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One of the best ways to improve your credit score is keep your debt levels as low as possible, and your efforts will be greatly helped by having high credit card credit limits, while keeping your balances extremely low. The higher your limit, the easier it is to do that.

The trick is you have to get an issuer to give you a high credit limit, and at the start of this year, new credit cards came with lower credit limits than they did at the same time last year, according to data from credit bureau Experian. Average credit limits on new cards were down for all consumers, even those with the best credit, but cardholders with bad credit saw the greatest decline in credit limits.

In the first quarter, banks opened $77 billion in new credit card accounts, up from $71 billion in the first quarter of 2014, but the average credit limit was down about 11% from last year. Experian broke down the average credit limits on new credit accounts by VantageScore 3.0 risk tier.

Super Prime (781-850)

Average credit limit per new account Q1 2015: $9,543
Average credit limit per new account Q1 2014: $9,604
Change: down 0.6%

Prime (661-780)

Average credit limit per new account Q1 2015: $5,209
Average credit limit per new account Q1 2014: $5,382
Change: down 3.2%

Near Prime (601-660)

Average credit limit per new account Q1 2015: $2,277
Average credit limit per new account Q1 2014: $2,497
Change: down 8.8%

Subprime (500-600)

Average credit limit per new account Q1 2015: $966
Average credit limit per new account Q1 2014: $1,171
Change: down 17.5%

Deep Subprime (300-499)

Average credit limit per new account Q1 2015: $509
Average credit limit per new account Q1 2014: $686
Change: down 25.9%

Paying your credit card balance in full each billing cycle helps keep your credit utilization rate low — it won’t perpetually creep up until it has become out-of-control debt — but having the ability to pay your bill in full isn’t necessarily the way to decide how much you should charge. From a credit score perspective, it’s more important you use as little of your available credit as possible. Many experts recommend keeping your credit card balances at less than 30% of your overall available credit, though those with the best credit scores keep their utilization to less than 10%.

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