How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

 

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Credit cards can provide a quick and convenient way to make purchases. However, it’s important to handle plastic carefully so you don’t end up with debt that becomes unmanageable. One thing you might not be certain about is how many credit cards you should have. Here’s how to decide.

Applying for credit

Before you think of getting another credit card, you should think about whether you really need an additional card. Also, make sure you’re applying for the right type of card with benefits that make sense for your spending habits and lifestyle.

How many credit cards the average person has

So, how many credit cards do consumers typically carry? According to Experian data, the average number of credit cards per person is 3.1. The average credit card balance is $6,354. Furthermore, consumers have an average of 2.1 retail cards and the average balance on those cards is roughly $1,841.

How many credit cards should you have?

The answer to that question depends on several factors. It really depends on things such as your current financial health and whether you’re new to credit cards. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your finances like? If you’re already having a tough time managing your finances, you should stick with just one card for emergencies. However, if your problem with debt is severe, you’re better off not using credit at all and sticking with cash until you develop a plan for paying down debt and saving up a cash cushion.
  • Are you new to credit? If you’re just starting out and looking to build a credit history, start out with just one card and see how it goes. As you gain more experience with having a credit card, you’ll start to see where you need to make improvements when it comes to credit management.
  • Are you responsible with finances and looking for ways to earn rewards? If you’ve mastered the management of your personal finances, how many credit cards you have is up to you. However, it’s best not to go beyond two cards. Any more than that, and you risk giving in to the temptation to charge more than you can pay off at the end of the billing cycle. Furthermore, some potential lenders view too much available credit as a potential risk. As available credit increases, you’re more likely to overcharge and accumulate unmanageable debt.

Quick tips for credit management

  • Don’t borrow more than you can afford to pay off at the end of your billing cycle.
  • Refrain from randomly applying for credit card offers. Assess each offer and apply for the card that best suits your needs.
  • It’s generally best to avoid department store cards. They tend to have higher interest rates. Although issuers provide discounts, it might not make sense in the long run.
  • If you want to reduce the temptation to overcharge, limit your total number of credit cards to two. Make sure to get cards from different networks just in case a retailer does not accept cards from a certain credit card company.

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