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Beware Credit Cards That Do Not Report Credit Limits to Credit Bureaus

Some credit cards do not report credit limits to credit bureaus, which can have a negative impact on your credit score; here’s why — and what to do about it.

Most credit cards report three pieces of information to the three credit bureaus:

  • Your payment history
  • Last month’s balance
  • Your credit limit

Your payment history shows that you pay on time — or not!

Last month’s credit card balance shows how much you owe on that card.

Your credit limit shows how much you could borrow on the card.

Between last month’s balance and your credit limits, you can see how much of your available credit you’ve used. That’s important because a big part of your credit score is based upon how much of your total available credit you use. If you divide the total balance on all of your credit cards by the total credit limit on all of your credit cards, you get what’s called your debt utilization ratio.

The lower your debt utilization ratio, the better it is for your credit score. Less than 50 percent is good and less than 30 percent is ideal.

Unfortunately, some credit cards do not report your credit limit to the credit bureaus. Carrying a balance on these cards could lower your credit score.

Why Credit Cards That Do Not Report Credit Limits are Bad

When your credit card company does not report your credit limit, even a small balance on that card can raise your utilization ratio and lower your credit score.

What Credit Card Companies Do Instead

When a credit card company does not report your credit limit, they may instead report your high balance. That is the highest balance you have had on that card in a certain time period. That high balance becomes your credit limit for the purposes of credit scoring.

So if you made a big purchase on your credit card (say $2,000) one month, paid it off, and then regularly only charge a few hundred dollars to that credit card, your utilization ratio will be okay. But if you routinely make a few hundred dollars in monthly purchases and never exceed that amount—that credit card account could appear maxed out on your credit report (even if you pay it in full each month!) That’s not good.

Credit Cards That Do Not Report Credit Limits

I can’t provide a comprehensive list of all credit cards that don’t report your credit limits, but I do know of a few. American Express charge cards, for example, don’t have credit limits. They report your high balance instead. This also holds true for many “no pre-set spending limit” credit cards. I have heard that certain Visa Signature cards may not report balances, but I can’t confirm this.

Has This Happened to You?

Do you know of other credit cards that do not report your credit limit to the credit bureaus? Let us know what they are!

Want to ditch a credit card that’s doing this to you and find a new one?

Compare my most recommended credit cards now »

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Hi David,

    Thank you for providing some insight on how credit card limits interact with credit scores. I just went through a similar situation with my credit card [linked above]. It seems like credit cards companies are mischievous and the perks of using them, don’t out way the cost. When I get out of debt, I might stop using them all together.

    -Dan Malone-

  2. Dont get a bank of america credit card. Egregiously, they do not report your credit limit if your credit limit is over a certain amount: this makes no sense to me at all.

  3. Suzanne Stephens says:

    I had a credit card for years with a 4,250 credit limit on it, paid it down to 0 in May 2008. Aspire closed the account in November 2008, then tried to charge me $85 annual fee. I contacted them and told them you cannot charge an annual fee on a card you have closed. After many calls, they reversed those charges.

    On my credit report it shows that my credit limit was $185, not the $4250 it was when the account was closed, also stating that the account was closed by me (which it wasn’t), along with taking 5 years of excellent payment history. So, on my credit report it says that my credit limit was $185 with a highest balance of $3456.

    I have contacted them and they refuse to correct the inaccurate information. They said the information would not impact my credit score. I tried to explain to them that in fact it would…because as it stands now, creditors will look at that account, see a credit limit of $185 and a highest balance of over $3000 which means that I am not responsible in not going over my “limit.”

    Please tell me how to fix this. I have ALL of the documentation from them when the account was closed, my last billing stating $0 balance with $4250 credit limit, the backing out of the annual fee, and their letter stating THEY were closing the account.

    Please help.

    • Forget about dealing with the bank dispute it directly with the credit bureaus. If you have all the proper proof it shouldnt be a big deal. the credit bureaus will be obligated to remove it from the reports.

  4. I just ran a credit report and found that Chase Visa Signature and Citibank (American Airlines Mastercard) do not report the credit limit. Chase reports my high balance and Citi none at all.

    • John in SC says:

      I, too, have an American Airlines Mastercard issued by CitiBank (CitiCards) which has a “revolving credit limit” of $40,000. I contacted Citi as to why they do not report my credit limit and their response was that they “do not report the credit limit since it is a ‘revolving’ account balance and it would ‘reflect poorly’ on my credit if I were to exceed that limit.” CitiBank — are you kidding me?

  5. Andrew Genovese says:

    My Chase Visa Signature United card only reports the high balance, as you mentioned my AMEX Platinum does the same thing. My Diners Club MasterCard does not even report any information at all to the 3 credit bureaus. My Bank Of America NFL card does report the credit limit, as does my USAA Credit Card, as does my Discover Open Roads credit card.

  6. Citi Aadvantage Platinum is the same story. Citit Aadvantage Bronze is the on you have to downgrade to in order for you to have a ‘set limit’ instead of ‘revolving’ card – which would be reported. This downgrade would make me lose certain benefits – like going to the lounge…

    UGH!

  7. My Chase Visa Signature reports highest balance only.

    In a day and age where credit scores have become so important, it seems incredible to me that the companies are allowed to adversely affect people’s scores in this way.

  8. This may be the more conservative approach to this system but a good rule of thumb is to simply only get credit cards from companies backed by a bank you’ve heard of. Chase, Citi, BofA, etc…

    These banks have too much to lose to try and employ these kinds of deceptive practices on a regular basis. If you can’t get approved for a card at one of these places then it is likely that you should not have a credit card right now.

    • XHASE, CITI AND B of A ALL DO THIS, IF YOU HAD BEEN ACTUALY READING THIS ARTICLE AND POST YOU WOULD KNOW THAT, NONE OF THE BANKS YOU LISTED REPORT A CREDIT LIMIT FOR A MAGORITY OF THEIR CARDS.

  9. It is true that the cards that have no preset limit do not report your limit to the Credit Bureaus. But we all need to understand what the idea behind not reporting to Credit Bureaus is? With cards that have a limit, if you ever go over your limit, it would be reported to the Credit Bureaus as a negative reporting since you are over your limit. No preset cards allow you to charge without placing a limit on the account. So that whether you charge 5k, 10k or more, it still shows that you are within “the limits” that you have been authorized by bank. In addition to that the no preset cards do not have a over limit fees which is usually around $39.00. That is why it is important to educate ourselves. It is always easy to blame the system or someone else. Instead of blaming, if we learn the system, we can use it to our benefit. I think that Mr. David Weliver is doing a great favor by creating this page but I think an educational page should have both, the cons and pros and allow the reader to make that educational decision.

  10. I’m in the process of purchasing my first home and I decided to check my free credit report to make sure there was nothing to prevent me from being pre-approved for a loan. I always pay off my credit cards in full and I had a FICO score of about 750 last year.

    Turns out that my main credit card (citi) which has a $15,000 limit has been a “no preset limit” card the whole time I’ve had it and the other two credit cards I have combine to be a $3000 limit.

    So this past month I made a couple big purchases and my bill on the “no preset limit” card was $4000, which I paid off when the bill came. However, when I got my credit report back, it reported the previous $4000 bill and due to that it has my current debt to income ratio as over 100% because the “no preset limit” card does not report the “High Credit” or “Credit Limit” to the bureaus. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have qualified for a loan.

    So definitely be careful of the “no preset limit” cards as it can be very harmful to your debt-credit ratio.

    • Same exact thing happened to me!! We have a BOA card that is their highest rated card – platinum plus, we never would have imagined that this “highest rated card” would end up really hurting our credit. Because of this reporting, we must pay an extra $800 at closing even though we have had spotless credit. This 100% credit utilization ratio is BAD!!!

  11. Neither Citi AAdvantage Master Card nor Citi AAdvantage Amex report your credit limit. I saw the discrepancy and even disputed it via Equifax and the response was that they “are reporting the credit limit correctly.”

  12. CitiAAdvantage Platinum, Bank of America Signature Visa and Chase Signature Visa DO NOT REPORT the credit limit to the credit bureaus. When I called Bank of America and Chase they agreed within seconds to ‘downgrade’ me to a card that actually reported my credit limit; same interest rate, same terms.

    Citi said, “based on the new credit card legislation that took place in February 2010, they were not able to downgrade my credit card.” I let the Feds know this; filed a complaint report.

    As a result of very high credit limits my debt-to-credit ratio on my credit reports is: 37,110%

    Yes; you read it correctly. And, as a result of that very high debt-to-credit ratio on my credit reports, CitiAAdvantage will not let me exceed my credit limit (the one actually printed on my statement) but that they say I do not have since I have the ‘benefits’ of a “no present limit” card.

    And, of course, my credit score (738) is negatively affected by this high percentage. I have actually been turned down for a mortgage because of my too-high debt-to-credit ratio.

    I also sent this information to my friend at one of the credit bureaus. She was not aware of this particular problem.

    Strange and scary parallel universe we seem to be living in.

    • I’ve been struggling with the same scenario for some time now. Spoke to a manager in citi bank who assured me they would send a letter stating my credit limit of 20000 bucks which I can then forward to the credit agencies… 2 weeks later I received a letter stating I won’t receive such a letter. . Of course they won’t convert the card cuz of new laws blah blah. My question is when did the citi aa cards become no preset limit cuz I remember getting a letter about reachin that status, and I’m hoping I can push them to revert it back…. Any info would be appreciated! As of now still can’t get a lousy auto loan!!!!!

  13. I recently found out that my Citibank cards (2) was not reporting my credit limit to at least 2 bureaus (Exquifax and TransUnion) when I pulled my myFico score in June 2010. It is ironic that yet on the third card, they actually did report my credit limit to the two bureaus. I do not what if it was reported to Experian since myFico does not report this one.

    I called them and asked why were they not reporting my credit limit on two of my cards, yet they were reporting it on the third. They responded that it was a revolving account and did not have a pre-set or FIXED limit and that I would have to write a letter stating 1) I would like for them to report my credit limits (of the two cards to the credit bureaus and 2) to report the arbitrary amount that I would like for them to report as my credit limit. She stated they may acquiesce to my request or they may not. I am underway to get this letter to them. I figure since they are revolving accounts (she explained them as having no preset spending limit) and a limit of $9000 was arbitrarily reported on the one card, then I will just state the other two credit limit figures since I stand to increase my score this way by increasing my debt-to-income ration. I will keep all updated.

  14. Macy’s does not report your credit limit either. They don’t even call it a credit “limit” they call it a “guideline”.

  15. Ak Chowdary says:

    I have Bank of America, Visa Signature card. It doesn’t report credit limit (neither actual nor highest balance). I try to explain them the issue.. but looks like they dont listen. or they just dont want their consumers to have good credit.

  16. I have a Chase “Freedom” card with an $8,700 limit which wasn’t being reported to any of the 3 reporting bureaus. This came to my attention when a creditor told me that I was at 90% credit utilization – needless to say I was shocked because my utilization isn’t anywhere near this amount! After looking at my reports, I called Chase and explained the situation. After a minute on the line, the Chase representative told me that the limit will be reported correctly within 30 to 60 days. The representative seemed confident that she had fixed the problem but obviously I’ll have to wait and see.

    • Follow up – Chase sent me a letter saying my limit will not be reported on this card and that I need to call again and switch to a different card. Apparently the person with whom I spoke on the phone gave me false information. Be warned!

  17. R.T. Moore says:

    For the past ten years, have always held only one credit card at a time. Two weeks ago and before my Chase Freedom Visa was set to expire, Chase sent me replacement cards. At the time, my credit score was consistently around the mid-700′s for years and the available credit limit on my Chase card was $20,000. However, the replacement cards Chase sent me were Chase Freedom Visa Signature cards.

    Today I applied for a new card with American Express and I was denied. I’ve never been denied in my life for anything related to credit. I checked my credit score and it’s now in the mid-600′s. I’ve confirmed that the only reason for the destruction of my credit score was that as of two weeks ago, Chase ceased providing my Credit Limit balance to Experian.

    This is an outrage, and it essentially means that I’m stuck with Chase as my credit card company because they swapped my old cards with Signature cards. It also means I can kiss a home loan goodbye. Since this is apparently trend based on the comments on this board, will legislative action be required to stop this?

    • R.T. Moore says:

      UPDATE: Just talked with a Chase agent regarding this. It’s not clear what happened, but either Chase changed the way they report credit or Experian changed the way they represent it.

      Regardless, it’s possible to easily move to a non-signature card without changing terms, numbers, ect. A non-signature card has a credit limit that is reported to the bureaus and thus will positively impact your credit score in most cases. Just call Chase, tell them you want to be moved to a non-signature version of the card and they’ll do it.

      The lesson for me is that you should more than one card and that we need some sort of credit reporting reform.

      • R.T. Moore says:

        UPDATE: After changing my card type to non-signature, filing a dispute with the three credit bureaus, getting the balance to show, and appealing my American Express denial, I got AmEx to reconsider and now I’ve been issued a card. More importantly, my credit score is now in the mid 700′s again. Jeesh!

  18. Macys did the same thing to me a few months ago. When I called them on it they SWORE they had an “understanding” with the credit bureaus and that it would not affect my credit score. I knew they were lying; I paid them off and haven’t carried a balance since. The only reason I even keep the stupid card is for the 10% discount you automatically get as a card holder. Thanks for the heads-up on Chase R.T.

  19. I just spoke to citibank and was informed that as of this coming october 17th they will once again be able to convert credit cards again… So if you wanna change your credit card from a non preset spending credit limit to one that actually reports the credit limit to the agencies, NOWS YOUR CHANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Its not a major credit card, but Macy’s will no longer report your limit OR high balance to the reporting agencies.

  21. I also spoke to a representative from Citi – and was informed that unless I had upgraded my standard/credit line card to a signature/no preset spending limit card, that due to card act guidelines/restrictions, I would have to close my signature card and open a new non-signature card with Citi. So I would essentially solve for one negative impact to my score by having a card reflect my actual credit limit, but in the process would negatively be impacted by a new credit inquiry, new bankcard account as well as the closing of a more an older/established bankcard account.

  22. I have had the same problem with my Chase and Citi cards both not reporting my credit limit even though there is clearly a credit limit on each statement. I tried to get this resolved with Chase (which is currently the only card I use and pay off in full each month) some 6-12 months ago and they were quite unhelpful. I think they told me I should mail/fax a letter to the credit bureaus and maybe that would someday somehow fix things.

    Chase’s story today was much simpler when I called. They asked when I pulled the credit report; I told them a few minutes ago. They then told me they would get a letter out to the credit bureaus providing my current credit limit. So hopefully that should take care of it. Still much more helpful than before so maybe they’ve started to recognized the problem. I’ll see what happens on my credit report in a few weeks.

  23. Don Christopher says:

    Similarly, my Equifax credit report correctly shows the credit limit of my Amex card, but shows only a high limit of my BofA signature visa cards.

    Three disputes with Equifax only resulted in a report that BoFa was reporting the high limit correctly.

    A complaint to BofA resulted in the following. Essentially, the “credit limit” listed on your credit card statement is a meaningless number that has no bearing your line of credit or credit report.

    “Your Visa Signature credit card account allows you the ability to exceed your established line of credit without overage reporting on your credit file. (Please note that the no preset spending limit feature does not mean all transactions will be approved. All treansactions will be considered on an individual basis, including those exceeding your revolving line)
    As a policy, we do not report the credit limit to the consumer-reporting agencies as it could have an adverse impact on your credit score if the account balance becomes greater that the credit limit. As a result, we provide the consumer-reporting agencies with the highest historical account balance or the current balance on the account. This information enables the agencies to determine the debt ratio calculation.
    For specific question regarding how your credit score is calculated, please contact the consumer-reporting agencies.”

  24. There seeems to be one clear sign that your are going to have trouble with your credit rating and these cards.
    If your statement says “credit limit” and a number, then you have a “credit card” and the limit will appear on your credit rating.
    If your statement says “credit line” and a number, then you don’t really have a “credit card”, you have a “flexible spending account” and the credit line will not appear on your credit report because credit reports do not report “lines” only “limits”.

  25. I have Amex blue cash credit card that gives pretty good cash rebates. But lately I’ve been thinking to move to another credit card that gives milage rebate, such as the Capital One Venture card. After reading more about this card, I realized that it could be a bad decision. First, it’s a Capital One, second it’s a Visa Signature line. They don’t report credit limit to credit bureaus. With the Amex blue cash I have $15K limit and when I applied for the Venture card, I was given a $30K limit. Monthly spending isn’t more than $4-$5K. Can anyone please tell me if I should or should not move to the Venture card?

    • Ron Davis says:

      Abba, it sounds like you’re asking for specific advice. You need to figure that out for yourself. However, here are some questions you could ask yourself and/or research online related to your post:

      - Capital One – There are benefits to a Capital One card including no or limited foreign transaction fees. It’s not inherently bad because it’s Capital One unless you don’t like them.

      - Visa Signature line – This page is all about the Signature cards. You said you have a $30k limit. Have you looked at your credit report? Have you confirmed that it’s not being reported? Would the benefits of a Signature type card be useful to you? Have you called the card insurer to ask them to report or change the card to a type that does?

      - closing account – If your question is whether you should close your account, please read up on the consequences of doing so in light of your other available lines of credit and current balances.

      Again, only you can answer your very specific question and recommendation about what card will work best for you.

  26. Not a major credit card, but my Bloomingdales store card does not report my credit limit, nor does Macy’s…and my 705 credit score dropped down to mid-550′s before I realized what was happening!

    I only had one major card, and wanted to use those two to build my ratio…bad move! Paid them off IMMEDIATELY, and now they are fancy lint gatherers in my wallet.

    My score is almost back to where it was pre-disaster…but now I have a Capital One card that hasn’t started reporting yet. After reading these stories…starting to get nervous again.

    I smell a change in legislation coming yet again. This utilization mess will be our collective undoing if not addressed soon.

  27. Citi, they sent me a letter in response to me questioning why my high limit was not being reported. They reported a zero limit (when I have a VERY high limit) and my current VERY low balance (which I pay in full each month, prior to the due date). Their letter stated that as I have the ability to exceed my limit without a negative reporting if I paid the overage within that billing cycle that for my benefit they don’t report my limit in case I exceed it to avoid a negative reporting. OMG. I was successful with having my actual limit reported by using their letter which stated my limit and sending a request to all three agencies to report my limit. I also have done that on other cards that were not reporting correct information by using my billing statement and sending it along with a request to the Agencies requesting them to update my profile and requesting them to send me an updated report.

  28. Tired of it all says:

    It’s just really ridiculous how the government allows these credit card companies to do what seems like unfair practices when it comes to credit and credit scores. You doomed if you and doomed if you don’t, it’s not a winning situation. The way credit scores are figured doesn’t seem accurate to me at all. I feel like consumers/cardholders don’t have that many rights in this unfair game that they play. Macy’s has become really ridiculous because you have to call and give them an amount of what you think you will be spending. That is such a waste of time and not fair to cardholders. I paid Macy’s off and I will not be using their card again because they didn’t have enough respect to make the cardholders aware of this change and you found out about the change at checkout. They will end up just like the May Company and they will loose good customers due to this nonsense. Their business will not continue to prosper with tactics of this nature. The government really needs to implement serious changes regarding credit because we do not live in a time of FAIR CREDIT due to all of the underhanded and caniving guidelines.

    • I completely agree with you. I will no longer use Macy’s again either and I paid the account off while in the store. I tried to make a purchase and was advised that I had to call to get my spending amount approved. I was outraged because they never sent any communication regarding this change but it’s sad that I had to find out in the store. When I go shopping, I don’t have time to make a call each time, having this card is no longer worth it. Macys’ will loose alot of business because they have lost mine. I will spend my money where I am respected and appreciated.

  29. Bank of America VISA Signature doid not report my limit>

  30. I spoke with Chase today(11/17/11) on trying to have my Visa Signature and MasterCard World Elite cards report the credit access line/limit. I had to be transferred to a 2nd level support rep, where he said starting Nov 6th 2011, they will start reporting the credit access line/limit amount to the 3 credit reporting agencies, not just the high balance amount, for all customers. It will take one statement cycle for it to start being reported.

  31. Thanks everyone for the information. As most of you know, maintaining a good debt/credit ratio is imperative to having a high credit score. I have all three bureaus now in the 800′s and all it took was diligence on my part, not only to manage credit properly and to pay my bills on time, but to become highly educated in the art of HOW to get my scores as high as possible.

    I know there are many of you who dread getting that involved, but its like anything else in life – you get out of it what you put in. One of the things I did that really assisted in uping my credit scores was to find out the exact date that each of my credit card companies reported to the agencies. I found out that most of them reported monthly, a few quarterly, and some did at what appeared to be random months. However, they all had one thing in common, they report immediately following a statement date. So, if you are someone who pays your credit card in full every month immediately following receipt of your statement, you ARE NOT HELPING your credit because the credit card companies will be reporting a balance every time. What you should do is pay your credit cards off BEFORE a statement is sent out. Just log in and see the balance and pay it very very early. If you need to carry a balance for a few months, then use the credit card that you know does not report regularly. This will keep your debt/credit ratio as low as possible.

    Anyways, my 2 cents…

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