Does Having Multiple Credit Cards Help Your Credit Score?
Harrison Pierce is a writer and a digital nomad, specializing in personal finance with a focus on credit cards. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in sociology and is currently traveling the world.Read full bio
At a Glance
When it comes to building an optimal credit score, having multiple credit cards may not be a fast-track solution. While using multiple cards wisely can help diversify your credit mix and boost your score, there are also cons to consider. For instance, using too many cards can increase the risk of overspending and falling into debt.
It’s important to hold yourself accountable to strict spending rules and ensure you never exceed your predetermined limit on any card. Understanding what lenders look for is also essential in deciding when and how many cards will benefit your credit.
Demonstrating responsible financial behavior over time can be more challenging without multiple cards. However, it’s crucial to pay all debts on time and closely monitor your borrowing needs. While diversifying with multiple accounts can pay off in the long run, it’s crucial to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision.
In this article, you’ll learn:
is the number of credit cards the average American has and New Jersey residents have the most credit cards with an average of 4.1.
Is it good to have multiple credit cards?
There is no set answer on whether it’s good to have multiple credit cards. Like anything, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages. To start, having multiple credit cards can give you access to more credit, which can be helpful for making large purchases or in case of emergencies. Some credit cards offer rewards and benefits, like cash back, points, or miles, which can be more valuable when you have multiple cards.
Also, if you have multiple credit cards with low balances, your overall credit utilization rate may be lower, which can positively impact your credit score. And if one of your credit cards is lost, stolen, or not accepted, you have backup cards to use instead.
However, having multiple credit cards may make it easier to overspend and accumulate debt. If you do this, you might be stuck with a high interest rate, which can add up if you have multiple cards. Managing multiple credit cards can also be complex and time-consuming, especially if you have different payment due dates or billing cycles. Ultimately, it is important to evaluate your financial situation and goals before deciding whether to have multiple credit cards. If you do choose to have more than one, it is important to use them responsibly and keep track of your spending and payments to avoid accumulating debt.
Does getting more credit cards affect your credit score?
Yes, getting more credit cards can affect your credit score. When you apply for a new credit card, the issuer will typically perform a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. The inquiry will stay on your credit report for up to two years but will only affect your credit score for the first year.
Additionally, opening a new credit card can lower the average age of your credit accounts, negatively impacting your credit score. This is because a longer credit history is typically viewed more favorably by lenders and credit scoring models.
However, the impact on your credit score may not be significant if you have a long credit history and a good credit score. On the other hand, if you have a short credit history or a low credit score, opening a new credit card could have a more significant impact.
1. How multiple credit cards help your credit score
Getting another credit card can be beneficial for your credit score. Here’s how:
- Increased available credit: Having more available credit can help lower your debt utilization ratio. This is the amount of credit you use compared to your available credit, and having a lower ratio can positively impact your credit score.
- Credit mix: The different types of credit you have, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages, can positively impact your credit score. Having multiple credit cards can help diversify your credit mix and improve your score.
- On-time payments: Making timely payments on multiple credit cards shows you are responsible with credit, which can have a positive impact on your credit score.
- Rewards and benefits: Many credit cards offer rewards and benefits, such as cashback, points, or miles. Using multiple credit cards with different rewards programs can help you maximize your benefits and save money.
2. How multiple credit cards hurt your credit
On the other hand, it could hurt your credit if used incorrectly. Here’s how:
- Increased debt utilization ratio: The debt utilization ratio is the amount of credit you use compared to your available credit. If you have multiple credit cards with high balances, your debt utilization ratio could be higher, which can negatively impact your credit score.
- Late payments: If you have multiple credit cards, it can be challenging to keep track of all the due dates, which can increase the likelihood of missing a payment. Late payments can have a significant negative impact on your credit score.
- Opening too many credit cards at once: If you open several credit cards within a short period, it can raise red flags for lenders and cause them to view you as a high-risk borrower. This can negatively affect your credit score.
- Increased risk of fraud: Having multiple credit cards increases your risk of falling victim to credit card fraud, which can negatively affect your credit if the fraud goes undetected for an extended period.
How many credit cards is too many?
The number of credit cards that are considered “too many” varies depending on a person’s individual financial situation and credit management habits. Generally, there is no set number of credit cards that is considered excessive as long as you can manage your credit responsibly and make on-time payments.
If you are considering adding another credit card to your wallet, here are some factors to consider:
- Credit utilization: Your credit utilization is the amount of credit you use compared to your total credit limit. Keeping your credit utilization low is important for maintaining a good credit score. If you have multiple credit cards, keeping your credit utilization low may be easier, but it’s important to ensure you don’t spend beyond your means.
- Annual fees: Some credit cards come with annual fees, which can add up if you have multiple cards. Consider whether the rewards and benefits of the card justify the annual fee.
- Rewards and benefits: If you are considering adding a new credit card to your collection, make sure the rewards and benefits align with your spending habits and financial goals.
- Ability to manage credit: If you have a history of accumulating debt or struggling to make payments on time, it may be wise to limit your credit cards.
Tips to manage multiple credit cards
Managing multiple credit cards can be challenging, but with some good habits and organization, you can keep your credit in good standing. Here are some tips to help you manage multiple credit cards effectively:
- Keep track of payment due dates: Missing a payment on one credit card can hurt your credit score, so it’s important to stay on top of your payment due dates. Consider setting up automatic payments or reminders to make sure you don’t miss a payment.
- Monitor your credit utilization: Keep an eye on your credit utilization on each credit card. You should aim to keep it below 30% if at all possible. If you’re using multiple credit cards, be sure to monitor your overall credit utilization to make sure it stays within a healthy range
- Prioritize credit card payments: If you’re carrying balances on multiple credit cards, prioritize your payments based on the interest rate and balance of each card. Consider paying more than the minimum payment to help pay off your balances faster.
- Take advantage of rewards and benefits: If you have multiple credit cards with rewards programs, make sure you are taking advantage of the rewards and benefits. Use the card that offers the best rewards for each purchase, and make sure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of the rewards program.
- Consider consolidation: If you’re finding it difficult to manage multiple credit cards, consider consolidating your balances onto one card with a low interest rate or a balance transfer offer. This can help you simplify your payments and potentially save money on interest.
- Monitor your credit report: Regularly check your credit report to make sure all of your credit card accounts are being reported accurately. Report any errors or discrepancies to the credit bureaus to have them corrected.
Generally, you cannot hold two of the exact same credit card. If you are able to, you will typically not be able to benefit from the welcome bonus of getting the second card. You can hold multiple of one type of card or multiple cards from one issuer, but you cannot have the exact same credit card.
Limiting credit card applications to a few times a year is generally recommended. Applying for too many credit cards within a short period of time can hurt your credit score, as it can indicate to lenders that you are taking on too much debt or that you are in financial trouble. Each time you apply for a credit card, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can lower your credit score by a few points.
It’s important to be selective about the credit cards you apply for and only apply for those that you are likely to be approved for, and that meet your needs. Before applying for a credit card, make sure you understand the terms and conditions, including the interest rate, fees, and rewards program. You should also check your credit score and report to ensure you are in a good position to apply for credit.
If you want to improve your credit score, it’s generally better to focus on paying your bills on time, keeping your credit card balances low, and building a positive credit history. By using your credit card responsibly and making on-time payments, you can demonstrate to lenders that you are a low-risk borrower and improve your chances of being approved for credit in the future.
Yes, having one credit card can be enough to build a good credit score. You just need to make sure that you use it responsibly so you can establish a good payment history and lower your credit utilization rate, which are two of the most important factors that influence your credit score.