you're able to spend on your credit card without facing penalties for exceeding your credit limit or having your card declined.
Here are three ways you can easily check the available credit on your credit card before making a purchase that could put you over your credit limit.
1. Your Mobile/Online Account
If have online access to your credit card account, you can log on to check your available credit. Creating an account only takes a few minutes if you haven't already signed up. The information on your online account will be more current than your mailed billing statement.
2. Your Billing Statement
A recent copy of your billing statement will include your your credit limit, current credit card balance, and your available credit. If you’ve made any payments or purchases since your last billing statement was mailed, the available credit on your statement won't be current. It could be higher or lower depending on the transactions you've made to your account. Fortunately, there are two more ways to check your most recent available credit.
Note that transactions you've made within the past day may not reflect in the available balance shown on your credit card statement. Or, they may show as pending transactions that haven't cleared your account yet.
3. Customer Service Line
Finally, you can call the customer service number listed on the back of your credit card, or hit the "contact us" button on the mobile app for your credit card. Follow the prompts. Listen to the prompts for the option to get your available credit or ask to speak to a customer service representative. You will typically be given the most up-to-date available credit when you call your credit card’s customer service.
Raising Your Available Credit
If you don't have enough available for the purchase you want to make, you can try requesting a credit limit increase. The credit card issuer will review your account history, income, and credit history to make a decision and raise your credit limit if you're approved. Otherwise, if your request is denied, you'll get an email or letter in the mail letting you know the reason your request wasn't approved.
If your credit limit increase request is denied, you can make a larger credit card payment to free up the credit you need. Keep in mind that it can take one or two business days for the payment to post to your account and your available credit to increase. In some cases, your credit card issuer may be willing to apply the payment right way. Call customer service to see if this is an option for your credit card.
Credit Cards With No Preset Spending Limit
Some credit cards do not have a preset credit limit and you won't have a set amount of available credit. These cards instead have a spending limit that can change from month to month based on your income, spending habits, and other financial data your credit card issuer has on file. Neither your spending limit or your available credit will be printed on your card statements or available on your card's automated customer service number.
Knowing your available credit on a credit card with no preset spending limit may require a call to customer service. For example, if you're making a big purchase that's outside your normal spending habits, you could ask your credit card issuer whether the charge would be approved based on your spending limit.