With the never-ending array of ads and promotions offering a variety of credit card options, it is no wonder many of us are easily swayed towards adding yet another credit card to our wallets. Reward cards, cash back cards and other loyalty cards are all the rage in Canada. Perhaps you are concerned that you already have too many cards to juggle or you are thinking about adding other one. If you are torn between these two scenarios – you are not alone.
I have also been grappling with this issue lately. We already have more than one card and when I was speaking to a friend recently – I was surprised to hear that she has a total of 4 credit cards. In the US, having multiple credit cards is very popular due to rewards but I’ve also been looking into how credit cards are used in foreign countries. It’s sparked some interesting thoughts. This was a bit alarming for me, because I had been under the impression that having multiple credit cards was a sign that some one might be in trouble with their finances. However, this did not seem like my friend because as I am quite aware, she effectually manages her finances extremely well.
So with that, I decided I needed to look further into this topic and examine both sides of the story. Here are some important considerations to make when deciding if you should apply for an additional credit card or stay put with the ones you already have.
Improve your Credit Score
Having multiple cards can be an effective method for maintaining a positive credit score. If managed properly, you are able to build up a strong credit history because you have more flexibility with regards to spreading your payments amongst each card.
You can keep your credit levels from soaring too close to the limit on each card by rotating which card you pay with each time. Again, paying off each card on time is necessary, as well as keeping the credit limit lower. Ultimately, by managing each account successfully, you can give your credit score an even greater boost.
Carrying more than one credit card also can be a good financial strategy, especially if you have different types of cards, that carry unique features. You can earn points and rewards from a variety of Rewards Cards, when making daily purchases, such as groceries and gas. You could also sign up for a credit card that collects points towards towards travel. Having an additional credit card that can help you maximize rewards, in combination with your other credit card, can compliment your financial experience.
Emergency & Backup
Having an additional credit card can also benefit you, if you should require extra funds in emergency situations. Obviously, we would all like to have enough money on hand any all times to pay for anything we need or want. However, the reality is we don’t always have access to the higher amounts we may require in the instance, an emergency arises. As a result, having a back card can definitely come in handy in any given pinch.
A second scenario that could affect your ability to make a purchase, is if your card has been frozen or even cancelled. Sometimes, banks will disable your account while they investigate any potential identity theft issues or suspicious card activity – leaving you temporarily without your credit card. This also may happen without warning and if you are in the middle of making an important purchase, perhaps even while abroad – this can present a major problem. Thus, having a second go-to credit card in your wallet can be a good plan.
While there are many advantages to having more than one credit card, there are also some areas of caution you will want to be aware of.
Proper Card Management
While making credit card purchases, you should aim to keep each card’s credit limit no higher than 30 – 50% of your available funds. If your debt ratio is too high on any of your cards, this will be negatively reflected on your credit history and can affect your ability to secure financing in the future. Once again, paying close attention to when each card’s monthly payment is due is very important and paying at least the minimum amount should be made as well in order to sustain proper credit card management.
Know What you Can Handle
Having too many cards can lead to mismanagement, if you find you can’t keep track of each account. Some individuals will do better at maintaining more cards than other people will – and knowing yourself and how well you juggle your financial responsibilities is a good indication of how many cards you should have. It’s important to know your limits.
I read that it is suggested to have anywhere from 2 – 5 cards and based on what I have learned, I think my limit might be two. Having a rewards card and another card will serve me well for now, with the plan of reassessing down the road. While, I can reap the benefits attached to my rewards card, I can also have a bit more flexibility to spread out the purchases between both cards as well as making sure the balance remains below 50% at an given time.
So, what’s your limit??