Updated: May 27, 2019

“What is the ideal number of credit cards to have?” is one of the most frequently asked questions that are discussed in forums and social media. The ideal number of credit cards to have will depend on some financial factors, and one of them will be the fact that it is an individual thing. It is foolishness to rely solely on one credit card.

Some people believe that having the ideal number of credit cards helps in boosting up their credit scores. When you open only a few, it could have a negative impact on your record.

The ideal number of credit cards to have depends significantly on:

• Your monthly income

• The type of credit card each one of them is

• Your history of making quick payments on your credit cards

• The amount of credit that is available to you

Financial experts opine that the ideal number of credit cards to have is between two and six. You must own – as a minimum – one major credit card:

• American Express

• MasterCard

• Visa

These cards are accepted almost everywhere the holder goes and the most helpful in periods of emergency. You can also carry a gasoline card as well as a store credit card – the type that charges interest up to 30%.

However, the number of credit cards you are carrying does not matter as much as how much you owe them.

Your debit/credit ratio is usually factored into your credit score since credit bureaus evaluate how much credit you have access to relative to how much you are using presently.

If, for instance, you have one credit card which has a credit limit of $1,000 and you carry a balance of $500, then it implies you are using 50% of your available credit. Some lenders may frown at this because they consider 50% credit usage is outrageously high while others won’t mind because it is within their target zones.

Most traditional lenders will turn away from a debt/credit ration that goes beyond 25-30% of your available credit.

Another reason why you should limit the number of credit cards that you carry is that it is easier to keep track of your account due dates and your spending if you have only one credit card. If you get another credit card – making two in your possession – you can still keep track of your expenditures.

But having up to 15 or more cards puts you at significant risk of missing account due dates owing to forgetfulness. Such a situation will result in the automatic kicking up of your monthly charges on more than the credit card that was initially affected.

What then is the ideal number of credit cards to have? The rules outlined below will help you decide on the number of credit cards you feel is suitable for you – or your lifestyle:

i. Your monthly credit card payment should not exceed 25% of your monthly income

ii. If you are not too sure which credit cards are close to or at their limits, it is a good indication that you have too many cards with you.

iii. If you have forgotten to make a credit card payment because you made payment very recently, but it was to another company in error, then perhaps you have too many credit cards.