Over the past few weeks, many of our readers have emailed us with a question: how many credit cards should they be carrying? You can find a lot of different answers to that question online, but since we’re a card-focused finance blog, we figured it’s time to throw in our two cents. Therefore, we officially declare that the ideal number of credit cards to keep in your wallet is three. That’s one less than the average number of cards per consumer and about two more than some of you think is necessary, but we believe it’s the perfect amount of plastic to get the most out of your financial portfolio.
But you can’t just pick out three credit cards at random. As with any successful team, a good group of credit cards will play off of each others strengths and give you the most versatility with your spending. That’s why we devised a template to help you pick the best cards for your lifestyle. Here’s how your team should look:
- The Old Reliable. The oldest and most frequently used credit card you have will play the most important role in your credit card trio. It’s the “Old Reliable.” This is your flagship credit card, the one you’ll keep open from now until the end of time, and it’s the one you’ll use the most in order to build a solid foundation for your credit score. If you don’t have a card that you feel comfortable making your Old Reliable, then we suggest picking up a cash-back credit card because their rewards are targeted towards everyday expenses like gas and groceries. Good Old Reliable candidates include the Citi Dividend World MasterCard.
- The Low Limit. Since your Old Reliable card has a significant effect on your credit score, you don’t want to lend it to your kids or do anything else that might result in the card’s number being compromised. That’s where your “Low Limit” card comes in. This should be an easy-to-obtain credit card with – you guessed it – a low credit limit. The low credit ceiling will help minimize the damage that can be done to your portfolio if the card falls into the wrong hands. Use it to check into hotels, make purchases online and take a hit for the team. Despite its name, the Discover Student Card makes an excellent choice for anyone’s Low Limit card.
- The Awesome Rewards. The last member of your credit card team is the “Awesome Rewards” card. This card should feature a high-margin rewards system that suits your interests. If you want to pick your rewards from a large variety of products – everything from designer shirts to guitars – the Citi Forward and Citi ThankYou Preferred Rewards cards are great selections.
When it comes to credit cards, we believe three is the magic number. With these different cards in your wallet, you’ll be able to build your credit score, earn rewards and spend safely all at the same time. You’ll also have two reserves in case one of your cards is ever lost or stolen. Now that’s what we call a win-win-win scenario!