Rearranging credit limits can help you take advantage of rewards and benefits on the cards you use the most. Learn which Amex cards you can transfer credit lines between and how to request the transfer.
American Express cards are a favorite of travelers, business owners and others who like to earn rewards on their spending. Amex currently offers 18 personal and 14 small-business credit cards to new applicants, and it allows customers to hold several accounts at once.
When you have multiple American Express card accounts open, you may find that you don’t have the available credit that you need on one account, even though you have excess credit on a different account. When this happens, you may be able to request a credit limit transfer to resolve this problem.
What is a credit limit transfer?
A credit limit transfer is when a credit card issuer increases a customer’s credit limit on one account while at the same time reducing his or her credit limit by the same amount on another account. When this happens, the card issuer has no increased exposure to default since the total amount of credit extended to the cardholder hasn’t changed.
You can think of it the following way. Suppose you’ve lent a friend $400 to fix his house and another $1,000 to pay for a medical expense. But then he told you that his medical expense was $200 lower, but his home repair cost $200 more than anticipated. This would probably be acceptable to you as his lender since he hasn’t asked for more than the $1,400 total that you’ve already lent him. That’s essentially what happens when a credit card issuer is asked to approve a credit limit transfer between two accounts.
However, a credit limit transfer shouldn’t be confused with a balance transfer. A balance transfer is when an actual debt is transferred from one account to another. But a credit limit transfer, or reallocation, doesn’t involve the transfer of any part of an account’s balance, only it’s available credit. Additionally, balance transfers occur between accounts from two different card issuers, whereas credit limit transfers can only occur between accounts issued by the same institution.
Why should I transfer a credit limit to another card?
You might consider a credit limit transfer for several reasons. Perhaps you’re a longtime American Express cardholder, and you’ve recently opened a new credit card account. If one of your old accounts had a very large credit limit, you might not have received one that was nearly as large when you opened your new account. You could then request a credit limit transfer from the old card with the high limit to the new card with the lower limit. This might put you in a better position to take advantage of the new card’s rewards and benefits.
Credit limit transfers can also be useful when you have a new card that offers more valuable rewards on a category of purchases that you spend heavily on, such as groceries, travel or dining. By transferring part of your excess available credit to the new card, you’ll be able to charge a greater amount on it and earn more rewards.
Additionally, if you decide to close one of your American Express cards, then you may wish to preserve your total credit limit by transferring as much as possible from the account you’re closing to one of the accounts that you’re keeping.
Some people may also wish to combine credit limits in an attempt to help their credit scores, but that might not necessarily be the result as a credit limit transfer doesn’t affect your overall credit utilization ratio.
How do I combine American Express credit limits?
Thankfully, American Express makes it easy to transfer credit limits. You can request a credit limit transfer online following these steps:
- Log in to your American Express account online and select the card that you are transferring credit out of.
- Click on the “Account Services” menu, then click on “Payment & Credit Options” and select “Transfer Available Credit to Another Card.”
- Choose the account that you want to transfer from and to.
- Enter the amount that you want to transfer and click “Continue.”
- Confirm that you’ve entered the correct information and click “Submit.”
Four rules about American Express credit transfers to keep in mind
While these rules aren’t explicitly documented by American Express, keep these principles in mind to understand how credit transfers are approved or denied before you apply.
The 60-day rule. American Express will not approve a request to combine credit limits unless your account has been open for at least 60 days.
The 180-day rule. After being approved for a credit limit transfer, you must wait 180 days before you can be approved for another.
Expect a possible inquiry into your credit report. Sometimes, American Express will make an inquiry to your credit report when you request a credit limit transfer. These are hard inquiries, which have the same effect on your credit as applying for a new loan.
Limit on mixing credit lines between business and personal cards. You can transfer portions of your credit limit between personal cards and between business cards. You can also make transfers from a personal card to a business card, but you can’t transfer credit from a business card to a personal card.
When you have multiple American Express credit card accounts, it’s important that you manage them to your best advantage. By requesting a credit line transfer, you can make sure that you’ll always have the credit you need on the cards you use the most.