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A credit limit dictates how much you can charge on your credit card.
The terms credit card limit and credit line are used to describe how much you can charge on a card. If you have a $5,000 credit limit, you have access to a $5,000 credit line and can charge up to $5,000 maximum at any time. As you pay down what you’ve charged, you can charge again and again as long as you keep your total card balance $5,000 or less. But remember, only spend what you can afford to pay back — just because you have a high credit limit doesn’t mean you should max it out.
Some credit card issuers will start you off with a small credit line, which means you can’t charge much. Often, you have to ask for a higher credit limit, and then the creditor will evaluate your credit, income and other financial details to decide whether to increase your credit limit.
But with some Capital One cards, you have a chance to get a credit line increase by making your first five consecutive monthly payments on time. Here’s how that works.
How does Capital One’s credit line increase program work?
For certain cards, Capital One may give you a credit line increase if you pay at least the minimum amount due by the deadline for your first five payments. This is called the Credit Steps program for some of these cards.
But it’s important to note that Capital One also says it may decline credit line increases for a number of reasons, such as if a credit reports show a late payment to another creditor.
If you get a higher limit, you’ll be able to charge up to the new amount. This can mean you have more of a safety net in case of an emergency expense or a bigger purchase that comes up. Just be careful to spend only as much as you can afford. A higher credit limit can be tempting to use, but you might end up carrying a balance and paying interest on anything you charge and can’t pay off on time and in full.
Along with getting more access to credit, a credit line increase might improve your credit scores. Your credit card utilization ratio is one of the factors that make up your credit scores. Your credit can benefit from lower credit card utilization because it indicates that you can manage your credit. Experts recommend keeping your ratio below 30%. So getting a higher credit line could benefit you, because you’ll have more credit available, which keeps your credit card utilization ratio lower as long as you don’t start spending more.
Which Capital One cards offer a possible credit line increase?
These are the cards that Capital One says offer the possibility of a credit line increase after your first five consecutive on-time payments.
- Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
- Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
- Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
What if your card doesn’t offer this opportunity for a credit line increase?
If your credit card doesn’t offer an opportunity for a credit line increase, you can call your creditor to ask for a higher credit limit — or you can sometimes make the request online.
You will usually be asked some questions to help the credit issuer make sure it’s really you. You may also have to provide info on things like your income, job, house payments and other expenses. How long you’ve had the card, if you’ve been making more than the minimum payments, and whether you’ve been paying on time could also be factors that your issuer will consider when deciding whether to approve or deny your request. The issuer also may check your credit, which could result in a hard credit inquiry on your reports.
One other thing to note: Sometimes credit card companies will give you a credit line increase without you even applying for it. This sometimes happens after you’ve been using your card reliably for a while. Don’t count on it, though. If you really want a credit line increase, it’ll probably be faster to ask than to wait around.
Bottom line: A Capital One credit line increase is a great cardholder perk
If you’re interested in building credit, a Capital One card that offers a chance for a credit line increase after you make your first five consecutive monthly payments on time might be an option.
You can apply for one of these cards knowing that if you make at least the minimum payments on time, a greater spending limit — and possibly an improved credit profile — may be yours within just a few months.