How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
Ideally, most experts say you should have at least two credit cards so you can maximize benefits from different banking networks. What’s the max number of cards? That depends on factors, including your credit, income and ability to manage your balances.
Why Have More Than One Credit Card?
When you have a credit card, you typically pay the bank (or cause someone to pay the bank) for the use of that card. So, we think you really should be getting some value out of that relationship, and the best way to maximize that value is to have a couple of cards from different networks and with different rewards structures.
The major networks include Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express, and they all offer different perks on most cards. Perks can include fraud and purchase protection, access to concierge assistance and roadside assistance, among other things. If you have more than one card, spreading your options around the various banks and networks gets you access to more of these perks.
It’s also a good idea to choose cards with different rewards structures. You might have one card that accrues cash back points on all your daily purchases and another where you can rack up airline miles when you fly, book hotels or dine out. Choose cards that match your lifestyle so you’re more likely to use the rewards you reap.
How Many Credit Cards Do Most People Have?
A survey from credit reporting agency Experian noted that the average American in 2017 had 3.1 credit cards. Consumers with higher credit scores often tend to have more credit cards — an average of seven — though they often only use a couple of them at any given time.
What’s the Maximum Number of Credit Cards You Should Have?
It’s definitely a personal decision. Some high-spenders, regular travelers and business owners regularly use a handful of cards and carry as many as 10 at a time. Often, they put the cards to use building up points for travel or other rewards and pay off most of the balances on a regular basis to avoid interest expenses. These types of users rarely pay cash or use debit cards because credit cards tend to offer more protection, especially during both domestic and international travel.
Others keep two main cards on hand and spend equally between their credit cards and other forms of payment, including cash or debit. With so many credit card rewards programs available, we think it can be a waste to swipe a debit card instead of a credit card. That being said, if you aren’t financially disciplined enough to pay off credit card balances regularly, keeping your card totals down is a good idea.
Another reason not to open up multiple card accounts are annual fees. If you aren’t earning and using enough rewards on a card to cancel out the annual fee, it may not be worth it to keep that account open.
Having a number of credit cards typically doesn’t impact your credit score or creditworthiness as long as you manage them appropriately. In fact, paying your balances regularly and keeping a low balance-to-credit-limit ratio on all your cards can boost your credit score.
So, as long as you can pay them off regularly and aren’t paying for rewards services you aren’t using, the limit on how many credit cards you should have is up to you.