It’s a common scene in a number of films: the big spender who breaks out the credit card with the simply ridiculous limit and charges a yacht or sports car with a single swipe. The ultimate show of reckless wealth (or, at least, the perception of it), fancy cards with unlimited credit are great ways to make a movie statement, but they’re hardly practical for the average consumer.
For most of us, the high-limit luxury of the most exclusive credit cards isn’t just unattainable — it’s unnecessary. These cards often come with hefty annual fees to cover all those perks. Plus, the temptation to overspend can skyrocket when you can swipe your way through any store.
On the other hand, high credit limits can help boost your credit score if you maintain low levels of debt, and the ability to finance large purchases all at once can be useful for those who can quickly pay them off. But these benefits can be obtained without needing the infamous Black Card; your favorite rewards or everyday card may allow you the high credit limit you’re looking for, without the high costs.
Highest Overall Credit Limit: $100,000
For a card that has all the feel — and much of the function — of an exclusive card without the exclusive requirements, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great choice. The card has a luxurious metal finish that gives it an impressive feel and style that’s sure to be noticed and reputedly has a maximum credit limit just as impressive.
Of course, you’ll need to keep in mind that credit limits are determined primarily by your creditworthiness, based on the information in your credit report, as well as your income level. For the most part, the better your credit and income situation, the higher the credit limit you are offered, and only those with the most pristine credit will be offered limits near the maximum.
According to reviews, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders with credit scores above 700 have the highest limits, but only 10% of cardholders have credit limits above $20,000. The average credit limit for the Preferred card is around $10,000.
Oftentimes, a high credit limit is gradually achieved through credit limit increases. You may start with a lower limit, but with time and responsible use, the bank will grant an increase when you’ve proven yourself worthy of one.
Highest “Air Miles” Credit Limit: $50,000
Given that the cost of the average vacation ranges from over $1,100 to just under $5,000, knowing that your favorite travel rewards card has the room to fit all of your family’s needs can be a big relief. With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card, qualified applicants can rest easy on the road or abroad with reported credit limits up to $50,000.
While your credit limit will depend on your individual creditworthiness, most reviewers indicate receiving lower limits than the highest reported of $50,000. Several reviewers report limits around $30,000, while the average limit seems to be between $5,000 and $10,000.
Arguably the most popular feature of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card is the blackout-free travel rewards program, in which points can be redeemed for statement credit for travel-related expenses, including airline and hotel purchases. Since cardholders aren’t subject to brand limitations, they can fly any airline or stay in any hotel they prefer.
Highest “Balance Transfer” Credit Limit: $25,000
Although it’s always best to pay off your revolving credit lines in full each statement cycle, sometimes you simply need to carry a balance. To make that balance more affordable, you’ll want the lowest interest rates possible — such as a balance transfer card with 0% APR for more than a year. Of course, even the lowest interest rates are of little help if your balances won’t fit on the transfer card.
The Discover it® Balance Transfer offer provides plenty of room for your existing balances, with well-qualified reviewers reporting credit limits up to $25,000. You’ll also enjoy cash back rewards, including new bonus categories each quarter, to maximize your savings.
Of course, as with any credit product, the highest limits won’t be available to every applicant. Reviews indicate the average new Discover it® applicant is significantly more likely to see a credit limit of $3,000 to $10,000 than one over $20,000.
Highest “Cash Back” Credit Limit: $24,000
When it comes to selecting the best card for everyday purchases, a cash back card can be a great choice. If you have a large family or simply large expenses, however, you may be concerned that your cash back card can’t handle the load. For credit-limit peace of mind, you can try the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited, sister cards which reportedly have credit limits up to $24,000 for the most qualified applicants.
Offering nearly identical perks and benefits, the two cards are differentiated primarily by the way cardholders earn cash back. Specifically, Chase Freedom users enjoy 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase and 5% bonus cash back (up to a set amount) in specific categories that change each quarter. In contrast, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Although the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards may offer limits over $20,000 to well-qualified applicants, the average cardholder is much more likely to receive a credit limit between $3,000 and $5,000 than one over $10,000. That said, a number of consumers have had luck requesting a credit limit increase from Chase directly; keep in mind this generally results in a hard credit pull, which can impact your score.
Highest “Points” Credit Limit: $100,000
As the highest-overall credit limit card, with a reported maximum of $100,000, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card easily tops the points category, as well. And while the average credit limit is much lower than the six-digit max, cardholders can go into the process knowing they’ll receive at least a $5,000 initial credit limit if approved.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also has far more to recommend it than high-roller-esque credit limits. In particular, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of the most popular points programs in the market today, providing flexible rewards points that can be redeemed for everything from cash back to travel.
Additionally, Ultimate Rewards members can get even more pow for their points by transferring to any of Chase’s airline and hotel partners, including British Airways and Marriott. Smart point transfers can increase the value of your points (and make for a much more affordable vacation).
Highest “Business” Credit Limit: $30,000
While having a high-limit credit card can be convenient for a family, it’s often a complete necessity for a small business looking to make convenient inventory and supply purchases. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a solid introductory business card that, according to reviewers, can offer credit limits up to $30,000 for qualified applicants.
In addition to sizeable credit lines, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business also offers unlimited cash back on all of your purchases, as well as a solid signup bonus, making it easy to save a little on what your business needs most. You can also obtain employee cards at no additional cost that will add to your business rewards earnings.
Highest “0% Intro” Credit Limit: $24,000
With the convenience, ease, and rewards of using credit cards for major purchases, it can be tempting to swipe for just about everything. Unfortunately, interest fees can turn that easy buy into a nightmare purchase. A good way to avoid hefty interest fees is through a 0% APR introductory offer good on new purchases, such as the one provided by the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited sister cards.
According to reviews, Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cardholders can see high credit limits of up to $24,000. That said, credit limits vary based on creditworthiness and income, and the average tends to be closer to $3,000
When deciding between the two cards, consider where you are likely to do most of your spending, particularly purchases for which you’ll want to enjoy the 0% APR introductory offer. If your spending falls into common categories, such as gas and groceries, the regular Freedom may be best. Otherwise, consider the Freedom Unlimited for its higher unlimited cash back rewards.
Highest “Student” Credit Limit: $5,000
Of all that can be said about college, perhaps the least understated is the significant costs involved. Even beyond tuition and housing expenses, the average student will spend nearly $1,300 just on books and supplies, and that’s before buying food, gas, and other essentials. Making it worse, many of those expenses tend to come all at once at the start of each semester.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you have the textbooks and notebooks you need for day one is to use a student credit card with a quality credit limit, like the Discover it® Student Cash Back. According to reviewers, the Discover it® Student Cash Back can offer qualified applicants a credit limit up to $4,500, although the average cardholder reports a limit between $300 and $3,000.
In addition to offering a relatively high limit for a student card, the Discover it® Student Cash Back gives cardholders many of the same perks as other Discover users, including 5% cash back bonus categories and 1% unlimited cash back on other purchases. Students who maintain a GPA above 3.0 can also earn a $20 statement credit through Good Grades Rewards each year.
Highest “Fair Credit” Credit Limit: $5,000
While each credit scoring model has its own range, if your score is in the 600s, you are generally considered to have fair credit. With fair credit, you shouldn’t need to rely on subprime issuers to obtain credit, but you’ll still receive higher rates and lower credit limits than your good-credit friends.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a three-digit limit, however. The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, for instance, is reported to offer a credit limit of up to $5,000 to well-qualified applicants, with an average limit of around $2,000.
Cardholders who demonstrate responsible card use for the first five months by paying their statement on time become eligible for a potential credit limit increase. The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card also comes complete with unlimited cash back on purchases and a fairly low annual fee.
Highest “Bad Credit” Credit Limit: $2,000
Although the high fees and interest rates can be expensive, for some applicants, it’s the low credit limit that is the biggest drawback to a subprime credit card. And where some secured cards allow larger deposits to obtain higher credit limits, most unsecured credit lines max out in the three-digit range, making them difficult to use for anything large.
Rather than sinking hundreds into a secured card in the hopes of obtaining a higher limit, those looking to rebuild their credit can turn to a Fingerhut Credit Account. With reviews suggesting limits as high as $2,000, your Fingerhut account can be used to purchase thousands of goods from top brands across dozens of categories, including clothing, furniture, and electronics. (See complete WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account Terms and Conditions.)
Reports from reviewers also indicate that credit limit increases are regularly awarded to responsible Fingerhut Credit Account users, though some information suggests these increases are most frequently given to those who use their account the most. On the plus side, a lower credit limit can be good for those consumers building credit, as it will temper the ability to overspend.
Perhaps the best part of your Fingerhut account is that it will report your payment history to the three major credit bureaus. This means that as you make on-time payments and maintain your account in good standing, your credit score will show improvements over time.
Increase Your Credit Score to Increase Your Limits
For all that many people want to live the high-spending lifestyle of those without credit card limits, maintaining an exclusive credit card or limitless charge card just isn’t worth the hassle and fees for most of us. Instead, consumers with great credit can enjoy big limits and big perks from many of their favorite everyday credit cards and a wide range of categories.
For those who are wallowing in low-credit limit limbo, the best way to improve your available credit is to improve your overall creditworthiness. Although your income will play a part, your credit report will play a much bigger role in determining your limit.
In essence, the better your credit report (and, thus, credit score) looks to prospective credit card issuers, the more likely you are to receive a credit limit toward the high end of the range. Furthermore, improving your credit score will likely also improve other key areas of your credit-related finances, including lowering your interest rates and fees.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.