You can fill your wallet with just a credit card. A card that maximizes mileage. A card for your favorite hotel chain. A card that allows you to cash out groceries. You can earn points even when you spend in NFL games.
How many credit cards should I have?
So, where do you start? Where does it end? Short answer: You should have at least two-ideally, each comes from a different network (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, etc.), and each offers you different types of rewards (cashback, Miles, bonus points, etc.).
How many credit cards are too many? It depends on the individual-you must never have something beyond your capacity. Experts say that the number of a card should vary according to individuals and circumstances.
Ethan Dornhelm, vice president and former chief scientist of FICO, said: “In general, there is no perfect number.” FICO is a data analysis company whose credit scores are most commonly used by lenders.
A survey conducted by the credit reporting agency Experian in 2017 showed that although the number varies by generation, credit score and other factors, the average American has 3.1 credit cards.
Two? Twenty? The answer is personal
The previous numbers seem to be related to John Corcoran, a hotel executive in Aspen, Colorado. He has two for personal use-both are airline mileage cards-and the other is for work.
He added a second mileage card, only for point rewards, and is considering deleting it before the $90 annual fee expires. He said: “I don’t like credit cards.” “I don’t like debt.”
On the other hand, Naomi Sachs, head of international operations in San Rafael, California. Sachs estimates that she has 20 or 30 “sit in a sock drawer, unused” – usually a retail card she signs to reduce the cost of purchases at the store, or a credit card she buys to increase points.
Sachs also carries about 10 cards in his wallet, of which 2 or 3 are used regularly. As for cash? Maybe there is a 20-dollar bill somewhere. debit? She said, “I will never borrow anything,”
Instead, she charges strategically and checks the card balance several times a week to maintain her financial condition. She said: “I spend a penny almost every time, trying to maximize my expenditure.”
Credit expert John Ulzheimer (John Ulzheimer) has two suggestions that can help you determine the number of credit cards that are best for you. Always maintain a low overall credit card utilization rate and ensure secure access to multiple credit card networks.
Although merchants in the United States accept the four major card networks, especially MasterCard and Visa, and to a lesser extent American Express and Discover, you can still find some of them that are not accepted.
Costco is an example. The Warehouse Club switched from an American Express card partner to Citibank in 2016, so the only credit card accepted by Costco is Visa.
Also, if you travel abroad, you should pack credit cards from various credit card networks. Although Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted, and the American Express logo is becoming more and more common in store windows around the world, you will inevitably walk around in a place that does not accept the type of credit card you have.
Uzheimer explained that in addition to these two key elements, as long as they are useful to you, many methods are effective. “Generally speaking, there is no perfect number.”
How many cards should you have if…
Want to be more specific? The following is a list of some special situations you may encounter, and some experts’ thoughts on which types of cards this may affect and how many types of cards you may want to carry:
You’re new to credit cards, or just recovering from a bankruptcy or other bad credit incident
According to Chicago credit consultant Netiva Heard, start with one card, use a secure card when necessary, and then add a second card when you can prove that you want to pay on time and pay off all bills every month. She said: “This is a learning period.” “That’s why you only start with a card to adapt to these good habits.”
You want to take advantage of rewards programs
Heard said that cards that do not provide rewards are “a complete waste of your time.” She recommends considering which rewards benefit you the most, and whether to pay an annual fee to get rewards.
Compared with cards that do not charge annual fees, cards that do not charge annual fees usually provide a lower entry bonus, and may not be as generous in daily consumption as point cards.
But please note that the number of reward cards you have registered cannot exceed the number you can manage. Heard recommends that most people keep up to three to five credit cards in their wallets.
Uzheimer said that two reward cards seemed more than enough-one for airline points and the other for cash back.
You plan to buy a new house or car soon
You should at least temporarily keep the number of cards you already have. Do not even open a new credit card for at least six months after applying for the so-called installment loan.
Ulzheimer said that because of the difficulty of credit card inquiries, opening a new card will reduce your score by a few points, “and, when you are out of the loan, hope it is in its best condition.”
In other words, he added that the installment lender will be most concerned about whether you have a mortgage or auto loan before and pay it off on time, and whether you tend to pay off the bill on time.
You want to improve your credit score
Uzheimer said this is not a reason to get a new credit card. He said: “Opening a new card is actually counterproductive,” because it will lower your score at least initially.
Hurd said she often sees customers rejecting loans not because of their credit scores, but because too much of their income is used to repay debt each month. She suggested that the first thing to worry about is the high ratio of debt to income.
You’re neck-deep in debt
Ulzheimer said that if you have a lot of bills, it’s best to put all the credit cards you have aside and replace them with debit cards or cash. He said that if you need to close your credit card to avoid using them, please do so, but be aware that each time you close your credit card, your score will be lowered, as this may reduce your available credit, thereby increasing your credit utilization as mentioned above.
You need a better interest rate to pay off existing credit card debt
Ulzheimer said that the APR entry price of the balance transfer card is 0%, which is very helpful for those who have a high interest balance, pay their bills on time and never miss the minimum repayment amount.
However, only reputable consumers can use them. It should also be noted that balance transfer cards also have their own hazards, such as balance transfer fees (usually about 3-5%) and high interest rates at the end of the introduction period and even in some cases.
A situation where the cardholder missed a payment. Ulzheimer said that the balance transfer card is regarded as a tool. “Use it correctly, it will free up some time for you to chew your balance and eventually pay it off.”
You don’t want to carry around lots of credit cards in your wallet
Ulzheimer said that if you have plastic and metal cards in your wallet, follow the Sachs example and store some at home. He said: “I never advise people to close their credit cards because it will hurt the debt-to-line ratio.”
He said that one exception is if someone is divorcing. Then, it’s best to limit the financial damage that an angry spouse causes to you and let both parties build their own credibility.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether you have two or 20 cards. The important thing is that your bank card allows you to access multiple networks and provides you with rewards that best meet your needs (which may change in your lifetime).
And, of course, you need to make sure you don’t mess up too many cards to keep track of all payment due dates. The key to having two to 20 or more credit cards is to earn points or cash back for your daily expenses.