Asking your bank for a credit line increase can be a great way to upgrade your spending power and potentially even raise your credit score, but there are some possible drawbacks to be aware of as well.
While the benefits of a credit limit increase are pretty obvious, many people overlook the potential downsides. While your bank might decide to automatically raise your credit limit based on your positive payment history and other factors, if you request an increase yourself, the bank will have to determine if you qualify for one. This might trigger a credit check called a hard pull, which can lower your credit score.
If you aren’t sure that you’ll qualify for the credit increase you want, take the time to look into your own credit score — just the way the banks would. Your debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and the length of your credit history are just some of the things a bank might consider before granting you a credit line increase.
A credit limit increase — if you’re approved — can actually improve your credit score, since your credit utilization will decrease. Just be sure you don’t dramatically increase your spending once you have the new limit.
How to request a credit limit increase at 8 major issuers
As we mentioned earlier, asking your credit card company for a credit limit increase might trigger a hard credit pull as your financial history will be reviewed — but not all companies do this.
Keep reading to get helpful tips on how to apply for a credit line increase with your bank and the specifics of its protocol on hard pulls.
1. How to request a credit increase at American Express
American Express will only consider credit line increases on accounts that have been open for at least 60 days. The company doesn’t engage in hard pulls for credit limit increase requests, meaning your credit score won’t be affected.
You can request a credit line increase either online or over the phone. To request online, log into your account and select "Increase Your Credit Limit” under “Account Services” in the Home bar drop-down. To request over the phone, contact American Express using its customer service line at 1-800-528-4800.
2. How to request a credit increase at Bank of America
Bank of America makes it relatively easy to know if you’ll get your credit increase or not — you’ll either see a qualifying link in your online account or you won’t. If your account is eligible for an increase, you should see “Credit line increase” listed under “Information & Services.”
BoA typically doesn’t do hard pulls for credit limit increase requests, so if you do see the link, there’s likely no need to worry about your credit score. You can also schedule a phone appointment with a card specialist if you have further questions about your increase.
3. How to request a credit increase at Barclays
If you request a credit limit increase with Barclays, there will likely be a hard pull, but the company will also typically get your permission beforehand to do so. Barclays periodically offers credit increases for customers with good credit, and since this information is directly provided to it from the credit bureaus, there’s no hard pull involved. When applying for a credit line increase, be prepared with information on your gross annual income.
You can request a credit increase with Barclays either online or over the phone, although you may be prompted to complete your request over the phone depending on your request and credit history.
Online requests can be made by logging into your account and selecting “Request credit line increase” under the “Services” tab. You can also contact the company directly by using the phone number on the back of your card.
4. How to request a credit increase at Capital One
According to Capital One’s website, to request a credit line increase, you’ll need to provide some information on your total annual income, employment status, and monthly mortgage or rent payment. Capital One recommends having this ready at the time of your request.
You can request an increase online by selecting the “Request Credit Line Increase” link under “Card Services” in the “Online Servicing” tab. The company doesn’t seem to typically do a hard pull for these requests.
5. How to request a credit increase at Chase
If you request a credit line increase with Chase, it will likely do a hard pull. Sometimes Chase customers will receive online promotions for credit line increases, but whether or not these result in a hard pull varies by account. In order to request an increase or take advantage of an online promotion, customers will need to contact Chase over the phone.
The information requested by Chase will depend on the customer’s profile, but one Chase representative reported that they often request information like a person’s gross annual income when conducting credit line increase inquiries.
6. How to request a credit increase at Citi
There are two ways to request a credit line increase with Citi: online or over the phone. If Citi automatically grants you a credit increase (which it does sometimes) or if you request one yourself, there may or may not be a hard pull depending on your history with Citi. If you’d like a bigger credit increase than what Citi first offers you, there may be a hard pull to determine if you’re eligible for that amount.
When requesting via phone, call the number on the back of your card and verify with the representative whether or not a hard pull will happen. Be ready with basic information about your annual income and monthly housing expenses as well. You can make your request online by logging into your account and selecting “Request a credit limit increase” under “Card Management” in “Card Services.”
7. How to request a credit increase at Discover
Discover works similarly to Citi in that there will likely not be a hard pull if you accept the credit limit it first offers you, but there may be one if you ask for more than that. You can request a credit limit increase with Discover either online (select “Credit Line Increase” under “Manage” after logging in) or over the phone by contacting its customer service line at 1-800-347-2683.
According to a Discover representative, soft credit inquiries occur more frequently than hard ones. But if a hard inquiry is required, customers are given the option to back out of the application. While eligibility requirements vary for each customer, those who don’t qualify for their requested increase are sent a letter explaining why, with the option to address the issue and reapply in 30 days.
When you request a credit line increase, Discover will ask you to confirm basic information, like your gross annual income and monthly housing expenses as well as if and where you’re employed.
8. How to request a credit increase at Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo doesn’t have an online option for customers to request a credit increase, so you’ll need to contact a customer service representative at 1-800-642-4720 to ask for one.
According to a Wells Fargo representative, once a customer calls to request an increase, a soft pull will be done. If a hard pull is required, then the representative will issue a notification, at which point the customer can decide whether or not they want to proceed with the application.
Accounts that may be eligible for automatic credit increases are reviewed periodically, and eligibility varies case by case depending on factors like income, expenses, and credit scores.
When requesting a credit increase, be prepared to provide your annual or monthly gross income as well as your monthly mortgage or rent expenses and your desired credit increase amount.
The bottom line on requesting a credit limit increase
Depending on your bank, requesting a credit limit increase can be an easy online process or a waiting game on the phone. However your bank requires you to submit requests, be sure you’re doing so for the right reasons. Confirm that your current income coincides with this new higher limit and that you’ll be able to manage the debt responsibly without any harm done to your credit score.