Is your wallet overflowing with credit cards? Do you accept every offer that comes to you in the mail? Well, clean out that wallet and just say no to more cards.
You may think the more credit you have the better your financial standing, but this is not good says Philip C. Lee, Wealth Manager with Modera Wealth Management, LLC.
“I would recommend individuals have two to three credit cards and there are a number of reasons to have multiples cards,” explains Lee. But don’t use all three, he says. There are other reasons to have multiple cards. “One of the reasons is for security,” he says. “For example, if you have three credit cards, keep one at home and in the event your purse or wallet is stolen you have a back-up until your other card(s) are replaced.”
Financial expert Varnie Barker, author of New Rules of Home Ownership for the 21st Century, agrees, but adds it also depends on your financial habits. “For one who is financially irresponsible, and lacks restraint, carrying any credit card is a dangerous thing and is ill-advised. In this case, a debit card is recommended. However, a business person might need one or more credit cards to facilitate business operations,” says Barker. “Limit the number of credit cards to avoid the temptation for abuse. It is not the number of credit cards you should have that matters. It is the management of the cards, along with the discipline you show that is important. However, a pocket full of credit cards usually adds to the temptations to abuse them. Therefore, maintaining a limited number of cards reduces the temptation for compulsive spending and abuse.”
Another reason to have more than one card is for the rewards. “You may also want multiple cards to take advantage of different rewards programs,” Lee points out. “Discover uses a cash back program while others may be tied to airlines mileage programs. Using different carriers provides you with flexibility. If you are self-employed you may want to use one card for your business- related expenses and another card for your personal expenses. ”After you narrow your cards down to just two or three, consulate the debt. “If you get rid of your extra cards, you should probably consolidate your debt,” advises Lee. “Try to consolidate the debt to a credit card with a lower interest rate if you are carrying a balance from month to month. I strongly urge you not to carry a balance and charge only what you can pay off in full each month (live within your means). When you carry a balance, you are paying more for that purchase given the interest rate charges.”
Reducing the number of cards you have will not only eliminate temptation to spend more money, but make it easier for you the keep track of payments. You don’t want late payments to show up on your credit report either because you could not keep track of all the payment dates or that you just had too many payments to make. “Reducing the number of cards will be administratively easier, i.e. you will have fewer monthly bills to keep track of. Consider calling the credit card company and closing the account so that it no longer appears on your credit report,” Lee concludes.