This is why I will never have more than 8 credit cards


Experian reports that the average U.S. consumer has 3.9 active credit cards, with older consumers and those with higher credit scores having more credit cards. For me, the absolute limit is eight. I refuse to apply for more. Here’s why.

unnecessary pressure

When my husband and I went to college, our credit cards became a problem. We need them to stay in school but never seem to pay them off. This means we carry a balance every month, spending thousands of dollars in interest that we don't have. The pressure is too much. However, these experiences continue to inform our approach to debt.

Simply put, we do not carry circular debt. If charged to a credit card, it is paid off that month. We wouldn't use a credit card if we couldn't pay it off before interest started accruing. Honestly, it was too stressful and we didn’t want to take on credit card debt anymore.

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I want to know how much we owe on our credit cards at any given moment, and I want to know if our cards will be paid off in full and on time. I believe we all have a “magic number” for our credit cards. For me, that number is eight. I can't take care of more than eight cards at a time.

By the way, if you find yourself in debt, now is a good time for me to tell you that you can get out of credit card debt. It takes time and effort, but you'll get there. Debt can feel heavy, but it won't last forever—if you're willing to get out of it.

time

Considering the amount of time I spend processing credit cards (even ones we rarely use), I can't think of any legitimate reason to spend more time. Here are two credit card-related tasks that I perform regularly.

Check balance

We only use two cards on a regular basis: the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express. The travel reward points we accumulated over the years came in handy.

Still, I check the balances on all eight cards regularly to make sure no fees have been charged. I'm concerned about the occasional charges, such as highway tolls or membership renewals. Although it takes me less than 10 minutes to check my balance, I need to do it about every four weeks.

use cards

Did you know that your credit card company has the right to cancel your account without notifying you? While the Credit Cards Act 2009 requires creditors to give customers 45 days' notice of significant changes to their accounts, this rule does not apply to cancellations due to inactivity. If you don't use the card for a while, the creditor can close it and you won't know until you try to use the card to make a purchase.

The amount of time a card must be inactive before an account is closed varies by credit card company. So, twice a year I take out all eight cards and buy something small with each card. Then I wait a day or two for the fee to be issued and then go back and pay it off. I would rather take the time to use and pay off the card than reduce our total available credit and increase our credit utilization ratio.

need

We don’t need more than eight credit cards. The credit we could get was more than enough considering they were paid off every month. Before writing this article, no one besides my husband and I knew how many credit cards we had, and no one cared. A wallet full of credit cards is not a sign of financial success. In fact, for too many people, the opposite is true. Credit cards are an easy way to overspend and potentially get into debt.

Each of us can decide whether we need a credit card and, if so, how many we are willing to accept. Your number may be different than mine, and that's fine. The idea is to pick a number that works best for you—even if that number is zero.

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