How Many Credit Cards Should You Have? Credit cards when used responsibly, can be a very helpful took that can increase your credit score. In addition, another benefit to credit cards is if you encounter an emergency and need money, you can use your cards. The average person will have between two and four credit cards. The big question however, how many is too many?
If I am honest, there is no right answer to this question. According to Experian, the average person has 3.84 cards, will round this number and say it is four. To some people this might be too low and to others it might be too high of a number. Frankly, it is a personal decision on how many credit cards to own and keep in your wallet. I hope I can help you decide on how many to carry with this article. Enjoy.
Table of Contents
Factors to Consider
Before you apply for any new card, consider the following:
- Your Credit Score. If you are trying to increase your credit score, having multiple cards can help you do that. Credit bureaus use a few factors to create your score. Bureaus will use the amount of accounts you have open, length of credit history, credit utilization ratio and your payment history. The more responsible you are with your credit, debts and other accounts, the better your score will be. However, you can take a small hit to your score when applying for a new card.
- Your goals. Credit cards can help you achieve financial goals. An example would by my fidelity credit card. This card gives me cash back that goes directly into my Roth IRA account. That free month I get goes towards buying more dividend stocks.
- Rewards: Many credit cards offer cash back rewards. Some rewards are travel miles, cash back, or like my fidelity card, investment cash back. The more cards you have the more benefits you can get. However, use these credits responsibly.
Pros and Cons of Having Multiple Credit Cards
|It can improve your credit score.
|It may decrease your credit score.
|You can earn more rewards.
|You may spend more.
|It gives you more buying power.
|You will need to manage more cards.
|Can spire out of control quickly.
How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?
As I mentioned above, it is a personal choice. Even though the average person has four cards, that number could be too low or too high for you. Consider the following:
- A good starting point would be one to two cards. You will use one credit card as your primary card (Food, gas, fun, bills), and the second will be a backup for emergencies. Pay off the first card monthly, do not overspend. Utilizing one to two cards first will help you build good spending habits.
- Having three to four, cards can be a good thing if you are looking for additional benefits. Some cards offer good mile bonuses when you use the card so if you are trying to save up for a flight, you could make this one your primary card. You can switch between cards for whatever your goals might be.
- Having more than four cards can be tricky. Overspending happens to many people and debt can spiral out of control quickly. During covid I utilized a lot of cards to stay afloat and by the end of it I was in $25k credit card debt. I let it get out of hand and before I knew it, I was just paying the minimum payment to survive. I had to use a debt consolidation program to get free of it all.
Managing Multiple Credit Cards
It is crucial that you spend responsibly and you manage all your cards responsibly. Do not make my mistake and overspend what you do not have.
- Create a budget: I personally use a budget to help me keep track of my finances. It is a very helpful tool that can help you see what you are buying each month. If you do not keep track of your spending, you could overspend and not even realize it.
- Check accounts weekly. It is important that you check your accounts weekly to determine how much you have and what has yet to come out. Some credit cards will not update your available balance right away so it is good to keep track of this.
- Automate. Automate your payments so you never miss a payment. Late payments can hurt your credit score a lot. Having automatic payments will ensure your cards are being paid off on time each month. Most credit card issuers have this option.
- Prioritize. If you have credit card debt, prioritize paying it off. Focus on small balances first or balances that have highest interest rates. Knock these out first and move onto the bigger balances.
There is no right or wrong number for how many credit cards you should have. However, take the time to consider the pros and cons and what makes sense for you financially. If you are married, talk it over with your spouse and make sure you are both on the same page. Having a partner that does not care about family finances and simply spends because it is there can hurt you. Both of you need to be on the same page.