There are a lot of different spending limits with Facebook ads, and there’s a lot of confusion about them and how they work. I’m going to do my best to clear up some of the confusion, but if you’ve encountered a spending limit and you’re not sure why, let me know. I may have some ideas.
Facebook’s Historical Spending Caps
The most common form of Facebook ad spending cap you’ll read about online is the old daily spending cap. The way this cap worked, Facebook would set a limit on the amount your ads account could spend at any given time. It would start out around $25, then $50, then $100, then $250, and so on.
Basically, new accounts would start off with a low cap, to minimize the potential of fraud or exploits. When you can only spend $25 per day, it’s pretty easy for Facebook to monitor what you’re doing on a small scale and make sure you aren’t trying to break a rule or exploit a system. They would check to make sure you’re following all of the ad policies and content guidelines. They would verify that your payment method is legitimate and that it’s not a stolen credit card or other form of fraud. They would make sure you’re good to pay for those ads as well, before you could pay for more.
As you proved yourself trustworthy, they would bump up the cap. Each time you would brush up against the cap, you would need to wait for them to review and raise the cap for you. Usually this was an automated process, though some people indicate that you need to contact Facebook to get it raised past a certain point.
I’ve seen some modern mentions of this issue, though given the source website here, I don’t know how trustworthy it is. There’s no mention of the specific system involved, and there’s only one person offering a solution, and that solution is “pay me and I’ll fix it. What? No, I’m not going to tell you what I’m doing.” In other words, very likely a scam.
The way I see it, Facebook probably has some daily ad spend caps in place for very new accounts, but those caps are generally going to be conflated with other forms of spending limit and will be raised faster than those other limits, so it’s rare that you will encounter them. It’s just an initial way for them to protect themselves against fraud; by capping you at $50 per day for a while, they make sure you can’t dump thousands into advertising that you aren’t actually able to pay for.
The reason I call this the “historical spending cap” is that it’s the way Facebook used to work. I can no longer find mention of this system in Facebook’s help center, and it’s entirely possible that it doesn’t exist anymore and people are misinterpreting other caps as limits imposed by Facebook.
Facebook Ads Payment Thresholds
The most common system I think people are misinterpreting to be spending caps is payment thresholds. The payment or billing threshold is a “limit” that determines when Facebook puts the brakes on your ads and says “hey, you should pay us, and then you can continue.”
This is another form of anti-fraud measure, and it’s similar in operation to the historical system, though it’s not strictly hard caps. Basically, your account is given a payment threshold, usually $25 for brand new accounts. You can freely run ads on Facebook up until you reach that threshold or you reach the end of the month, whichever comes first. Then Facebook charges your payment method.
Usually, you’re able to keep your ads running while this charge processes, but if there’s any delay on the payment processing, you won’t be able to keep running ads until your previous balance is paid for.
Once you hit your payment threshold and successfully pay for your ads, the amount you’ve accrued resets and your threshold may increase. Note that this is a “may”, not a “will”. If it took you 20 days to reach $25 in ad spend, it’s likely that you’ll have to reach it a couple times before it increases. Generally, Facebook will increase your payment threshold several times as you reach it, up until you’re no longer reaching it in an average month.
This payment threshold is a way for you to build up a payment history with Facebook, and thus build up trust. Once you’ve proven yourself trustworthy, they’re fine with bumping up that limit until it’s no longer a problem. However, you can still run into this limit and find issues running ads if you dramatically increase your ad spend in a short amount of time. This can be misinterpreted as daily caps if you’re hitting it fast enough.
Facebook Ad Account Spending Limits
There’s an actual cap that you may be running into with Facebook ads, and it’s called the account spending limit. Account spending limits are hard caps on the amount you can spend. Once you reach it, you will not be able to run more ads until you decide to increase the limit.
That’s right: until you decide. Unlike other limits on Facebook, the account spending limit is totally under your control. By default, you do not have a cap set on your account. You can set this spending limit at any time.
The account spending limit is a lifetime limit that starts counting the moment you set it. It does not track ad spend prior to the time you set it. It is not a per day, per week, or per month limit; it’s a one-time lifetime limit. When you reach the limit, you can choose to increase the limit, remove the limit, or simply stop running ads.
What good is this limit? I find that it’s a useful tool to manage ad spend across a large number of ads and campaigns when you don’t want to track everything manually. If you set up a hundred different split tests across different campaigns, it can be tricky keeping them all under budget. All it takes is for a couple of them to take off, or to have exceptionally high costs per click, for your budget to be blown very quickly.
If you’re running ads and you have a finite amount of money available to spend in a given month, it’s a good idea to set an ad spending limit. If you hit it too early in the month, well, you used up your budget and you’re out of luck. You better balance it better next month, eh?
You can also set an ad spending limit as a high cap just to prevent runaway success. If you expect your ad to charge you about $5 per day, but it suddenly hits the big time and ends up costing you $25 per day, you can very quickly have an unsustainably large bill. Having a high cap in place – and adjusting it from time to time – can be a stopgap measure to prevent over-spending.
Of course, all of the same goals can be accomplished with individual budget limits on individual ads, so the utility of the account-wide spending limit is a bit questionable. In any case, you can read more about that spending limit here.
I’ve seen a few cases where an ads manager set a spending limit without informing their team. The team encounters the limit and starts troubleshooting why their ads have stopped, and they feel like Facebook set a cap on them, not realizing it’s a cap they can totally control. You can also see the history of your add spending limit. In ads manager, you can go to the billing section, look under transactions, and click account spending limit. This shows you the history of changes to the limit, including when you set the limit, when it ended if you reached it, what the limit is and what it has been when you change it, and the amount you’re spending at the moment.
Facebook Ads Manual Payment Limits
Facebook ads allows manual payments, rather than automatic payments, if and only if you’re outside of the USA in one of the countries that doesn’t have automatic payments. In some situations, I’ve seen users using manual payments and thinking they have caps, when really they just don’t have enough funds in their account.
Manual payments for Facebook ads are basically like a prepaid phone service. You add money to your account, and then you can run ads until you run out of money. This is a “cap” but it’s another cap that you are completely able to control. Add more money and your cap is lifted, until you reach the new cap of the total amount you’ve added.
You can remove this “cap” entirely simply by adding an automatic payment method to your account, typically a credit card or a bank account for electronic fund transfers. This converts your account from manual to automatic payments and prevents you from adding funds to your account, though, so make sure it’s a decision you want to make before you make it.
Facebook Ads Daily Budget Caps
The other reason why your Facebook ads may be capped each day, but refresh the next day, is when you have specific daily caps on your individual ads.
Daily budget caps are a way to spread out an overall ad budget equally throughout a month. They’re caps you can set for your ads, but they are not imposed by Facebook, so they aren’t an unexpected cap. If you have daily caps on your ads but don’t remember setting them, well, you still probably did.
The interesting thing about ad daily caps is that they aren’t actually hard and fixed caps. If you set a cap of $100 for an ad for a day, that ad can spend up to $125 per day. It’s a 25% modifier.
Basically, this is Facebook’s way of giving your caps some flexibility. An ad spend cap is a cap average. If they spend $125 on your ad on one day, they will have to make up for it by only spending $75 for the ad on another day, so your average works out to be $100.
This way, if your ads have some weekly or seasonal shifts in how well they work – for example, ads that promote a weekend getaway are more likely to work better on Thursday or Friday than on Monday or Tuesday – Facebook can take advantage of that without you needing to micromanage your ad schedules.
That’s not to say it’s a bad thing to micromanage ad schedules. If you know your ads are going to perform well on Thursday and Friday, why not just set them to only run those days? You can spend your full budget when you can capture the most attention. Of course, you need to actually know when your peak days are, and you need them to be consistent, so it’s not always the ideal situation.
Over to You
Have you encountered a cap on your Facebook ad spend in the last, oh, six months? It’s been a bit since they changed their system, so if you’re going to give me a story from when you were first starting out in 2006, it’s not really relevant. I’m interested to hear about ad account caps that may still be in effect. Let me know if you’ve run into one!