I have 10 credit cards—here’s how I manage them and how I decide when to open a new one

The author, Alexandria White, on a recent slip to Arizona that was made more low-cost with the right credit cards. Select ’ s column team works independently to review fiscal products and spell articles we think our readers will find utilitarian. We earn a mission from consort partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

ever since I began writing about recognition cards three years ago, the number of credit cards in my wallet has steadily increased. I recently hit double digits when I opened my one-tenth credit poster, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. While I ‘m nowhere near extreme credit batting order optimizers who have over 30 credit cards, 10 cards is still well above the national average of four. There ‘s no perfect answer to how many credit cards should you have, angstrom long as you ‘re responsible about paying off your libra on clock and in entire each calendar month. I opt to open more credit cards when I see a need — that may be financing approaching purchases, booking change of location at a discount or taking advantage of a generous welcome bonus. There are numerous ways to go about choosing the best credit rating card and below, I detail my procedure for choosing and managing multiple credit cards .

When to open a new credit card

There ‘s no single best time to open a credit card, but there are assorted life events and expenses that pop up that can be well opportunities to apply for new one. I consider versatile factors before I hit the ‘apply now ‘ button on any credit circuit board application. hera are some questions I ask myself :

  • Why do I want to open a credit card? I’ve opened new cards because I wanted to finance large purchases, earn a generous welcome bonus for a future trip and earn top-notch rewards.
  • What new perks will this card offer? Some cards offer annual credits, trip protection and high rewards rates that make them beneficial. (More on these benefits later.)
  • Is the annual fee worthwhile? Some credit cards have annual fees upwards of $550 and spending that much on a card doesn’t make sense for everyone. Most of my cards have no annual fee or fees under $100, but there are situations where I calculated a high annual fee to be worthwhile. If you find an annual fee to be worthwhile initially, it’s OK to reevaluate the cost down the line if something changes, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® increasing its annual fee to $550.

Read more: Here’s why I plan to cancel my Chase Sapphire Reserve

Credit card benefits to look out for

Before you apply for a credit rating circuit board, consider perks that add measure. That may be high rewards rates, no sake periods or alone statement credits. When I search for cards, I always look for raw benefits that are n’t offered by my current roll of cards. Better rewards rates Over the past year, my fixed expenses have changed which caused an increase in the amount I spend on groceries, gasoline and transit each month. This made me reconsider the cards I use for those expenses. previously, I used the american Express® Gold Card for those expenses, since it earns 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets ( on up to $ 25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X ). But I decided to move those expenses to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which offers a higher reward rate of 6 % cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $ 6,000 per year in purchases ( then 1 % ), 3 % cash back at U.S. boast stations and on transit ( including parking, tolls, trains ). here ‘s how much more I earn in rewards from transferring those expenses to my Blue Cash Preferred Card, considering these spending habits :

  • Groceries: $400 per month, $4,800 annually
  • Gas: $50 per month, $600 annually
  • Transit (parking, tolls, trains): $225 per month, $2,700 annually

Estimated rewards earned

American Express® Gold Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Groceries $ 192 $ 288
Gas $ 6 $ 18
transit $ 27 $ 81
entire $ 225 $ 387

By making this trade, I earn approximately $ 162 more in rewards each year, which is adequate to cover the Blue Cash Preferred calling card ‘s $ 95 annual tip and my gas expenses for one calendar month ( see rates and fees ). 0% interest periods A 0 % APR credit rating poster can provide up to 21 months of interest-free finance on new purchases, balance transfers or both. This allows you to get out of debt or finance raw purchases over time without incurring sake charges. Most cards limit 0 % APR offers to when you open the menu, but some cards may provide periodic promotions. For exercise, I received a 0 % APR for seven months on one of my cards four years after opening it. This interest-free period helped me pay for a class over time.

Welcome bonus If you want to earn increased rewards during your first base few months from report opening, a poster offering a generous welcome bonus can be a great asset. I opened the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and received a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus points after spending $ 4,000 on purchases in the first three months from explanation opening. This bonus is worth up to $ 750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, thanks to points receiving 50 % more measure. While a welcome bonus is a capital room to maximize rewards, you should n’t open a credit rating card entirely based on bonus. If you decide a modern calling card is worthwhile, consider opening a card with a welcome bonus when you have bombastic expenses to charge to the tease. You do n’t want to spend over budget just to get the bonus. Statement credits travel rewards cards often provide annual argument credits that help you save on airline fees, hotels, car rentals, food and more. Cards with these perks frequently come with annual fees, but they can be offset in separate if you take full advantage of the instruction credits. I have two cards that offer annual credits : the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Gold tease. The Sapphire Reserve offers an annual $ 300 travel credit, which can be used on hotel bookings, airfare, transit and more, plus a credit toward a ball-shaped entry ( $ 100 ) or TSA PreCheck application fee ( $ 85 ) every four years. The Amex Gold offers a $ 120 dining credit ( $ 10 statement credits per month ) for food at eligible restaurants, like choose Shake Shack locations and The Cheesecake Factory. Terms apply. registration required I make certain to use the full prize of the credits to offset the cost of each batting order — even if that means barricade by Shake Shack to grab coffee for ‘free. ‘ Travel perks Rewards cards much come with assorted travel benefits that include car lease policy, baggage check policy, airport lounge access and single offers at hotels. These perks can provide peace of judgment when you travel and save you money. I saved over $ 350 on vacation last year by using my Amex Gold card ‘s locomotion perks, which include limited perks at The Hotel Collection. I booked my hotel via American Express Travel and chose a fall back in The Hotel Collection, which provided me with complimentary daily breakfast for two ( up to $ 25 per person ) and a $ 100 fall back credit .

What to do before applying for a credit card

Review upcoming life decisions A newly credit application can temporarily ding your recognition score about five points. If you ‘re planning on applying for a mortgage or car loanword, it may be in your best concern to hold off on newfangled credit card applications until after those actions are complete. Your credit score typically bounces back in a few months, therefore if an car loanword or mortgage is a ways off, it can be okay to apply for a accredit card now. Check your credit score once I decide that opening a new credit poster is in my best matter to, I check my credit grade. There are dozens of free accredit score resources available to help you pinpoint what credit range you fall into, including CreditWise from Capital One and *Experian Boost™. I use both services to check my accredit score hebdomadally since both provide different types of credit scores ( VantageScore and FICO® score, respectively ). Since lenders use FICO® scores in 90 % of lending decisions, I opt for checking my Experian FICO score anterior to credit card applications. The seduce you receive can influence what cards you may qualify for. For case, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® requires excellent recognition — though that does n’t mean you ‘re guaranteed approval if you have excellent credit or that you ‘ll be declined with good credit. When I checked my mark before applying, I had a 759 citation score, which is in tune with the very full credit score range ( 740 to 799 ) according to Experian. ( Find out what is a good credit score. ) I was approved for the Sapphire Reserve with a seduce that falls below the excellent credit range. Check your qualification odds Another step I sometimes take is filling out prequalification forms, which performs a soft pull of your credit without hurting your score. Prequalification helps you gauge which cards you have a adept prospect at qualifying for, though it ‘s not a surefire augury you ‘ll be approved. When I filled out Chase ‘s prequalification form, no credit card offers came improving, but that ‘s not the end of the credit line — I silent applied for the Sapphire Reserve and got approved. ( Note that no two applications are the lapp, and you may or may not be approved for cards, careless of prequalification forms. ) Remove any credit freezes After I settle on a credit card, I unfreeze my credit reports since I instituted credit freezes with all three bureaus ( Experian, Equifax and TransUnion ) after the Equifax hack in 2017. You ca n’t apply for new credit when there ‘s a credit freeze in place, sol lay down certain you temporarily lift it before you submit an application. Wait an hour after the airlift is requested to apply. According to the FTC, if you unfreeze on-line or by telephone, the credit chest of drawers must lift it within one hour. I always wait an hour and have never run into an issue. Be proactive: Freeze your credit reports now

How to manage multiple bill payments

Ten credit cards is a lot to manage. I have 10 different bills with assorted ascribable dates, balances, minimum payments and APRs. here ‘s how I manage all these terms and ensure I submit payments on time without driving myself crazy. Set up autopay as a safety net While autopay is an choice that can streamline bill payments, I do n’t rely on it. I have it set up for two of my 10 cards, but only as a safety net. I prefer to make credit batting order poster payments manually. Set reminders I have 10 recurring reminders on my call for when bills are due each calendar month. I list the abridge card list and the due date. Once I pay off my bill, I check off the payment admonisher. I besides set payment reminders with my wag issuer. These alert me when my statement is ready and again when my circular is due in 10 days. Change bill due dates many credit rating cards allow you to change your due date, and I take advantage of this feature. You can adjust the due dates to when you get paid to make things easier. personally, I have due dates divided into the beginning, middle and end of the month. I try to make the due dates the lapp day for all recognition cards from the same issuer. For exemplar, I have two Amex cards and made the due dates on the same day. then I can barely go in and pay both bills at the lapp time every calendar month. Always pay on time and in full payment history is the most important factor of your citation score, which makes it identify to always pay at least your minimal payment on meter. I always pay off my credit cards in full — except on a 0 % APR card that I ‘m using to finance a leverage. But even then, I have a design on what I need to pay each month to ensure I have no balance when the interest-free period ends. This helps me maintain dependable payment history and a gloomy utilization rate ( which is the entire come of credit you ‘re using compared to your total credit limit ). *Results may vary. Some may not see better scores or blessing odds. not all lenders use Experian citation files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, snap here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, pawl here. Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff ’ mho alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party .

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