How Many Credit Cards should I have?

The amount of credit cards that you have in your wallet is a common question to which there is no right or wrong answer. The question should be how am I using the credit cards and more importantly do I have more than I can manage responsibly.

The Pro’s and Cons of credit cards is covered in this article by nerdwallet and at one end of this highly debated topic is the personal finance experts and at the other is you, your friends, and other self-proclaimed experts.

The advantages of carrying multiple cards is that you can maximize rewards such as no fee cash back, hotel points, air miles, and donations to a charity of your choice. You maintain flexibility as some cards are more accepted than others and having a spare in case of loss or theft comes in handy.

The disadvantages of having several cards is that it adds unnecessary complexity to your monthly bill paying regimen and if you are already stressed about your budget and debt, multiple payments with differing due dates can be a headache. Miss a payment or two by juggling too many and you may see a negative effect on your credit rating.

According to NASDAQ, the average credit card user has 3.7 pieces of plastic in their wallets but not uncommon for people to have upwards of 15 open accounts at a time.

Some points to consider:

  • Are your cards costing you more in annual fees than the rewards?
  • What will the effect on your credit score be?
  • Are you paying too many late fees because of an overlooked statement?
  • Are you consciously selecting the right card for the purchase to maximize rewards?
  • Are you using the appropriate cards for personal and business expenses?

Look at your answers and use that to guide you to make informed decisions about the number of credit cards you should be maintaining.

An important point for those who are having difficulty maintaining their credit card balances and timely payments, is to consider closing credit card accounts but this too can affect your credit score.

Our advice is to look at your credit cards, arrange them from oldest to newest (credit history length is responsible for 15% of the entire credit score) and then note the annual fee, interest and balance. If you have a credit card with no annual fee, reasonable interest and a zero balance, that card should be on your ‘to keep’ list. Conversely, a card that does not offer many benefits, has high interest and is relatively new should be placed on the ‘to cancel’ list.

As you can see, there is no answer to this question that fits all, except to say that some research is important to determine the perfect number for you.

 

Helen Siwak is Editor-in-Chief of BLUSHVancouver & EcoLuvLux Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle contributor to Daily Hive (VancityBuzz) | West Coast contributor to Retail-Insider | contributing writer for Marble Financial.

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