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How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?

When we chatted about canceling idle credit cards, some of you were wondering how to know if you have too much plastic. Most Americans own between five and ten credit cards, but the sweet spot is between two and six cards.

There's not a magic number of credit cards for each person. Your spending habits, how much you're able to pay off, and how much credit it would take to keep your debt-to-credit ratio below 30 percent all factor in to how many cards you should have.

If you have so many cards that you can't keep track of spending or when your payments are due, it's time to rethink your credit strategy. Experian, one of the nation's major credit reporting agencies, says that having a good track record of paying on time is the most important factor in developing a good credit history. A couple of late fees can bring down your credit score and possibly bump up the rates on your other credit cards.


Join The Conversation
zoebyrd zoebyrd 8 years
I may have about 7 between credit and store cards as they were opened at various times over the past 15 years or so to take advantage of 0% APR or special discounts, but I only use 1 of them and track it with my checking so the money is "deducted" from my account as soon as it is on the credit card so the money is there to pay what I do charge every month. And I only use the one credit card to get points for a Disney vacation in a few years. I think they need to differentiate between having and using the cards. I couldn't imagine actually USING that many cards!
kayjackson kayjackson 9 years
WHA who ever has 5-10 credit cards must have an insane ability to remember when all their bills are due
Tari007 Tari007 9 years
I have 6 credit cards, but in reality I should have zero because I am a big spender....
just_kelly just_kelly 9 years
Any credit card with a balance is too many credit cards.
juliem juliem 9 years
I think I have around 10, but 8 of those are store cards. I don't carry a balance on any cards, thank goodness. I'd like to cancel most of the store cards, but I've heard that it looks good to have several open lines of credit. Can anyone confirm? Besides that, I've a Costco Amex that I use for work and big expenses, and a mastercard that I've had for over 12 years, and keep b/c not everyone accepts Amex.
chancleta chancleta 9 years
for me their credit builders and rainy day funds
chancleta chancleta 9 years
thanks savvy! i've wondered how many is good for some time i grew up with my dad having a wallet full i like to stay to a couple of major credit cards with good limits i own two with good limits a visa ($3,000.00) and a mastercard ($1,000.00) my husband has a couple (both with huge limits; one has $11,300.00) all the cards are kept down and used conservatively
verily verily 9 years
10 can add up fast between regular cards, store cards, and gas cards. Credit is everywhere and really easy to get. I have four (2 regular ones and 2 store cards). I think it's enough, though I'm probably going to drop one of the store cards soon. I never buy more than I can afford to pay off in 2 months. So I rarely carry a balance on any. I do make frequent use of one of the store cards since they offer no interest financing very very often. Having no cards at all can be detrimental to your credit score. Fair Isaac uses a couple factors to compute your score, including current credit, oldest account, average age of accounts... If you don't have one at all, you should seriously consider opening up an account and just barely use it.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Who would ever have 10 cards?? I mean that seems a little extreme.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
I am shocked that Experian would be used as a source for an article about credit savviness. =-o If you want good credit, keep your utilization (debt-to-credit ratio) at 15% or below. Max 20%. Your CC companies can "rate jack" you for more than being late, it is really at their discretion (whim). Also, credit is not debt. Having large available amounts of credit is not a detriment, because it has not value as income, debt, or asset.
Megatron Megatron 9 years
I am totally the same way, Veekore. 1 is more than enough for me.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Hahahaha, I was thinking I should close some to get down to the sweet spot around 6. I definitely have around 10, and never thought it was a big deal. I have the first one I got almost 10 years ago when I went to college, so that I can keep the long credit history... and then I have the one for my bank, that I use b/c it is easy to pay off (one website to track everything)... and then there are the others that were opened when I got a discount, or had a 0% APR to float me a few months through a move or through my wedding... I just never closed them when I paid them off... I pay off the one I use every month, and I watch the rest sporadically to make sure they aren't being hijacked. I guess everyone's credit strategy is different - I haven't ever been hit by outrageous fees or interest, I have used the buffer though - when I know the money is coming (say, loans, or job starting and I just moved and am poor), I'd rather carry a couple grand on the card to keep a couple grand liquid in those lean times when you really don't know if that cash will be needed. Plus, I'm type A and I really keep track of my finances... it is all spending to me, and credit spending is no diff from cash spending in my head...
ehadams ehadams 9 years
Yesteryear, I strongly suggest you get a credit card even if you use it sparingly. My boyfriend is from England but has been here 5 years and never got a credit card, and as such never developed credit in the US- and now he is unable to do things like rent an apartment or buy a car without someone else co-signing. Building credit takes time, so it is best to start early.
ehadams ehadams 9 years
I have one with a low limit and am thinking of getting a higher limit one for emergencies (car repairs, dog vet bills, etc). I also can understand having a joint one for spouses or kids something. But I really can't see anyone needing more than 3 or so cards. 5-10 is insane... I wonder if they are counting things like debit cards in that survey.
remedios remedios 9 years
Seriously? 5-10? Who are they surveying? I have two, but that's because the one we don't use much has been open the longest so I figured don't close it, and my husband uses it for small things - cigarettes, junk from the corner store. I've opened store ones when they give a discount, but never used them and eventually just closed them (and stopped doing that).
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
i dont have any credit cards. call me crazy but it works for me.
classysassy classysassy 9 years
I only have one credit card.
Swangeese Swangeese 9 years
I only have one. For me at least, I can't imagine having any more than that.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Yea! I have ONE and I am good enough with just ONE! Between 5-10!!! That is crazy i tell ya!
emalove emalove 9 years
If you're having trouble keeping track of when the payments are due, and even worse, can't make the payments, it's too many! Whether that be 2 or 10 credit cards. I agree that it totally depends on how much you make, what your financial situation is, and how you use them. And that definitely varies from person to person.
melizzle melizzle 9 years
Wow... ten? I have two and that's more than enough!
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
I have each of four big ones - one Visa that I've had since college, a MasterCard, an American Express and a Discover with an outrageous APR that I never use. I like having my options open.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I have one that has a $12,000 limit. $12,000! Why on earth would they let someones limit be that high, I don't know. I also have a citi card open that I didn't even activate my card.
ur_momm ur_momm 9 years
yeah seriously, I have ONE and my limit is $500!!!! LOL but my boyfriend has 2. I think 2 would be my limit. (with higher limits than 500$ obviously) 10 credit cards? wow thats nuts. and so dangerous. I hate the idea of paying off one card with another... bad bad bad.
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