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How many credit cards should you have?

What we'll cover

  • Potential benefits of having multiple credit cards

  • The right number of credit cards for your habits

  • How to manage payments on multiple credit cards

Credit cards are some of the most accessible ways to build good credit , which can help you secure better interest rates and higher credit limits. But responsible credit card use can be tricky, and you might have some questions: How many credit cards should you have, how many should you use and does it matter which cards you pick?

Is it good to have multiple credit cards?

There's a reason most Americans have at least one credit card. Depending on your credit habits, it can be good to have more than one credit card. However, this can depend on a number of factors:

  • Do you make use of your credit card benefits?

  • Are you able to pay your card(s) off in full each month?

  • Do you hit your credit limits on your existing card(s)?

If you answered no to any of these, you might want to reconsider having more than one card. The potential downfalls may outweigh any benefits.

How many credit cards are too many?

It can benefit your credit score to have five or six lines of credit open at any time, but they shouldn't all be credit cards. Your student loans or car payments have similar benefits. The number of credit cards you should have depends on your own spending, but sticking to two or three can help keep your credit manageable. The average American has three cards, but more isn't necessarily better. The added responsibility and increased potential for overspending make having more cards potentially risky.

Does the number of credit cards you have impact your credit score?

The number of credit cards you have open can affect your credit score . While decreasing your overall credit utilization can increase your score, having on-time payments is the most important factor. There are also some ways new credit cards can hurt your credit:

  • When you apply for a card, the issuing company will request a hard credit inquiry.

  • When you open a new card, your average credit age will go down.

  • When you close a card, your number of active accounts will go down.

  • When you increase your overall credit limit, you may overspend.

Pros and cons of multiple credit cards

If you're thinking about another card, potential impacts to your credit score aren't the only factors to consider.


  • Can provide more or better benefits than one card can offer

  • Ensures you have access to credit if one card is stolen or lost

  • Creates opportunity for more strategic benefit earnings

  • Can come with good introductory offers


  • Makes payments more complicated

  • Increases likelihood of missing or incomplete payments

  • Requires more thoughtfulness on what card to use

  • Higher potential for overspending

Tips for managing multiple credit cards

If you have more than one card open, you'll need to be a little more attentive to your spending and paying off your cards. Know where your spending will earn you the best rewards and use your cards appropriately. If you have a hard time keeping track, make a note or set reminders about where and when to use each card.

When it's time to pay off your balances , look at the interest rates on each card. Even if you're carrying a low balance, if it's on a high-interest card, you may be better off paying it in full each month. If you can automate your payments or set them to fall on the same date, you're less likely to miss a payment.

How to determine the right number of credit cards for you

Starting with one card and evaluating your spending behaviors helps you understand whether you should consider opening more. If you are a high spender at a specific store or airline, research that company's credit card. Or, look into cards that offer a cashback percentage on all purchases. If you're handling your current payments and a card aligns with your spending, then you can think about adding a new card.

Play your cards right

Managing your credit cards can feel a bit like a puzzle. But by considering your needs, habits and a card's potential benefits, you can start putting the pieces together.

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