Everything You Need to Know About American Express (US) Credit Limits

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Whether you already hold an American Express (US) card or are a Canadian who wants to get started with US credit cards, further building your understanding of how credit limits work and the tools available are a major plus when it comes to good financial health. American Express (US) makes it easy to manage credit limits across various cards, and if you are interested in miles and points, utilizing these tools can allow you to get even more out of your cards.

Let’s take a look at how American Express (US) determines credit limits, and how you can utilize a few self-serve features to increase and control your credit limit even further.

How American Express (US) Credit Limits are Determined

American Express (US) offers two different types of credit products: credit cards and charge cards. Credit cards come with a pre-set credit limit, whereas charge cards do not have a pre-set limit.

Regardless of whether you hold a credit card or a charge card with American Express (US), your available credit limit will depend on a number of factors. Similar to how a credit score is calculated, American Express (US) will look at your credit history, debt level, income, and payment history on other American Express cards when determining what credit limit you should be approved for.

If you are applying for your first card with American Express (US), you can likely expect to receive a lower credit limit than you are used to. As you build your relationship with American Express (US) through increasing your age of accounts, consistent card usage, and on-time payments, you can expect to receive additional credit limit increases.

Viewing Credit Limit on an American Express (US) Credit Card

If you hold a credit card with American Express (US), viewing your available credit is simple. Log into your American Express (US) account and view the card overview page for the credit card of interest.

On the right-hand side, you will see your current balance and the available credit.

american express us credit limit available

Similar to every credit card in Canada, the available credit balance will decrease as you make purchases on the card, and will increase once payments are made towards the balance.

Viewing Spending Power on an American Express (US) Charge Card

If you hold a charge card, such as the American Express Business Gold card (US) or the American Express Business Platinum card (US), there will not be a credit limit specific but instead, it will list “No Preset Spending Limit” on your credit card overview page.

If you have a big purchase coming up and want to check your spending power just in case, you can do so by clicking on “Check Spending Power” on the card overview page or by navigating to Account Services > Payment & Credit Options > Check Spending Power.

american express us check spending power option

Once on the “Check Spending Power” page, you can simply enter the total cost of the purchase you are looking to make. Once submitted, American Express (US) will let you know immediately if the purchase will be approved based on your spending power available.

american express us check your spending power

I’ve never run into any issues with using charge cards for relatively large purchases, and as a result, I’ve never actually used the “Check Spending Power” feature. American Express (US) is typically quite generous with the spending limits on their charge cards, so I don’t tend to worry about having a transaction declined. The tool lets you check your spending power up to three times per day, but that just feels excessive.

There have been many mentions of people thinking overuse of this feature may result in a financial review, but I have yet to see any solid data that actually supports that conclusion. Either way, I don’t really touch this function and would recommend only using it if you are making a purchase that is outsized compared to your normal spending habits.

How to Increase American Express (US) Credit Limits

If you currently hold an American Express (US) credit card and feel like your credit limit is too low, you can request a credit limit increase through their self-serve tool. Note that this feature only works for credit cards, and not charge cards.

There are a few things to be aware of before requesting a credit limit increase. First of all, you cannot request a credit limit increase for the first 90 days of holding a new credit card. American Express (US) may also proactively raise your credit limit automatically once every 6 to 12 months as they do not need your permission to do so in the United States.

If you desire a credit limit increase, the best way to get one is to ask. While you can call and speak to a customer service agent, most would prefer to action things via a self-serve tool and American Express (US) makes it simple to do exactly that. 

Through the self-serve tool, cardholders can request a credit limit increase every three months but it is never guaranteed that it will be approved. Various factors will be considered to determine creditworthiness, no different than when you apply for a new credit card.

In order to request a credit limit increase, log into your American Express (US) account and navigate to Account Services > Payment & Credit Options > Request Credit Limit Increase.

american express us request credit limit increase option

On the following screen, you will see the card that you are requesting a credit limit increase on and your current available credit limit. Enter the desired total new credit limit and click “Continue” to submit the credit limit increase request.

While you are free to enter any value for the desired credit limit, a more reasonable credit limit increase of a few thousand dollars is more likely to be approved as opposed to increasing your credit limit by tens of thousands of dollars.

american express us submit credit limit increase request

If you are approved for the credit limit increase, you will see it reflected immediately on your card profile. Note that requesting a credit limit increase can result in a hard pull on your credit file.

How to Transfer American Express (US) Credit Limits

American Express (US) offers an easy-to-use self-serve tool that allows cardholders to transfer and reallocate their credit limit amongst current credit cards. Note that this feature only works for credit cards, and not charge cards.

I didn’t even know that this existed until recently, as I was approved for a new American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US) with a $30,000 USD credit limit. My American Express Hilton Honors card (US) only had a $2,000 USD credit limit, and my plan was to upgrade to another Aspire card for the annual free night certificate, so I moved a big chunk of the credit limit over to reach the minimum credit limit of $3,100 USD needed for the Aspire card.

Another use case for this function would be if you were approved for a new card that has a lower credit limit but requires a higher minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus. For example, if you need to spend $8,000 USD to earn a welcome bonus, but the credit limit on your card is only $2,000 USD, it will be a pain to spend at a reasonable volume especially if you are manufacturing spend with buying groups, such as Max Out Deals.

If you were planning to close a credit card, it might be worth proactively transferring some of the credit limit off of that card. It can always be reallocated to other cards in the future, so if you want to retain some of your credit limit, this is a good way to do it.

In order to access this tool, log into your American Express (US) account and navigate to Account Services > Payment & Credit Options > Transfer Credit Limit from Another Card.

american express us transfer credit limit from another card option

On the following page, you will need to select the card you want to transfer the credit limit from, and the card you want to receive the transferred credit limit. 

Note that credit limits can only be transferred between personal cards and between business credit cards. It is not possible to transfer credit limit from a business card to a personal card and vice versa. You will see differing limits as to how much credit limit can be transferred depending on the cards that are selected.

american express us transfer credit limit screen options

Once you select the two cards and the amount that you want to transfer, simply click “Continue” to initiate the transfer process. If successful, the credit limits will be changed immediately.

If you run into any snags when trying to transfer your credit limit, it could be due to the age of the account (e.g. if you recently opened one of the cards). If you do run into an error, this is the most likely cause, and I would recommend trying to transfer the credit limit again in a month or two.

Transferring credit limit will not impact your credit score as no hard or soft credit pull is required. When transferring, you aren’t requesting new credit but instead are simply reallocating, so no credit check is required.

Finally, the credit cards that you are transferring credit limit between must be in the same American Express (US) online profile. This means if you have multiple log-ins, you may need to remove and then re-add the card to the correct profile to move the desired credit limit.

Conclusion

Understanding the ins and outs of credit limits is always a net positive, and American Express (US) makes it easy to manage credit limits thanks to its various self-serve tools. The transfer credit limit is a personal favorite of mine and something that I wish other financial institutions would add as well!

Josh Bandura

Josh Bandura

Co-Founder at Frugal Flyer
Josh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points earning potential in recent years. With a consistent attitude of "min-maxing" in many aspects of his life, Josh has transferred this mindset over to the miles and points game. Always looking for the next big opportunity, he aims to share content on a variety of topics including his travels, miles and points, and most importantly, how to get the most out of your credit cards

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