Debit card spending limits: Here’s how to increase yours

monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

It doesn’t matter how much cash you have in your checking account, a daily debit card limit could cause your purchases to be declined.

Peter Gwaltney, president and CEO at the North Carolina Bankers Association, ran into a problem with daily debit card limits while purchasing a new engine. He says there was plenty of money in his account, but the transaction was declined. So he called his bank.

“They raised the limit for that day to the amount that I asked for based on the transaction that I was anticipating,” Gwaltney says. “And everything worked fine.”

Daily debit card limits help protect the amount a fraudster could spend with a lost or stolen debit card. Keeping an eye on your account via the bank’s mobile app, website or through transaction alerts could also help limit the damage from an unauthorized person using your account.

Those who regularly use their debit card and make large purchases from time to time may want to get a higher daily debit card limit.

Take these key steps to increase your debit card limit

1. Find out the limit that the bank sets

People generally aren’t aware of their daily debit card limit. Credit card limits, or available credit, are usually known because they’re on your credit card statement or on the app. Calling your bank, visiting your bank or looking in the bank’s account disclosures or account agreement are some possible ways to find out your daily debit card limit.

“Temporary debit card purchase limit requests can be made at any of our branch locations or via our customer care center, but are not automatic,” says Sean Baker, executive vice president, retail banking at First National Bank of Omaha. “Raising the limit on the plastic will not guarantee the charge will be approved.”

Some banks may consider secure messaging to be a safe way to find out this information. Check with your bank to see its policy.

Finding out your limit before a large purchase can save time and possibly prevent a declined transaction.

2. Ask your bank for a daily limit change

Contact your bank to see if it would increase your daily debit card limit on signature and PIN-based purchases. An increase in your daily debit card point-of-sale purchase limit should allow you to make larger purchases with your debit card. During that conversation, you might also want to ask for a change to your daily ATM withdrawal limit too.

3. Consider how long you want this change for

Your bank may be able to permanently change your daily limit. Or it might only be on a temporary basis.

Gwaltney says when he called from the repair shop, the bank asked him how long he needed this limit. Gwaltney recalls telling the bank, “‘I’m doing the transaction right now, so let’s just say for this transaction at the end of the day just take it back to what it was.'”

A one-time purchase, such as an engine or an engagement ring, might not warrant a permanent increase in your debit card daily limit.

Some people may actually want a daily limit decrease.

A parent who shares a joint checking account with a student might want to ask the bank to decrease the student’s daily debit card limit. This could help the student better understand how banking works by limiting the amount that could be spent in a day. It could also help limit the chances of incurring overdraft fees and issues with overspending.

Why are there debit card limits?

As Gwaltney sees it, debit card limits are a good risk management protection for the account holder and for the bank.

Keeping your daily debit card limit at a level that is appropriate for your spending will help reduce the amount of money someone with your debit card, or debit card information, can spend in a day.

Examples of default debit card limits at well-known banks

These are the default daily limits at some well-known banks. It may be possible to increase these limits.

  • Chase: $3,000 purchase limit on the Chase Debit Card.
  • Discover Bank: Customers with at least one Discover Bank checking, savings or money market account open for at least 30 days have a daily combined point-of-sale limit per active debit card of the lesser of your available balance or $5,000. Customers that don’t have at least one Discover Bank checking, savings or money market account open for at least 30 days have a daily combined point-of-sale purchase limit of the lesser of your available balance or $2,500.
  • Capital One: You’re limited to $5,000 per day in total card purchases and withdrawals. This limit includes ATM withdrawals, cash advances and PIN-based and signature purchases. ATM withdrawals are limited to a daily limit of $1,000.

Consider a credit card for larger purchases

A debit card purchase requires that you have the money in your checking account at the time of purchase. Not having the money in your account could result in an overdraft fee or the transaction being declined.

A credit card could be an option for those looking to pay off a larger purchase a little at a time. Using your credit card and applying for a balance transfer credit card is an option. Or you could use a balance transfer offer on an existing credit card.

Learn more:

Written by
Matthew Goldberg
Consumer banking reporter
Matthew Goldberg is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. Matthew has been in financial services for more than a decade, in banking and insurance.
Edited by
Senior wealth editor