Many people are afraid to have multiple cards. Some worry they would lose track of the different bills each month and fall behind on their payments. Others fear that the temptation of high credit limits would entice them to overspend.
And some people fear that creditors, upon seeing multiple open credit lines, would be less likely to lend them money because the creditors would suspect they’d be more likely to fall into debt.
Americans seem to be split on the issue of having one credit card or multiple cards: 51% of the U.S. population has two or more credit cards, according to the Center for Media Research.
Emily Davidson, a credit expert with Credit.com, says people often ask, “What’s the magic number of credit cards I should have?” She says there is no clear-cut answer. “You should have as many cards as you feel you can manage responsibly.”
For responsible people, however, there are a number of benefits to having multiple credit cards.
A simple reason to keep multiple credit cards is safety. If a person has only one credit card, there are a number of problems that can arise.
Several credit experts interviewed say you should keep one credit card with a zero balance in a safe-deposit box or other safe place outside the home. This way, if your wallet or purse is stolen or your house burns down, you’ll have a credit card to use while you wait to have the damaged or stolen cards replaced.
A second safety reason would be for use exclusively for online purchases. Though online shopping is convenient, one of its primary pitfalls is the possibility of identity theft. A separate card for such purchases makes it easier to spot fraudulent activity and could help limit the damage if you ever are a victim of online identity theft.
Multiple credit cards also give a consumer a backup in case his or her primary card is denied.