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How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

Credit cards can be an extremely useful tool for managing expenses and building credit, however, having multiple credit cards, or even sometimes one can lead to financial trouble if not managed properly. 

With that being said, it’s important to consider all factors when considering how many credit cards you should have and how you are going to manage them effectively. 

In this article we’ll explore the pros and cons of having multiple credit cards, how credit cards will have an effect on your credit score, and whether or not you should have more than one credit card.

How many Credit Cards should I have?

The average person has three or four credit cards. However, that is not the right number for everyone. The best number of credit cards to have is the one that you can manage responsibly. If you are struggling to pay off your balance on time and cannot afford to make your monthly payments, then it might be time to cut back on the number of credit cards you have.

There are many different types of credit cards in Canada that each offer their own rewards and perks. Depending on your spending habits and lifestyle, having more than one credit card can have many potential benefits.

As a credit card beginner, normally you start by choosing one credit card. It’s good to stick with one credit card when first starting off because it allows you to build good spending and credit habits. Having one card that you use for everyday purchases helps you constantly build credit over time. 

In the long term, having multiple credit cards that you continuously use and pay off in full every month, can actually be beneficial for your credit score.

If you find yourself constantly maximizing your credit limit, unable or struggling to pay off your credit card debt, falling behind on your billing cycle, and debt becoming a serious concern, then it would be wise to limit the amount of credit you give yourself. Using cash or a debit card would be a better alternative, and possibly a low limit credit card when both options are not possible.

If you are able to pay off your balances on time and in full, consider opening up a second credit card so you can really benefit from different spending rewards, a higher credit limit, and the potential to improve your credit score.

The benefits of having multiple credit cards

Having multiple credit cards not only allows you to reap the benefits and rewards that come with each card, but it also provides you with more financial flexibility. Let’s dive into some of the pros of owning more than one credit card.

  • Potentially better credit utilization ratio: Credit utilization is the ratio between how much credit you’ve used to the amount of credit you have available. It’s best if you stay under 30%, to avoid harming your credit score. Having multiple credit cards gives you access to more available credit, and if managers properly, keeping your credit utilization ratio low, bringing credit score up.
    Learn More: What Is Credit Utilization?
  • Access to more perks and rewards: When you get your first credit card, it’s usually something basic with no annual fee like a cash-back card. As you build up your credit history and maintain a good credit score you can start to look at other cards that offer rewards such as travel points, cashback, and other bonuses. If you use your credit card properly and schedule each purchase, you will maximize the rewards that come with each card.
  • More financial flexibility: Not only is having a credit card good for everyday purchases, they are also good for those unexpected or emergency expenses. Let’s say a water pipe bursts and starts leaking through the ceiling – you can rely on your credit card for this emergency expense, and with having more than one credit card you potentially don’t have to worry about an expense like this ruining your credit score.
  • Builds credit faster: If you are someone who stays on top of their billing cycle and pays off their card in full every month, opening a second credit may actually help you build credit faster. When you open another credit card, you are essentially giving the credit bureau more data to work with, and if you are able to pay your debt off each month, it can potentially increase your credit score faster. 
  • Additional payment method: Has your card ever been locked or put on a freeze due to fraudulent activity? Or maybe you forgot to bring your cash or debit card and need to make a purchase. Having a back-up credit card would come in handy in situations like these.

The cons of having multiple credit cards

Although there are a number of benefits that come with having multiple credit cards, there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of.  Here are some of the disadvantages that come with opening multiple credit cards.

  • Can be difficult to manage: For some people, managing their finances is a simple task. If you are not one of these people (which is completely fine) and find it difficult to stay on top of your finances, then having multiple credit lines isn’t a great idea. By not staying on top of your finances, it can be extremely easy to make your credit card payments on time, and in the long run result in harming your credit score and falling behind on your debt.
  • Lowering your credit score: In the long run, having multiple credit cards can be of potential benefit to your credit score if managed properly. However, applying for a credit card when you’re not pre-approved lowers your credit score about 5 points. So be sure to understand what your credit score means, the different types of credit cards there are, and your chances of getting approved in order to make an educated decision. Be sure to wait between credit card applications as frequent applications can also hurt your credit score.
  • More annual fees: If you don’t want a credit card with an annual fee then this won’t apply to you. A lot of the best credit cards with better reward systems often come with an annual fee. So it’s worth keeping a note of how much you pay in annual fees.
  • More likely to overspend: Yes, having access to larger amounts of cash, available credit and multiple accounts to manage, can very well lead to credit card debt you can’t pay off if you struggle to manage your finances. Setting up a budget and disciplining yourself enough to stick to it is a great way to decrease your chances of overspending.

Related

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  • CIBC Review
  • Tangerine Review
  • TD Bank Review
  • Simplii Financial Review
  • National Bank Review
  • EQ Bank Review

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