How many credit cards should I have open? It’s common for people wonder how many credit cards they should have open at one time. But to answer this question we must first consider why we have credit cards. There are a number of reasons why people have credit cards, some good and some not so good.
- One good reason to have credit cards is to use them – it’s obvious. We use them to buy things conveniently, safer than cash, earning bonus points, miles, discounts, and more perks.
- Another reason to have a credit card, a not so good reason, is to buy things that you can’t really afford. We charge things on our cards so we can pay them off later.
- A third reason to have credit cards is to build your credit history – perhaps the best reason to have a card, as a good credit history helps you make large purchases like buying a car, house or insurance. How many credit cards should I have to build credit? Just one builds credit, but is that enough?
But how many credit cards should I have open at once?
We know, you want us to come right out and answer, “How many credit cards should I have for a good credit score?”. But, there is no magic number of how many credit cards you need to have to build your credit. But here is what we do know.
- Having one card can be enough. With a single card you can show credit worthiness – many people have a credit score well above 700 with only one credit card. Especially if you have other accounts on your credit report, such as a car payment, mortgage and student loans.
- Having 19 cards may be okay. But really, how many credit cards do you need? Sure, some people have many, many credit cards and they have credit scores well above 700. In most cases these people have no balance on most of their cards. If you use your credit responsibly, keep low balances and pay on time, you may be able to have many cards. Why do some people want many cards? To take advantage of special offers, usually. But avoid the temptation to get many cards just so you can carry balances on them all. So you wonder, “How many credit cards should I apply for at once?” Well, remember that applying for a credit card can reduce your credit score by 3-5 points. That’s not a problem with one card here and there, but applying for too many cards can hurt your credit fast.
- Do not close old cards. Suze Orman, nationally renowned financial advisor, recommends that you not close any of your old credit cards (as cited in Thomas, n.d.). The fact is that most of your credit score is made up of how good your credit history is as far as timely payments. And 30% of it is how much money you owe companies. So, as long as you have low balances (keep every credit card balance under 30% of the limit) you can have a good score, even if you have many cards.
- Closing a card can actually lower your credit score. One reason is that how long you have had credit cards is important – always try to keep your oldest accounts active as this increases your credit score. If your “old” credit cards have no annual fee, keep them open even if you are not using them. Note: this might mean making a small purchase every 6-12 months to ensure that the company doesn’t close them for inactivity.
- How many credit cards should I have open? It depends on you and your needs, but usually two are probably enough.
Source: Thomas, M. (n.d.). Should you close credit cards that you no longer use? Retrieved from,