While there’s no set number for how many credit cards you should have, having too few or too many may negatively affect your credit score by impacting your credit utilization or creating difficulties tracking your payments and balances.
There’s no set rule on how many credit cards are too many as it depends on several factors, like credit health, age, income, and utilization ratio. That said, having too many can negatively impact your credit health because keeping track of your payments can be hard. But having multiple credit cards can help increase your credit score and earn rewards if you can make timely payments and keep track of your balances.
In this guide, we’ll cover the number of credit cards you should have, the average number of credit cards each person has, and tips for managing multiple credit cards.
In This Piece
- How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many (or Perhaps Too Few)?
- Is It Good to Have Multiple Credit Cards?
- Will a Certain Number of Credit Cards Hurt My Credit?
- Benefits of Having Multiple Credit Cards
- Drawbacks of Having too Many Credit Cards
- Tips for Managing Multiple Credit Cards
- FAQs about Multiple Credit Cards
How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many (or Perhaps Too Few)?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer regarding how many credit cards somebody should have — it all depends on your money management skills and finances. Some people may be able to manage two credit cards, while others may be comfortable with 10 or more. According to the major credit bureau Experian®, Americans had an average of about four credit cards per person in the third quarter of 2020.
Here are some signs that you may have too many credit cards:
- You’re struggling to keep up with payments.
- You can’t track your balances or payoff amounts.
- You forgot about some credit cards that you have.
Here are some signs that you might be ready for more credit cards:
- You need to improve your credit score.
- You want to add different loans to your credit mix.
- You are confident in your finances and payoff abilities.
You should also factor in your credit card’s interest rates to ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed with how much money you must pay off every month. Be careful not to become overwhelmed with a large amount of revolving credit.
In the U.S. alone, the value of revolving credit outstanding in 2022 amounted to approximately $1.12 trillion. Additionally, Forbes reported that the average credit card debt per borrower was $5,474 in the third quarter of 2022—meaning that credit card debt can quickly stack up and overwhelm borrowers.
Is It Good to Have Multiple Credit Cards?
For most people, having two or more credit cards is excellent for their credit health or if they’re building credit without a credit history. It’s important that users manage their credit accounts well to find the benefits of credit cards. Managing multiple credit cards can help increase your credit score and even earn some beneficial credit card rewards—as long as you make your payments and pay them off in full every month.
Additionally, having more than one credit card can help keep your credit line utilization ratio lower than the recommended 30% by allowing you to spread charges over different accounts. However, having too many credit cards may quickly become unmanageable.
Will a Certain Number of Credit Cards Hurt My Credit?
Having no cards won’t hurt your credit. Instead, you’re unlikely to have notable credit since you won’t have a substantial payment history. Having too many credit cards may easily become overwhelming when factoring in interest rates, which can hurt your credit score if you miss payments. If you’re concerned about the overall health of your credit, balancing your credit is imperative.
In the following sections, we’ll go over the pros and cons of having multiple credit cards.
Benefits of Having Multiple Credit Cards
Having multiple credit cards can be a benefit if you can properly keep track of your accounts and finances. Here are some factors that can benefit you and your credit health.
Lenders like to see that potential borrowers can balance multiple types of credit and loans simultaneously. Because of this, having a credit mix will play an important role in having a good credit score. A healthy mix of revolving credit and auto or student loans will help you maintain this higher credit score.
Credit Utilization Ratio
A credit utilization ratio is the available credit you have across all your accounts and is a large factor in determining your credit score. The more available balance you have, the better your score will be. Having multiple credit cards can make it easier to keep your credit utilization ratio low—try to keep this below 30% to safeguard your credit score.
Credit age—the time you’ve had credit accounts open in your name and the average age of every account—is another factor that greatly affects your credit score. By maintaining multiple credit card accounts for a long time, your credit can improve, enhancing your buying power.
Be sure to not open a new credit card and then immediately close it if you feel overwhelmed—as the average time you had it open can be a knock against your credit health.
Drawbacks of Having too Many Credit Cards
Though there are many benefits to having more than one credit card, some drawbacks come with it. But borrowing too often can become overwhelming, leading you to look irresponsible on credit reports if you lose track of your accounts.
Missing On-Time Payments
You may get excited about opening multiple credit cards to enhance your credit score, but it’s important to pump the breaks before you dive in. Having multiple accounts means that you will inevitably have multiple monthly payments—and if you don’t keep track of them, you may miss payments that will negatively impact your credit score.
Keeping Track of Balances
Though keeping track of your balances and having late payments may sound like they go hand in hand, there are some nuances. You may have automatic payments set up and think your credit is in good shape—but that’s not always the case.
You may spend more than your automatic payment covers every month, meaning your available balance may be declining without you noticing. Regularly checking your balances and payments every month will keep you on the right track.
Forgetting about Certain Cards
Credit cards are most beneficial when you use them regularly and pay off your balances every month. Though an emergency card can be useful, some people forget about their credit accounts, causing lenders to close it. Companies closing your credit card accounts will negatively impact your credit score.
Closing an account can also potentially reduce the length of your overall credit history, reducing your available credit and lower your credit score.
Tips for Managing Multiple Credit Cards
Having multiple credit cards is only as complicated as you make it. Here are some tips for managing multiple credit cards to improve your credit score and minimize your account balances.
- Look for attractive benefits and rewards. Opening a credit card that has a great reward system is a benefit for your credit health. Find a credit card for a specific store you visit often or an airline where you’re a frequent flyer to maximize the benefits.
- Find a way to increase your credit mix. If you don’t have a credit card and only have installment loans—like personal loans, mortgages, student loans, or auto loans—it might benefit you to add a new credit card to the mix.
- Don’t apply for new cards if you’ve already been declined for one recently. Having too many hard inquiries on your credit report will negatively impact your credit score. If you recently applied for a credit card and got declined, wait a bit, assess your credit health, and apply in the future when you have more confidence in your approval odds.
- Keep annual fees top of mind. Keeping your account balances low is great, but the annual credit card fees associated with each of your accounts may come back to bite you if you’re not prepared for them. These costs can add up—ensure the perks of your cards offset the fees.
- Use an app. Downloading a credit tracking app can be a huge benefit to your credit awareness. These can send you reminders about payment due dates, account balances, and all other aspects that may negatively impact your credit score before they sneak up on you.
FAQs about Multiple Credit Cards
You may have lingering questions about how many credit cards you should have. Check out our answers to frequently asked questions about how many credit cards are too many.
Is Having 10 Credit Cards Too Many?
There’s no definitive answer to this, but 10 credit cards may often be too overwhelming for the average person to maintain. Having two to three credit cards is much more manageable and can go a long way toward keeping your credit utilization low.
How Many Credit Cards Can I Legally Have?
There are no legal regulations for the number of credit cards you can have. The United States government has no laws that affect the number of credit cards per person.
How Often Should I Apply for Credit Cards?
Don’t apply for new credit cards if you’ve recently been rejected for a credit card. Wait at least six months before opening a new line of credit, but waiting even longer can ensure you don’t have too many credit checks on your credit report at one time.
How Should I Choose My Next Credit Card?
Choose your next credit card based on your personal needs. Find a credit card with rewards that fit your lifestyle, cash back options, or other benefits. After doing your research, pick the credit card that offers the best value.
Need help keeping track of multiple credit cards? Sign up for credit monitoring apps like ExtraCredit® to monitor your credit reports and see how all those credit card balances and accounts impact your score. You can also use the ExtraCredit Reward It feature to apply for cards that match your lifestyle and receive cashback rewards for doing so.
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