What is a credit limit?

Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can borrow on your credit card.

Your credit limit:

  • Is an initial amount set when you apply for your card, but this can change over time.
  • It’s usually based on your individual circumstances and credit score.
  • Remember, it’s still up to you to only borrow what you can afford.

How a credit limit works

Your credit limit tells you exactly how much you’re allowed to borrow. To show you how a credit limit works, we’ve simplified the example below. For more detail, visit our page on how a credit card works.

Your new credit card has a credit limit of £2,000

You start off with £2,000 of borrowing available for you to use. This credit limit can change over time, but for this example let's say it doesn’t.

Using your credit card reduces your available credit

‘Available credit’ is the remaining balance you can still use before reaching your overall limit. So, if you spend £500, you now have £1,500 of available credit left.

Paying off your balance increases your available credit

If you pay £100 towards your balance – and any interest charged – your available credit will go up to £1,600. Note that your overall £2,000 credit limit has not changed.

Your credit limit is a maximum, not a target

If you are often using all or more than your credit limit, this might be noted on your credit score.  This might affect your chances of being offered credit again in the future.

What happens if you go over your credit limit?

  • Further transactions may be declined.
  • You could also lose any promotional rates you have on your account.
  • Your credit score may be affected, making it harder to get further credit in the future.
  • It might also change how we view your ability to repay borrowing. 
  • So, it’s important to always stay within your credit limit.

How is your credit limit calculated?

Your credit limit is usually based on your credit score and personal circumstances. Below is some of the information we use to decide.

  • The application you submit.

  • Information from a credit reference agency.

  • Your history with us.

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Frequently asked questions

  • You can apply to increase or decrease your credit limit. 

    Increasing your credit limit.

    To increase your limit, you’ll need to have at least six months payment history on your account, and you’ll have to go through an eligibility check, so approval isn’t guaranteed.

    Think carefully before increasing your credit limit. Make sure that you’ll be able to make repayments if your circumstances change. And consider if there might be other options better suited to your borrowing needs.

    Decreasing your credit limit.

    You can usually request a credit limit decrease whenever you like. Decreasing could affect your credit score in the short term. The difference between the amount you’ve borrowed and the total amount of available credit will increase, this affects the calculation of your overall score.

    To change your credit limit.

    Increase your credit limit in our Mobile Banking app.

    Increase or decrease your credit limit through Internet Banking. From your credit card account summary, select ‘More actions’, then ‘Manage credit limit’. Log in or register for Internet Banking.

    If you don’t bank online, you’ll need to get in touch with us.

    If we offer you a credit limit increase

    From time to time, we might write to you offering a credit limit increase. You’ll have the option to accept or decline the offer, with at least 30 days’ notice. If you don’t accept it, the offer will simply expire – we won’t increase your credit limit without your consent. If you’d rather not be offered credit limit increases, you’ll need to get in touch with us to let us know.

  • You’ll find your credit limit on your credit card statement, whether you receive digital or printed copies.

    If you log in to Internet Banking or our Mobile Banking app, you’ll also be able to see the credit limits of your different cards there.

  • Your credit limit may be reduced for a range of reasons – such as a change in the products or services your provider offers, or a change in law or regulation.

    Some banks will decrease your credit limit, or even limit your ability to use your card, if they reasonably believe that there’s a significantly increased risk that you won't be able to repay what you owe.

    If we ever do this, Bank of Scotland will always tell you as soon as possible afterwards and show you the amount you’re still able to spend on your statements on Internet Banking or the Mobile Banking app immediately.

    A credit limit decrease can impact your overall available credit, which could negatively impact your credit score.

Key points on credit limits

  • Your credit limit is the maximum, in total, you can borrow on your credit card at any one time.
  • Your credit limit is usually based on your credit score and individual circumstances.
  • Just like your credit score, it can go up or down over time.
  • Stay within your credit limit to avoid charges and losing any promotional interest rates.
  • Your credit limit isn’t a target – it’s up to you to only borrow what you need and can repay.

Understanding credit cards

Credit card basics

Our guides will help you understand the basics of credit cards and how to choose the best one for you.

How a credit card works

What is a credit score

What is a balance transfer

What is a money transfer

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Getting to know your credit card better will help you enjoy its benefits while staying out of financial difficulties. Read these guides to feel more in control of your card.

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