Clark Howard

I Recently Graduated From a Secured Credit Card and Need a Credit Limit Increase. What Can I Do?

Credit limit increases are tricky.

Sometimes you get one without asking. At other times, you make a request feeling confident, only to get denied.

The card issuer will provide you with a reason for turning down your request if they do decline it. But it can still feel dizzying like you’re in a maze and you don’t have good directions to find your way out.

Let’s look at reasons you may get denied a credit limit increase — and how to make a major credit card purchase that’s larger than your current credit limit.

How Can I Overcome a Credit Limit Increase Denial From My Card Issuer?

My credit card issuer is denying my credit limit increase. And I recently moved from a secured credit card to a standard one. Can I somehow convince the card issuer to grant me a credit limit increase?

That’s what a Clark Howard podcast listener recently asked.

Asked Jay in California: "Capital One [recently upgraded me] from a secured credit card [to] a Capital One Quicksilver card. I have a credit line on this card for $3,500 and always pay my balance in full.

"[Booking a trip] through Capital One travel, the cost is more than the credit limit I have available. I requested a credit line increase online and called Capital One customer no service and I am still not able to get the credit line increase I need to book the travel.

"What can be done with Capital One to give me the credit increase I need?"

In case you’re not familiar, a secured credit card helps build or repair credit.

Secured credit cards offer lower limits and require you to make an upfront deposit to back the credit they're giving you.

If you have little to no credit profile, and you’re unable to get approved for a standard credit card, it’s a way to build trust. The same is true if you don’t have a good credit score and need to build up your score to get approved for, or graduate to, a standard card.

In this case, Capital One recently took off the “training wheels” and gave Jay a full-fledged standard credit card with a $3,500 limit. Can he get them to rethink their answer and raise his credit limit?

“They’re not gonna. They’re gonna want some amount of time before they’ll entertain a credit limit increase,” Clark says. “They’ll want to see what risk profile you represent to them.

“I don’t know what that time period is. I don’t know if it’s 12 months, 18 months, whatever.”

How To Circumvent a Low Credit Limit To Make Credit Card Purchases

I’ve occasionally overpaid on a credit card. I felt bad because I didn’t mean to do so. And I felt a little anxious about what would happen to my money.

The credit card issuer just gave me a negative balance. In other words, I had extra credit with that card.

Jay may be able to do that on purpose instead of on accident, Clark says.

“Let’s say you need $5,000 to book the trip. If you paid $1,500 upfront so you owe them -$1,500, would they then allow you to charge $5,000 through their travel portal?” Clark says.

“It wouldn’t hurt as a way for you to try. The worst that happens is that month you would’ve prepaid part of your balance.”

Failing that, consider booking the airfare, hotel and rental car — or whatever you’re buying through the Capital One travel portal — separately rather than as a package.

You can charge the card for the plane tickets. Then pay off the balance. Then charge the card for the hotel. And pay off the balance again.

Final Thoughts

Credit card issuers deny credit limit increase requests for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’re not using their card often enough. Or maybe your income or credit score doesn’t meet their internal standards.

Another reason: You haven’t had a long enough relationship with the card issuer for them to feel like they understand your risk profile. That’s especially true if you started with a secured credit card and only recently earned a standard credit card.

If you don’t have a high enough limit to pay for a purchase, you can look into whether prepaying and generating a negative balance may boost how much credit they’ll give you. You can also try to break up a big purchase into separate chunks and pay them off, if that’s logistically possible.

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