Although the average American has credit card limits in the $20,000 range, single card limits tend to be lower, and that figure drops exponentially for consumers with low credit scores. The average subprime credit card offers a limit of around $500.
Many personal credit card users can likely get by with a modest limit, but low spending limits may start to get in the way when it comes to large purchases like replacing your appliances or paying for a family vacation. Similarly, a typical small business has a number of regular expenses — such as quarterly taxes — that can easily stress a small spending limit.
Depending on your qualifications and needs, having one or two credit cards with no spending limit may be a smart way to cover those large purchases that pop up. Both personal and business cards can be found with flexible credit limits or with no pre-set spending limits.
Personal Cards with No Limit
Technically, all credit cards have limits on how much credit you can use at any given time. That being said, those spending limits are rarely set in stone, and they can go up — and down — at any given time at the issuer’s discretion. They can also, in some cases, be exceeded — also at the issuer’s discretion.
If a credit card allows you to go over your limit, it’s generally considered to be a flexible spending credit card. Alternatively, you can have a charge card with no pre-set spending limit (NPSL), which means you have a variable limit that can be extended for large purchases.
One thing to keep in mind is that cards with flexible limits or NPSL will be a lot like most high-limit cards when it comes to approval; in other words, you’ll typically need excellent credit to qualify for a high credit limit at all, and especially to get a high limit that you can then spend over.
Top Personal Credit Cards with Flexible Spending Limits
Personal credit cards are an ideal way to make purchases for many people, offering security, convenience, and — arguably the best part — purchase rewards. But, credit card spending limits can limit (pun intended) the utility of some cards, especially for consumers who make a lot of large purchases.
The solution may be a credit card with flexible limits. A number of issuers offer credit cards that, while they have set spending limits — limits typically disclosed to you when you open your account — they may approve some transactions that would put you over your limit.
Flexible spending credit cards don’t always let you go over your limit, however. Transactions are approved on a case by case basis, and the decision will depend on your credit card account history, your credit, and your income at the time you make the transaction.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
18.49% - 25.49% Variable
A popular travel rewards card, this pick earns 3X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, with an unlimited 1X point per dollar on everything else. Users also receive an annual $300 travel credit, airport lounge access, and a competitive signup bonus.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
- Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Cardholders like this flexible travel rewards card for its unlimited 2X Venture Miles per dollar, miles that can be redeemed for statement credit to cover travel expenses or be transferred to a partner airline frequent flyer program. The card does have an annual fee, but the fee is waived the first year, and the signup bonus can be quite valuable.
at Bank Of America'ssecure website
- $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
- Plus, earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else
- Bonus rewards capped at $2,500 is combined bonus category purchases each quarter
- No annual fee
- If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
This card is a decent pick for an everyday cash back card thanks to its user-selected 3% cash back category that gives cardholders a choice of earning extra rewards in one of these categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings. Cardholders also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% on everything else.
Top Personal Charge Cards with No Pre-Set Spending Limit
Credit cards with revolving credit lines are the standard these days, but the charge card was once the norm. Unlike credit cards, which allow you to carry a balance from month to month, charge cards are strict credit lines that require you to pay off your balance in full each billing cycle.
Since charge cards are paid in full each month, issuers don’t have to worry (as much) about how much debt you’re carrying over. As a result, most charge cards have no pre-set spending limit (NPSL), instead offering a variable limit that can change from transaction to transaction based on your account history and other factors.
American Express is the main issuer of personal charge cards, which is good from a customer service standpoint — Amex frequently ranks first or second in customer service. But, Amex is also well-known for its high applicant standards that mean you’ll need excellent credit for the best chances of approval.
The Platinum Card® from American Express high annual fee that comes with this popular card can be well worth paying for those who can maximize the card’s perks, including the 5X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on travel booked through amextavel.com.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on flights/hotels booked directly with American Express Travel
- Receive up to $200 annual airline fee credit
- Pay a $550 annual fee
While the rewards are nice, the perks are what draws most users. Cardholders receive a monthly Uber credit, an annual airline fee credit, and a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years. Users also receive airport lounge access — including the much-lauded Centurion lounges — and elite status with multiple hotel programs.
The American Express® Gold Card is a decent choice for an everyday card, providing 4X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and grocery stores, plus triple points on travel booked through amextravel.com and 1X point per dollar on everything else.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and grocery stores
- Receive 3X points on flights booked directly with the airlines
- Pay $250 annual fee
In addition to purchase rewards, this card offers users an annual airline fee credit, as well as a monthly dining credit good for select restaurants. New cardholders can earn a large Membership Rewards® points bonus, with the size of the bonus varying by application link and offer.
The American Express® Green Card is best for business owners who travel, earning 2X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on travel purchases made through amextravel.com and an unlimited 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
- 2X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on eligible purchases through amextravel.com
- Charge card with no pre-set spending limit
- Pay $0 annual fee the first year, then $95
Although a charge card, this pick allows users to utilize Amex’s Pay Over Time feature for purchases of $100 or more. This lets cardholders pay a purchase off over time while being charged interest. While convenient, users pay high interest fees, so it should be avoided when possible.
Business Cards with No Limit
Business credit cards are a highly useful tool for nearly any business, no matter its size. Not only do business cards help you keep your business expenses separate from your personal ones, but many business cards also offer bonus purchase rewards in business-centered categories neglected by personal credit cards.
As in the consumer card world, business cards can be found that are either revolving credit lines — cards that let you carry a balance from month to month — or charge cards that generally need to be paid in full each month. Both types of cards can have variable credit limits, though charge cards tend to have the most variability.
Top Business Credit Cards with Flexible Spending Limits
Although most business credit cards with revolving credit lines do have set credit limits, that’s not the end of the story for some. Some issuers may allow cardholders to spend above their credit limits, typically on a case-by-case basis, with the decision to allow a transaction based on the cardholder’s payment history and credit.
For example, the Terms & Conditions for the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card reads, “If an account is approved, all cardmembers will have access to 100% of the approved credit access line and any amount over the credit access line that we authorize.”
If you have a business credit card with a flexible credit limit, you may want to consider checking with your issuer before making a purchase that would go above your limit. This can help you ensure your purchase is approved and prevent any issues with the transaction.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
- Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
- No foreign transaction fees
17.49% - 22.49% Variable
This card is a top pick for many small business owners, offering 3X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar in several useful business categories, including travel, shipping, internet and phone services, and select advertising (limited to the first $150,000 in category purchases each year).
The Wells Fargo Business Elite Card® is a traditional credit card that offers users the choice between points or cash back, with an unlimited rate of 1.5X points per dollar or 1.5% cash back. Cardholders pay no annual fee, and there is also no fee for employee cards or foreign transactions.
- Choose between cash back or points rewards
- Earn 1.5% cash back or 1.5X points per dollar on every qualifying card purchase
- Pay $0 annual fee
While the card isn’t advertised directly as a flexible limit card, its customer agreement does state, “Bank may, but is not required to, authorize transactions that will cause the balance on an Account to exceed the Credit Limit assigned to an Account.”
(The information related to Wells Fargo Business Elite Card® has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a regular revolving credit card with a flexible spending limit that is great for businesses that don’t want to deal with bonus categories. Cardholders earn 2X points per dollar on every purchase, regardless of category, on up to $50,000 in purchases each year.
- Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on the first $50,000 in purchases each year
- Earn unlimited 1X points per $1 thereafter
- Pay $0 annual fee
This card charges no annual fee, and new cardholders can enjoy 12 months of 0% APR on both new purchases and balance transfers. Membership Rewards® points are flexible currency that can be redeemed for cash back and travel, but that tend to provide the best value when transferred to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program.
Top Business Charge Cards with No Pre-Set Spending Limit
When it comes to spending, charge cards are a lot like flexible spending credit cards; you probably have a general credit limit that you were assigned at approval, but you can typically spend over that limit — so long as the bank approves the transaction, which will depend on your account history, revenue and credit profile.
The main difference, then, is that charge cards aren’t revolving credit lines, meaning your business can’t (generally) carry a balance on the card from month to month. Instead, the balance will usually need to be paid in full within 30 to 60 days.
Some issuers may allow certain purchases to carry over beyond the due date. For instance, most business charge cards are offered by American Express, an issuer that offers a Pay Over Time feature for its business (and personal) charge cards on purchases over $100 that allows cardholders to carry over a balance while paying interest.
The American Express Business Platinum Card® may be a pricey card, but it comes with a lot of perks for that price, starting with 5X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Users also receive 1.5X points per dollar for purchases of $5,000 or more.
- Earn 5X points per $1 spent on flights and hotels booked through amextravel.com
- Earn 1.5X points per $1 on purchases $5,000 and up
- Pay $595 annual fee
In addition to high rewards rates, new cardholders can also earn a large Membership Rewards® points sign up bonus — with an equally large spending requirement — and one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. All cardholders earn an annual airline fee credit and an annual Dell statement credit, as well as airport lounge access and hotel elite status.
The American Express Business Gold Card gives business owners a way to maximize rewards without a lot of effort, offering users 4X Membership Rewards® on the two categories they spend the most each billing cycle from a list that includes things like advertising, gas stations, and shipping.
- Earn 4X points per dollar on the 2 categories in which you spend the most each month
- Earn 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
- Pay $295 annual fee
This card has an unusual set of new cardholder perks that includes a Membership Rewards® points bonus, up to one year of free G Suite Basic, and up to one year of ZipRecruiter Standard. The pricey annual fee isn’t waived the first year, so do the math to ensure your business will get enough benefit from the card to make up for the fee.
The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express is another charge card, this one with 2X points per dollar on purchases through amextravel.com, so it could be a good pick for business owners who have a lot of travel expenses and an affinity for Amex’s Membership Rewards® points.
- 2X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on eligible purchases through amextravel.com
- Charge card with no pre-set spending limit
- Pay $0 annual fee the first year, then $95
The card’s annual fee is waived the first year, and the first purchase unlocks a 5,000-point bonus. Account holders can track and manage employee expenses with free employee cards, and employee cards also earn purchase rewards.
Do All Credit Cards Have Spending Limits?
One of the greatest misconceptions about top-tier credit and charge cards is that they are entirely without limits. This notion is — understandably — fueled by the persistent stories of people making million-dollar purchases with their trusty plastic payment cards (well, alright, trusty metal payment cards).
Despite popular opinion, however, all credit and charge cards do have limits — even if those limits have nine digits.
Of course, big-ticket buys larger than most people make in a decade aren’t purchased with just any credit card. Most stories involving jaw-dropping card purchases occur on charge cards with no pre-set spending limit (NPSL). Instead, each transaction is approved on a case-by-case basis.
The decision of whether to allow a particular charge card transaction is influenced by factors such as the cardholder’s income and payment history — essentially, the same factors that go into deciding your credit limit on a regular credit card.
While those factors are the same, however, the weight given them does vary. For example, a typical consumer applying for a top-tier travel card may be granted a high credit limit even with a modest income thanks to a great credit score. But, even a perfect credit score likely won’t unlock a six-figure spending limit if you don’t have the income to back it up.
How Does a Card with No Limit Impact Your Credit Scores?
Although the specific factors — and their respective weights — influencing your credit scores vary based on the scoring model used, in general, there are five basic categories that go into calculating credit scores:
- Payment History — 35%
- Amounts Owed — 30%
- Length of Credit History — 15%
- New Accounts — 10%
- Credit Mix — 10%
Each of these five factors encompass multiple bits of data. The Length of Credit History factor, for instance, looks at both the overall age of your credit history as well as the average age of all of your credit accounts.
Similarly, your Amounts Owed category looks at how much debt you have, the types of debt you carry, and how much debt you could have based on your available credit lines. This category is where your credit limits come into play.
One way scoring models look at your debt potential is by calculating your utilization rate, which is a ratio of how much debt you carry over how much credit is available. For example, if you have $1,000 in credit card debt and a total of $4,000 in available credit on your cards, then your utilization rate would be: $1,000 / $4,000 = 0.25 = 25%.
Scoring models will calculate an overall utilization rate for all of your credit cards, as well as an individual utilization rate for each one of your credit cards. They do this by dividing your most recent reported credit card balance by the credit limit reported for that card.
So, what happens if your card doesn’t have a credit limit? It typically gets ignored.
Basically, if your flexible spending credit card or NPSL charge card doesn’t report a credit limit to the credit bureaus, then the majority of scoring models will simply exclude that card from the utilization calculations — because, after all, you can’t divide by zero.
The implications of this exclusion are two-fold. On the one hand, since these cards won’t be included in your utilization calculations, they generally can’t help your overall utilization rate. On the other hand, this also means they can’t hurt your utilization rate, so large purchases made with an NPSL card are unlikely to drag down your credit scores.
What Card Has the Highest Credit Limit?
Anytime we hear about another headline-snagging story about a multimillion-dollar credit card purchase, it seems to inevitably be followed with questions about which credit cards have the highest limits — and how can we get them ourselves?
But, as we’ve discussed above, the credit cards that celebrities and the uber-wealthy use for those headline-snagging purchases aren’t really credit cards at all. Instead, they’re usually NPSL charge cards, like the infamous Amex Centurion Card (aka, The Black Card), with limits that vary from transaction to transaction.
What’s more, these seemingly limitless card limits aren’t available to just anyone. Not only do these cards require an income and payment history capable of supporting such outlandish purchases, but many of these exclusive cards also require an invitation just to apply.
Despite the limitations on luxury NPSL charge cards, the rest of us aren’t necessarily relegated to basic credit cards and tiny spending limits. Many of the credit cards available to the general public have been known to offer some pretty substantial credit limits — at least, substantial in terms of the typical consumer’s spending needs.
For example, no matter how large your family, you can likely fit your entire vacation onto the popular Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which can reportedly offer a credit limit as high as $50,000 for qualifying cardholders. And think of the Ultimate Rewards® points you could earn if you used even a portion of the $100,000 credit limit that reports say can be obtained with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
What is the Average Credit Card Limit?
While we saw in the section above that even regular consumer credit cards can have five- or six-figure spending limits, it’s important to keep in mind that the highest credit card limits aren’t going to be available to just anyone. Your credit limit is based on a variety of factors, and the average credit limits are much lower than those extreme examples.
For a typical consumer credit card, the credit limit offered to an applicant at approval will be primarily based on the applicant’s credit history and income, though the former tends to play a larger role than the latter. For example, two consumers with identical income levels could get very different credit limits if one consumer is a greater credit risk than the other.
This fact is also reflected in the statistics. Experian data shows that consumers with prime or super prime credit are generally offered significantly higher credit lines than consumers with subprime or deep subprime credit. In fact, the average credit limit for a super prime cardholder is more than six times higher than the average for a cardholder with credit in the deep subprime range.
As one might expect, these numbers fairly well reflect the types of credit cards available to each credit demographic. Super prime cardholders, for instance, would be the most likely to qualify for top-tier cards more likely to have high base limits, such as cards with a Visa Infinite® logo that reportedly have minimum credit limits of $10,000. On the other end of the spectrum, subprime consumers are more likely to be relegated to subprime credit cards that have typical limits in the $300 to $500 range.
How Can You Get a Higher Credit Limit?
Although there are certainly reports of people getting huge spending limits from credit cards they’ve just opened, most consumers aren’t going to start out with the maximum limit for any given card, even with good credit and a solid income.
However, receiving a low credit limit at approval doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to always have a low limit on that card account because most credit cards will offer ways to access a higher credit limit. (The exceptions here are secured credit cards — since your credit limit is typically based on your deposit amount — and subprime cards, which rarely offer credit limit increases.)
The simplest way to increase your card’s credit limit is to just wait for an automatic increase. The majority of card issuers will monitor your card use, credit risk, and income updates to see if you’re eligible for a larger credit line; if you meet the issuer’s criteria, your credit limit will be increased without any action necessary on your part (and, in some cases, without any notification from the issuer).
Automatic increases are most likely to occur when you use your card frequently and keep your account in good standing. You may also be eligible for an increase if your income improves and you update your credit card account with your new income. Because you’re not requesting the credit, automatic increases won’t involve a hard credit pull that could harm your credit scores.
If patience isn’t your strong suit or you need a larger credit line for an upcoming purchase, you can attempt to fast track the process by proactively asking for a credit limit increase. This can usually be done by phone or, depending on the bank, through your online banking account or mobile app.
This method is less desirable than waiting for automatic increase because of the potential credit score impact. Directly requesting a credit limit increase is often seen in the same light as any other request for credit, meaning many issuers will go through a hard credit inquiry to determine whether to increase your credit line.
You may have a third option to increase your credit line on a specific card if you have multiple cards with one issuer. Many issuers will allow you to reallocate (i.e., move) part of your credit line on one card to another card from the same issuer.
For example, suppose Imaginary Irving has two cards from the same bank: Card A, with a $2,000 limit, and Card B, with a $5,000 limit, as shown in the table above. If Irving wants a higher credit line for Card A, he could move $1,500 worth of credit from Card B to Card A, which would give him a credit limit of $3,500 on Card A and $3,500 on Card B.
Reallocation is a good idea if you use a particular card more frequently than the other cards, such as when one card has higher rewards rates. It can also be a good tool for low-interest credit cards to which you want to transfer higher-interest credit card balances.
The Sky’s the Limit
When just starting on your credit journey, you’ll deal with a lot of things that you won’t have to face later on, from higher interest rates to lower credit limits. Rather than rail against low limits, however, consider your first few low-limit cards as training tools to help you optimally manage your utilization rate and payment habits.
As your credit history and income grow — which tends to happen naturally as we age — so, too, will the size of your credit lines and the quality of the credit you’re offered. With time, a reasonable income, and an excellent credit history, the sky may very well be the limit on how much you can charge to your trusty plastic payment card.