If you're someone who likes to compare credit scores with your friends or partner, you may be interested in knowing how your credit limit stacks up.
What's considered a "normal" credit limit in the U.S.? While limits may vary by age and location, on average Americans have a total credit limit of $22,751 across all their credit cards, according to the latest 2019 Experian data.
Below, CNBC Select breaks down credit limits so you can make sure you're ahead in the rankings.
Your credit limit is the maximum amount of money you can charge to a credit card before you face a penalty. A credit limit may also be known as a line of credit, credit line or spending limit. However it is referred to, the higher your credit limit, the more overall credit you have to rely on.
Beyond proving a solid or steady income, you can usually get an increase on your credit limit by raising your credit score. Lenders typically set higher card limits for customers who have good or excellent credit scores.
Of course, it's also important to raise your credit score so you receive the best rates and can qualify for credit cards with better rewards programs. Some easy tips to improve your credit score include making on-time payments, paying your balance in full and not opening too many accounts at once.
If you're building credit, secured cards, such as the Discover it® Secured, are often your best option. Once you work your way up from fair to good or excellent credit, you may qualify for cards with generous welcome bonuses and robust rewards programs, such as the American Express® Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, two of CNBC Select's top-rated rewards cards.
For some people, asking for a credit limit increase may be a good idea, but for others it may not be. First, consider why you are requesting the increase. If the reason is to lower your credit utilization rate, asking may make sense. But if the reason is to access additional funds when you don't have a plan for paying off that debt, requesting an increase may not be the best move for your financial health.
Your credit utilization rate is the amount of credit you're using compared to the amount of credit you have available. So, if you have an $800 credit card balance and you have a $2,000 credit card limit, your CUR is 40%:
($800 / $2,000 = 0.4 X 100 = 40%)
Experts recommend keeping your utilization rate below 30%.
If you're looking to improve your credit utilization rate "paying down the existing balance on a card is usually a better approach than asking for a credit limit increase," Rod Griffin, Experian's senior director of consumer education and advocacy, tells CNBC Select. "Paying down balances reduces your debt load, does not create other issues that may have a negative impact on scores and usually leads to faster, longer lasting improvements in credit scores."
If you do decide to ask for a credit line increase, be prepared to answer some questions. Card issuers typically ask for your current annual income, employment status and your monthly rent. And while you can sometimes apply for an increase on your card issuer's website, you'll likely have a better chance of being approved or finding out more information if you call and speak to a representative.
As long as you are responsible with how you use your credit card, an increase in your credit limit should reduce your credit utilization rate. And the lower your utilization rate, the better your credit score in the long run.
That said, any time you make a change to your credit history, such as opening a new account or increasing your credit limit, you may see your credit score dinged temporarily.
"Asking your lender to increase your credit limit could result in a hard inquiry on your credit report," Griffin says. "While the impact to credit scores due to an inquiry is minimal, applying for an increase on multiple accounts within a short period of time may result in multiple inquiries, which could cause a temporary dip in scores."
Keep in mind that you should be wary about requesting credit limit increases if you're planning to make a major life decision, such as applying for a mortgage. Check with your card issuer first to see if your credit report will be pulled.
Information about the Discover cards has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication