How to manage multiple credit cards

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Ownership of credit cards is a big responsibility - so big that some people avoid them altogether. However, depending on the rewards that come with different credit cards some people relish the opportunity to have multiple credit cards on the go at all times.

Using different credit cards for different purposes can be either beneficial or detrimental, depending on how you use them. Before we get to how you can best manage the commitment of having multiple credit cards, we'll talk you through the potential pros and cons.

Pros

There are several upsides to having a few different credit cards at your disposal. Responsible consumers who pay off their balance on time, and in full, every single month can enjoy the benefits of that responsible use, which includes things like the opportunity to earn;

  • Cash back
  • Air miles
  • Rewards on your regular spending

Another big bonus is knowing that you'll always have a back-up in case an emergency situation comes up. Having multiple credit cards can improve your credit-to-debt ratio and therefore your credit score. And finally, if one of your cards isn't accepted in a specific shop - for example, American Express - you can simply try again with a different card.

Cons

The downsides to having multiple cards include the fact that having more cards at your disposal makes it easier to spend money you do not have, especially if you lose track of how much you are spending.

Then there's the fact that theft of a card will be harder to notice if you have several cards. In the same vein, keeping track of things like repayment dates is likely to be harder to manage the more cards you have. Missing payments because you've lost track can lead to increased interest rates and unnecessary fees.

Finally, if you carry credit cards that you don't even use, you may still be accruing fees or charges for those cards simply for having them.

Tips for balancing multiple credit cards

  • Pay your balance off in full before the interest-free period ends. For most credit cards, this period is up to 56 days, otherwise, interest is charged from the transaction date. Check the interest-free peoiod on each card to avoid fees.

  • Use your different cards for different purposes. For instance, if you spend a lot on petrol and eating out, look for cards that will reward you for doing those things.

  • Make your current credit card debt cheaper by signing up for a balance transfer credit card.

  • Make and pay off big purchases on a card with 0% interest.

  • Don't use all your credit - try and aim to spend less than 30% of your limit. Using more than 30% of your available credit can put a dent your credit score.

  • Always carry around more than one form of payment - cash and card is a safe bet for all situations.

  • Be honest. If you're struggling to keep up with multiple cards, one card might just suit you better. Rewards are great but not worth getting into trouble over!

No matter what you decide, try to keep your balances as low as possible and pay them off on time, and in full, each month.


Our articles cover a wide range of mainstream financial products and employee benefits. Terms and conditions of each product may vary depending on your provider. Please ensure you check the specific terms and conditions of any financial products and employee benefits available to you from your employer.