Here’s how to reallocate credit lines between your cards

Apr 16, 2020

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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Managing your credit limits is an important aspect of both travel rewards credit cards and personal finance, allowing you to improve your credit score and make sure you’re able to pay for all your purchases on the cards with the best bonus categories. TPG reader Jeffrey wants to know how he should go about reallocating credit from one card to another …

What’s the best way to get a shift in credit limits on Chase personal cards? Should I call the number on the back of my card or send a secure message? Also, how long does it take for this change to take effect?

TPG READER JEFFREY

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Why you might want to shift credit lines

There are plenty of reasons to consider reallocating credit lines between cards, though the most common and practical one is to better match your spending patterns. For example, most banks give you a higher limit on when you’re approved for a premium credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I still spend much more on my Chase Freedom Unlimited to take advantage of the 1.5x points per dollar on everyday spending, so after I was approved for the Sapphire Reserve I moved a majority of my credit limit over to my Freedom Unlimited.

You also might need extra credit limit on a card if you’re making an especially large purchase, including medical expenses or other big purchases like home improvements or buying a car. If you’re planning a group trip, you might end up paying for everyone on your card (and racking up all those sweet bonus points) and getting reimbursed by your friends, creating the need for a higher credit limit.

Of course, it’s possible that your spending patterns might shift over time depending on what points you’re trying to earn. I oscillate between putting large amounts of spend on my Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and my Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express depending on whether I want to earn Marriott Bonvoy points or Amex Membership Rewards points. I frequently shift credit lines between these two cards to accommodate the change.

Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you

How to reallocate credit lines

Given how frequently I’m shifting credit limits on my Amex cards, I love the fact that Amex makes it easy to do this online. The process is rather quick and painless, but there are a few restrictions to be aware of, including that you can’t transfer credit between personal and business cards, you can only request one transfer every 30 days, and each card must retain a minimum amount of credit on it (usually about $1,000).

If you’re dealing with another issuer like Jeffrey and his Chase cards, you generally have two choices. On a normal day, Chase has some of the best customer service in the business and a quick phone call can get this sorted out, but nowadays hold times are reaching historic lengths and you’re best off not calling unless it’s urgent.

In this case, you can send Chase a secure message from your desktop or mobile app and they should be able to take care of reallocating your credit. Since there’s often a one or two-day lag time in replying to secure messages, I would suggest being as explicit as possible in your first message including listing the name and last four digits of the card you want to move credit from and to, and the exact amount you want moved. No matter how you go about doing it, the new credit limits should take effect instantly once the shift is approved.

Related: 6 things you can do to improve your credit score

Bottom line

No matter why you’re deciding to move credit around, it’s a relatively easy process. Amex makes it as straightforward as possible by allowing you to handle the changes yourself online, while Chase and other issuers require you to either call or send them a secure message.

Thanks for the question, Jeffrey, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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