Most people who use credit have more than one card. But just how many cards are too many? Some experts say there is no set number to shoot...
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — Most people who use credit have more than one card. But just how many cards are too many?
Some experts say there is no set number to shoot for. It’s not the number of cards, but how they’re used that’s important. Others say that’s important, but so is just having a few cards as a strategy to help achieve or maintain a good credit score.
In the U.S., the average cardholder has seven credit cards and two debit cards, according to www.cardtrak.com, which provides consumer information about credit cards.
As far as Jane Viator, of Walnut Creek, is concerned, that’s too many cards. She and her husband, Robert, each have a major credit card and a store card in their individual names. They also share a major credit card that has a rewards feature and gets the most use.
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“If you put it on a credit card it adds up with astounding speed,” she said.
That is all the more reason to have no more than a few credit cards, said Bill Hardekopf, chief executive officer of www.lowcards.com, a Web site that helps consumers compare credit cards.
“There is the temptation of using them and charging more and more,” Hardekopf said. “Why tempt yourself with that situation?”
While the number of cards does matter, so too does something called credit utilization. Credit utilization measures how much you are spending of your available credit limit from all cards combined. The lower the balance, the more favorably you are viewed by lenders and credit-rating bureaus.
Emily Davidson, a credit expert at the personal finance Web site, www.credit.com, puts more emphasis on credit utilization than the specific number of cards held by a consumer.
“It’s one of those topics people always want an easy answer for — like six — but unfortunately that’s not the way it works. It’s actually a myth that you can hurt your credit score by having too many credit cards. That is not true … It’s not about the number of cards. It’s really about how you are using the cards,” Davidson said.
Some consumer experts advise keeping a spending balance to no more than 30 percent.
Davidson is stricter.
“You never want to spend more than 10 percent of your available credit limit,” she said.