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Published:January 23rd, 2012 11:58 EST
How Many Credit Cards Do I Need?

How Many Credit Cards Do I Need?

By Philip Tirone

Question: "How many credit cards should I have if I want to earn the best possible credit score? I receive a lot of credit card offers in the mail. Should I apply for them?"

Answer: Having the right number of credit cards is a big part of your credit score. Ideally, you should not have any retail store credit cards, but you should have between three and five revolving credit card account. This includes Visa, American Express, MasterCard, or Discover.

One of the biggest factors in determining your credit score is the number of credit cards you have. If you do not have enough credit cards, the credit-scoring bureaus will not know enough about your payment history to feel comfortable that you will pay your bills on time and in full. As a result, they will lower your credit score.

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In fact, we always say that no credit is just as bad as poor credit. If the credit-scoring bureaus do not have enough information about you, they give you a lower credit score. Better safe than sorry, they figure!

On the other hand, if you have too many credit cards, the bureaus worry that you might be overextended. People with lots of credit cards can more easily dig themselves a big hole of debt. The credit-scoring bureaus respond to this threat by lowering your credit score.

To answer your question "How many credit cards should I have? "the ideal number of three to five gives the bureaus enough information about you to evaluate your credit card payment history, but it also tells them you are conservative about opening new credit cards.

If you do not have three credit cards, you should open some!

When you asked the question "How many credit cards should I have? "we told you that ideally you should have three to five. If you have more than five, do not close the extra accounts! Doing so will not help your score as it might lower the average age of credit cards. Instead, stop opening new accounts and be sure to keep the proper credit card balances so you can show the credit-scoring bureaus that you are responsible with all your credit cards.

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