CNBC Select may receive an affiliate commission when you click on the links for products from our partners. Click here to read our full advertiser disclosure.
CNBC Select

Here's the average credit limit you can expect to get when you open your first credit card

CNBC Select looks into data on average credit card limits for first-time cardholders, outlining what to expect and how you can eventually increase this amount.

Getty Images

If you've never had a credit card before, you're probably wondering what your credit limit will be once you get approved for your first one.

Your credit limit is an important factor with any new card. It represents the maximum amount of credit available to you. When you are approved for a credit card, lenders determine your credit limit based on the information in your application and credit report. But some types of credit cards are known to have lower credit limits than others.

Below, CNBC Select outlines the average credit limit you can expect on your first credit card and how you can eventually increase this limit.

Average credit limits

Data from credit bureau Equifax's "Credit Trends" report shows that the average credit limit for new "bank card originations" (brand new account openings) has been between $5,000 to $6,000 during 2018 and 2019.

"However, many consumers new to credit start with a private label retail credit card, such as a retail store credit card," an Equifax spokesperson tells CNBC Select. "Those beginning limits have averaged between $2,000 to $2,500 during this same time period."

Because many consumers apply for store cards as their first credit card, your first credit limit is generally going to be on the low end. Though Equifax notes these retail cards averaging between $2,000 to $2,500, credit limits can be much less than that — in some cases below $1,000.

"Limits on those cards are notoriously low," financial expert John Ulzheimer, formerly of FICO and Equifax, tells CNBC Select. "And if your first card is a secured card then the limit will likely be very low as well."

Secured credit cards are typically marketed toward people with very little credit history because they require you to make a security deposit upfront (typically around $200) that acts as your credit limit. This means your limit won't be that high, but they are a great way to start building credit. Some of the best secured cards include the Capital One® Secured for a low deposit requirement and the Citi® Secured Mastercard® for low interest from a major bank.

How to increase the limit on your first credit card

Once you get your first credit card you can always ask for a credit limit increase.

To increase your chances of being improved for a higher limit, make sure you pay your monthly credit card bills on time and in full and use less than 30% of your available credit. 

Wait at least six months before requesting a higher credit limit, so the card issuer can see a record of timely payments.

Bottom line

Credit limits vary and are set by lenders based on a handful of factors, such as your capacity to pay your debts, your salary, your credit score and your credit risk. The good news is that once you start building credit, you will have a better chance of getting a larger line of credit.

If you already have a good mix of credit products, such as a mortgage or loans in your name, you will also have a greater likelihood of receiving a higher credit limit on your first credit card versus someone completely new to credit.

Don't miss: Here's why I haven't closed my first credit card

Information about the Capital One® Secured and Citi® Secured Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.