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A balance transfer limit refers to the maximum amount of debt you can transfer from one credit card to another. The credit card company that is offering the balance transfer sets this limit.

A balance transfer can be an effective strategy for managing high-interest credit card debt. By moving debt from a card with high interest to a card with lower interest, you can potentially save on interest payments. Often, credit card companies offer promotional periods with low or even 0% interest on balance transfers to entice people to switch to their cards.

However, the amount that you can transfer is not unlimited. The credit card company may set a balance transfer limit based on certain factors. This limit may be a fixed amount or a percentage of your total credit limit on the new card.

For example, if your balance transfer limit is $5,000, you can't transfer more than that amount onto the new card, even if the total amount of your debt is higher. Similarly, if your balance transfer limit is 75% of your total credit limit and your total credit limit is $10,000, you wouldn't be able to transfer more than $7,500.

It's important to note that fees may also be associated with a balance transfer, which can offset some of the savings from the lower interest rate. Always be sure to read the terms and conditions of a balance transfer offer carefully to understand what the limit is and what fees may apply.

Factors Determining Your Balance Transfer Limit

Several factors can influence the balance transfer limits that credit card companies will give you. These include:

  • Credit score: Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness based on your credit history. A high credit score indicates that you've been responsible with credit in the past, making you less of a risk to lenders. You're more likely to get a higher balance transfer limit if you have a high credit score.
  • Income: Your income can also influence your balance transfer limit. The higher your income, the higher your limit may be, as a higher income can indicate a greater ability to repay debt.
  • Existing debt: A credit card company may give you a lower balance transfer limit if you have a lot of existing debt. This is because more debt can indicate a higher risk of default.
  • Payment history: If you've consistently made your payments on time in the past, a credit card company may give you a higher balance transfer limit. A good payment history can indicate that you're likely to make your payments on time in the future.
  • Relationship with the lender: If you've been with a lender for a long time and have a good relationship with them, it may be more likely to give you a higher balance transfer limit.
  • Credit utilization ratio: This is the ratio of your outstanding credit balances to your total available credit. If you're close to maxing out your existing credit lines, it may lower your transfer limit.

The credit card company will also re-evaluate your financial situation based on the above factors, even if the issuer used them to set your initial credit limit.

Each credit card company has its own policies and procedures for determining balance transfer limits, so these factors may weigh differently depending on the lender. It's also worth noting that a balance transfer is usually subject to a fee, typically a percentage of the amount transferred.

How Much Can You Transfer?

Determining the amount you can transfer requires understanding the policies of your specific credit card issuer. There's no universal rule, but here's a deeper look into common practices:


Total available credit

Certain issuers may permit balance transfers up to the full extent of your total available credit limit. If you have an available credit of $10,000 and have no existing balance, you could transfer a balance of $10,000 from another card.


Capped percentage

On the other hand, some issuers limit balance transfers to a specific percentage of your available credit. For instance, the company might cap transfers at 70% of your available credit. In this case, with available credit of $10,000, you'd be able to transfer only up to $7,000.


Consideration of fees

Remember, balance transfers often come with fees, usually around 3% to 5% of the transferred amount. Some issuers include this fee in the calculation of the transfer limit. If your limit is $10,000, and you have a 3% fee, the maximum you can transfer would be $9,700 because the $300 fee added to that would take you to your limit.

Recognizing your 'maximum balance transfer' amount is crucial before initiating a transfer. This knowledge enables accurate planning, helps avoid potential mishaps and ensures that the transfer aligns with your debt management plan and your issuer's regulations.

How To Get a High Credit Limit

Obtaining a higher credit limit involves demonstrating to lenders that you're responsible with credit and capable of handling larger amounts of debt. Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a higher credit limit:

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    Improve your credit score

    Maintaining a good credit score is the most fundamental step in securing a higher credit limit. Pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization ratio low, only close old credit cards if necessary and limit your applications for new credit.

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    Increase your income

    A higher income shows credit card issuers that you have more money available to repay your debts. If your income has increased since you last applied for credit, make sure your credit card issuer is aware of this.

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    Pay off your debts

    If you can demonstrate that you can handle your existing credit responsibly by paying off your debts, you're more likely to be approved for a higher credit limit.

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    Apply for a credit limit increase

    If you've had a credit card for a while and have used it responsibly, you can request a credit limit increase from the issuer. Keep in mind that this may result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score.

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    Consider a different card

    Some credit cards are known for offering higher credit limits. If you've improved your credit score and income but still can't get a higher limit from your current issuer, it may be worth looking at other credit cards.

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    Maintain a low credit utilization rate

    Keeping your credit utilization ratio — the percentage of your total available credit that you're using — low can help boost your credit score and improve your chances of getting a higher credit limit.

Remember, while a higher credit limit can be helpful for making larger purchases and can improve your credit score by reducing your credit utilization ratio, it also carries the risk of accumulating more debt. Always practice responsible credit habits and only borrow what you can afford to pay back.

Next Steps

When it comes to handling your credit cards, understanding balance transfer limits is key. These limits aren't just a guideline; they directly affect the issuer's risk and your financial plans. Having a solid grasp on balance transfer limits and a strategy to manage them can make a real difference. Being informed about aspects like these empowers you to make better financial decisions. Stay curious, keep learning and take control of your financial journey.

FAQs About Balance Transfer Limits

We've covered a lot on balance transfer limits, but you may still have some questions. We've compiled the most common questions to give you a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

About Grace Pilling

Grace Pilling headshot

Grace Pilling is passionate about empowering readers to make informed financial choices to support their best lives, not a company’s bottom line. Prior to joining MoneyGeek as a senior content manager, Grace was a senior editor at and Bankrate, where she focused on teaching people how to use credit cards wisely.

*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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