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Has your credit card limit ever been increased without your knowledge?

credit cards

The FCA has today announced plans to clean up the credit card market including cracking down on unsolicited credit limit increases. So has yours ever been increased without your knowledge?

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), around 3.3 million people have persistent credit card debt, and are currently paying around £2.50 in fees and interest for every £1 they repay.

In its credit card market study, published today, the financial watchdog has outlined a remedy package to clean up credit cards.

In the report, it expressed concerns about unsolicited credit card limit increases, where credit card companies are found to be upping credit limits without knowledge or consent from their customers, and has put forward a number of voluntary measures for lenders to apply.

Credit card limits

Currently, it’s usual practice for credit card companies to offer unsolicited credit limit increases on an opt-out basis.

The FCA has agreed that this is likely to lead to some customers to passively accept the offer without considering whether they want or need it.

The regulator has also shared concerns that some credit card customers in financial difficulties appear to be receiving unsolicited credit limit increases that could contribute to making their financial circumstances worse.

As a result, the FCA has called on the credit card industry to commit to implementing voluntary measures around credit limit increases.

These voluntary measures are:

  • All new customers will be given the choice of how credit limit increases are applied to their account. This will be whether their credit limit can only be increased with their express consent (opt in), or whether their firm can offer an increase to their limit with the option to decline it (opt out). Customers who don’t make a choice will be offered credit limit increases on an opt-in basis by default.
  • Existing customers will be offered a more straightforward means of declining an offer of a credit limit increase, as well as the choice of having any future offers made on an opt-in basis.
  • All customers will be made aware of their existing right to choose to no longer receive offers of credit limit increases.
  • All customers will still be able to ask for a credit limit increase at any point.

The voluntary remedies also restrict customers from being offered credit limit increases when their borrowing behaviour may indicate unaffordable borrowing.

Credit control

The industry has committed to implement these changes within the next year.

We previously called for a ban on unsolicited increases in credit card limits. Introducing an opt-in system should help, especially for new customers, but will it be enough?

Have you had a credit card limit increased without your knowledge? Do you think today’s remedies will be enough to clean up credit cards? Or do you think more will be needed?

Comments
Member

To my certain knowledge limits were increased without customers asking in the 1990’s and 80’s for any number of Bank customers as the issuers refined the formulae and tried to get everyone indebted to the hilt. So when you use ever in the question it does cover a long time.

I did have to deal with annoyed customers at the time. I suspect it may still occur. What is annoying is the unilateral reduction of limits when you are finally planning to utilise the limit.

Member
Chris Harper says:
9 April 2017

I agree 100% with this comment by Patrick Taylor, my card limit went through the ceiling, I was on the verge of complaining re limit as it was far to large , but decided to use it for six days , tried to pay a considerable amount on card only to have the payment refused as 2 days prior the bank had dropped my limit and did not notify me for seven days.

Member

Which? could usefully campaign to have credit limits reduced when customers show themselves to be handling existing debt badly.

Member

If the underlying balance is not being repaid each month, the intervention needs to occur a long time before the card user hits their limit, but it seems that people are allowed to spend up to their limit even if they are not making any repayments of the debt, and then additional fees and interest are added to their outstanding balance which makes repayment almost impossible. First the cardholder is being irresponsible but then the card issuer is being irresponsible.

Member

I used to make good use of increased credit limits back in the 90s. When used with promotional rates, credit cards can be a cheap way of borrowing (cheaper than a mortgage). You just move your promotional-rate balance to another credit card before the deal comes to an end.

Member

I can remember wishing my limit was upped without me having to ask. Would have saved me having to ask to have my limit upped to £20k, which they did without too much hassle thank goodness.