How many credit cards should I have?

There has never been a better time for consumers when it comes to credit card options. With a plethora of choices available, credit card issuers are competing for consumers’ attention and applications by offering enticing welcome offers and bonus points on everyday purchases. This has led to a situation where many individuals find themselves with multiple credit cards. Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, has over 20 credit cards, and the average American has almost four credit cards per person according to Experian. This begs the question: how many credit cards should you have in your wallet?

The ideal number of credit cards to have depends on several factors unique to each individual. According to Matt Moffitt, TPG senior credit cards editor, the optimal number of cards is the one that allows you to earn enough points, miles, and access benefits to reach your travel goals. To determine your ideal number of credit cards, you need to consider factors such as your credit score, income, employment status, average spend, rewards goals, and travel habits.

If your goal is to earn points and miles redeemable for travel rewards, The Points Guy recommends having between three and ten credit cards. While ten cards may seem like a lot, having a few cards makes it easier to combine rewards, as many cards pair well together. For example, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, it makes sense to add the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to your wallet to maximize the opportunities to earn and redeem your Ultimate Rewards points. Since all three cards earn the same reward currency, you can pool your points together and maximize their value.

To determine the right number of cards for you, you need to consider your top spending categories. One of the advantages of using a credit card is the ability to earn rewards on purchases. By knowing your main purchase categories, you can choose cards that offer bonus points or cashback in those areas. For example, if you spend a significant portion of your budget on dining and groceries, the American Express Gold Card, which offers 4 points per dollar on dining and up to $25,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets per year, might be a great choice.

It’s important to review the types of rewards credit cards available and determine which ones align with your earning, spending, and redeeming needs. You don’t need to carry all types of credit cards; instead, focus on one airline card, one transferable points card, one cash-back card with different bonus categories, and one hotel card if you frequently stay with a specific chain. By sticking to one or two cards per category, you simplify your life and focus on earning rewards with powerhouse cards.

When it comes to choosing credit cards, your preference plays a significant role. Do you mind having cards from different issuers, or would you prefer to streamline your cards with one bank? Do you have a favorite travel brand and want to earn points and miles in that loyalty program, or do you prefer a cash-back card for simplicity? These considerations will help guide your decisions.

It’s important not to stress over missed opportunities. Once you become familiar with your credit cards and the rewards rates attached to each, you’ll know which card to use for different purchases. However, if you accidentally use the “wrong” card and miss the opportunity to earn bonus points, don’t worry. The most important thing is to use credit cards responsibly and pay your bills on time and in full to avoid interest charges.

In conclusion, the ideal number of credit cards to have depends on your individual circumstances and goals. If you want to earn travel rewards, having between three and ten credit cards is recommended. Consider your spending habits, rewards goals, and travel preferences when choosing cards. Focus on a few powerhouse cards that align with your needs and preferences, and don’t stress over missed opportunities. With careful consideration and responsible credit card usage, you can make the most of the options available to you and enjoy the benefits of credit card rewards.

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