31 Responses to "Adding Credit Cards – How Many Is Too Many?"

  1. Money Beagle says:

    My wife and I each had a bank (debit) card and a cash back card as well as a shared account for Kohl’s. Over a twelve month period, we added a few cards but they were all done strategically. We added a Costco American Express so that we could get 3% cash back on gas purchases, which was huge considering we just bought a camper and increased our gas usage a lot over the summer. We added a Target Red Card to get 5% instantly at the register (it acts as a debit card so it comes right out of our checking). And we added a Lowe’s card to get 5% on purchases there. We considered each one carefully. I probably wouldn’t go any more than that as I feel we’re probably at the point where with one more, it would be easy to lose sight of something, and get stuck with a late payment or such.
    Money Beagle recently posted..One Hundred Years From Now, What Will Be Our Greatest Innovation?

    1. Emily says:

      It sounds like you have a base credit card that’s easy to go to for everything with the exceptions of those store cards. It’s a bit easier to keep track of where to use store cards than anywhere-cards, but I noticed that even our Amazon card has 2% rewards on certain non-Amazon purchases. Good for you for identifying your limit!

  2. SWR says:

    We have six. Two are his; four our mine. But two of mine are store cards that haven’t had a balance on them in years. I know it’s dangerous to carry open cards that you never use, but I do check my credit about three times each year (each student loan disbursement) and their limits are very low so maybe they don’t bother me as much as they should.
    SWR recently posted..Why we are looking into adoption and what we’re doing now

    1. Emily says:

      We have one card that we virtually never use but it doesn’t bother me too much. About once a year I try to make a purchase with it. Why do you think it’s dangerous to have little-used accounts?

  3. I am currently working on an article on this exact subject!
    I am a rewards card junkie. With that being said, we each have 4 cards. A few of the cards will have an annual fee coming up in a few months so I will cancel them before that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with signing up just for the sign-up bonus, personally. They make the offer and I comply.
    For us, it’s just some extra fun money to spend that doesn’t have to be accounted for.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

    1. Emily says:

      I don’t think there is anything unethical about signing up for a card just for the bonus, I just wouldn’t want to bother with it if that was the only reason. Having to switch our spending habits during the period to qualify for a bonus is a pain and I’d rather switch knowing the card will be a long-term part of our spending picture.

      I’ll look forward to your post! Do you have to carry a cheat sheet on where to use what card to maximize rewards?

      1. No, and I’m really not that organized about it. I agree with you that it would be too big of a pain to use and keep track of multiple cards at a time. I just use one card at a time in order to earn the sign up bonus then I switch cards to the next one with a sign up bonus. The result is that I typically change cards about 3-4 times a year so it’s not that hard to keep track of. Some cards I end up keeping- like for instance my Chase Sapphire preferred card because it has no foreign transaction fees-and other cards I cancel because I didn’t really like the long term benefit they offer.
        Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Options for Your Structured Settlement Annuity

        1. Check out “FrugalTravelGuy.com” for ideas on credit card rewards tracking. He does something called credit card churn to maximize rewards. Also, FlyerTalk.com is a great resource for maximizing and gaining mileage and points for airlines and hotels.

          Though, these people go to some extreme measures. Like flying around the world in 30 hours just to gain bonus miles.

          I am considering this as I don’t need to borrow money for a long time, and the strategies these guys use haven’t hurt their credit score much over the years they have been doing it.
          Jacob @ iheartbudgets recently posted..6 Month Blog Anniversary and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

          1. Emily says:

            Thanks for the website recommendations. I don’t think I’ll ever be superextreme about rewards but it’s nice to know the easy strategies to implement.

        2. Emily says:

          How picky are you in choosing sign-up bonuses – do you have a minimum?

          1. No, I just go with whatever is the best offer at the time!

  4. I seem to remember that having a large number of cards is a negative factor on your credit report. I know if I got a credit application from somebody who already had a total credit limit larger than their income, I’d be worried about why they needed to get credit from me.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..How I’m Saving a Bunch of Money by Buying an Extra Computer

    1. Emily says:

      Best I could find with a quick search: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/06/26/can-you-have-too-much-credit/

      Answer: No, having a lot of available credit will not negatively affect your credit score. Though I definitely buy your argument that a lender may still choose to not let you open an account – that’s what could happen when you open several lines of credit in a short period of time. Just because you have a high credit score doesn’t mean you automatically can borrow money from whomever you like.

  5. I had this very dilemma last night when ordering Christmas present for my nieces on Amazon. I could have applied for the credit card and gotten the purchase for free! I was on the screen to apply and backed out because we have several rewards cards already. I guess I could have cancelled it when it showed up, but just didn’t want to do the credit pull thing. If we decided to do another rental property next year, I don’t want it to look like I am a credit card application junkie.

    1. Emily says:

      Definitely if you have your eye on a larger goal it’s reasonable to pass up the signup bonuses. We actually signed up for the Amazon card to get a free Kindle and since we don’t care much about our credit scores right now it was definitely worth it.

  6. Leigh says:

    My priority with my credit right now is being able to refinance into a lower rate. That will save me far more money than getting new credit cards with better points will, so I’m not increasing my limits or applying for new credit other than refinancing.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t carry ALL of my credit cards around. Just the ones that you use more regularly.
    Leigh recently posted..My Investment Policy Statement

    1. Emily says:

      That definitely makes sense. The credit card rewards game is small potatoes in comparison with the impact of mortgage interest rates.

      I actually don’t carry all my cards but Kyle does. The thing is that we tend to only apply for cards that we are planning to use regularly. If we do get the Costco TrueEarnings card, which we have considered, at least that will replace the Costco card in one of my wallet-slots. 🙂

  7. I’m set with my credit cards, and don’t want to open any more. I think that 3 cards are more than enough! Keeping them paid in full on time every month is the priority, and I don’t see the value in adding more in our case.
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted..Paying Kids to Do Chores: What Do You Think?

    1. Emily says:

      I also think three cards is a lot to use regularly. As our shopping habits change we do consider new rewards cards.

  8. I love credit cards! Like you I always pay off the balance and you can’t be the initial rewards! I plan on purchasing an 80 inch tv with the reward cards my wife and I use.

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, that’s quite a lot of rewards! We tend to cash ours out frequently so I don’t see those big balances.

  9. That is impressive what you can get for rewards.

    Rightly or wrongly I take the opposite approach and even though I know I am loosing out on some rewards I keep the number of cards to a minimum.

    The simplicity for me is worth more than the rewards (I think)
    Jon @ Pay My Student Loans recently posted..Student Loan ROI Calculator

  10. I’ve been told not to open any credit cards while I’m looking for a home, and I’m itching to! I’d like to fly for free, and there are a ton of rewards cards that can get me there!
    Kathleen @ Frugal Portland recently posted..Being Thankful

    1. Emily says:

      Don’t worry, the credit card offers will still be there after you become a homeowner!

  11. […] Emily from Evolving Personal Finance weighs the pros and cons of another credit card in Adding Credit Cards – How Many Is Too Many? […]

  12. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Adding Credit Cards – How Many Is Too Many? – I list the pros and cons of adding an additional credit card to your working group. What do […]

  13. […] Adding Credit Cards – How Many Is Too Many? was featured in the Carnival of Money Pros. […]

  14. […] I weighted the advantages and disadvantages of adding another credit card, I decided that the chief disadvantage for us is that we might lose track of how to optimally use […]

  15. […] it’s worth – it all depends on how organized you are, how predictable your spending is, and how many cards you can keep in rotation.  Kyle and I generally prefer cash back rewards cards to travel rewards cards because of the ease […]

  16. […] for some others for special kinds of spending and once for a free Kindle.  We even asked ourselves how many cards would be too many because we loved further optimizing our […]

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