How Does A Decrease In Credit Limit Effect Me?
Your credit utilization rate is one of the most important factors when it comes to your credit score. Depending on how much of the available balance you use will reflect what kind of borrower you are and can be the deciding factor in a substantial credit boost. The lower your credit utilization rate, the better impact the account will have on your credit report.
It can be frustrating to hold a lower credit utilization rate of 15% on an open trade line, but find that with a drop to your allotted limit, you have almost doubled your original rate. This can lead to lower credit scores and curbs one’s buying power substantially! A sudden change in your credit habits can also portray you as a risky borrower and can spur other lenders to reconsider limits as well.
Can They Do That?!
Just as a card issuer can raise your credit limit as a reward for your continued loyalty or due to your personal request, they can also lower the amount you can access when borrowing from them. This can happen for a multitude of reasons but primarily is due to the cardholder being seen to have a higher risk of default. An example can be seen with holders that have added an authorized user onto the account; if one has a substantially lower credit score, the lender may see the account as being at risk. Another example comes with the recent dealings of the Covid 19 epidemic. With many borrowers experiencing financial difficulties in the last year, lenders have had to take protective actions with the exponential rise of credit utilization from their borrowers.
Though federal laws provide some protections related to credit limit decreases, banks usually have free rein to edit your credit limit as they see needed. This can be seen as an unfavorable or even shady tactic, but as they are the ones lending the money, the ball rests in their court.
What Are My Rights?
If the credit changes do not breach your cardholder agreement or federal credit regulations, issuers can make changes to your card’s terms as they see fit. Currently, there are no laws that can protect consumers from a credit limit decrease or the damage that will potentially occur with the change.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act does require the issuer to send an adverse action notice to the consumer when they take an action based on your credit report. This does protect you from misinformation if another person’s poor account history is added to your report; you will receive notice of that change and can take appropriate action to correct it!
The good news is that it is extremely rare for an issuer to reduce your credit limit lower than the amount you have already charged to your card (IE: if you have a credit utilization rate of $2000 and you have charged $1500 to the account, it is extremely unlikely for the issuer to lower the limit below that $1500). If there is a rare case of the issuer decreasing the amount below the current borrowed amount, there are CARD Act provisions that can protect you from any fees that may come from maxing out the account. With this law in place, your issuer is unable to charge the “over the limit” fee within 45 days from the credit limits change.
Has your credit score dropped because of a recent cut to your credit limits? Do you have questions about your credit report? If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys or credit advisors and complete a free consultation please give Credit Law Center a call at 1-800-994-3070 we would be happy to help.
How Can I Get My Old Limit Restored?
Now that your limit has been cut, what are some steps you can take to begin restoring it? If you have had your credit limit lowered, the first thing you need to do is verify with your card issuer and ask a representative for an explanation for the credit limit drop. Depending on the reason for the limit cut, there are a few things you can do!
If the cutback was caused by a financial setback that prevented you from making your payments or keeping your balance in good standings, just explaining the situation can make all the difference. This could be going over what exactly happened that threw off your standing or an explanation of what steps you are going to take to get everything back in order! Many issuers would be more than happy to work with you to restore your credit limit if certain criteria are met! This can be anything from making on-time payments over an extended period of time or paying down your balance to a certain number.
Another way you can potentially help your situation would be to write a goodwill letter to the issuer! A goodwill letter can also prompt the issuer to remove a late payment from the report depending on your credit history. This option can take substantially longer to take effect and is only valid if you held prior positive payment history.
Your issuer is not required by law to make changes to restore your previous credit limit and these prior attempts may not show results. If you are denied and you believe that the card company is neglecting to assist you in any way, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to attempt to provide urgency to the situation.
Don’t Put Yourself At Risk
It is not common for card issuers to make changes to your credit limit, but there many cases where it does happen. There are a few ways that can help ensure you are never the target of a credit limit cut. Be sure to monitor your credit report for any changes, errors, and fraudulent accounts that could lead to a credit limit cut. You are entitled by law to one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus, and it can be obtained at AnnualCreditReport.com. There are many other monitoring services out there like Credit Armor that take a deep dive into your credit report and provide helpful tools to help dispute and correct misinformation on your report.
The best way to prevent a decreased credit limit and keep your credit in good standings is to make sure to keep your credit utilization as low as possible, pay your balances on time and monitor your report for any inconsistencies that may pop up!