How do I get a high-limit credit card?

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In a Nutshell

Getting a high-limit credit card can improve your ability to make big purchases and earn big rewards. But getting approved for a high-limit credit card isn't always easy.

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At a glance: Credit cards that may come with a high credit limit

Cash back for U.S. gas and U.S. supermarket purchases Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Luxury travel card for big spenders Platinum Card® from American Express
Premium travel rewards Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Great rewards matching Discover it®

Before we talk about high-limit credit cards, let’s review what a credit limit is.

In short, it’s the maximum amount you’re allowed to spend on the card without being subject to a penalty or paying off at least some of your balance.

Targeting a high-limit credit card can be a tricky business, since your credit card issuer determines your credit limit when you apply for a card. Their decision may depend on a variety of factors, including your income and credit history. More on that later.

For now, it’s important to clarify that “high credit limit” is a bit of a subjective term. What’s high for one person might be low for another.

According to Jason Steele, credit card expert and contributing writer for The Points Guy, $10,000 is generally considered a high credit limit for a credit card, so that at least gives us somewhere to start. However, people with excellent credit may be approved for even larger credit limits.

Why might I be interested in a high-limit credit card?

Good question! The answer depends on your financial goals and ability to pay off your balance responsibly and on time.

Getting a high-limit credit card can provide peace of mind if you ever need to borrow a large amount of money on short notice. Depending on how much you spend, a high-limit card can also lower your credit utilization ratio (how much of your credit you’re using compared to how much you have available).

Here’s an example: If you typically spend $1,000 per month and you have a $2,000 limit on your card, your credit utilization ratio is 50%, much higher than the expert recommendation of 30%.

However, if your card has a $5,000 limit, your ratio drops to 20%.

Some folks may target high-limit rewards credit cards because they’re big spenders and want to earn the most cash back or points possible.

These cards also tend to come with high annual fees, so they’re generally a better fit if you know you’ll spend enough to warrant paying around $450 to $550 annually just for the privilege of using the card.

OK, but how do I actually get a high-limit credit card?

There are a few ways to get a credit card with a high limit but none of them are what you would call "guaranteed."

According to Adam Vega, a Certified Financial Planner™ with United Capital, the best way is to begin with a high income and excellent credit which is, of course, easier said than done.

If you have a card and you want to increase its limit, you may still be able to qualify for a higher credit limit but it might take a bit more legwork.

If you make consistent on-time payments in full, or your credit has improved since you first got the card, consider asking your card issuer to increase your limit. You can do this over the phone with some issuers or online with others (such as Chase).

One drawback to asking for a credit limit increase? This may result in a hard inquiry on your credit reports, which can drop your scores by a few points.

How does having a high credit limit impact my credit?

Using your new high-limit credit card wisely can benefit your credit — assuming you do so responsibly.

One of the larger determining factors for your credit scores is your credit utilization ratio. The lower the percentage of your available credit you use, the better (we recommend keeping your credit card utilization below 30% on each card and collectively).

Adding on another credit line with a high limit can potentially lower your credit utilization ratio, making you look more favorable to lenders.

Of course, if you use a high-limit credit card to rack up a huge balance, your credit utilization ratio could swing the other way and hurt your credit scores.

To keep the benefits of having a high-limit credit card, make sure you spend responsibly and pay off your balance in full each month, where possible.

Which type of high-limit credit card should I target?

If you’re targeting a high-limit credit card, you’re probably someone who regularly spends a lot on your card and could benefit from a lucrative rewards credit card.

Cash back and travel rewards are two popular types of rewards credit cards. Cash back cards offer you a set percentage of cash back from purchases you make.

Travel rewards cards earn you points or miles that you can redeem for travel, whether through an airline frequent-flyer program, an issuer-specific rewards portal such as Chase Ultimate Rewards® or as a credit applied to your statement.

To figure out which card to apply for, consider where you spend your money and how you might want to redeem your rewards. Many high-limit credit cards often come with bonus perks, such as airport lounge access to a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

What are the potential pitfalls of a high-limit credit card?

As Winston Churchill once said, “Where there is great power, there is great responsibility.”

This is a good rule to follow when it comes to applying for a high-limit credit card. Yes, it’s a powerful tool, but if you’re not careful, it can end up causing more damage than good.

Spend responsibly and adopt good financial habits such as full, on-time payments, and you’ll have a lot less to worry about. Emergencies happen, but we recommend only making purchases that you can afford to pay off in full when your monthly bill comes due.

Bottom line

A high-limit credit card can be a great addition to your financial arsenal, but you’ll have to be approved for one first. Those who do get approved for a high credit limit tend to already have great credit and a track record of being responsible with their credit.

Finally — and perhaps most importantly — you’ll be prepared for an emergency by having a large line of credit in your back pocket.