How many credit cards should you have?

Credit cards

Illustration of a hand holding up three credit cards

According to Experian, the average American has about four credit cards. That’s more than 1 billion credit cards tucked away in wallets across the country.

Credit cards can be useful tools for buying goods and services, as well as for making recurring bill payments. They let you purchase something now, then pay for it later. There are many different credit cards available that offer consumers a variety of rewards and benefits.

In this article, we’ll look at reasons to get a credit card and why you might want more than one.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • What is a credit card?
  • Why should you have a credit card?
  • Advantages of multiple credit cards
  • Drawbacks of multiple credit cards
  • Oportun: Affordable lending options designed with you in mind
Key takeaways:

  • Having at least one credit card in your name can be helpful when you’re applying for personal loans, auto loans, and home loans.
  • Applying for multiple credit cards may not be a good idea if you have difficulty paying your bills on time each month.
  • No matter how many credit cards you have, it’s important to pay each bill on time and keep a low balance on each card. This can help you build a good credit score.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a card issued by a bank or financial services company that allows you to make payments without using cash. A person who has a credit card account is called a cardholder.

As a cardholder, you can purchase goods and services with your credit card and then pay back what you spend later. When you use a credit card, you’re borrowing money. This means you’re responsible for paying it back on time.

Why should you have a credit card?

There are several benefits to using credit cards. Most businesses around the world accept Visa, MasterCard, or American Express as a form of payment. This makes credit cards a very convenient way to pay for things. The other big advantage to using a credit card is that you don’t have to save up before making a purchase. You can buy what you need right now and pay the money back over time.

But you may not know that having a credit card can actually improve your financial well-being. Why is this?

Taking out a credit card allows you to prove you can borrow money and then pay it back on time. With regular payments, you can show that you are a creditworthy borrower, which means financial institutions will feel more confident about trusting you. Once you’re considered creditworthy, you may find it easier to take out loans for major purchases like a car or a house.

Advantages of multiple credit cards

Having one credit card and using it responsibly can be good for your financial health. Does that mean you should have more than one card?

There is no magic number when it comes to credit cards, but there are some advantages to having more than one card.

Lower credit utilization

When calculating your credit score, FICO looks at how much you currently owe on your credit cards compared to your total credit limit. This is called your credit utilization ratio. This number shows how much of your available credit you’re using right now.

What is a credit limit?

A credit limit is the maximum amount of money you can charge to a credit card before you face a penalty.

 
Each credit card has its own limit. So if you have one card with a $1,000 credit limit and another card with a $3,000 credit limit, that means your total credit limit is $4,000. Now let’s say you’ve spent $1,000 between both cards, your credit utilization ratio would be 25%. To maintain a positive credit score, it’s generally recommended that you keep your credit utilization ratio to 30% or less.

More rewards

Many credit cards come with certain rewards. One card might give you cash back on purchases. Another might offer travel miles or restaurant discounts. If you have more than one credit card in your name, you may be able to benefit from multiple reward systems.

Increased flexibility

Having several credit cards offers more flexibility for everyday spending as well as for big expenses. If you need to pay for an emergency like a hospital visit, for example, you can charge the bills to more than one credit card without hitting or going over your credit limit.

Drawbacks of multiple credit cards

If you have difficulty managing your money, it may not be a good idea for you to have multiple credit cards. With several cards, it’s easy to lose track of what you spend—and you may find that you can’t afford to pay it back.

Additionally, if you’re late with your minimum monthly payments on several cards, you may owe late fees on each card. These fees can add up quickly. Keeping just one credit card and making each payment on time can help you avoid costly fees.

In the end, the number of credit cards that’s best for you is a personal decision. You know better than anyone else what your financial situation is and what you can afford. You’ll want to carefully consider both the advantages and the drawbacks before you apply for multiple credit cards.

Oportun: Affordable lending options designed with you in mind

Now that you understand <tip to align to blog>, you can learn about how Oportun may be able to help you if you’re looking for affordable credit options.  Visit our homepage to learn about:

  • Personal loans
  • Credit cards
  • Secured personal loans
  • And more!

 

Sources

Experian. What is the average number of credit cards per US consumer?

Investopedia. How is my credit score calculated?
Experian. What is a credit utilization rate?

Investopedia. 10 reasons to use your credit card

Forbes. How many credit cards should you have?

 

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