How Many Credit Cards Should You Have in Canada?

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There comes a time in your life when you’d have to ask yourself how many credit cards are adequate enough for your finances. For every rule, there is an exception, but in this case, there are no rules nor exceptions as to how many credit cards you might need.

The straight to the chase answer is that you should have a minimum of one credit card. But there is so much more to this question than meets the eye. If you want to be credibly informed, read on so you can make the best decision for your financial situation.

Why a Minimum of One?

The reason why boils down to the fact that credit cards form the bedrock of an excellent credit score. You can use your credit card to diversify your credit score and, most importantly, to build credit.

That’s crucial in a society where everyone from landlords to lenders use your credit score and credit history to ascertain your financial credibility. Whether it is a loan application or employment opportunity, your credit score can make or break you.

How Many Credit Cards is a Deck Too Many?

If you are financially responsible, you can have as many credit cards as you want. So long as you pay your balances in full and on time, you can have a deck of credit cards without accruing any interest.

Many individuals prefer to have two credit cards; a primary credit card and a backup credit card. In this instance, the credit cards are typically issued by two different companies – Mastercard, VISA, AMEX, or whichever credit card company you prefer. Having more than one or two credit cards is logical in certain situations as it allows you to benefit from the various rewards and benefits as opposed to having a single credit card.

When it comes to your credit score, credit bureaus pay particular attention to your payment history as opposed to the number of credit cards in your possession. In simple terms, the number of credit cards isn’t as important as how they are managed. An individual can have a single credit card and abuse the credit while another has four credit cards that are well maintained.

Settling on one or more credit cards is a decision for you alone, but you should consider your spending habits, financial capacity, and current credit score before taking any action. That being said, follow these guidelines before signing up for multiple credit cards:

•             Having multiple credit cards can enhance your credit score by reducing your utilization ratio. In the grand scheme of things, the lower your utilization ratio, the better for you.

•             Signing up for multiple credit cards in one go is not a good idea. The consequence is multiple hard checks on your credit report, which implies risky financial behaviour. It is recommended you build your credit cards over time as part of your overall financial strategy.

•             Multiple credit cards diversifies your credit portfolio and gives the credit bureaus more data about your spending history. Both factors can help enhance your credit score.

•             Never sign up for a credit card on a whim. Financial decisions like getting a new credit card have to be based on a need rather than just wanting a new credit card.

Benefits of Multiple Credit Cards

Higher Buying Power

Multiple credit cards give you several ways to purchase goods and services. This benefit is useful when you need to buy more than the usual or make large purchases.

As a Backup

Not all credit cards enjoy universal acceptance. Some credit cards accepted in one establishment may be declined in another. In this situation, having a backup credit card from another credit card issuer can save you some awkward moments.

Drawbacks of Multiple Credit Cards

For every sweet, there is a sour, and the same goes for owning multiple credit cards. The following are the disadvantages of owning more than one credit card.

More credit cards, more problems

Having more than one credit card means you need to monitor your different monthly statements, each with a separate balance, interest rates, and due dates. If you’re not conversant with managing multiple credit cards, you could end up drowning in debt.

Multiple ways to hurt yourself

Multiple credit cards are a double-edged sword. And if you can’t wield it, you might end up hurting your finances. On the one side, it gives you several options to purchase items. However, this can be dangerous if you are an emotional or spontaneous buyer. Multiple credit cards can push you into buying goods and services you don’t need.

Annual Fees and Charges

This factor depends on the credit card you need. Credit cards with fees often help you to maximize your rewards, but this may not be your priority. If you want to save money, consider signing up for a no-fee credit card.

Credit Cards for Beginners

If you don’t know the average credit card limit in Canada or you’re new to credit cards, it is good advice to start with a single secured credit card.TD bank is arguably the best bank in Canada, and TD credit cards have some excellent secured options you can consider. Once you can manage one credit card responsibly, you can go for your second credit card. 

Reward Programs is a Must

There is little sense in using a credit card that offers no benefits or advantage. Think about the rewards that are most beneficial to you – flying, dining, or groceries, and whether you can pay an annual fee. Many banks offer credit cards that charge no annual fees; however, they have lesser rewards than credit cards with a yearly fee. Choose wisely instead of signing up for the sake of reward points. You could acquire more credit cards than you can handle.

FAQs

How many Credit Cards Should I have?

The average Canadian has two credit cards for daily purchases, according to a survey carried out by JD Power in 2018. While you should have at least one credit card, two is the ideal number.

Should I apply for New Credit Cards?

If you are in dire need of a new credit card, you should apply for one. However, it doesn’t come across as sound financial advice to apply for credit cards you don’t need only to run up huge bills you can’t pay off.

Is it Bad to Have Multiple Credit Cards?

There isn’t any right or wrong when it comes to credit cards. The important thing is to pay your bills on time whether you have one or more credit cards.

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Avid researcher, freelance writer, and personal finance enthusiast passionate about financial education and literacy.

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Kareena Maya

Personal Finance and Travel Rewards Expert Contributor

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.