There is not a set or “magic number” to answer the question of “How many credit cards should I have?”; however, there definitely can be a benefit to having more than one credit card under your name as long as you are spending responsibly.
We’ll break down below some of the essential things to consider when it comes to carrying multiple credit cards.
How Credit Cards Affect Your Credit Score
In the world of credit history and credit scores, it’s been shown that more credit cards typically go hand-in-hand with higher credit scores. In fact, credit card holders with 800 point scores or higher will often have 7 or more credit cards opened under their name. To further add to this, Mint.Com has reported that those with the best credit typically will have 22 or more open accounts in good standing at any given time; keep in mind that these accounts will include all types of different credit accounts such as car loans, home loans, student loans, etc.
Generally speaking, how many credit cards you have open will not affect your credit score, but your payment history, how much you have spent on your credit cards, and how much credit you have available for use will. So, in light of this, maintaining several credit cards in good standing at one time can be very beneficial in maintaining or building upon your credit score.
Different credit card companies and credit cards can offer substantial rewards and perks that you can benefit from. Quite often, people will have multiple credit cards open simply to take advantage of the various individual perks and rewards they have to offer. Rewards can range from cash back, airline miles, discounts on hotels and travel, or even tickets and discounts to exclusive events.
Credit Card Utilization
While having multiple credit cards open can help increase your overall financial health and credit score, you do need to be careful about how much credit is being used on your cards at any one time. When you use too much of your available credit without paying it off immediately, it increases your debt to credit ratio, which reflects poorly on you to lenders and in your credit score. You’ll need to be sure you can pay off all or most of what you spend regularly in order to maintain a healthy balance in this area. Keep in mind, you don’t always need to open new credit cards in order to increase the amount of credit available to you; often, if you are in good standing with a credit card company you can seek a credit limit increase with them and obtain the same results.
Risk vs. Reward
When you are considering opening up a new credit card account, it’s important to assess how you’ll be able to handle the account and if the benefits outweigh any potential negatives. Here are some pros and cons to consider when thinking about opening any new credit card account:
- Can increase your score by making more credit available to you
- You can utilize rewards and perks offered through various credit card programs
- You often have better protection with your purchases, such as theft, fraud, and extended warranties
- Opening new credit card accounts will reduce the age of your credit, which can lower your score
- The more cards you have, the more accounts you’ll need to ensure are paid on time each month, thus increasing the possibility of missing a payment(s) and dinging your credit history
- Unless you are responsible and disciplined with your spending, you could end up over-utilizing your credit cards and maintaining a higher spending balance due to the amount of credit available to you
In the end, how many credit cards you have boils down to what’s right for your individual financial situation and what aspects on either end will benefit you the most. There is no right number for every situation, but there is a right number for your situation; just consider the things mentioned above when making your decision.