3 ways credit card limits are determined by issuers

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3 ways credit card limits are determined by issuers

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How much (or little) a credit card issuer allows you to charge can feel like a character judgment. While a limit means a credit card lender believes you can handle your borrowing A credit limit shows little trust in your ability to spend and pay.

In some cases, you’re right: Your lender is judging you. But other times, the issuer is just following preset credit card limits that don’t have anything to do with your likelihood to pay. Either way, the outcome can be similar. A too-low limit may dull any spending excitement for a new card or derail a massive balance transfer, while a surprisingly substantial credit limit may entice you to spend more than you normally would.

So do lenders figure out just how much credit to provide you with? Here are 3 ways issuers determine your limit, along with reasons it expand or may cut.

1. The predetermined system

Some issuers like to keep it simple, offering credit cards with predetermined credit limits. The consumer can apply for whichever one he’d like. For example, a card that is blue that is run-of-the-mill would come with a $500 limit, the gold card would find a limit and the platinum card would come with a limit that is $ 5,000. The limitation applies. But just because you applied for the $5,000 card does not mean you’re going to be approved. Your credit score and income level must satisfy up with the card’s requirements.

“It is not a highly customized choice,” states Eric Lindeen, head of marketing for ID Analytics. “If the limitation seems strangely huge or small, it’s not a reflection of you as a customer. You simply applied for the card that was wrong.”

Lindeen says in some cases, you can ask the card issuer. Some issuers allow some wiggle room, but do not expect an increase of over 10 percent to 20 percent, ” he says.

2. The credit-based limit

Credit card businesses turn to help determine the limit of your card. The process is very similar to how issuers work out the rate of interest on your credit card, says Bill McCracken, CEO of Synergistics Research Corp., a market research firm that focuses on financial institutions.

For example, a charge card offer that is specific may come with a credit limit between $1,000 and $5,000. Those with higher credit ratings will find the $5,000 credit limit, but those who fall on the lower end of the qualifying credit range will get $1,000.

“Sometimes a creditor will deviate from the formula if you’re an existing customer,” McCracken says. “But usually that’s the scoring they stick with.”

3. The customized limit

Then there are lenders who take pains to minimize risk.

Lindeen states some issuers create a grid system and compare many different kinds of scores, such as a bankruptcy score along with a credit score, to find out a credit limit. In generating a credit limit others consider debt-to-income ratio or your income. Some issuers may even take into consideration the limitations says John Ulzheimer, a credit pro of Equifax and FICO.

These lenders can better calculate the risk by considering a variety of factors. That helps the risk in their overall portfolios balances, Lindeen states.

Credit limits not set in stone

Despite they aren’t fixed for all time, Ulzheimer says.

“After you’ve had the card for a while, (issuers) are likely to adjust your limits according to your usage patterns,” he says.

Adjustments can mean reductions or increases to a limit at the lender’s discretion. Card issuers review accounts and pull credit reports to see if their credit histories have shifted markedly. Issuers may do this or a payment on a card could trigger a review, McCracken. says

“Issuers have become more vigilant in reviewing cardholder credit ratings, for those who are carrying balances and have had a credit rating markdown, or have been late on some payments,” McCracken says. “They’ll go in and cut your upper limit as a means to decrease risk to themselves.”

So you can put charges on its card, if your card issuer sees that you’re carrying balances the issuer may provide a limit increase, Lindeen states.

“You are a potentially profitable consumer,” he says.

Otherwise, consumers can call their issuers themselves and ask for an increase. If you have a fantastic track record, then the issuer will probably give you the growth, as a “good-faith gesture,” Lindeen states. But do not bother if you’ve been late on 12, calling.


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