Skip to content

A guide to increasing your credit limit

There can be pros and cons to increasing your credit limit – use our guide to understand what you need to consider beforehand and how to increase your credit limit.

There can be pros and cons to increasing your credit limit – use our guide to understand what you need to consider beforehand and how to increase your credit limit.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Consumer expert on money and utilities
Last Updated
17 FEBRUARY 2023
6 min read
Share article

What is a credit limit?

A credit limit is the maximum outstanding balance that you can spend on your credit card. It’s decided by your credit card provider. In most cases, you’ll only find out what your credit card limit is when you receive your new card.

If you go over the credit limit you’ll probably be charged a fee, which will be recorded on your credit file, and you may have to pay a higher interest rate.

If you’re worried about the limit you’ll be given, you can ask the provider about it before you sign up for a new credit card. They should be able to give you an idea of how much your credit limit will be. But this could mean they’ll do a credit check to make sure you can afford the repayments.

Why does my credit limit matter?

Your credit limit is important because it’s marked on your credit report to show how much credit has already been given to you. Other lenders can use this information to consider what debt you already have and avoid putting you at risk by offering you unsuitable credit.

How is my credit limit calculated?

When you apply for a credit card, your provider will look at several factors to determine how high your initial credit limit will be. This will be a hard search that will appear on your credit file. Your credit limit is unique to you and takes into account your financial history and personal circumstances. The credit card provider will look at:

  • How much you earn – especially how much income you have left after bills and other outgoings
  • Existing debts – whether you have a mortgage, other loans and credit cards
  • Current credit limits – they’ll look at how much credit has already been given to you before allowing you to take on more debt
  • Other credit you’ve applied for – every application for credit will be marked as a hard search on your credit file
  • Your repayment history – how well you managed to pay back your debts in the past
  • How long you’ve been a customer – they might give you a higher limit if you’ve been banking with them for a while.

Is there a benefit to raising my credit limit?

By increasing your limit, you can improve your utilisation ratio, which can improve your credit score. Your credit utilisation ratio is the percentage of credit you’ve spent against your overall available credit limit – you should aim to use only 25% of the credit available to you, where possible.

Using only a portion of the credit available shows a lender that you’re a responsible credit user. For example, if you have a credit card with a limit of £4,000 and you’ve only spent £1,000, you have a utilisation ratio of 25%.

Increasing your credit limit shouldn’t encourage you to spend beyond your means. If you increase your limit, then spend more on your card and use all the credit available to you, this will lower your utilisation ratio and negatively impact your credit score – even if you’re keeping up with your monthly repayments.

If you don’t think you’ll be responsible with your new credit, it’s best not to increase your limit.

What do I need to consider before increasing my credit limit?

Before you apply for a credit card limit increase, there’s a few things to think about:

  • Why do you want a credit increase? Although you might only want the assurance of available credit should you need it, it could also be a sign that you’re having problems with existing debt.
  • Can you afford it? You’ll need to be sure you can pay back what you owe and keep up with your minimum repayments.
  • The last time you increased your limit. Lenders may only allow a credit limit increase within a certain time frame – so you might not be able to increase it whenever you want.
  • Impact on your credit profile. If you request a credit increase, the new limit will be updated on your credit file.

How do I increase my credit limit on my existing card?

To increase the credit limit, you can either wait for an automatic increase or request one.

Automatic increase to your credit

Many credit card providers will increase your credit automatically if you’ve shown that you can manage your credit effectively – by keeping up with your monthly repayments, for example.

If you’ve shown that you’re a responsible credit card user, you could be offered a higher credit limit as frequently as every six months. An automatic increase doesn’t need your permission to be put in place, but you’ll have 30 days to reject the credit limit increase.

Request an increase

You can also contact your provider to ask for a credit limit increase. Some providers might carry out a credit search before they consider this, which other lenders can see and which could impact your credit score. Your provider will either agree to your credit limit request, reject it or present a counter offer with a smaller increase.

What information do I need to request a credit limit increase?

If you’re requesting an increase to your credit card limit, your lender will typically ask for your:

  • UK address history
  • National Insurance number
  • Employment status
  • Annual gross income
  • Requested credit limit.

Should I increase my credit limit?

If you have a solid income, a good history of managing your finances and you regularly pay off your credit card in full each month, an increase in credit might work well for you. For example, if you’re planning a big expense but are confident you can comfortably pay off what you owe.

If you use your credit card for work-related expenses, an increase in credit might be a good idea so you’re not left with a cash-flow problem before you have a chance to claim them back.

But if you’re struggling to make ends meet and pay off existing debts, a credit increase might only add to the problem. If you’re trying to get out of debt, the last thing you need is more debt on top of that.

If this is the case talk to your credit card provider. Under FCA rules, they must consider your situation and offer ways to help, such as a reasonable repayment plan to help you clear your credit card debt more quickly.

At this point it might be better to ask about lowering, rather than raising, your credit limit, to help you avoid overspending.

Find out more about tackling credit card debt.

What are my alternative options?

It’s important to consider all your options before increasing the limit on your credit card. You might want to think about the following alternatives:

A personal loan 

If you’re looking to borrow more money, an unsecured personal loan might work out cheaper than increasing the limit on your credit card. Interest rates are typically lower and can be spread over a longer period of time on a fixed-rate, fixed term basis.

An arranged overdraft

While interest rates on overdrafts can be high, some banks offer an ‘interest-free buffer’ for small amounts. However, an overdraft should only be used in the short term to cover an emergency expense like an unexpected bill. It’s not a viable option for large amounts of money or long-term borrowing.

A different credit card

If your main aim is to improve your credit utilisation ratio, you could do this by applying for another credit card that better suits your needs. Some credit cards have a sign-up bonus and you could benefit from cashback and rewards cards. You could also transfer your existing credit balance to a card with potentially a higher credit limit and lower interest rates.

Compare now

Instead of increasing your credit limit on your current credit card, you might find it better to increase your overall credit by applying for another card. Use our quick and easy comparison service to find a card that suits your needs.

Comparethemarket acts as a credit broker, not a lender. To apply you must be a UK resident and aged 18 or over. Credit is subject to status and eligibility.

Get a quote

Frequently asked questions

How do I find out what my credit limit is?

Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you’ll be told the limit when you receive it. Your credit limit will also be shown on your credit card statement.

If have an online account or app to manage your credit card, you’ll see your credit limit when you log in.

How long should I wait before asking for a credit limit increase?

If you’ve only just got your credit card, it’s probably best to wait for a few months before asking for an increase. This will give you time to build up your credit score and show you can manage your repayments responsibly.

How can I improve my chances of getting a credit limit increase?

Before you ask for an increase to your credit limit, there’s a few things you can do to improve your chances of being approved:

  • Pay on time, every month
  • Wait until you’ve had your card for a few months before asking for an increase
  • Don’t ask too often – it might look like you’re struggling with your finances
  • Keep your credit utilisation rate low – try to aim for 30% or under. 

What happens if I go over my credit limit?

Going over your existing credit limit could mean:

  • Your card is declined when you try to pay with it
  • Your provider could freeze the card until you’ve paid off some of the balance
  • You’ll be charged a fee for breaking your agreed credit limit
  • If you have a 0% credit card, you’ll most likely lose the interest-free period and be charged a much higher interest rate
  • If you continually overspend, your provider could ask you to pay back the full balance and even close your account
  • You’ll damage your credit score. 
Compare credit cards now Find a card