Home Credit How Many Credit Cards Should You Keep Open? 

How Many Credit Cards Should You Keep Open? 

by Amarachukwu
How Many Credit Cards Should You Keep Open? 

Deciding on how many credit cards to keep is as important a decision as having any at all.

How many credit cards should an individual own? Is it possible to have too many or too few functional credit cards? The answers to these questions and more vary from different people’s perspectives. Their spending behavior, goals and aspirations, as well as financial capacities amongst other factors also determine the needed answers.

Aside from the fact that a single credit card rarely satisfies the average American consumer, possessing multiple credit cards can be beneficial to you and your finances, so long you are not reckless with them.

Experian, one of America’s prominent credit bureaus revealed that as of Q3 2020, the average US customer had 3.84 credit cards. The report reveals a 4% drop from what was recorded in the previous 2019. This is arguable as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on the global economy.

Is it therefore advisable to be in possession of multiple credit cards or stick t as low as possible? There is no definite answer to this question. Your preferences and factors controlling your finances will determine which is the best to settle for.

While some people prefer having multiple credit cards for the flexibility they offer, others see it as an avenue to quickly end up in a financial mess as they tend to overspend.

Depending on your ability to effectively manage them, experts believe that having multiple credit cards can help boost your credit score, the same way such a singular act can mar it. if you are the type that easily gets carried away or have experienced what massive credit card debt feels like, you’d certainly want to pass on this decision.

How Many Credit Cards Should You Keep Open? 

Is having multiple credit cards advisable?

The effect of multiple credit cards on your credit score is probably one of the interesting things about settling for it. this factor is what many consumers consider before they go ahead to own these plastic cards in their numbers.

What having multiple credit cards does is that it keeps your credit utilization ratio low, and this translates to a better credit score.

For example, if the credit limit on your credit card is $2,000 per month and you spent up to $1,800 from the same card within the same month, this will set your credit utilization ratio at 90% which is not good for you. But when you have multiple credit cards and charge the same $1,800 expense for the month from these different cards, you will have more balances from each card and a lower credit utilization ratio. This tells you that the lower your credit utilization ratio, the higher your credit score becomes and the better for your finance as a whole.

Generally, experts advise that you should watch out for your spending and not exceed the 30% benchmark on your available balance per credit card. This explains why in the scenario above, it is better to spread your $1,800 expense across different credit cards to maintain the benchmark.

However, it is not advisable to open multiple credit accounts that you do not need in a bid to beat the system and try to improve your credit utilization ratio. When you try to increase your total available credit and do this, you may end up with a poor credit score as these cards have charges attached to them. So, imagine being charged for a card that you do not need. It will eventually reduce your credit score, thereby, leading to a penny-wise, pound-foolish situation.

When you own multiple credit cards, you also stand a chance to earn rewards from each when the issuers offer to customers. They may decide to give mouth-watering offers to their customers and who knows, if you are lucky enough, you may see yourself bagging multiple rewards for yourself. These rewards may come in form of some percentage discount off the interest rate, points, or a cashback as the case may be.

 

How many credit cards should one have?

As earlier stated, there is no actual number as a response to that question. This is because the factors that necessitate the decision of how many you can use varies from an individual to another.

Notwithstanding, your spending habits and attitude to the refund will determine how many you should have. If you know that you have the tendency of overspending when you have a credit card with you, or you are likely to default in the repayment process, having multiple credit cards may not be advisable for you.

However, those who argue for a single credit card think that it is convenient to use. Being that you do not have to jostle for which card to use for purchase, neither do you need to try to remember where you kept the several cards in possession- especially if you are likely to keep things in different places and forget them.

Also, there is the argument of security. A single credit card may be easily secured than multiple cards. When you have the latter, you may misplace one without noticing for days, weeks or even months. But if you have just a single credit card, you would notice almost immediately it gets missing and finding it may be easier.

 

How many credit cards is too much to keep open?

For some people, having up to five credit cards open is enough. For others, it’s not enough. There are also people that having two is too much for them. One is just enough for their capacity. If you fall under this category, where you know that funding multiple credit cards is too much or you know that you do not need multiple credit carded accounts, then it is too much for you.

Even though multiple credit cards reduce your credit utilization ratio and increase your chance of gaining a higher credit score, it is not advisable to get multiple cards within a short period. Some issuers understand that users may want to beat the system and apply for multiple cards in the same period. So, they have structures in place to check this and prevent multiple applications. The moment they can confirm that you are applying for multiple credit cards within the same period, they already understand that it is a deliberate act to accumulate those cards not necessarily because you need to, but to play smart.

Chase, for example, does not allow the approval of more than five credit cards with a 24 months’ time frame. This policy is known as 5/24.

Another problem with owning multiple opened credit cards is that it can reduce your credit score by presenting you as a risky borrower to lenders. This is also possible even if you have cleared the debts on them all. The fact that these credit cards are still open gives the lenders the impression that you can still borrow more, even after getting a loan from them. This may affect your refund to them as it is not easy to service multiple debts. So, even if they want to risk lending you the money, it may come at a ridiculous rate or unfavourable term.

This is why it is generally advisable to stick to the number of credit cards that you know you are capable of servicing and that aligns with your credit score even when you can apply for more.

 

Should credit cards be used for emergencies?

Generally, the best way to fund emergencies is to have cash stashed up in a savings account. This is why it is always advisable to prepare for emergencies before they happen. Using your credit card to fund emergencies may not be the best way to go.

Nevertheless, if you find yourself in a location far away, with little or no chance of reaching your emergency funds, then your credit card(s) can come to the rescue to fix your car or sort any emergency that may have taken place.

Serious emergencies like unexpected hospital bills or the loss of a job can no doubt suck your emergency funds in your savings account dry. In such a period, having multiple credit cards can be helpful; at least, pending when you are able to get back on your feet.

However, you must exercise caution and watch your spending in this period. Especially while you are yet to land another job, for example, you must watch your expenses so as not to be highly indebted for the money you are yet to start earning.

 

How much credit should I use across all my cards?

Generally, experts advise that you limit your credit consumption on each card to less than 30%. In fact, some insist that for you to maintain the best credit score, you should target maintaining a single-digit utilization ratio per card. This is less than 10%.

This is one of the reasons why a singular credit card may not be the best approach. Because how do you maintain this utilization ratio on a card? The possibility is almost nil. Only multiple credit cards ownership can pull this through with ease.

 

How often is it fine to apply for a credit card?

Theoretically, you can apply for credit cards as often as you want, especially as it only takes a few minutes to apply online. But ideally, it is better to gap the frequency of your credit cards’ applications. This is great for your credit score and increases the chances of your applications getting approved. When they are too frequent, that is a red flag that issuers cannot ignore and they can decline your applications for that singular act.

 

Is it possible to have two of the same credit cards?

A lot of credit card issuers will not fault you for applying for another credit card while you still have one running, especially if you have a good credit score and you have done well on the current card. However, the terms may not be the same.

The approval of your new application will depend on the current industry trend, your current credit level, income and financial capacity. All these may have changed when compared to the last time you applied.

 

Can I live without a credit card?

While you contemplate whether you should own a single credit card or settle for more, always remember that this option is available. As a matter of fact, you didn’t have one until you had your first credit card.

Some people still stick to their liquid cash and debit cards to survive, for the sake of their sanity. They always ensure that when they shop, they stick to essentials, do not make purchases outside of their budgets and only buy what they afford to pay for. To them, this is a form of budget and financial discipline.

Although, living without a credit card may make your ability to build up your credit score to be a bit difficult. And when you are unable to build your credit score, it may be difficult for you to take some huge financial steps like taking a mortgage loan.

Also, you may struggle to make some purchases if they prefer to take credit cards over debit cards. This is because credit cards are known to offer some fraud protection features that cash and debit cards don’t.

 

Conclusion

Generally, having multiple credit cards open is great in many ways to you if you are disciplined enough to be financially responsible. If you want to make the best of the credit cards, understand the features and terms of each card, the credit limit on each, and most importantly, the repayment due dates. These will impact your credit score. How you handle them will determine if the impact would be positive or negative.

Also, you may want to negotiate for a credit card that does not attract annual fees and offers cash back rewards on purchases made. This will save you a lot of cash which may be insignificant at first but will be worth it eventually.

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