How many credit cards should I have is a question that is invariably on the minds of a lot of current and prospective credit card owners. Is there really a magic number?
In this post, we delve into a number of different aspects that one should consider when looking at the number of credit cards to own.
As with a lot of things in life, you will find that taking the middle path is the ideal, preferred option in this instance, too. Having just one solo credit card may not be a wise choice, especially when you are eligible to have more than one, while having way too many credit cards is definitely not desirable, either. Therefore, how exactly to go about this “middle path” of credit card ownership is what we will be looking at in this article.
Multiple Benefits with Different Credit Cards
This is an aspect to consider, which essentially negates any argument in favor of having just one credit card. Essentially, different credit cards come with varying benefits.
As your eligibility improves, perhaps in line with your enhanced income levels and superior creditworthiness, you could partake in a reasonable number of credit cards, with each one offering its own set of benefits.
For instance, there could be a credit card that offers additional air miles when you fly with your favorite airline. Obviously, you would want to have this credit card!
Similarly, there could be another credit card that comes with discounts and other freebies when you shop at your favorite department store. No doubt, this is a credit card that you might want to get your hands on!
The point we are making is that there are varying benefits that come with different credit cards; an ideal mix of the total number of credit cards, depending on your preference, is what you should be aiming and hoping for.
How Many Credit Card Payments Can You Manage?
Now, this is an aspect that goes against the premise of having too many credit cards.
Essentially, the argument here is that multiple credit cards have their own unique billing cycles and payment due dates. To manage all that on your own is quite a challenge. Yes, there is the option to set up ‘AutoPay’ and let the due amount be debited directly from your bank account, but many credit card owners do not prefer that option.
After all, many are not in a position to pay up entirely or adequately in the first place! Therefore, being able to manage payments and billing cycles is an essential aspect to consider when evaluating how many credit cards to have.
Remember that if you do not pay your credit card bills on time (at least the minimum amount), your credit score and indeed your overall creditworthiness could be jeopardized. Therefore, when we talk about how many credit cards you can manage, it is also about being agile enough to ensure things don’t end up affecting your credit reputation.
The Temptation to Overuse and Fall Into a Debt Trap
With too many credit cards, there is a major risk of being tempted to overuse them and then fall into a potentially dangerous debt trap. After all, the combined credit limit of all available credit cards at hand would be substantial.
Using them in tandem would mean you have an easy ability to make high-value purchases without any qualms. Unfortunately, this is also one of the easiest ways to fall into a perennial debt trap.
Therefore, whenever you consider opting for too many credit cards, ask yourself, are you disciplined enough? Will you be tempted into using them all, way beyond your ability to repay? If you can answer yes to that question, then you are better off not signing up for one too many credit cards in the first place.
How Many Credit Cards Have Easy Acceptance and Usage?
Not every credit card is accepted everywhere. If you look at cards such as Diners Club, for example, they are not easily accepted at a number of different places. Likewise, there are some places that do not accept American Express credit cards. Depending on your location, there could be similar instances of other credit cards not being accepted.
If you have just one such card that is not easily accepted at all places, you risk finding yourself in a position wherein you will not be able to use your credit card at all! Clearly, this is far from a desirable state of affairs!
Therefore, keep this aspect of acceptance in mind and ideally have adequate backup credit cards such that in case you have one that is not accepted, at least there is another one (or two!) that are duly accepted.
Similar to this aspect of non-acceptance is that of temporary failure for the credit card in question to be accepted at that particular point in time. For instance, there are times when banks have work going on at their backend, such that select cards are debarred from usage.
Or, the issue could simply be a personal one of your own; you have simply maxed out the credit limit on your card and cannot use it anymore. Or for some other reason, you are not in a position to use the credit card you have. In all such situations, having adequate credit cards to fall back on is recommended.
Therefore, from a standpoint of easy acceptance and usage, having just one credit card with no alternative to rely on in an unforeseen situation may not be an ideal option.
There is clearly an eternal quest among many out there to gauge exactly how many credit cards are adequate, beyond which it would surmount to too many credit cards.
As we have tried to reiterate in this post, there is really no magic number of credit cards that can be assumed ideal for one and all. At the same time, given all the experience that we have had and indeed all the observations that we have made, two to three credit cards in most instances is more than adequate. Beyond that is really stretching things too far.
Also, early on in your life – let’s say when you are first starting out your career and trying to understand how many credit cards is sufficient – we strongly recommend starting out with just ONE credit card, learning the ropes of disciplined credit card usage, and only then considering getting additional credit cards.