Personal Finance

How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

4 min read Mar 07, 2023

Having more than one credit card is not a bad thing. Your credit utilization ratio, the amount of credit you use compared to how much you have available, impacts your credit score, and a lower ratio can indicate that you’re responsible about your debt.1,2

Are two or three cards right for you? Or should you have four credit cards like the average American?3 It all depends on your personal spending habits and financial goals.

Is it good to have multiple credit cards?

If you know you’re a responsible spender, having multiple credit cards at once can be a great way to build your credit score.

A number of factors affect your credit score, including your total credit available in relation to your credit utilization. Your total available credit refers to the combined pool of credit you’re able to draw from. Credit utilization is how much of that pool you’re actually using, also known as your debt to credit ratio. Lenders like to see a debt to credit ratio no higher than 30%, meaning you’re only utilizing 30% — or less — of your total credit pool.2 The closer you are to this utilization rate (or below it) the better your credit score.

Conventional wisdom holds that you should have two or three credits open at the same time (each with a reasonable balance) to help maintain a lower utilization ratio. Why? Having more than one credit card gives you a larger pool of credit to draw from. It also increases the amount of debt available before you reach that 30% debt-to-credit ratio, so you have more funds overall to utilize without negatively impacting your credit score.

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How many credit cards is too many?

The number is up to you and should take into account your own financial situation. According to Equifax, two or three can be a good number.2 Just remember, the more cards you have, the more information you need to keep track of, including monthly payments, interest rates, and total utilization.

It also depends on how responsible you think you are when it comes to your spending habits. For some people, the more credit cards you own, the greater the temptation to go on a spending spree. You should aim to never spend more than you think you can pay off in full each month. If you keep spending more thank you can pay of, you will accrue interest and acquire even more debt, hurting your credit score in the long term.

It’s also important to keep in mind that interest rates can be high for some credit cards, especially store cards, and you may incur additional charges if you’re late on payments. While you may not necessarily hurt your credit score as long as you make the minimum payments and keep your utilization under 30%, it can be easy to get carried away when juggling multiple cards.

How can credit cards help your financial goals?

When used wisely, multiple credit cards can help you achieve your savings goals. If you’re trying to build good credit, staying below that recommended 30% utilization is an easy way to boost your score. Having multiple cards makes it easier to spread out that 30% across your cards, giving you more funds to utilize if you need them.

You could also look for cards that offer rewards, such as cash back or airline miles. With everyday use, you can quickly accrue enough rewards to take that vacation you’ve been saving for or start on building some emergency savings. Some cards can also provide you the opportunity to pay off a large purchase over time with no interest (provided you pay the balance off with in the specified period).

Whatever your financial goals, credit cards can be a useful tool. Just remember to review all the terms and conditions and keep your spending in check. With a little discipline, you’re well on your way to success!

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Learn more about Upwise™, a free app from MetLife that helps you create better financial habits so you can feel more confident about your future.

1FICO Score Factor: Amounts Owed. Why Debt is More Than Just "What You Owe"” Rob Kaufman, myfico.com, April 3, 2018.

2How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?,” Equifax, last accessed March 1, 2023.  

3What Is the Average Number of Credit Cards per US Consumer?, CNBC, Stefan Lembo Stolba, last accessed March 2, 2023

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