What is the Average Credit Limit for Americans?Having a high credit limit available to you is almost always a good thing, even if you don’t intend to use all of it. Not only does it mean that financial institutions trust that you’re responsible enough to borrow a lot of money, but it also makes it easier for you to maintain a low credit utilization ratio, which helps your credit scores. But, how much is high for a credit limit, exactly? What is the average credit limit for people in the U.S., and if you applied for a credit card, what kind of credit limit could you reasonably expect to receive? Well, we’ve looked at the data, and in this post we show you what an average credit limit looks like, as well as let you know how you can raise your credit limit.

Average credit limit by credit score

According to data from 2015 that has been analyzed by the credit bureau Experian, the average credit limit for people in the U.S. greatly varies depending on what their credit scores are. Americans with exemplary FICO scores of 781 to 850 had an average credit limit of $9,543 per credit card, Americans with good to average FICO scores of 661 to 780 had an average limit of $5,209 and Americans with fair to poor FICO scores of 601 to 660 had an average limit of $2,277. Below that, Americans with scores of 500 to 600 had an average limit of $966, and Americans with scores of 300 to 499 had an average limit of $509. This is probably due to the fact that people with FICO scores in those ranges likely only qualify for secured credit cards and subprime credit cards, which tend to have low limits compared to prime credit cards. Furthermore, people with FICO scores of 781 and above had an average total credit limit across all of their cards of $33,371 — the average number of credit cards U.S. consumers have is 3.1.

What to learn from the average credit limits

Looking at this data, you can learn a few things about what kind of credit limit you can expect when applying for a new card. First, working to boost your credit scores by even a small amount can potentially have a big impact on what kind of credit limit you’ll get the next time you’re approved for a new credit card. The average credit limit for each range of scores is around double the average of the previous range, so the higher your scores get, the more of a payoff you’ll see in your credit limits. Second, even the group with the highest credit scores didn’t have an average credit limit above $10,000. Even if you have great credit, obtaining a credit card with a limit over $10,000 right off the bat is hard to do, and probably requires excelling in other criteria, such as your annual income. Credit cards that grant very high limits of $20,000 or more exist, but it’s not easy to qualify for a credit limit that high. Finally, judging by the fact that people with high FICO scores have an average total credit limit of $33,371 when their average credit limit for each card is only $9,543, that means that those high scorers either have several credit cards, or one or two on which they aggressively seek credit limit increases.

How to get higher credit limits

As we’ve written about before, you can raise your credit limit by asking your credit card provider for a credit limit increase. This works best when you’ve had your card for a while, you have a good history of timely payments and you’ve improved in some way financially since you first got the card. Some common improvements are increasing your credit scores, making more money and reducing your debt obligations, such as your rent or a credit card balance you’ve been carrying. However, requesting a higher credit limit probably won’t work so well if your card is less than a few months old, as the credit card provider has already assessed your creditworthiness recently, or if you balance is currently close to your maximum credit limit. Additionally, when you ask for a credit limit raise, the card provider may check your credit with a hard inquiry. If you ask several credit providers for limit increases at once and get multiple hard inquiries on your credit reports in a short period of time, it can damage your credit scores. It may be easier and more effective, though, to simply apply for a new credit card instead. A new credit card will probably increase your total available credit by more than a raise on a card you already have will, and it’ll give you a chance to take advantage of some sweet intro bonus offers or 0% intro APR.

A higher credit limit isn’t everything, but it’s certainly convenient to have, and with a little effort it’s not that hard to get. To learn more about maximizing your credit, follow our credit cards blog.