In this Personal Finance Roundtable we tackle the question of “How many credit cards is too many?” We’ve talked to people who have 4, 5, 6, or even 10 credit cards. While everyone’s situation is unique, we’d tend to recommend that you don’t have more than about 2 or 3 credit cards because otherwise you will get confused and/or be tempted to spend too much. The reality is that for many of us one – or zero – is enough.
If you can’t fight the temptation to spend, then you shouldn’t have a credit card because you’ll only end up with debt. And that’s not good.
However, we wanted to propose the question of how many credit cards is too many to our expert panel of personal finance bloggers. So, without further ado, here are their answers to the question…
How many credit cards is too many?
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Brad from Enemy of Debt: “I do not use credit cards. I think credit cards are more of a debt tool than a financial tool for most people. They give a false sense of security and in my opinion hurt more American families than they help. That’s why I’m teaching my kids to avoid them like the plague. A life without credit cards is a life without financial slavery.”
Lazy Man and Money: “It really depends on the person and their ability to manage credit wisely. Personally, I pay off my cards in full each month, so I like to rack up all the rewards to save money on things I’d buy anyway such as groceries, gas, even home improvement. I’m in the middle of a refinance so I don’t want to do anything that changes my credit report, but when it’s done, I plan to get 3-4 rewards cards. Additionally, since credit utilization is a key component to your credit score, it can be helpful to have more credit even if you don’t use it.”
Miranda from Planting Money Seeds: “As long as you aren’t racking up the debt, I don’t know that there is such a thing as too many credit cards. Credit cards are tools, and when used wisely, with discipline, and paid off each month, it doesn’t matter how many you have. If you keep using cards without discipline, and build debt, one card can be too many.”
Elle from Couple Money: “If you have more than 3 credit cards, I think you aren’t optimizing your finances. You are probably overlapping the rewards and not getting the most benefits from your cards. I have 2 credit cards right now; one with a low interest rate and the other is a rewards card for cash.”
Philip from PT Money: “Personally I only keep reward credit cards that I’m able to use regularly for personal or business expenses. I use Chase Freedom (and temporarily due to bonus rewards) the British Airways Signature Visa for personal items, and I use my Chase Ink for business. (You can read my reviews of these cards on my website). If I haven’t used a card in a while, I cancel the account and shred the card. If it’s a really old account I may try to find a way to use it and keep it semi-active. Having older accounts is obviously good for your credit score, but this isn’t something I obsess about. If the card is practical, I keep it. I do not keep store credit cards though – they encourage too much spending and have too low of limits, which negatively affects your credit utilization ratio.”
Carrie from Careful Cents: The average number of cards Americans have in their possession is 3, which I believe is a good number. You only need 1 or 2 debit cards for household expenses and maybe 1 credit card to earn travel points or rewards. Anymore than 3 is too many and makes it difficult to keep track of the transactions – even for a personal finance geek like me. Having too many cards means a higher risk of making mistakes or overpaying.
Ben from Money Smart Life: I’m sure there’s a suggested formula you can follow to optimize the amount of your revolving debt and how it impacts your credit score. If you have time to tinker with the different factors and play the balance transfer games then more power to your wallet and credit score. But I think most people are too busy to give that much attention. In those cases I think the right number of cards is simply, how many can you pay on time and keep a zero balance on?
What do you think? Post your opinion below in the comments! (And let us know if you have a question for a future Personal Finance Roundtable)
Are you a blogger who wants to join the discussion next time? Just let us know and we’ll give you a seat at the Personal Finance Roundtable.
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