How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

What's Hot

Do This or Your iPhone Bill May SkyrocketSave

23 Upgrades Under $50 to Make Your House Look AwesomeAround The House

Trump Worth $10 Billion Less Than If He’d Simply Invested in Index FundsBusiness

11 Places in the World Where You Can Afford to Retire in StyleMore

What You Need to Know for 2017 Obamacare EnrollmentFamily

8 Things Rich People Buy That Make Them Look DumbAround The House

32 of the Highest-Paid American SpeakersMake

Amazon Prime No Longer Pledges Free 2-Day Shipping on All ItemsMore

More Caffeine Means Less Dementia for WomenFamily

9 Tips to Ensure You’ll Have Enough to RetireFamily

5 DIY Ways to Make Your Car Smell GreatCars

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

5 Spots Where Retirees Can Live for Less Than $40,000Real Estate

10 Ways to Pull Together the Down Payment for a HomeCredit & Debt

10 Ways to Reduce Your Homeowner’s Insurance RatesFamily

50 Ways to Make a Fast $50 (or Lots More)Grow

Having more than 1 credit card isn't essential to building good credit, but it does provide some benefits.

This post comes from Matt Carstens, who writes about personal finance and credit cards daily on Creditnet.

We recently received this question from a Money Talks News reader:

I’m a few years out of college and thinking about applying for another credit card. I’m employed full time, I’m debt-free and I have always used my credit card responsibly, paying it off every month. I worry, though, that since I only have one credit card (that I got from my bank when I was in high school) I won’t have enough credit history down the road. Should I apply for another one? If so, how many? — Leslie K.

My response

It seems I’m asked this question every week: “How many credit cards should I have?” It’s also one I’ve asked myself in the past.

I was in a very similar situation coming out of college. I had a credit card from my bank with a $1,500 credit limit that I used for things like gas and groceries and always paid off. I too wondered at the time if I needed another credit card.

Well, the simple answer is no. The more complicated answer? It’s up to you.

There is no magic number of credit cards one needs to utilize to boost your credit score. That three-digit number is much more dependent on you utilizing what credit you have responsibly, rather than how much credit you have access to.

The benefits of having more than one card

That being said, there can be benefits to adding lines of credit.

Leslie says she is a responsible credit user. My advice would be to make sure you’re comfortable handling the amount of credit you have, then shop around for a credit card that would work best for you, say, one with cash back or other rewards.

Part of the calculation of your credit scores is your credit utilization ratio. This basically compares how much debt you owe against how much available credit you have access to. It’s one of the factors of “amounts owed,” which makes up 30 percent of your FICO score, myFICO says. If you’re comfortable doing so, adding another card to the mix increases your available credit. Just make sure your spending doesn’t increase as well.

Another super-important benefit of multiple cards, especially when traveling, is having a fallback in case something goes wrong, like loss, theft or fraud.

What kind of card to get?

If you’re a responsible credit card user, this is where the fun of shopping for a new card comes in.

Like to travel? Try a card that gives you rewards that you can exchange for airfare, hotels or car rentals. Big football fan? Take a look at an NFL– or college-themed card that gets you discounts on tickets or your favorite team’s gear. Or maybe you’re just looking to get some cold, hard cash back. Some cards offer as much as 6 percent cash back on rotating categories including gas, groceries, restaurants, electronics and more.

In conclusion

Remember, it’s very important to use credit responsibly. Never make a late payment, and limit your credit card spending to no more than 30 percent of your available credit. Also, always pay in full every month. That’s not essential to a good credit score, but it will keep you from racking up a large balance — which can be detrimental to your credit scores — and paying interest on the debt. Charge only what you can afford to pay each month.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: How Does Debt Affect Survivors After a Loved One’s Death?

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,643 more deals!