Will Collecting Numerous Credit Cards Hurt My Credit Score in the Long Run?

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How many credit cards should I have?

It’s a common question. For as long as credit scores have existed, the impact of various choices remains a veritable mystery to most people.

Money expert Clark Howard has made it clear that you should have at least two credit cards — and from two different issuers. Multiple credit cards typically lead to a lower credit utilization rate and a higher credit limit, among other advantages.

So we know two or more credit cards is a great idea. But is there a point at which your collection of credit cards becomes too large?

That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.

How Many Credit Cards Are Too Many?

If two credit cards are good, what about five? Or 10?

That’s what a Clark listener wondered on the Jan. 6 podcast episode.

Gabriel in Iowa asked: “I’m 19 years old and currently have seven credit cards. I enjoy collecting them and don’t plan on stopping. It’s an odd hobby of mine. If I continue to apply and get more, will that end up hurting me in any way in the long run? I know there’s a short hit to my credit due to the hard inquiry, but is there any other disadvantage? I never run a balance and my credit score is in the high 700s due to my credit limit.”

Gabriel is correct. When you apply for a new line of credit, a hard inquiry will temporarily ding your score. So consistently applying for new lines of credit can impact your number.

“Here’s the funny thing. Having all those cards is actually a benefit to you because it means you have very low utilization and you show your wide ability to handle credit,” Clark says.

If you’re a credit card rewards fanatic, holding a variety of credit cards can insure that you maximize your cash back. That can be annoying to track for many people. But Clark’s sticker trick can help make sure you know which card to use for travel, restaurants, gas and other categories.

The other issue is that credit cards have started closing inactive accounts more frequently. So the more cards you’re managing, the harder it may be to remember to make a transaction at least three or four times a year on each of the cards.


Also, the average age of all your accounts is a factor in your credit score. So if you opened a huge majority of your credit lines recently, it may bring down your score.

Multiple Credit Cards: Where It Can Hurt You

There is one case where stuffing every slot in your wallet full of a different card can impede you financially, as Clark explains.

“The only time this could come back to harm you is when you want to apply for a mortgage,” Clark says.

“Sometimes a mortgage underwriter will look at the vast amount of cards you have, and available credit, and be worried that you’ll get into a home and you’ll say, ‘Oh! Well, now I need to furnish it! Or now I need to buy a 900-inch television. I need to buy the playset in the backyard.’

“So sometimes the mortgage underwriter will require that you close some of those lines of credit.”

What Credit Score Should I Target?

If you miss payments and rack up a ton of negative reports on your credit, it can limit the quality of the loan you can get when you apply for something like a mortgage or an auto loan. It can even exclude you from getting approved altogether if your credit score is bad enough.

However, a lot of people with great credit scores fret over 10-point fluctuations or obsess about keeping their score comfortably above 800.

Clark says that if your score is above 760, you have no reason to stress about the number. If that’s you, getting a short-term hit to your score due to opening another credit card or feeling the need to expand your credit limit to bump your score probably isn’t worth stressing about.

Here are Clark’s seven rules for using credit cards.

Final Thoughts

Holding and managing eight or more credit cards is not my idea of fun. But hey, to each their own.


If you’re the type of person who loves maximizing category-specific rewards and tinkering with your credit limit, knock yourself out. The drawbacks are few and most of them are temporary.

Just know that you don’t need that many credit cards for a healthy credit score or to run a smart strategy.

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