How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

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Regular readers know that presently, I carry three cards – the Amex Platinum (upgraded from the Gold Card), the Amex Blue Cash (hey since I recommend this card, I have to walk the walk), and the Chase Flexible Rewards Card (got it simply to check their rewards program).

Different people have different opinions on the number of credit cards that we should carry. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of carrying just one, to carrying lots of them.

Just One Credit Card – If I have had it my way, I would only carry just one card. The card that I would personally carry would be my Amex Platinum Card. I find it more convenient to carry just one card. My wallet would be thinner and it would just be easier.

The only problem with this strategy is that if your favorite card is an American Express Card, then, you would probably need a visa or a mastercard for places that do not accept Amex.

In my opinion, here are the advantages of carrying just one card.

1. You get just one statement a month – I simply cannot imagine what it is like to have five or ten credit card statements every month.

2. Every credit card issuer issues a year-end summary of your expenditure broken down by category items. With just one card, you can easily see what you are spending each month of stuff.

3. I have found that by charging more to your card and having a favorable credit history with them, you can get away with the occasional late payment fees.

However, there are disadvantages to just having one card.

1. If you lose you card, you will probably have to wait a few days to get a new card. This is a major inconvenience.

2. If your card increases your APR for no good reason and does something nasty to you, then you are stuck.

Having a couple of cards

There are however some reasons to have a couple of cards as well.

1. You can optimize and maximize the amount of benefits you can get from a card. For example, many people who carry cash rebate credit cards have a couple of cards to maximize their cash rebates. For example, one possible combination would be to carry the Blue Cash® from American Express with a card like the Chase Freedom® Visa – $100 Bonus Cash Back. The Blue Cash for example allows you to earn 5% rebates on gasoline, supermarket and drugstore expenses once your annual expenditure exceeds $6,500.
Another interesting combination among frequent travelers is to have the Amex Black Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card.

2. It’s good to have a couple of cards if you accidentally lose one – off course, if they are all in the same wallet, then….

3. If one card raises your rates and does something that displeases you, at least you have other cards to fall back on.

The disadvantages are :

1. You can more monthly statements – which we all could use without.

2. You cannot track or breakdown your annual credit card expenditure easily (although that can be overcome by using quicken or Microsoft Money).

So what’s my view? – Well, I think just having two cards is often enough. Three at the max. I just do not see the point of carrying more cards than necessary, both from the point of convenience and ease of managing the cards. What is your opinion? How many cards do you carry?

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4 Responses to “How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?”

  1. James Says:

    Unfortunately,

    I have quite a few credit cards and department store cards (being a young naive kid at the time) but I only use 2 of them at the moment (and I never carry a balance on any cards). My AMEX green card, and for places that don’t accept AMEX, my Chase Freedom card.

    I was thinking about closing all of my other unused credit cards, but that may hurt my credit history. It’s not right to close them, right?

  2. Mr Credit Card Says:

    To James

    Technically, yes, one of the criteria of your credit score is your present balance to available credit. So if you have large credit limits on the cards you do not use, then yes, your score may go down a little. If you are not paying any annual fees on them, then just put them in a drawer but do not cancel them. Just don’t use them.

  3. Salli818 Says:

    Yes I think 3 the max is fine. I have a AmEx, Bank of america world points and then a discover card. Its just a waste of time having so many cards, I would say its just a headache. Not to mention having 5-10 monthly statements rolling in every month if you hold so many cards and use them.

  4. moe money Says:

    i have a citi diamond preffered card with thankyou points, a chase card, and a capitol one miles master card.
    but all of them have bad customer service. this realy matters.
    when ever i call the customer service line i have to wait atleast 10 minutes. but then i cant close them because it will effect my credit score.

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