What to do when your credit limit increases

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What does it mean when you receive a credit limit increase? First, let’s quickly define what a credit limit is and the best practices for using credit.

A credit limit is the maximum debt position a creditor allows you to assume on a revolving credit facility, such as a credit card or line of credit, said Thomas J. Brock, CFA, CPA and contributor expert at Annuity.org.

Read: The 5 fastest ways to boost your credit score
And learn: 10 things to do now if you have a credit score of 700

A credit limit is also a key aspect of your personal credit score. How you use this limit has a bigger impact than you might think. “The extent to which you use your credit limit can have a serious impact on your rating,” Brock said. “It is estimated to represent 30% of your credit score.”

The best approach when your credit limit increases is to consistently use less than a third of your credit. Credit users who do so are considered fiscally prudent. Those who use a higher proportion, on the other hand, are considered overstretched and less creditworthy.

Whether it’s keeping your spending habits down or figuring out if you qualify for an interest rate drop, follow these best money moves when your credit limit goes up.

RgStudio/Getty Images

RgStudio/Getty Images

Don’t increase spending

What’s one of the best money moves you can make when your credit limit goes up? Don’t use the raise as an excuse to start spending more money.

If you don’t change your spending habits, Brock said, over time, you’ll benefit from the positive impact the increased limit will have on your credit score.

Not spending is also good news for your credit score. Marcus P. Miller, CFP and financial advisor at Mainstay Capital, said an increased credit limit with a steady or declining balance will ultimately help your credit score.

“If you already have credit card debt, increasing the line of credit will lower your utilization rate,” said Lauren Anastasio, director of financial advice and CFP at Stash. “If you have no credit card debt, you just have the peace of mind that credit is available if you need it, but your limit increase doesn’t require any action on your part.”

Learn: 7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score This Month

RgStudio / iStock.com

RgStudio / iStock.com

Earn more rewards with recurring payments

If you decide to spend, there are a few spending approaches to consider when your credit limit increases.

One approach is to pay for large purchases using your credit card. Abhinov Balagoni, CEO of Pax Credit, a Techstars company, said it can help you rack up rewards from your purchases.

Some credit card purchases also have consumer protections.

“A few variations of Visa and Mastercard credit cards offer perks, including extended device warranties, price protection for months, and coverage for damaged or stolen items,” Balagoni said. “The bigger the purchase, the bigger the savings.”

The other approach to earning rewards, if you’d rather not make a big purchase, is to make recurring payments on a credit card. Consider recurring daily expenses like paying your smartphone bill. Balagoni said making recurring payments with your credit card will help you earn more rewards. These rewards will reduce your lifestyle expenses and help pay for travel, accommodation, and restaurant meals.

plain colors / iStock.com

plain colors / iStock.com

Consider removing other credit cards from your report

If you have old secured credit cards that you haven’t used in years, you may want to consider deleting other credit cards that are no longer used from your report.

Miller uses the example of an old secured credit card. You haven’t used this card for years. It has no benefits, but it charges an annual fee. Miller said you can call the credit card company and close the account.

“Make sure you don’t cut your only established line of credit, as this could hurt your overall score,” Miller said. One of the main “don’ts” when your credit limit increases is to eliminate other lines of credit. This is especially true for long-established lines of credit.

Remember that credit scores reflect individual and aggregate credit line information. Exercise caution in which credit card you choose to delete. Deleting too many credit cards too quickly can negatively impact your credit score.

Take a look: 9 things to do right now if you have an 800 credit score

AsiaVision / iStock.com

AsiaVision / iStock.com

Find out if you qualify for lower interest rates

Adrienne Taylor-Wells, Certified Financial Advisor at Tailored WealthSaver, said to call the credit card companies and see if you’re eligible for an interest rate drop. You may be eligible to receive it.

“If your rate is already low or you’re approved for a lower interest rate, leverage the increased credit for something that will help you build wealth,” Taylor-Wells said. (Keep reading to learn more about how to leverage debt the smart way.)

Katleho Seisa/Getty Images

Katleho Seisa/Getty Images

Check your credit score

Gary Grewal, CFP and author of “Financial Fives,” says now is the time to check your credit score. Your score should increase!

Consider using this as a chance to request higher limits on other credit cards. Grewal said you can also inquire about lower annual interest rates or options to refinance your home or car, if needed, to save on interest charges.

Do not, however, ask for an additional increase in the line of credit that has just received an increase. Asking for another increase can lead to a “hard pull” on your credit profile and a downgrade in your credit score.

Martin Prescott/Getty Images

Martin Prescott/Getty Images

Leverage debt the smart way

Grewal said a credit limit increase is a good opportunity to do something with that money in a smart way. Grewal uses the example of paying off any high-interest debt. Paying down debt, along with reducing credit usage, will help boost your credit score.

Peter Casciotta, owner of Asset Management & Advisory Services, said it was a smart money move to take advantage of an increase in your credit limit.

“When a good opportunity arises, it provides you with the resources to participate where you may not have had the resources to participate before,” Casciotta said.

Although you can decide not to use leverage or borrow against increasing credit, and that’s fine too.

“The peace of mind of knowing you have ‘quick access’ to emergency funds is immensely valuable,” Casciotta said.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: What to do when your credit limit increases

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