Sometimes, the most powerful and useful thing you can have is that tiny plastic card tucked in your wallet—your credit card. Easy online transactions, buying plane tickets, earning discounts, rewards, and cashback, and the ability to pay for big-ticket purchases upfront are some of the benefits of having a credit card. It promises and delivers unparalleled payment convenience that a lot of us decide to own two or more cards.
Now you might be wondering if adding another card to your wallet would be worth it. Or you already got a lot of credit cards and thinking of ways to manage them more easily.
Here's what you need to know about how many cards you need and how to manage multiple credit cards.
Can You Have Multiple Credit Cards?
Yes, you can own not just one but two or more credit cards at the same time. Banks allow their customers with good credit standing to avail of another card.
The next thing you might want to know: "How many credit cards should I have?"
While there's no existing research on the average number of cards per person in the Philippines, there are Filipinos who own about two to three credit cards. In the US, people have three or four cards on average. Some even own as many as nine cards.
However, there's no such thing as the right number of cards for everyone. It depends on factors like what you'll use the cards for, your cash flow, and how much you can afford to pay for your monthly credit card bills.
Mastercard Country Manager Simeon Javier Calasanz said, "If you have the means to handle multiple credit cards, it's okay. If the different propositions of those different credit cards appeal to you, then that's absolutely fine. As long as you have the means to be able to pay for all of those cards on time."
How to Manage Multiple Credit Cards
If you have multiple credit cards or planning to own more than one card, you might be scared that you'd accumulate large debts. But that can happen only when you lack financial discipline and treat your card as an infinite source of purchasing power.
To help you avoid such a scenario, we’ve listed down some pointers on how to manage multiple credit cards.
1. Check Each Card’s Features and Benefits
Know thy credit cards—this is one of the first rules that you need to keep in mind. That way, you can create a system that helps you track credit card usage.
We recommend that you create a spreadsheet for keeping track of credit cards. This will enable you to manage all credit cards in one place. Also, recording your spending on a table allows you to easily categorize all the information that you need to input.
When you’re creating a record, add the following details per card:
- The dates when you applied for each card
- Due dates
- Your credit limit
- Remaining balance
- Interest rates
- Credit Card Limit: What is It and How Do Banks Determine It?
- 4 Tips on How to Increase Your Credit Card Limit (and How to Request per Bank)
2. Make Sure Each Card Has a Purpose
When you’re a new credit cardholder, you might use a one-size-fits-all approach to using your card. This means that a single card will serve different purposes. But you’ll soon realize that this strategy doesn’t always allow you to maximize the card’s benefits.
Should you decide to have multiple credit cards, see to it that each of them has a purpose, as every card has different perks and benefits.
For example, you can use a credit card that helps you earn airline miles for booking your flights. Your other credit card can be used for grocery shopping, while the most exclusive one can be reserved for high-end purchases.
3. Don’t Use Them All at Once
When you have two or more cards at your disposal, you may fall into the trap of thinking that you can buy anything you need or want. But always keep in mind that your credit lines are actually borrowed money—they’re not yours! So, avoid using all your cards at once.
You may be tempted to max out all your credit cards at any given opportunity because of deals, points, discounts, and rebates. When you feel like you’re becoming more inclined to using your cards just to get points and collect rewards, remind yourself that this is not the only purpose of having a credit card. Your card is supposed to make your life convenient, not to get you into debt.
Read more about maxing out credit cards:
4. Bring Only the Card You Need
Bringing only the card that you’ll need for the day, depending on the occasion and purpose, will keep you from using all of them at once.
Going grocery shopping? Just bring the card that you use for everyday expenses. If you carry your black card with you, and you chance upon a discounted luxury bag at the mall, you may be tempted to use it. As they say, prevention is always better than cure.
5. Streamline Your Credit Card Payments
Forgotten due dates lead to missed payments, which can eventually result in bigger debts. To avoid hassles and mix-ups, simplify your repayments.
If you can afford to make multiple credit card payments in one month and in one go, then do so. Banks will allow you to set up automatic payments, so you won’t have to go to payment centers to deal with each credit card bill. In case you’re facing bigger debts and wondering how to pay off multiple credit cards, you may consider debt consolidation.
It will also be helpful if you sign up for your bank’s credit card alerts. That way, you’ll regularly receive reminders on your due dates.
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6. Check Your Credit Card Records
Multiple credit cardholders should be doing this, but you’ll be surprised by the number of people who don’t check their records and statements of account. Tracking your card’s activity regularly will help you spot inconsistencies and possible signs of fraud. You can also activate a feature that will notify you about every transaction your credit card makes.
7. Limit the Number of Your Cards
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. This nugget of wisdom is perfect for credit cards, too. This means that you shouldn’t own more credit cards than you can manage.
When you have more credit cards than you need, you may feel the pressure to keep all of them active. This is bad news, especially if this is your first time managing multiple cards.
8. Maximize the Credit Card Rewards
This list isn’t just about warnings and avoiding some pitfalls. Credit cards can unlock a world of exclusive perks, so make sure that you enjoy them. But before you enjoy them, you’ve got to track the types of rewards available for you, which can be a little bit challenging.
Check the rewards and perks you can get from each of your cards. Then check their requirements, so you’ll know if you can qualify for those. You may also need to check the required minimum spend, so you’ll know when to use your credit card to earn points. You must be also aware of the conditions regarding the validity of the rewards points.
Take this one rule for example: with BPI’s Express Credit Real Thrill Rewards Program, cardholders can still redeem the available points within 60 days from the closure of their account, provided that the account was in good credit at the time of closure.
Some say that credit cards can make you irresponsible. But that is not an absolute case. You cannot deny that credit cards make life much more convenient. You just have to be wise about how to manage multiple credit cards.
Managing more than two credit cards may seem challenging. But when you do it properly, you’ll receive a reward in the form of a good credit score. This benefit will eventually help you land good deals on loans.
Planning to add a new credit card to your arsenal? Compare credit cards for free at Moneymax to find out which cards suit you best.
-  How Many Credit Cards Should You Have (And Why I Have Nine)? (Bycer, Forbes, 2020)
-  BPI Express Credit Real Thrills Rewards
- Photos from Freepik and Unsplash