Is It Bad to Have Too Many Credit Cards? – All You Need to Know

Is It Bad to Have Too Many Credit Cards

Credit cards are a safe and convenient way of paying bills and shopping. It reduces the hassle of carrying cash and ensures secure transactions. However, many people prefer managing multiple credit cards. But is it bad to have too many credit cards?

The number of credit cards a cardholder should manage varies from one person to another. It entirely depends on the requirements, personal finances, and the method of managing credit cards. While more credit cards typically mean a greater credit limit and more rewards, managing multiple cards can be challenging.

I have put this guide together to help cardholders manage multiple credit cards and determine whether they should go for more than one card. Here, I will talk about other information relevant to the discussion of multiple credit cards.

How Many Credit Cards Are Too Many?

There is no magic number of credit cards an individual should possess. An Experian study(1) found that the average American consumer had 3.84 credit cards as of Q3 of 2020. You may have six or seven active credit cards for a healthy financial lifestyle. 

But popular financial wisdom dictates that you consider your current credit score and financial health when using several credit cards. According to Guinness World Records(2), the current record for active credit cards is 1,638, held by Manish Dhameja of India. However, as a My Credit Planet community member, we do not recommend making ill-advised financial decisions. 

Generally, you should not have more than seven credit cards, especially if you pay high annual fees. And if you do not use the cards enough to benefit from the rewards they offer. When you can’t keep track of the annual fees and the credit limit on each card, it may be time to ditch some or hold off getting another credit card. 

But there are instances when you will be better off with more cards. If you travel a lot and shop at the partner stores of your credit card issuer, you will earn redeemable loyalty points that will prove lucrative.

Will Having Too Many Credit Cards Hurt My Credit Score?

We will expressly state that keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30% (3)for multiple credit cards will not hurt your financial health. To put this into perspective, consider the example below.

If you have a credit card with a $2000 limit and a balance of $600, then your credit utilization rate is 30%. The percentage is what lenders use to calculate your FICO score(4) for other credit account services such as mortgages and student loans.

The idea of applying for additional credit lines may not be a good idea if you have two credit cards with utilization rates above 30%. It is especially not recommended if you struggle to pay the balance on time. 

Paying your credit cards late and having a credit utilization rate higher than 30% will negatively affect your credit score. As a general rule of thumb, if the credit rating is above 650, you can have multiple cards. However, if the score is below 650, having multiple cards and mismanaging them will hurt your credit score.

When Having Multiple Credit Cards Makes Sense

Having multiple credit cards can often be helpful. From a wide range of rewards to a low credit utilization ratio, there are several reasons why cardholders prefer multiple credit cards. Look at the table below to understand when having various credit cards makes sense.

Reasons For Having Multiple Credit CardsHow Multiple Credit Cards Benefit Cardholders
Attractive welcome bonusSigning up for new credits is an excellent way of earning attractive bonuses the issuers offer. These bonuses offer points, rewards, cashback, etc.
The low credit utilization ratio Having multiple credit cards increases the available credit of a cardholder. If the cards are correctly managed, this results in a low credit utilization ratio. And this helps to improve the credit score. 
Wide range of rewardsAll credit cards offer exciting rewards to their customers. These rewards include travel, cashback, cell phone protection, and many more. Having multiple credit cards allows cardholders to enjoy all of these rewards.
Business expensesHaving separate cards for personal and business expenses helps to manage the bills and finances in a better manner. It also allows business owners to earn more rewards based on costs and purchases. 
Pairing multiple cards to one programPairing multiple credit cards to one rewards program helps to earn points and cashback in the same category. This often comes in handy for travel, rental, shopping, and other expenses.

How To Manage Multiple Cards: Know The Procedure

Managing multiple credit cards can often seem confusing, but a few steps can help you to stay organized. Check out the ways how to manage multiple credit cards. 

Step 1: Choose The Right Credit Cards

The first step in managing multiple cards at once is to choose the right credit cards. Several types and versions of credit cards are available, but not all are worth getting. When considering the credit card, focus on the card’s interest rate and the fees and penalties that come with it. 

Remember to consider the benefits and rewards that a credit card offers. Make sure that the credit card matches your requirements before applying. 

Step 2: Know Your Credit Limit Properly 

Each credit card has its credit limit, which is dependent on the credit score and history of the cardholder. When managing multiple cards, it is essential to know the credit limit of each credit card you have.

This helps cardholders manage their bills and finances in a more organized manner. Not only that, but it also prevents excess expenditure of one card. 

Step 3: Keeping an Eye on The Terms And Conditions

Credit cards come with several terms and conditions. These conditions apply to payments, penalties, rewards, etc. With time, the issuer updates the policies or terms and conditions of the credit card.

Staying on top of the terms and conditions helps cardholders to avoid unnecessary hassle. It also helps to secure a balanced way of handling finances. 

Step 4: Keep Track Of Credit Card Usage 

Having multiple credit cards results in multiple transactions at different stages. This often makes it hard for cardholders to keep track of the transactions. Not only that, but it often leads to excessive use of one credit card. So, make sure to keep an eye on the activity of your credit cards. 

5 Tips to manage multiple credit cards to increase credit score

Managing multiple credit cards can be easier if you follow these tips:

Tip 1: Spread Spending Across Multiple Cards 

Divide your expenses across all your credit cards properly to ensure you receive the rewards. For example, use a card for travel expenses and another for groceries, bills, etc. This helps you to manage the costs easily while allowing you to earn rewards. 

Tip 2: Maintain A Credit Card With A Higher Credit Limit 

Maintaining a credit card with a higher credit limit is often useful for improving your credit score. A higher limit on the credit card increases your overall credit limit. If you use credit cards wisely, you can maintain a low credit utilization ratio. This low ratio will help to improve the credit score. 

Tip 3: Build A Solid Credit History 

The cardholder’s credit score and history play a significant role in setting the credit limit on new cards. A solid credit history is essential to receive cards with a higher credit limit. Make sure you have an excellent credit score history and solid credit history before applying for new cards. 

Tip 4: Pay Balance On Time 

Paying the credit card balance on time is an excellent way of building a good credit record and score. When the outstanding balances on the cards are not paid in time, it results in late payments and penalties. These penalties affect the credit score negatively and reduce the chances of getting a higher credit limit in the future. 

Tip 5: Close Unused Credit Accounts

Closing unused credit cards is a great way of managing multiple cards and building a good score. Maintain a low credit utilization ratio and close the accounts you no longer need.

This helps you manage your finances better and saves on annual fees and other payments. Make sure to clear the outstanding balance before closing the account.

Related Questions:

How Do You Close Credit Card Accounts Without Damaging Your Credit Score?

Closing credit card accounts without hurting the credit rating can be pretty challenging. When the credit card account is closed, the available credit reduces, which increases the credit utilization ratio. However, paying off the credit card balance before closing the account does not damage the credit score. 

Keep your credit utilization ratio in check and ensure it stays within 30%. Redeem the available rewards and close the credit card account to prevent damage to your credit score.

What Are The Advantages Of Having Multiple Credit Cards?

Having and managing multiple credit cards come with several advantages. Multiple credit cards allow cardholders to earn rewards and points from multiple schemes and plans. It also helps you to have a low credit utilization ratio and helps to build a good credit score.

In addition, multiple credit cards come in handy if you lose a credit card or it gets stolen. You can also save money by transferring the balance from a high-interest card to a lower-interest one. 

How Many Credit Cards Can I Have Without Affecting My Credit Score?

Cardholders can manage as many credit cards as they want. However, managing these cards simultaneously without affecting the score is often tricky. If you are new to credit cards, having two to three cards is the best way of managing your finances without affecting your score. 

Pay off the balances in time, no matter how many cards you have. Stay away from going for late payments and penalties. Keep the credit limit in mind. 

The Verdict:

Having more than one credit card is convenient, especially when dining out, traveling, paying country club green fees, and more. Ultimately, the number of credit cards you can comfortably carry boils down to your spending habits and current credit score.

Having excellent financial organization skills, paying your credit card debt on time, and keeping a low credit usage rate is a smart strategy to build your credit score. When taking up another credit card account, shop around for the best rates. My Credit Planet helps with actionable information to guide you in your search. Do not be afraid of hitting pause on a credit card account if they overwhelm your financial life.

References

  1. Stolba, S. L. (2021, April 8). What Is the Average Number of Credit Cards per US Consumer? Experian. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/average-number-of-credit-cards-a-person-has/
  2. The largest collection of valid credit cards. (2021, April 30). Guinness World Records. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/68577-largest-collection-of-valid-credit-cards
  3. Franke, K. (2022, October 25). Credit Card Utilization: Everything You Need To Know. SoFi. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.sofi.com/learn/content/credit-card-utilization-everything-need-know/

Brock, T. (n.d.). What Is a FICO Score? Investopedia. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/ficoscore.asp


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