Editorial Policy

Raising My Credit Limit is Harder than I Thought

Kristin McGrath

January 18, 2013

Last week, I blogged about some of my latest credit card goals and plans for raising my credit score. The first item on my agenda was the task I thought would be easiest — getting a credit limit increase on my existing card.

I have a single, no-frills, no-rewards credit card that’s 11 years old — and my credit limit has remained the same for all those 11 years. I’ve been making charges on that card and paying them off in full and on time. So, how hard could it be to bump up my limit by a thousand or so?

Pretty hard, it turns out, as my card has a co-signer. I was 18 when I got that card. I can’t take credit for wanting to lay the foundation of a good credit history at such a tender age. The card was my dad’s idea. And, because I was an 18-year-old with no credit history, he had to co-sign for it. For the first couple years, I charged plane tickets home from school to the card, and my dad paid the bills. On time, every time. Thanks, Dad.

After graduation, I took over the payments, and over the years, I’d forgotten that my dad ever co-signed for the card. That is, until I called my bank to ask for a credit limit increase.

In a lot of ways, getting a credit limit increase is like applying for a new card. The bank will often check your credit and will want to know about your income and other financial obligations. That means I would need to provide written documentation of my income and monthly housing payments — and so would my dad. We would then both have to sign my request letter and send it, via snail mail, to the regional bank that issued me (well, us) the card way back when.

I’m not 18 anymore, so I’m not crazy about the idea of asking my dad to document his income and housing payments to help me qualify for a financial product. Plus, the idea of having a parent several states away sign a piece of paper that I would then have to mail, envelope-and-stamp-style, to a bank seems like a giant hassle.

So, I’m striking out on my own. Although I’ll keep the old card open to preserve its positive history on my credit report, I’m going to apply for a new credit card — hopefully something with a low-maintenance rewards scheme and no annual fee.

Readers, do you have any suggestions for me? Do you love — or hate — your rewards card? If so, I want to know about it before I make my decision.

Now, with financial adulthood in mind, here are some of my favorite personal finance blog posts of the week:

Daily Money Shot tallies up the costs of living on your own.

Christina with Northern Cheapskate confesses which New Year’s resolutions she’s struggling with.

You Have More Than You Think offers up some tips for trimming your grocery costs.

Monster Piggy Bank shares advice for a frugal road trip.

The Money Principle describes three mental shifts that will simplify your financial life.

My Broken Coin explains why it sometimes pays to stop being cheap.