Do Credit Cards Let You Go over the Credit Limit?

September 8, 2014, Written By Natalie Rutledge
Overdraft Concept.

Every credit card comes with a credit limit–a virtual cap on the amount of money you can charge to the card. This limit is set based on your credit worthiness and the specific card you have. When an emergency situation arises, you may find yourself needing more money than your credit limit will allow. So it is natural to ask, do credit cards let you go over the credit limit?

The Answer Depends on the Card

For the most part, credit cards will not allow you to spend over the limit. They have a block in place to ensure that you do not charge more on your account than you can logically pay back. But some credit cards will allow you to “opt-in” for an overdraft option, similar to what you might do with a bank account. In this case, you will give the authorization for you to charge more than the limit on your card and you will acknowledge the fees that will be assessed should this take place.

Over the Limit Fees

When you do opt-in to go over the limit, this usually comes with over the limit fees. These are fees you must pay for spending more money than your account would allow. Some cards have no fees as part of an introductory offer, and others have high fees. You will have to look at your card terms to determine your fees.

There may be other fees associated with going over the limit, such as an increased interest rate. At the very least, your credit card provider will increase your minimum monthly payment to match the amount of additional money you borrowed. If your limit is $1,000 and you spent $1,100 on the card, you will have to pay $100 plus whatever your minimum monthly payment would have been.

How to Avoid Going over Your Credit Limit

Ideally, you should never go over your credit limit. It will either end up getting your transaction declined or costing you a lot of money in fees. To avoid going over your credit limit, follow the tips below:

  • Raise your current limit to accommodate your future needs. If you have had your card for 6-12 months and have made your payments on time every month, you may qualify for an increased credit limit. Ask your creditor to reevaluate your account, and then you may be able to have more funds available for emergency situations.
  • Keep track of your credit card balance. You may be able to see this information online, but can’t assume the data is up-to-date. It is best for you to monitor this on your own.
  • Have a spare card set up for emergency situations. This should be a card that has few, if any, fees and a low interest rate. You can keep this card in the back of your wallet. Just make sure you don’t spend money on it until necessary.
  • Only spend money that you already have. Don’t rely on your credit to get you by. Maintain a savings account for your emergency funds, and try not to make a lot of unnecessary transactions on your credit cards.
  • Pay off your balances quickly. This will help your credit score and will ensure funds are available when needed.

It’s always best to avoid going over your credit card limit. If you have to go over the limit, make sure you pay back the balance right away and get back on track with your credit card account. Contact your card company to find out if you have an overdraft option on your credit card, and then you can make a plan from there.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 8, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Natalie Rutledge

Natalie Rutledge majored in Communications at Mississippi State University. She was in sales for a number of businesses and spent nine years working as a communications advisor to various entities. Natalie can be contacted directly at [email protected]
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