If you can choose between multiple credit cards, you may struggle to decide which one to use. Do you want cash-back or travel rewards, or do you need a higher credit limit? Credit cards can give you financial power and special perks but knowing what to consider before opening a new credit card account is important.
Finding the Right Number of Credit Cards
According to a survey by CreditCards.com, the average American has four credit cards. However, just because the average American has four credit cards does not mean that is the perfect number for everyone.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how many credit cards you should own. Ultimately, the correct number of credit cards allows you to use your credit cards responsibly and maintain a good credit score.
A clear picture of your personal finances and financial goals is a better determinant than statistics. Consider your spending habits, how you will use your credit cards, and their impact on your FICO or credit score to help drive the number of credit cards you should have.
Credit Cards and Your Credit Score
When assessing your credit risk, lenders look closely at your credit card debt and usage. They specifically look at the following items:
Active accounts. Credit cards are one of the quickest and easiest ways to build credit. Responsibly managing at least one open, active credit card can prove your creditworthiness and open doors for approval for car loans and other types of credit.
Credit utilization rate. Your credit utilization rate is the amount of your credit card balances compared to your available credit line. A rate higher than 30% can hurt your credit score. Learn more about credit utilization ratio in our Advice Center.
Applications and closures. Experian and other credit bureaus track credit card applications and account closures on your credit report. Closing an account can increase your credit utilization ratio, whereas opening a new account could signal you are taking on too much debt. Both instances can lower your credit score.
Payment history. On-time credit card payments result in a good payment history, which can improve your credit score.
Request your free credit report annually from annualcreditreport.com.
Fewer Cards, Less Debt
Fewer credit cards can help you better manage your payments and prevent overspending, limiting your credit card debt. If you are new to managing credit or rebuilding your credit, you should maintain a single credit card to show credit card companies you are responsible. Equifax recommends at least two credit card accounts to help build your credit score and increase your credit limit when you feel comfortable with one.
Keep one or two credit cards if your financial goals include the following:
- Building or rebuilding credit
- Limiting identity theft
- Minimizing your spending
- Simplifying your bill paying
One drawback of maintaining only one credit card with a high balance is the potential for a higher credit utilization rate resulting in a lower credit score.
More Cards, More Rewards
With too many credit cards, you risk overextending yourself and losing track of different due dates leading to late or missed monthly payments. However, if you consistently pay on time and in full, you can access credit card offers with favorable interest rates and terms. Most credit card issuers, including American Express, TDECU, and Visa, offer types of rewards to work with your lifestyle, including travel rewards and cash-back rewards.
You may want more cards if your financial goals include the following:
- Maximizing rewards program benefits
- Increasing total credit to improve credit utilization
- Building a diverse credit card portfolio
Let your credit cards work for you. Carefully assess your budget and financial goals to help you determine how many credit cards you should have.
TDECU Credit Cards for All Your Needs
TDECU offers credit cards for every stage of life. Select from Onyx Mastercard cash back card, Buc-ee’s Platinum Mastercard travel credit card, or our Share Secured credit card for help repairing your credit. Let us find the best credit cards for you.