How many credit cards should you have? You might be surprised at Dave Ramsey’s answer


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Credit cards can be a useful financial tool that puts money in your pocket – when handled well. Unfortunately, many consumers do not manage their credit cards well and end up in debt. And since credit cards charge a lot of interest, that debt can be costly.

Now, to be clear, some people end up with credit card debt due to circumstances beyond their control. If you lose your job and deplete your savings, you may need to rack up a credit card bill to cover your essential bills until you find gainful employment.

But financial expert Dave Ramsey hates the idea that consumers end up with costly debt. And he is also convinced that using the credit card is a good way to land in this boat.

As such, if you were to ask Ramsey how many credit cards you should have, his answer would be a flat “zero.” But whether his advice is worth heeding is another story.

It’s really good to use credit cards

Ramsey’s anti-credit card stance is meant to be helpful to consumers. By discouraging the use of credit cards, its goal is to help people avoid debt that is costing them dearly through exorbitant interest payments. And so when he says don’t use credit cards at all, he’s not trying to be mean or too harsh – he’s just trying to keep you out of debt.

But for many people, not using a credit card just isn’t realistic. Think about the last time you booked a flight or booked a hotel room. Didn’t that require a credit card on file?

Certainly, Ramsey insists that there are ways around such situations, and that if you ask, you can often provide a debit card number instead. But that won’t always work. And also, you might come across a situation where a certain merchant does not accept cash or debit cards, but only accepts credit cards. It’s a downside you might not want to deal with.

Plus, credit cards really box be a useful tool. For one thing, they usually reward consumers with cash back on purchases. And if you pay your bills on time and in full each month, they can help you build credit. As such, you don’t have to listen to Ramsey and avoid having a credit card altogether. However, you might want to keep these apps to a minimum.

Pay attention to the number of cards you have

There is no set rule regarding the maximum number of credit cards you should have. For some people, having four different cards makes sense. For others, nine cards are manageable.

What you need to do, therefore, is figure out how many different cards you need. If one credit card is enough and gives you a high enough spending limit, stick to one card. If you need an everyday credit card and a travel rewards card, open a second card.

How you manage your credit card usage should also dictate how many cards are good for you to have. A person can overspend on just one card, while you can manage your bills just fine with 10 cards in your wallet.

But no matter how many credit cards you decide to open, there are a few basic rules you should follow. First, space out your applications, ideally six months apart, as each application will affect your credit score a bit and you don’t want too many results in a short time.

Second, be sure to only charge expenses that you can pay in full by the time they come due (excluding emergencies beyond your control). If you stick with this system, you may find that having multiple credit cards in your name works well, although Dave Ramsey would advise otherwise.

Check out The Ascent’s best credit cards for 2022

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