How many credit cards is too much?

Considering a new credit card in 2022, but worried you already have too much plastic in your wallet?

We often receive questions about the number of credit cards too much for a person to have.

This is a good fiscally responsible question to ask. But you might be surprised by the answer.

In this article, we’ll get tips from money expert Clark Howard and credit card expert Jason Steele to help you understand how the number of credit cards you have affects your credit score and your life. financial.


Clark Howard answers the question: How many credit cards is too many?

On a recent episode of The Clark Howard Podcast, listener Matt from Ohio said he was interested in adding the Target RedCard to his wallet. But he had concerns because he already has a Citi Double Cash card, Costco Anywhere Visa, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa and another co-branded store credit card.

He asked Clark, “How many credit cards is too many?”

Clark’s answer might be applicable to Matt’s dilemma and your personal financial situation.

“There are no ‘too many’ cards unless and until you apply for a mortgage,” Clark says. “He’s the only type of underwriter who freaks out about how many cards you have even though your credit score is great.”

Clark mentions credit card experts who sometimes have as many as 40 or 50 credit card accounts open so they can analyze the cards. As long as you have a good credit score, pure card volume does not affect your credit if you use the cards correctly.

I also spoke with Jason Steele on this subject. He is the founder and producer of CardConwhich is the conference for credit and credit card media.

His message to potential credit card applicants was similar to Clark’s:

“The right number of credit cards to have is no more than you can responsibly handle,” says Jason. “For some it’s zero, but for others it could be a lot. When it comes to your credit score, having five is ideal, but there’s no benefit to having more.

You can listen to Clark’s full response and explanation from the podcast here:


Clark says he worries instead

Instead of worrying about having too many credit cards in your life, Clark says it’s actually more important to make sure you don’t have too few.

“The big potential problem with credit cards is having too few of them,” Clark says. “There are a lot of potential danger points with that.”

We recently explored this topic with Clark and Jason in a different article that you should read for more information, but here’s a quick rundown of why “too little” is more of a concern than “too much”:

  • Your credit score is influenced by things like credit mix, credit usage, and payment history. Not having a credit card to properly jump through these hoops could negatively impact your score.
  • If you only have one credit card, you run the risk of an issuer deciding to reduce or eliminate your access to credit, which could really put you in a bind if you need the money. Plus, losing that card will throw your credit utilization rate out of whack. Card issuers can do this without warning or justification, so prevention is better than cure.
  • To remedy this, Clark uses a “Noah’s Ark System” to ensure that you have at least two credit cards from two separate issuers (eg, Chase, Citi, Capital One, Discover, American Express).

Clark personally carries six credit cards in his wallet. He has a combination of cards that give him regular cash back on everyday purchases, as well as cards from companies he frequents, including Costco and Southwest Airlines.


Final Thoughts

It’s important to “know yourself” when it comes to adding credit cards to your wallet.

Successfully managing at least two credit cards (from separate issuers) will protect your access to credit and ensure that you positively impact your credit score with low usage and on-time payments. After that, you should intend to add more cards.

Which cards offer a net advantage in your financial life? And does adding them to your portfolio help or hurt your ability to make smart buying decisions that get paid on time?

There is no limit to the number of credit cards you can have, but there may be a limit to the number you need to carry.

How many credit cards do you own? We’d love to hear more about your strategy in the Clark.com community!


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