9 months ago, in November 2012, I was very excited to become an American Express Card Member! http://hiepsfinance.com/2012/11/18/i-got-amex/ . I was approved for an Amex Gold Delta Skymiles credit card with a $1,000 credit limit.
American Express is a relatively picky lender: most of the time they only extend credit to consumers or businesses with perfect credit history. But once you’re in with them, they offer you outstanding services. And last week, I made sure to take advantage of their generous credit policy for current card members. I requested a big credit limit increase.
It is conventional wisdom on credit card forums that American Express will give you a 200% credit limit increase (an Amex 3X CLI) provided that you use the Amex card on a regular basis and have decent income. The first time you can request a credit limit increase (CLI) is 60 days after you get approved for the card. Then you can request a CLI every 6 months. 60 days into my card membership, I requested slightly more than a 3X CLI on the phone, and was counter-offered a 3X CLI which I accepted. My credit limit became $3,000. 7 months later, I decided to push harder to test the boundaries.
I gave American Express a call at the phone number provided on the back of the card. After several prompts, I was led to speak with a customer service representative and requested a new credit limit of $12,000 to match that of my Bank of America Cash Rewards card (after a 6X CLI – read more here: http://hiepsfinance.com/2013/01/30/bank-of-america-is-awesome/)
The Amex representative said that I was approved for a new credit limit of $9,000 – no surprise at this point ;)
But I insisted on a higher credit limit, so the representative transferred me to an Amex credit analyst. Very quickly, she made it clear to me that it was American Express policy to not grant more than a triple credit limit increase at a time. That made my effort to justify a higher credit limit increase futile. Spending, income, good credit history, etc., don’t matter – it is the bank policy. But she encouraged me to request another credit limit increase after 6 months. I surrendered.
So what do we take from this story? Three important points to take note of. First, my experience is consistent with the Amex 3X CLI story. It reinforces the notion that a triple credit limit increase is Amex’s guideline. Second, 3X is also the limit on a credit limit increase. You can’t request more than a 200% increase at a time. Third, you can request a credit limit increase every 6 months.
It is very generous of American Express to triple the credit limit – you will not find many other banks that are willing to give you that much more credit at once. I’m not talking about starting with a puny $500 and going up to $1.5k. This is going from $3k to $9k, both being significant limits for a credit card. So far, only Bank of America has topped that: they gave me a 6X CLI, from $2k to $12k. But after 6 months, maybe American Express will increase my credit limit to $25k then!
Why does a large credit limit matter, you may ask? Because it demonstrates that I am able to handle large amounts of credit – an important factor in determining my creditworthiness, the ultimate purpose of this credit journey ;)
There are many benefits of having an American Express card. The generous credit limit increase policy is only one of them. More to come later …