How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

Some people are adamant that one credit card is enough while others believe the more access to credit the better. So what is the right answer? Is there really a set number of credit cards you should have?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is: it really depends on you.

While it’s true that the more credit you have in your name the better you look to the credit bureaus, the positive benefits become moot very quickly if you have terrible repayment habits. What kind of spender are you? How reliant are you on credit? Do you pay your bill off in full at the end of every month or do you tend to rely on the minimum payments to get you by.

We’ve put together a few different points to help you consider whether you’re the kind of person who should take on the responsibility of multiple credit cards, or if one is definitely more than enough.

How Much Do You Spend?

One of the first questions to ask yourself honestly is, ‘how much do I spend every month?’ And of that total, how much of it goes to your existing credit card(s)? Do you get close to hitting your monthly limit on a regular basis on one or more of your cards (bear in mind that if you’re exceeding more than 70% of your limit, that’s a red flag)? Do you tend to shuffle your balances around onto different credit cards because you can’t afford to pay them all?

If any of these questions had you raising your eyebrows and re-evaluating your current credit card use, that’s a very good sign that you probably shouldn’t apply for another card. If anything, see if you can completely pay off any of your existing cards and lock it away in a drawer somewhere so you’re not tempted to wrack up debt on it all over again.

What Other Sources of Credit do You Use?

Are credit cards your only source of credit or do you have a variety of options? Do you currently have access to an open line of credit? Are you paying regular installments on a mortgage, car loan, or student loan? If your main reasoning for wanting to have multiple credit cards is to build your credit score, then you might want to re-evaluate.  It might be wise to get some variety and see if there are any other sources of credit you can tap into to build your score.

If, of course, you have no reason to take out a loan or open a line of credit, then you can always look into different types of credit cards. As long as you know you’ll be responsible and make your payments on time, it might be worth looking into getting a department store or gas station credit card and saving it only for purchases made at the store or company it’s associated with. They usually offer great deals and discounts to cardholder so if you shop there often it can be worth it.

Are You a Saver or a Spender?

This is arguably the most important question you have to ask yourself. With a great credit limit comes great responsibility, and if you’re not sure you’ll be able to handle the power of having access to so much money, don’t let yourself be tempted.

Are you good at thinking about purchases before making them? How often do you experience buyer’s remorse and regret your purchases? Will you be able to stop yourself from spending more money than you earn? And finally – what is your personal take on credit: do you view it as an extension of your bank account or a privilege that does not actually belong to you and must be paid back in full?

While some people manage just fine with one credit card, others like the safety and comfort that comes with having access to more money should they need it (as well as the positive effect on their credit score). Don’t base how many credit cards you have on the people around you, but on your own spending habits and needs. Be responsible, and most importantly, don’t take on more credit than you can handle.

And remember, if you do plan on applying for more cards, make sure to space out your applications so your credit score doesn’t suffer a blow from too many hard inquiries.