A higher credit limit could give you more flexibility in your budget and benefit your credit score by decreasing your credit utilization ratio. Each credit card issuer has its own requirements and processes for credit limit increases, so it’s a good idea to find out how those work for your issuer before asking for more credit.

If you have a credit card with Capital One, requesting a higher credit line is simple. Sometimes, the increase is even granted automatically. Read on to learn everything you need to know about increasing your credit limit with Capital One.

Before you apply for a credit increase

Before you apply for a higher credit line with Capital One, there are a few questions you should consider:

What is your current credit limit?

Before you decide how big of an increase to ask for, make sure you know the current limit on your Capital One credit card. You can easily find this information by logging into your account, or you can calculate the limit by adding your current balance and pending charges to your available credit. The possible difference between your current credit limit and the increased one may also impact whether the change positively or negatively impacts your credit score. When you request an increase, some lenders may do a hard inquiry on your credit that could negatively impact your score. It’s up to you to determine whether the positive change in your credit utilization ratio is worth the potential hit to your score.

How much credit do you want?

Knowing how much credit you have can help you determine how much you want to ask for. While it’s not impossible to have your credit limit doubled, requesting a 100 percent increase might not be the best approach. The issuer might see such a request as an attempt to receive funds you might not be able to pay back. Asking for 10 percent to 20 percent more credit may be more reasonable and present a higher chance the request will be accepted. Also, think about how your card issuer determined your original credit limit. Considering what factors have changed in your credit report can give you an idea of what you may be approved for now.

Are you eligible for an increase?

Capital One evaluates various criteria when determining whether to grant a credit limit increase or not. Here are a few factors that can help you get approved:

  • You’ve been using your Capital One card responsibly. A positive payment history demonstrates that you can manage debt well, so the issuer might be more inclined to extend more credit to you.
  • You’ve had your Capital One account open for at least three months. The longer you’ve had your card, the more time you’ve had to show the issuer that you’re a responsible borrower.
  • It’s been over six months since your previous credit limit increase. If you ask for more credit too often, the issuer might interpret it as a red flag signaling that you might be in dire need of cash.

Three ways to increase your credit limit with Capital One

There are a few ways you can get a credit limit increase with Capital One—and sometimes you don’t even have to ask.

1. Receive an automatic credit limit increase

Oftentimes, Capital One will automatically increase your credit limit if you use your credit card responsibly. Some Capital One cards, especially those advertised toward consumers establishing or building credit, offer the opportunity for an increase after five months of on-time payments.

2. Request a credit limit increase online

The easiest way to ask for a higher credit line is through your online account. Log in to your account in a web browser and click “Request credit line increase” in the “I want to” section of settings. You can do this in the Capital One mobile app via your profile page.

3. Call Capital One customer service

Another option is to call the number on the back of your card. Be prepared to answer some questions and have all the required information handy. You might need to explain why you’re requesting more credit, so think of that in advance. Has your income increased? Are you planning a large purchase? What warrants a higher credit line in your situation? Make sure you’re not getting more credit in order to take on more debt than you can comfortably afford.

This may seem like a hassle compared to making the request online, but talking to a representative offers an opportunity to personally present your case for the credit limit increase. Mention your positive payment history and how long you’ve been a cardholder to improve your approval odds.

How long does a credit line increase take?

If you’re requesting the increase online, your credit limit increase may be approved immediately after you provide some information, such as your employment status and annual income. In other cases, it might take a few days to get a response from the issuer.

Similarly, if you call to request an increase, a Capital One representative might give you the decision right away or take a few days to review your account.

What to do if your request is denied

Requesting a higher credit line is a simple process with Capital One, but approval isn’t guaranteed. If you’ve been denied, don’t worry. There are alternative solutions and steps you can take to improve your chances the next time you inquire.

Work on your credit

Pay down debt, make on-time payments and use your credit cards responsibly. A higher credit score and clean credit report improve your odds of getting approved, whether you’re seeking more credit on your existing cards or applying for a new one.

Apply for a different credit card

Speaking of new credit cards, they can also offer a way to get access to more credit. If Capital One denied your credit limit increase request, it might make sense to apply for a credit card from a different issuer.

If your credit score isn’t in the best shape, look into credit cards for bad credit or credit cards for fair credit to avoid another denial. To those with good or excellent credit, another credit card can offer more purchasing power as well as a chance to continue improving credit.

Note: A credit card application will trigger a hard inquiry that can knock a few points off your credit score. To see if you prequalify without affecting your credit score, check out Bankrate’s CardMatch™ feature which uses a soft pull to match you with a card that best fits your needs.

Try a balance transfer

If you were considering a credit limit increase because you’ve gotten too close to the credit limit on your card, you might want to look into a balance transfer.

With a balance transfer credit card, you can transfer balances from existing cards and not pay anything in interest for a few months. Zero percent APR periods offered by balance transfer cards can range from six to 18 months.

The bottom line

There are a lot of benefits you can reap from increasing your credit limit. Doing so has the potential to improve your credit utilization ratio, increase your credit score, improve your chances of being approved for other top credit cards down the road and more.

To take advantage of these benefits, make sure you are handling your debt responsibly so your card issuer will want to give you access to more credit. Even if Capital One rejects your request, you can take those steps to increase your chances for the next time and try again in a few months. There is always a way to get access to more credit if you’ve been handling your debt responsibly. Plus, you can always retry your request with Capital One after a few months.