Personal Resource Center

How Many Credit Cards You Should Have

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Applying for too many cards in a short period of time can be a red flag that you're depending on borrowing to get by. This can impact your credit score.

Benefits to Owning Multiple Credit Cards

There are many types of credit cards that offer different perks and rewards. Maybe you charge the bulk of the household shopping and could benefit from a cash-back card. Or maybe you fly a lot and a travel credit card could help you earn free miles. Whatever your lifestyle looks like, there's likely a card (or two) that matches it. Having more than one credit card allows you to mix and match according to your spending patterns, and get the most money back possible. Another potential perk: Your credit score could go up. By having more than one credit card, your total available credit will increase. As long as you keep your balances low, that will help decrease your credit utilization ratio. It's one big reason why you should avoid closing credit card accounts, even if you're not using them.


Drawbacks To Having Several Credit Cards

Though having several credit cards can be convenient — and lucrative, if managed wisely — there are also some disadvantages. Owning and using multiple credit cards means you have several balances to watch — and payment due dates to remember. If you aren't careful, you could end up with too much debt adding up across your accounts. And if you're the forgetful type, it can be easy to miss payments. Not to mention, it's easy for scammers to use your cards fraudulently if you're not actively monitoring the activity. Plus, some of the more lucrative rewards cards come with annual fees. That means you could end up spending a couple hundred dollars each year just to own your cards. That may be worth it if you truly maximize your rewards earnings. But if not, the annual fee could end up costing you more than you save.


How Many Credit Cards Are Right For You?

For most people, it's ideal to have cards from at least two of the four big networks: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. That allows you to have a backup in case you lose a card or a merchant doesn't accept a certain network (a common issue with Discover and AMEX cards).4 Plus, you can take advantage of different types of rewards that suit your lifestyle, such as a cash-back card that lets you earn money back on grocery shopping and a business credit card that helps you save on home office supplies and travel. As far as the maximum number of cards you should have, it's really up to you. Try to strike a balance between having the cards you need, but also keeping your credit utilization and fees low. For some, that might mean just a couple. For others, it could be 10. The number of cards you have is less important than how you manage them.

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Important disclosure information

This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

  1. Chris Horymski, "What Is the Average Number of Credit Cards?" Experian, published April 24, 2024. Accessed April 26, 2024. Back
  2. "What's In My FICO Scores" myFICO. Accessed April 26, 2024. Back
  3. "Credit Utilization Ratio: Definition, Calculation and How To Improve," Investopedia, published March 22, 2023. Accessed April 26, 2024. Back
  4. Jayna Taylor-Smith, "Why Many Retailers Don't Accept American Express," Reader's Digest, published June 3, 2022. Accessed April 24, 2024. Back