How Chase “Credit Access Line” Hurts Your Credit Score

Recently I was checking out my free credit score on CreditKarma.com. It has been a bit lower than I had expected lately and I wasn’t quite sure why – until I noticed that my reported available revolving credit total was much lower than it should have been.

I currently have two active credit cards – a Discover card with a credit limit of $3000 and a Chase Freedom Visa Signature card with a limit of $7500. Both of these limits are well beyond what I really would ever need – but that extra spending room is nice in case of emergency.

CreditKarma as well as Experian report my available credit limit as $3000, not the total of $10500. Because of this, my debt-to-available credit ratio is much higher than it should be, thus causing my credit score to go down significantly. Credit scoring algorithms place a very, very large weighting on this ratio.

Little did I know that this credit access line “feature” was doing more harm than good. I have a suspicious feeling that Chase and Visa are doing this purposefully. It is in their interest for consumers to have a worse credit score. A worse score means they can charge higher interest rates and be less likely to be accepted for other lines of credit.

Honestly, this calls for a class action lawsuit. I can only imagine how much money this has cost the consumer by anybody who was switched to a Visa Signature card with a credit access line and subsequently applied for another line of credit. I certainly hope it did not affect my home refinance rates. Hopefully this sort of thing will be better regulated in any upcoming bank regulation laws.

If you have a similar issue – call your credit card company and ask that you get your credit limit back so that it is reported properly to the credit bureaus. Hopefully after a few months you will see your credit score shoot back up to where it was meant to be.

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5 thoughts on “How Chase “Credit Access Line” Hurts Your Credit Score

  1. John says:

    I don’t understand exactly how Chase’s use of “Credit Access Line” hurts your credit score. Is the problem that Chase’s CAL is not reported to credit bureaus as a credit limit, thus it appears your credit limit with Chase shows up as $0?

  2. Brian Saghy says:

    That is exactly right. Lets say you have a CAL of $10,000, and your Chase card is your only credit card. The credit bureaus would not see that you have this credit available. Best case – its like you don’t even have a credit card – but this is doing nothing to help improve your score and show that you’re a responsible credit user. Worse case, they show that you have a balance of, say, $1000 out of $0 available credit. Yikes.

  3. John says:

    My problem is that I thought I had a traditional credit limit, and relied on it to deny my charges when I hit the limit. Instead, Chase let the charges go way above and beyond my CAL!

  4. Teresa says:

    Thanks for the explanation. I just received my notice from Chase for the change. I will have to decline in order to preserve my credit scores.

  5. Willy says:

    This exact situation is happening to me too. I have a CAL of $12000 with Chase but it gets reported to the bureaus as a credit limit of effectively $0. I also have a credit limit of ~$4000 from another card. So if I spend $3000 on my Chase card, my debt to credit ratio is 75% (3k/4k) instead of 19% (3k/16k).

    A terrible surprise on my credit report from Chase.

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