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Your Take: What Is Your Total Credit Limit?

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I thought it would be fun to add up all the credit limits of every credit card and line of credit we had to see what that amount was.

My total? $69,600 (we don’t have any lines of credit)

My cards (starred ones are cards I actively use):

My wife? $35,500. (and we just did a quick Citi credit limit increase request and they raised my wife’s limit on one of her cards by $1,500 with no credit pull)

I win! (just kidding)

Is there a point to all this other than to have a meaningless pissing contest? First, it’s important to know your total credit limit because you want to know, if the crap hits the fan, how much money you have access to. Knowing that we have $100,000 in unsecured credit is only important if we ever need that sum in the first place. While unsecured credit cards won’t be the first place we turn to for funds, at least we know it’s there and we can make informed decisions knowing the “worst case.”

Another benefit of this exercise is that we have a listing of every credit card we have. I don’t carry the Discover Cards or the Citi Platinum Dividend card, they’re hidden somewhere in our house. Even though I don’t use them, I should know that I have an account there and the details of that account. Going through this little exercise jogs my memory about the credit cards I have.

Finally, I was a little surprised that I had $69,600 of unsecured credit at my fingertips (though if you ever read some of the App-o-rama’s at Fatwallet, $69k is what those wizards can get in a day’s time). I can see now why credit card companies are cutting credit limits. All it takes is a job loss, which isn’t reported to credit card companies or credit bureaus, and I could very quickly rack up some unsecured credit card debt.

Wondering why the Citi Platinum and AMEX cards have such high credit limits? I would periodically request credit line increases back when the economy was cruising. They’d be granted without a hard inquiry, so at no cost to me I was seeing my limits increase every few months.

So, do you know your total credit limit? If so, how much is it?

(Photo: Andres Rueda)

{ 78 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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78 Responses to “Your Take: What Is Your Total Credit Limit?”

  1. Scott says:

    Just checked (been a while since I’ve totalled it) and I’ve got $117,400 myself in credit card limits across 10 cards. Ridiculous… both how much they’ve given me plus the fact that I just realized I had 10 cards since I only use 3-4 with any regularity. Even with my wedding last year, we still never got above $15K utilized at any one time. But as you say Jim, it’s nice to know what you have in case of emergency.

  2. Craig Ford says:

    What I find interesting is that I previously had two different cards with AMEX. The one would only give me a $5,000 limit and the other had a $15,000 limit. How do they determine your limit? When I am not using a card I typically call and ask the to decrease my limit. I just don’t want the door to be open to that much credit.

  3. prufock says:

    $2K

  4. Mike says:

    2 cards $24K

  5. Ryan says:

    5 cards – $15,250

  6. archie says:

    $100K on three different cards.

  7. Julio says:

    I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of all our credit cards and in addition to the credit lines, I also track the cash advance limits (sometimes they differ) as well as the interest rates for each, account numbers, customer service telephone #’s, the date I opened the account, info about fees they charge, info about the cash back programs (if any), what day of the month the statements close for each, etc. It’s a great way for me to be able to compare which cards have the better offers, rates, fees, as well as providing me a way to track these changes over time.

    • Keith Morris says:

      That is awesome, Julio! You should post a template somewhere. :)

    • Caitlin says:

      If you’re willing to share a template, I think lots of people would love it!!

    • Julio says:

      I’m in the office at the moment and don’t have access the that file, but to get you started you can use your favorite spreadsheet application (I use excel) and create the column headers along the top for:

      Bank | Card | Account Number | Credit Line | Cash Line | Purchase APR | Cash APR | Date Opened | Fee1 | Fee2 | Rewards Program | Statement Date | Due Date | High Balance| Contact Phone | Notes |

      You can add or remove the column headers you want to keep track of and then just start filling in the data for each card. I then periodically check those values and update the spreadsheet. For historical data, I just create a ‘comment’ in the ‘field’ for that value and enter notes. So for card1 in the Credit Line field, I would comment [07/23/09 Credit Line Increased to $5,000] and in the Purchase APR field ‘comment’ I may enter [07/23/09 APR increased to 12.99%] and so on.

    • Danny says:

      GMTA – I do the same thing. I also track the balances, then I print it out each month so I can look over time and see how I’m doing in managing our money.

      I’m concerned about doing it with a computer that is hooked up to the Internet, so I put it on a flash drive. Then when I want to use it, I turn off the network interface, plug in the drive, work with the file, save the changes, unplug and turn on the network.

  8. Terry says:

    Zero! I cut up my credit cards and canceled them years ago and only work on a cash basis. If debit cards did not have VISA/MC insignias on them I might keep one around, but I keep one account with enough money to cover things (ie, protect myself from having the number stolen and being wiped out) and the rest safely away.

    • Dan says:

      I guess you’ve already determined that you will never need any type of loan, be it auto, mortgage etc.

      You credit report will slowly but surely fade away….FYI many banks will deny you for a loan if you don’t have active positive credit card history.

    • Danny says:

      Terry, I’m with you. Everyone should stop using credit cards. Credit has been abused and the creditors have abused their card holders with high fees and rates.

      As for buying property and autos, if you save enough money, they’ll loan you all you’ll need.

      Keep one card for trips when you need to rent a car or book a hotel.

      • Dan says:

        I don’t carry any balances ever. I pay in full. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if my APR was 100%, because I never use it. To be frank, my APR’s have not been raised at all. I can give you one reason: I never carry balances. Most of this adverse action is to consumers who carry balances.

        I simply use my cards to reap rewards, protections and convenience. However, for those who can’t control their impulses, I agree, stop using cards.

        I wouldn’t agree with the one card assessment. Issuers are canceling cards with no notice and without cause. Better have at least one backup.

  9. lostAnnfound says:

    $50,870 for me, $9,200 for my husband, for a total of $60,070.

  10. Caitlin says:

    I have about $12100 with two cards and a LoC. Used to be higher, but I really cut my credit limits a few years ago so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything too expensive. ;)

  11. Chuck says:

    Put me down for $85,100. It used to be over $100K, but banks lowered and closed some of my accounts after the credit tsunami. (A good reason to have lots, right?)

    My spreadsheet also calculates my composite weighted APR of 13.1%. (The interest I would pay if I maxed all the cards.)

  12. Jason H says:

    $19k on one card and my wife has $16k on one card. We only keep the cards because we travel frequently otherwise we would get rid of them.

    We also have been closing bank accounts and consolidating as much as possible into a single institution. All this talk to diversifying your finances be darned; I want simple. That said we hit the wall last month and can’t consolidate anymore, so we have 1 CC each, accounts with a local credit union, and retirement accounts with companies our employers force us to deal with.

    Simplicity is best, last thing I want is to track my accounts using a spreadsheet!

    • Julio says:

      Having one credit card is fine, if simplicity is what you want, but I’d want the security of knowing that my one card won’t be canceled while I’m on vacation, or knowing that my one card is not accepted at a certain merchant after walking up to the cash register. I think it’s important to find a balance and in the least, I’d want a to diversify by carrying different cards from the major carriers. (AmEx, Visa, MC, or Discover)

      • Jason H says:

        I’ve heard the “cancelled while on vacation” or some other variation many times, but I just don’t see it happening as long as you take percautions. I always alert the CC company when I am going on vacation and they have my cellphone, which has an international call plan (thankfully not paid by me), as a contact number. As for merchants not accepting the card, I know that is a risk so I always ask first. If they don’t take it I don’t shop there or I shop with cash. It helps to cut down on overspending, especially since I have an AMEX card. Additionally if my wallet was ever stolen, it would be so much easier to deal with one card rather than several cards.

        • Dan says:

          Jason,

          Especially with Amex, you have a lot more to be concerned with than just the usual letting them know you are traveling.

          In this economic climate, issuers are slashing limits/closing cards with ZERO notice and almost always with ZERO recourse. What that means is that while your traveling Amex can shut you down for whatever reason WITHOUT NOTICE. This is done to people with perfect credit, history etc. No one is immune.

          Not sure if you have heard of the famous American Express Financial Review. It’s essentially a full scale review of your finances, which happens at random mostly. They freeze all your accounts completely, again, without notice and request all kinds of financial documents for review.

          Precautions of just letting Amex or any other issue that you are traveling are frankly not enough in this climate. Amex has shut down some of there best clients while they were traveling overseas, leaving them stranded.

          Just some friendly advice. Take it or leave it.

  13. StephaniePTY says:

    $7500 over two cards. It feels so tiny when I look at everyone else’s, but it feels big to me when I look at it in a vacuum. BoA keeps expanding my credit line without me asking – it started at $4000 when I got it, and is up to $5500 now, probably because I don’t use it. (If it had rewards, I would use it!)

    • Dan says:

      This happened to me with BOA. I started at $7500. Eventually went up to $30000 without any requests on my part, but they cut it back to $15000 earlier this year.

  14. jim says:

    I’ve got $70,500 across 4 cards. I think I’ve only asked for a credit increase once. My oldest card has the lowest limit at $7,900 probably cause they haven’t moved me up for years. I don’t know how much my wife’s cards are at, she has at least 2 cards in addition to my 4.

  15. Diane says:

    I’ve got $24K over 6 cards (3 are store cards, including Home Depot as we’ve been renovating our house & use the 0% offers & Best Buy for my son’s computer – 0% interest).

    Following a bankruptcy 10 years ago that seems like a lot to me, and it is partly due to limit increases I did not request.

    I now have an excellent credit rating and will not apply for additional cards unless my limits were cut drastically. I might consider a LoC as I have a low mortgage balance.

    Julio, I also keep all credit info in a spreadsheet as you described. I also have a page to track monthly payments – split into the 1st & 15th.

  16. dilbert69 says:

    I probably only have $20-30K, which is fine with me. Discover just closed mine for inactivity, so that will probably ding my credit score. If I were in charge of credit scores, I would consider unused credit to be equal to debt. If you are applying for a mortgage, and you have $100K in unused credit, you could get the mortgage, run up $100K in bills without anyone having to approve it, and all of a sudden you might not be able to pay your mortgage. Also, I’d consider how much money people have/earn. If someone has $20K in debt/open credit but they earn $10K/month and have $50K in the bank, I’d score them higher than someone who has $20K in debt/open credit and earns $5K/month with nothing in the bank. I guess I’m old-fashioned.

  17. superch665 says:

    Good topic, this made me actually look at my credit lines! I have $49,200 available from 4 cards, but this does not include store credit lines like Best Buy or Old Navy (which I have, but have no idea what is the limit). I only use one card and don’t carry a balance, so this is not something I look at regularly.

  18. Dave says:

    Jim – I heard somewhere that there is a sweet spot for credit card utilization levels, around 7-10%. What I mean is there is such a thing as “too low” in addition to “too high” as it relates to your credit score. Any thoughts?

  19. Dan says:

    I’ve seen some, especially on credit forums, with $250k-1MM over 20-40 cards. What’s the point of having so much available credit? And these folks are PIF people. I get utilization. But you can always pay before the statement cuts anyway.

  20. cc says:

    $5,900

  21. Diane says:

    According to everything I’ve read it is important to use each card you intend to keep, to prevent cancellation by the card issuer. If you lock a card away & don’t use it (which I used to do) you are likely to lose it.

    I have 3 major cards – 1 (low limit) used for monthly newspaper & alarm bills, 1 (rewards card) used for most charges & 1 used monthly to keep it active. I pay them off every month, but use them to keep all active.

  22. F2O says:

    $185,500
    I used to do the arbitrage thing, but it’s not worth it anymore with rates the way they are. BTW – now that the arbitrage is unwound, I do not carry a balance. I would cancel a couple, but why bother? My credit score is sky high and it’s not like either my wife or I have a spending problem. We don’t consider the high credit limit our emergency fund, but it’s nice to know that it there for a worst case scenerio.

  23. Christine says:

    College Visa $11,000
    AmEx Blue Cash $9,500
    Chase Visa $1,500

    TOTAL: $22,000

    I carry no balances, and have 2 yrs worth of expenses in an emergency fund. I only keep the Chase card because it’s my second oldest. They won’t raise the balance, and won’t tell me why not.

    • dilbert69 says:

      Two years of expenses in an emergency fund (I assume you mean a savings account) sounds like too much. You’d probably be better off investing half or two-thirds of it at least somewhat more aggressively.

      • L says:

        Having that large of a savings account that can be reached if needed sounds a lot better to me than having money that I can’t touch immediately. Different circumstances or different needs/desires etc. make it relative in my opinion. Too big for you may not be enough to others:)

  24. Diane says:

    Christine, I have a Capital One Visa with a $1600 credit limit, which they won’t raise.

    I keep it because it is my oldest card and I lost most of my credit history in a bankruptcy when my ex-husband’s business failed over 10 years ago.

    I got that Visa just before filing bankruptcy and kept it. I suspect that it’s an account for poor credit risks, which is why it is limited – even though I now have excellent credit.

  25. Jean says:

    Combined we have 56k on 4 cards, I took advantage of 0% for a year offer then would pay off the balance before it charged an interest rate. We have excellent credit, but two of them this month lower the credit limits- one by 4K and the other by 6K, the answer I recieved we werent using it so they did that. I have balances on them and now I’m so mad, Monday they will both be payed off. When they lower the limit down and you have a balance close to it, it hurts your credit. I will leave them both open though and charge 10.00 a month to them to raise the ratio.


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