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- The number of credit cards that you can successfully manage depends on how organized you are.
- Use a system to keep track of your cards and use specific cards for assigned purposes, such as for dining out and groceries.
- Keep up with card payments by aligning payment dates or by using autopay.
- If you can manage multiple cards successfully — including on-time payments — you might see a boost to your credit score.
The average American has 3.84 credit cards in their wallet, according to Experian. While it’s not uncommon to juggle multiple cards, having more cards in your wallet means a higher potential to miss payments, owe fees on cards you’re not using and charge more than you can comfortably repay.
The number of credit cards you can manage effectively depends largely on how organized you are. We cover tactics you can use to stay organized, while maximizing the rewards that come with holding multiple cards.
1. Have a system to keep track of multiple credit cards
Whether you use a personal finance app, a spreadsheet or even a handwritten list, organize your credit card accounts so that you can track your balances, due dates, reward categories and annual fees.
An online bill pay app can help you manage your credit card accounts at a glance, providing you with a convenient way to keep track of your card activity.
2. Assign a purpose to each credit card
Assigning a specific purpose to each of your credit cards — like dining out or online shopping — can help you maximize the rewards you earn on your spending. If you have a card that’s among the best credit cards for groceries and another card offering strong rates on travel, using each card to maximize its targeted rewards can reap you the highest cash back, points or miles on your spending.
Using your cards for specific spending can also simplify budget tracking. If you use one card for dining and entertainment and another for bills, you’ll more easily see how much you’re spending in each category. And tracking can also help you better remember features to make the most of the benefits your cards offer.
3. Carry only the cards you actually use
The more cards you have, the more potential there is for one to become lost or stolen. To help manage this risk, physically carry only those cards you use frequently. Store others securely at home.
4. Stay on top of multiple payment schedules
Managing payment due dates is crucial when balancing multiple credit cards. It can be easy to overlook a payment if you’re not sure of the due date and become caught up in your day to day. But missed payments can lead to late fees and negatively affect your credit score.
Most card issuers allow you to change your card’s due date to better match your budget, streamline your bill payment process and reduce the risk of missing a payment. Just call the customer support number on the back of your card to ask about updating your payment due date.
Setting up autopay is another helpful tool for managing multiple payment schedules. With autopay, your payment is automatically deducted from your bank account each month on the due date or on a date you choose. This helps to make sure your bills are paid on time every month, which can increase your credit score.
How multiple credit cards can be good for your credit score
A clear benefit to successfully manage multiple credit cards is access to more credit. Credit gives you the ability to pay for big purchases and emergencies without going over your credit limit or dramatically affecting your credit utilization ratio — a factor that accounts for 30 percent of your credit score.
Managing your cards wisely — which includes paying your bills on time and keeping your utilization ratio low — can help improve your credit score.
The bottom line
Managing multiple credit cards requires organization and a system to keep track of balances, due dates, annual fees and rewards. Maximize your rewards cards by spending in boosted categories. Carry only the cards you use regularly to avoid losing a card and prevent exposure to fraud. Stay on top of multiple payments by asking your issuer to change your due date to align with your paycheck or other cards. And consider leveraging an auto bill pay app to streamline how you manage your finances.
Before applying for a new card, compare the best credit cards available to find one that fits your budget, lifestyle and financial goals.