Asking how many credit cards someone should have is one of those questions that you are bound to get multiple answers. Indeed, everyone seems to want to know how many cards they should actually keep in their wallet, but the truth is that this is such a personal decision that it can be hard to really pin down a specific number. Some people regard credit cards as s status symbol, and they make sure that they carry a lot of credit cards in their wallet. It’s really the only way they know to actually feel like they’ve moved up in the world. Then again, there are some people that only carry credit cards for emergency purpose.
Who is right, and who is wrong?
Well, if you use the current credit reporting and scoring guidelines, you might be surprised to find out what the best option really is.
First and foremost, you have to understand that if you don’t do your best to make sure that you actually get a credit card, you won’t start your credit history. This might not affect you in the short term, but the reality is that you will have problems trying to get more long term purchases. It’s very difficult to actually pay for a house or a car in cash. Most people will need to borrow money, and if you’ve never borrowed money before, lenders may be suspicious about approving you for so much money borrowed at one time.
You might not think that you’re borrowing money when you sign up for a credit card, but you actually are. What you’re doing is asking for a pool of money available to you, with more money coming to you as you pay off the debt accumulated at the start. In other words, you are borrowing money from the credit card company, with the express intent to pay it back in payments over the long run.
This is where people get into trouble, because it’s possible to end up borrowing so much that you will not be able to repay it promptly. Paying the minimum payment only tackles the interest, and this is not a way to get out of debt.
This tries back into the main question in several ways. You want to make sure that you have enough credit cards to effectively kickstart your credit history, but you don’t want to have so many credit cards that you get overextended. You might think that with the job that you have right now you would be able to pay for any thing you charge up on your credit cards, but what if you were to lose that job tomorrow? Would you still want to keep that high balance? Of course you wouldn’t — but this is the problem that a lot of people end up struggling with all the same.
If you’re not sure where to really get started, you might want to start with a general purpose credit card that you can use for those purchases that you really want, but just don’t have the cash for. Then you can step forward and get an emergency credit card so that you will have enough money set aside for emergencies. Does this take the place of say, a good cash emergency fund? No, but it can help you make ends meet as you build that account.
Overall, if you’re really serious about building your credit history for the future, you should definitely try to answer the “how many credit cards should I have” question for yourself!