The average credit card limit in the United States increased in 2022, along with credit card balances. Individual credit limits vary widely from person to person and even from state to state, but your credit limit and the amount of debt you carry can reflect on your financial health.
Understanding how your numbers fit into the bigger picture can help you make sense of your credit situation and provide insight into how the overall numbers affect your finances.
Keep reading to see how your credit stacks up against the rest of the U.S. and how it may affect your credit score.
- People with credit scores over 800 had an average credit limit of $69,346 in 2022.
- The average credit card debt in the U.S. rose 13.2% in 2022.
- Gen Zer’s average credit limit was $11,290 in the third quarter of 2022, with an average credit utilization ratio of 25%.
- Gen Zers living in California, New York, and Texas tend to have higher credit card balances than in other states.
- Average rejection rates for credit card applications decreased to 18.5% in 2022, a change of 2.4%.
- Americans' total credit card debt was $986 billion in the first quarter of 2023.
The average credit limit increased in 2022 for those with high credit scores
According to an anonymous analysis of over 100,000 Lending Tree users, people with credit scores over 800 saw an increase in their credit limits between 2021 and 2022. For those with an excellent credit score, the average credit card limit in 2022 was $69,346, compared to $58,514 in May 2021.
People with credit scores of 800 or higher had an average utilization rate of 6.1%. Those with a high credit score carried an average of $150,270 in debt, including mortgages, and had an average monthly debt payment of $1,556.
Source: Lending Tree
The average credit card balance was $5,910 in 2022
According to the Experian credit bureau, the average credit card balance in the U.S. increased by 13.2% in 2022 to a total of $5,910. The total credit card debt owed by U.S. consumers increased in the third quarter of 2022 by $125 billion to $910 billion. The U.S. ended 2022 with $986 billion in credit card debt.
Despite this sharp increase, consumers' total credit card debt was slightly higher in 2022 compared to 2019, showing a return to pre-pandemic levels. The rising levels were primarily due to inflation and the interest rate hikes that the Federal Reserve took to control inflation.
Source: Experian, Federal Reserve of New York
Gen Zer’s average credit limit was $11,290 in Q3 2022
Gen Zer’s average credit limit in the third quarter of 2022 was $11,290, with an average credit utilization rate of 25%.
The average credit card balance in the U.S. was $5,315 In 2020 and dropped to $5,221 in 2021. In 2022 the average balance was $5,910, an increase of $689 between 2021 and 2022.
In contrast, Gen Zer’s average credit card balance in 2022 was $2,854. This number is affected by Gen Zer’s relatively young age, some of whom might not have a credit card or don’t rely on credit cards to help make ends meet.
The average credit utilization rate increased between 2021 and 2022
In 2022, the average credit utilization rate in the U.S. was 28%, an increase of about 2.5% compared to 2021, when the rate was 25.5%.
The lower average credit utilization rate in 2021 was likely due to the pandemic and reduced consumer spending. The uptick in 2022 is due, at least in part, to increased consumer spending, as well as inflation and rising interest rates.
According to Experian, credit limits increased in 2022 less than credit card balances. Credit issuers can raise or decrease a person’s credit limit with little notice, based on several factors, including payment history and salary increases.
Source: Experian, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Baby Boomers have the highest credit limits among those with credit scores over 800
According to Lending Tree’s 2022 data, Baby Boomers with credit scores over 800 have an average credit limit of $69,829 and a credit utilization ratio of 6.3%.
Baby Boomers with credit scores under 800 have a 14.3% average utilization ratio. The Silent Generation (born between 1928-1945) has an average credit limit of $63,111 with a utilization rate of 4.6%.
Gen Xers, by comparison, have an average credit limit of $72,255 and a utilization rate of 6.6% for those with credit scores over 800. Members of Gen X with a credit score under 800 have utilization rates of 21.7% on average.
Source: Lending Tree
Application rates for credit cards increased in 2022
In October 2022, the application rate for new credit cards reached 27.1%, compared to 26.5% in October 2021. The average application rate for credit cards overall was 26.7% in 2022, 3.6% higher than in 2021.
In October 2022, the average application rate for credit limit increases was 11.2%, compared to 11.3% in October 2021. In 2019, the application rate for credit limit increases was 12%.
The average rejection rate for new credit cards decreased to 18.5% in 2022, a drop of 2.4% from 2021. Rejection rates for credit card limit increases rose from 32.3% in 2021 to 35.3% in 2022.
Source: Federal Reserve of New York
Gen Zers have seen a rise in their credit scores but are still under the national average
Generation Z, or those born in or after 1997, according to the Pew Research Center, have had an average credit score that remains steadily in the ‘good’ range.
In 2020, the average credit score for a Gen Zer was 674, which increased to 679 in 2021 and stayed there in 2022. The national average credit score, according to Experian, was 710 in 2020 and grew to 714 in 2021 and 2022.
According to the Equifax credit bureau, a credit score between 670 to 739 is generally considered good, with scores above that considered very good (740 to 799) and 800 and up is deemed to be excellent.
Source: Pew Research Center, Experian, Equifax
People with poor credit scores had the highest utilization rate in 2022
According to data from Experian for the third quarter of 2022, people with poor credit scores utilized 82.1% of their available credit. Those with fair credit had a utilization ratio of 56.1%, and people with good credit had a credit utilization ratio of 35.2%.
Those with very good or excellent credit had the lowest utilization ratios, 14.7%, and 6.5%, respectively.
Average credit card limits have increased for all generations
The average limits on credit cards increased between 2021 and 2022, but the increased amount varied widely.
For people born from 1997 to 2012 (Gen Z), credit card limits increased by 14.5%, a significant change. In 2021, Gen Z had an average credit limit of $9,857, but it increased in 2022 to $11,290.
Millennials (1965-1980) had the second largest credit limit increase, at 11.4%, for an increased credit limit of $24,668, up from $22,136 in 2021.
Gen X (1965-1980) saw a rise of less than half of Gen Z, at 6.8%, and a change in the average credit limit of $33,694 in 2021 to $35,994 in 2022.
Millennials have an average credit utilization rate of 24.4%
Millennials with credit scores of 800 and higher had an average credit limit of $64,947 in 2022 and a credit utilization rate of 5.4%. Comparatively, Millennials with credit scores under 800 had a utilization rate of 24.4%.
Gen Z had the most extensive range of credit utilization rates across the generations. Gen Z consumers with credit scores over 800 had average credit limits of $54,003 and utilization rates of 3.1%. On average, cardholders across Gen Z had a 32.5% credit utilization rate, a difference of 29.4%.
Source: Lending Tree
Average credit card balances increased in every state in 2022
California residents saw a 17% increase in their 2022 average credit card balance compared to 2021, the most significant increase in the country.
In general, the western and northeastern states saw the most significant increases in credit balances during this time. Washington D.C. credit card balances jumped 16% between 2021 and 2022, while Washington state, Nevada, and Hawaii, saw increases of 15.5%, 14.9%, and 14.8%, respectively.
States that saw the lowest increases in credit card balances were in the South and Midwest. West Virginia had the smallest credit card balance increase of 9.4%, followed by Oklahoma with a 9.7% increase. Alabama and Kansas tied for third with a jump of 10% in credit card balances.
Mississippi had the lowest total credit limit in 2019
According to data gathered by Experian in 2019, Mississippi residents had an average credit limit of $21,676 and an average FICO score of 667, the lowest of any state in the U.S. New Jersey had the highest credit limit and FICO scores in 2019, with an average credit limit of $37,845 and average FICO score of 714.
Overall, states with higher credit limits also tended to have higher average credit scores. While newer data regarding credit limits and scores is unavailable, Mississippi saw its average credit card balance increase from $4,449 to $4,912 in 2022, a 10.4% increase.
New Jersey had a more significant jump in average credit card balances, going from $5,995 in 2021 to $6,819 in 2022, a rise of 13.8%.
How does your credit limit affect your credit score?
Achieving a higher limit for your overall credit might help you improve your credit score by increasing your credit utilization rate.
Your credit utilization rate is the amount you owe across all your credit cards divided by your total credit limit.
For example, If you have $10,000 in available credit across all of your cards and have a balance of $5,000, you have a utilization rate of 50% ($5,000/ $10,000 = 0.5, or 50%).
Lenders and credit card companies typically look at the credit utilization rate, credit history, the maximum amount of credit available, and other factors when considering a borrower’s creditworthiness.
Most creditors prefer a total utilization rate under 30%, since it shows you know how to use credit responsibly and aren’t over-extended. Other factors, such as on-time payments, number of credit card accounts, overall debt-to-income ratio, and more often play a role in your creditworthiness.
Your credit utilization ratio makes up about 20% of your credit score, the third highest factor after your payment history and the average age of your credit accounts. Your utilization rate is often comprised of revolving credit, like credit cards, but can also include installment accounts, like auto or personal loans.
If you have a lower credit limit, you might be able to increase it with time and patience. If you have a high credit card balance, develop a plan to pay more than the minimum monthly payment and stick to timely payments. This might help you build credit over time.
Average credit card limit: bottom line
Understanding how your credit limit, through your credit utilization ratio, can impact your financial life is vital to managing your finances. Having a high credit limit is helpful to your credit score only if you don’t use more than 30% of it, and it can hurt your score if you use too much of your available credit.
As you consider opening a new credit card, be aware of the credit limits offered and ensure that you have a handle on your credit card balances before applying. Check out our list of the best credit cards to help you find the right card with the right perks.