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How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

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Figuring out how many credit cards you should have in your wallet can give you a headache. There is a card for almost every use case.

Some cards help you maximize your airline miles. Others offer you money back on your grocery store purchases. And others give you points just for dining at your favorite restaurant.

With all these choices, deciding how many cards to carry can be difficult.

 

How Many Cards Do People Typically Have?

In 2019, Experian published A Look at U.S. Consumer Credit Card Debt. Here is a snapshot of the survey results:

Category Average
Number of Credit Cards 4
Balance on Credit Cards $6,194
Limit on Credit Cards $22,751
Credit Card Account Age 87 months

Why? Do you need that many credit cards?

Yes and no. It’s generally a good idea to carry multiple credit cards if you can afford it.

With multiple credit cards, you can maximize rewards by tailoring each card to your spending habits and also help finance significant expenses in your life.

 

Selecting The Right Credit Cards

Start by taking a close look at where you spend the most money each month. This will help you identify the types of credit cards that make sense for you to use.

Do you travel a lot? Consider travel rewards credit cards.

How many times do you eat out per week? With dining rewards cards, you can earn cash or points by eating at your favorite restaurant.

Are you in the car more than you’d like? Gas credit cards offer rewards and discounts by making purchases at eligible locations.

You get the point. A good strategy leverages your current spending habits to maximize the rewards you earn.

 

Effectively Managing Your Credit Cards

It’s tough to manage multiple credit cards. You could drive yourself crazy tracking payment dates and rewards points in a Google sheet.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, we live in the age of the iPhone. So yeah, there’s an app for that.

Here are some examples.

Dosh

Dosh allows you to earn up to10% cash back by linking your credit card. All you have to do is securely link your credit cards (or debit cards) and Dosh will give you cash back whenever you make a purchase with your linked card.

Dosh’s technology does the hard work to search for cash back offers. You do the easy work by just making purchases.

You have carte blanche to do what you’d like with cash you earn. Transfer it to your bank or PayPal account, or even make a donation right from the app.

Points.com

According to the Bond Brand Loyalty Report, the average loyalty member belongs to 13 different programs. That’s where Points.com comes in.

Points.com’s Points Loyalty Wallet helps you manage all of your loyalty programs in one spot. You can exchange points and miles between programs and redeem them for shopping and dining gift cards.

AwardWallet

AwardWallet is available for the iPhone and iPad. With AwardWallet’s feedback, you can always use the card that gives you the most points.

The free version will analyze your spending habits to determine if you are using the right credit cards. Other features include a merchant lookup tool that tells you which cards earn the most points at a given merchant and a travel plan management system.

The paid version, AwardWallet Plus, costs $30 per year and offers you additional features, including more comprehensive monitoring like tracking all your loyalty account expirations.

CardPointers

CardPointers is designed to quickly deliver the information you need by using tools like Siri, shortcuts, today widgets, and quick action menus.

The app has a database of over 3,000 credit cards that it uses to help you earn more points, miles, and cashback every year. Another benefit of CardPointers is that you do not need to disclose personal or banking details.

The app’s founder, Emmanuel Crouvisier, said the idea for the app came to him when he was helping his parents manage their credit cards. He would put labels on their cards to help them keep track of which card to use for restaurants, gas stations, etc. CardPointers is much more scalable!

 

Is There Any Downside In Applying For Multiple Cards?

Yes, there is. Applying for multiple credit cards could negatively impact your credit score.

Every time you apply for a credit card, you give the issuer permission to review your credit report. This triggers a hard inquiry, which is recorded on your credit report.

Why is every application recorded?

Because your request to borrow money is an indication of your creditworthiness. It signals to the issuer that you’re attempting to borrow money from several issuers in a short period.

This negatively impacts your credit score. A 5 to 10 percent reduction is typical.

To avoid this, you should keep track of how recently and how frequently you apply for a credit card.