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Assume that:

  • I opened card A a long time ago and card B recently (different institutions).

  • I have a very high credit limit on credit card A and a very low one on credit card B.

  • I do not need the former but I do need the latter. (When I tried to go over my limit, B was declined.)

  • I have a decent credit score, make payments on time, and don't have credit problems in general.

So I want to raise my limit on B, but to ensure it will be approved, I have no idea whether it's better to lower my limit on A first since my current combined credit line might be too high, or whether I should avoid that since my utilization will rise. I'm also not sure if the fact that I opened B recently affects this.

In what cases should I lower my credit limit on A before raising it on B? In particular:

  • (When) would it help with whether B will get approved?

  • (When) would it help reduce the hit to my credit score (since B would result in a hard pull)?

And if lowering A affects the effects of raising B, around how long should I wait between the two?

  • Why do you need the card with the lower limit? – BrenBarn Apr 19 '17 at 2:18
  • @BrenBarn: Different features/benefits – Mehrdad Apr 19 '17 at 3:00
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Higher total credit capacity (sum of all your credit limits) is a good thing for your credit rating and in the eyes of your credit card company. Definitely do not lower your limit on the other card--this will be counterproductive.

If you want to game the system, make a payment on any outstanding cards so your utilization is super low. When the payments clear, then apply for the increased limit in B while your credit rating is artificially high.

Generically, if you want guidance on how to improve your credit rating, try using CreditKarma and/or Quizzle. They will do soft pulls, evaluate the various factors influencing your credit, and give you advice on how to improve it. For free.

When you ask B for an increase, they will look at your credit score, how long you have been with them (and how long since the last increase), and your reported income (and expenses, if they ask for them). These are the things you should look to improve before asking.

  • So are you saying B doesn't care what my credit limits are on my other cards? Or that it does, but I can't do anything to help that? – Mehrdad Apr 19 '17 at 0:56
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    I'm saying B wants your credit limits on other cards to be high. B isn't trying to limit your overall credit capacity; it is trying to avoid being the one lender who trusts you while others do not. Having high limits on other cards indicates that B is not sticking its neck out in dangerous territory. – farnsy Apr 19 '17 at 1:00
  • @Mehrdad B absolutely cares what your total available limit is relative to your stated income. If you just opened the B line and your income hasn't changed since you opened the account, it's not likely that B will approve a line increase without your total available credit changing. – quid Apr 19 '17 at 2:15
  • @quid: OK so that directly contradicts this answer... post another answer? (farnsy: any thoughts on this counterargument?) – Mehrdad Apr 19 '17 at 3:01
  • @Mehrdad I recently got the CSR card and had to adjust the available limit from my other Chase card in order to make the CSR useful as my daily card. My total available limit is about 100% of my annual income and my utilization is negligible. And think logically, if B wasn't trying to limit it's exposure why wouldn't B have at least matched the limit of A when it issued the card? If you've had B for at least 90 days I would simply request the increase from B and go from there, there is no point trying to guess the outcome. – quid Apr 19 '17 at 4:44

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