How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
If you’re trying to build credit or boost your credit score, you might be wondering if there’s an ideal number of credit cards to hold. The truth is that there is no specific number. However, there are factors you should keep in mind when deciding how many credit cards you want.
Your credit score is calculated by looking at five categories, each with varying levels of importance: your payment history (35%), credit utilization (30%), the length of your credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and type of credit used (10%). The first two categories carry the most weight, so focus on maintaining a positive record.
Since payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, ensure you consistently pay your bills on time. That can be challenging if you have multiple credit cards with different due dates. To ensure bills are paid on time, set alarms or schedule payments so each arrives before the due date.
Your credit utilization ratio shows how much of the total available credit you’ve used. You can figure out your utilization ratio by adding up the balances on all credit cards. Next, add up the total amount of credit you have. Then, divide your entire balance by your total credit, multiply that by 100, and you have your ratio. To improve your credit score, try to keep that ratio under 30%.
Using multiple cards can also make it harder to keep track of how much you’re spending. Set balance alerts on your cards, so you don’t exceed a specified percentage of the card’s available credit.
Rewards cards, which can give you cash back, points for merchandise, or airline miles, can help you turn points on everyday purchases into power perks. Some of these point-earning cards can also have higher Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) than other cards, so if you can’t pay the balance on these cards in full every month, it’s best to keep just one or none at all. You can also check with your local credit union to see if they offer a rewards credit card with a lower rate.
If you’re a full-time student considering your first credit card, shop for a card with low interest and no annual fee. Be disciplined and use the card for emergencies only. Then always pay your bill on time.
Some cards offer a low introductory rate if you transfer your balances from other cards. If you take advantage of the offer by transferring your balances, leave the zero balance credit cards unused, and pay off the balance on the newer card quickly. The cards with no balances will help keep your utilization ratio low.
Want tips on how to choose the right credit card? Read 5 Ways to Enjoy Credit Card Benefits and Keep More of Your Money, so you know the features to look for as you explore.