What is the average credit limit for Americans?

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The average credit limit for Americans may vary more than you think, and that’s especially true when you separate the population by age. Note that the average credit limit tends to be higher for consumers with high incomes and excellent credit, but that other factors like your current credit utilization can play a role as well.

What is considered a “normal” credit limit among most Americans? Recent data from Experian suggests that the average American consumer has access to $31,015 in credit limits across all of their credit cards. Meanwhile, the average credit card balance was only $6,194 nationwide at last count, and across all age groups.

If you’re curious how your credit score and age might play a role in how high your credit limits could climb, keep reading to learn more.

Average American credit limits by credit score and age group

More recent data from Experian shows how having a longer credit history typically leads to a higher credit score and higher credit limits. Here’s how Experian breaks down the data on average credit limits based on generation, as well as the average credit score for consumers in various age groups:

Generation Average FICO Credit Score Average Credit Limit
Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) 667 $8,062
Millennials (ages 23 to 38) 668 $20,647
Generation X (ages 39 to 54) 688 $33,357
Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) 731 $39,919
Silent Generation (ages 74 and up) 756 $32,338

The fact that older generations tend to have higher credit scores and higher credit limits really does make a lot of sense. After all, one major factor that makes up 15 percent of your FICO score is the length of your credit history, which is one area where older generations tend to shine. Older generations may have also had the time to build better payment habits, which is crucial since payment history, at 35 percent, is the biggest component that makes up FICO scores.

How do issuers decide credit limits?

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer of the card (i.e., Chase, Discover, Capital One, etc.) decides if you are creditworthy enough to qualify and, if so, the amount of money you can borrow. This amount is known as your credit limit, and each card issuer looks at the same basic factors to assign this figure.

Payment history

One of the most important factors credit card issuers look at when determining your credit limit is your payment history so far. This factor makes up the highest percentage of your FICO score, and credit card issuers are more likely to give you more access to credit if your payment history is flawless.

Credit utilization

Your credit utilization is a figure that represents the amount of money you owe in relation to your credit limit. Credit card issuers will look at your total utilization rate as well as your utilization rate across all of your revolving credit lines. Generally speaking, experts suggest keeping your credit utilization below 30 percent for the best results, which would mean having balances of $3,000 or below for every $10,000 in available credit you have.

Length of credit history

Credit card issuers also consider how long your credit history is, on average. A longer credit history with plenty of instances of responsible credit use is considered a huge positive in the eyes of lenders.

Personal income and monthly expenses

Credit card issuers will also look at how much money you earn, which makes sense since you’ll use your income to repay purchases you charge to your credit card. Your monthly expenses will also be taken into account since your bills eat up a certain amount of your income each month.

Recent hard inquiries

Finally, credit card issuers look at recent hard inquiries on your credit report to determine whether to offer you credit or not, as well as how much. Lenders may see recent hard inquiries as a sign that you’re a risky borrower, and you may be denied a line of credit or offered a lower credit limit as a result.

Is a low credit limit bad?

A low credit limit isn’t necessarily “bad,” but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind if you have a low credit limit on one or more credit cards. First, having a low credit limit makes it easy to show a high level of credit utilization. After all, charging $500 to a credit card with a $1,000 limit would leave you with a utilization rate of 50 percent on that card even though you owe a relatively small amount of money.

A low credit limit might also make it hard to pay for large purchases, like furniture or vacations, with credit.

How can I increase my credit limit?

If you want to increase your credit limit, you may be able to get it raised right away just by calling your credit card issuer using the number on the back of your card and asking. Depending on your card issuer, you may also be able to ask for a credit line increase using your online account management page.

Note that, when you request a credit limit increase, your card issuer may place a hard inquiry on your credit report in order to determine your eligibility. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s worth considering if you would rather wait it out to see if your credit card issuer automatically increases your credit limit over time.