What is a credit limit?

It is the maximum amount you are authorised to spend on your credit card.

For example, if your credit limit is 1,500 and you have an outstanding balance of 1,000, you will only be allowed to spend up to a further 500.

You can check the credit limit on your card by:

  • Signing into your account online or through its mobile app

  • Asking your card provider over the phone, email or post

  • Looking at your recent statement

If you are applying for a new credit card, your provider will tell you the maximum limit you can have before going through a full credit check.

How is it worked out?

This is usually done in two stages:

  • Soft credit check: Your provider checks your personal information without leaving a mark on your record.

  • Hard credit check: Most providers run a full credit check when you have chosen the limit you want, which leaves a mark on your record.

When your provider runs a full credit check, they look at:

  1. Any outstanding debts, like a mortgage, overdraft, loan or other credit cards.

  2. If you've missed any repayments, by checking your repayment history.

  3. What credit is available to you, e.g. an unused overdraft or another card.

Can you go over your credit limit?

Yes, but you will usually get charged a fee if you go over your limit and may not be able to spend again until you pay off part of your balance.

Going over your limit could also cause you to:

  • Have your credit limit reduced

  • Lose any 0% offer you currently have on the card

  • Get moved onto a higher APR for the card

  • Have a black mark on your credit record

Contact your provider as soon as you realise you've gone over your limit, and offer to pay money off your balance to get within your credit limit again.

Can your credit limit change?

Yes, you can ask your provider to increase or decrease your credit limit:

  • Over the phone

  • Through your online account or mobile app

  • In writing

Your provider will make their decision based on your credit record, income, and repayment history.

How else can your limit change?

Your credit card provider may adjust your credit limit if:

  • You exceed your credit limit

  • You miss a minimum repayment

  • Your credit record has been damaged by your handling of other cards or loans

  • You don't use your card often

Your provider could also increase your limit if they feel you would be able to handle the repayments or if you are often close to going over your limit.