Your credit score plays an important role in determining whether you’re approved for a loan, mortgage, or other credit account — and at what interest rate. Paying your bills on time and using a credit card and other credit accounts responsibly is the best way to boost your score. But even when doing everything right, improving your credit score doesn’t happen overnight.
Having multiple credit cards can help you level up your credit score more quickly — but they can also significantly damage your credit history, if it’s not used correctly. If you’re considering opening multiple credit cards to try to improve your credit profile, here’s what you need to know.
How Credit Cards Affect Your Credit Score
You can use a credit card to build a responsible credit history, which over time will boost your credit score. Paying your credit card bill on time is one of the best ways to help your credit score, while also avoiding late fees and penalty APRs. Keeping your credit utilization low — how much you charge on your card versus how much credit is available to you — is another way to improve your score. Experts recommend keeping your usage below 30%, but if you can keep it lower, your score may benefit.
But if you miss a credit card payment or overspend, your credit score will suffer and you may slip into credit card debt. Multiple missed payments or a high credit utilization can both cause your credit score to decrease.
To avoid slipping into the habit of overcharging on your credit card, consider treating your credit card like a debit card and paying off a purchase in full each time you use your credit card. Or, consider weekly payments instead of monthly payments.
Does Getting More Credit Cards Affect Your Credit Score?
Having more than one credit card can impact your credit score in different ways. When you have multiple credit cards, your total line of available credit is higher, which can boost your credit utilization. Since your credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score, just opening another card can help grow your score.
But multiple credit cards can also be risky. Juggling multiple cards can make it more difficult to remember payment due dates, which could lead to late payments. If you charge more than you can afford to pay back on multiple cards, it could also lead to credit card debt, which can be expensive to overcome.
How Many Cards Should You Carry and Use Regularly?
To build a high credit score, credit bureau Equifax recommends having 2-3 credit cards. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to open another credit card account.
Consider getting a second or third credit card when you feel confident about how you’re using your first credit card. If you always pay your statement off in full each month and never miss payments, you may be ready for another credit card with better rewards or other helpful features.
Apply this rule whenever you’re considering getting another credit card. Review the credit card accounts you regularly use and make sure they’re all in good standing and that you aren’t carrying balances from month to month. If you are, concentrate on paying down your debt before applying for another credit card.
The Pros and Cons of Having Multiple Credit Cards
Pros of having multiple credit cards:
A lower credit utilization ratio: Opening another credit card is the fastest way to decrease your credit utilization rate, by instantly expanding your available line of credit.
Ability to maximize rewards: Having more than one credit card can help you earn higher rewards in different categories.
You may increase your credit score faster: If you practice healthy credit habits with multiple cards, you might see earlier gains in your credit score.
Cons of having multiple credit cards:
Requires more diligence: It can be more difficult to keep track of multiple bill payments and due dates.
Temptation to overspend: Having more than one credit line can make it easier to overspend on purchases, which can lead to expensive credit card debt.
You may ding your credit report more easily: If you’re not paying your credit card bills on time for more than one card, it can hurt your credit score.
Get Your Own KOHO Credit Building Credit Card
If you’re ready to improve your credit score with another credit card, consider a credit building credit card from KOHO. Not only do you have the options to earn cash-back rewards and interest, but you can also build your credit fast by adding a KOHO line of credit.
You can learn more at https://www.koho.ca/.
The Bottom Line
Reaching a higher credit score requires paying your credit card bills on time and keeping your credit card balances low. A high credit score takes time, but can help you get approved for loans and other credit products more easily. Opening an additional credit line, like a credit card, could help you reach your goal a little faster.
Courtney is a professional writer, editor and financial literacy enthusiast. You can find her writing on CNET, Investopedia, The Motley Fool, Yahoo Finance, MSN and The Balance. She spends her free time exploring different cities across the globe or enjoy some downtime with her two cats and one dog.