How Many Credit Cards Do You Carry?

In the interest of consolidating the number of bills, accounts and general financial noise in our lives, my wife and I scaled back some months ago to two credit cards.  At one time we had several more opened for store accounts, gas cards, etc. I carry one of the remaining credit cards in my wallet for gas purchases only, and the other stays at home.

The credit card stored at home is our oldest account, in both our names, so we keep it open for general credit health and in case of some major emergency.  We use it a couple times a year to keep it somewhat active, usually to pay a utility, and then pay it off when the bill arrives.

Out of curiosity, I surveyed Twitter followers and of those that carried at least one credit card the average number in follower’s wallets was two – often reported as “one personal, one for business.”

While I certainly don’t miss the credit cards we’ve eliminated (nor their balances), I do miss some of the rewards programs and their perks.  Of course, these perks are dwindling as credit cards issuers pull back on bonuses in the currect economic environment.

Another aspect of carrying more than one card was the idea of having a backup.  It was a mental block, really – just an excuse to keep more than one card in my wallet.  Seriously, I couldn’t tell you more than one or two times in my entire life that my primary credit card did not work (and at least one of those times it was because I had maxed out the small limit).

Now days I carry a debit card for 90% of my purchases, and that would be a sufficient backup if my gas card failed me.  Funny how we rationalize the need to have more than one credit card.

When I worked in the credit card industry I used to talk to customers who had a card for each budget category.  Can you imagine having six cards in your wallet labeled – food, entertainment, gas, utilities, clothing, etc?  Actually, it’s not a bad idea, but who wants to keep up with six credit card bills!

So tell us, how many credit cards do you have in your wallet?  Is this number higher or lower than it was a year ago?

Comments

  1. i carry 3 c cards 1 for gas 1 for everything else and when I max that one as far as the perks goes go i use the other one from same c card company and rack up the perks on that one ….auto debit on my cards never pay interest

  2. Just one, but I use the debit card for gas, etc. I only use the one credit card for large purchases that will make the airline miles worth the trouble of going online and paying it off the next day.

  3. I carry a Discover card that we use as often as possible because of the rebate. I also have a Visa for times when I want to use a card and they don’t take Discover. It’s been that way for a long time.

    Rob

  4. I have a Master Card I use for everything. Again, for the points/cash.

    But I also have an Amazon card, a Cubs card, a Visa just in case, and another Visa card.

    All of them are sitting in a drawer except for the Visa in case I go somewhere Master Card isn’t accepted.

    I’d love to get rid of most of them and have only two, but I’m afraid my credit will get dinged and we may try to buy a place this year.

  5. I just enrolled in the American Express/Costco super rewards card and was going to make that the ONLY credit card (except the check card) that we would use. When my son went to the grocery store he found that they don’t accept AmEx.
    I like the rebates, but don’t want to carry more then two cards. That would add to my day to day confusion

  6. if the store charges you more for using a credit card go to a store that doesnt It’s call good ole compitition rack up those perks I have been eating at Apple bee’s FREE for a year and I dont pay ANY interest on any of my cards

  7. You’ll only find one credit card in my wallet (starts with a “V”, and ends with “isa”). Everything my wife and I purchase (including on-line bill payments) are charged on the card. We rarely use cash or check anymore. There are a few benefits to using one card…1) one bill to pay each month. 2) We have an airline credit card (every dollar spent = 1 frequent flyer mile). This has been a very fast way to accumulate free airline tickets. 3) I don’t have the “back-pocket-bulge” that others do who carry multiple cards in their wallets.

  8. While I have several in the drawer, I only carry two in my wallet. One I use and one for backup in case something goes screwy with the first one – which has happened before – no known reason, but it taught me to always carry 2. If used, it is paid in full every month.

    I also carry my debit card – but only use it for a cash withdrawal if needed. I pay cash for most everything I buy during the month – gas, groceries, etc. As I only allow myself $310 per month cash, one quick glance at my wallet, and the cash in it, tells me where my budget is for the month :)

  9. Two. One Visa, one Sam’s Club. If Sam’s would take Visa, we’d get rid of the Sam’s card, but I shop there every week and having to write a check or mess with cash is a pain.

  10. One card…that’s it. I used to have four different cards, but then I realized I was just spreading out and expanding my debt. I put almost everything on the one VISA card, it helps me track my spending.

  11. I carry 0 personal credit cards and 1 company required credit card that I use for business travel.

    Primarily I use cash with a debit card for backup and emergencies.

  12. I carry one. Well 2 if you count my debit card. I have the one for everyday purchases. I use it because I get 5% back, so why not :) I keep up with the bill and pay it off every month.

  13. One card between myself and my husband, and its in my name from my first real bank account in university where they just give every freshman a credit card. 5 years later this is the longest line of credit in my history. I also don’t take it with me places and we only use it when we need to.

    It’s not tied to our joint account, so we’re not tempted to use it since its a pain to go pay the bill off (have to go to the co-op credit union or transfer the funds, blah blah).

  14. I only have one credit card which I carry but use sparingly. I got it so I could rebuild my credit. I use it every other month and pay the bill in full when it comes. I have had it since December and have already seen my credit score go up a little. I also have a debit card for groceries, gas etc.

  15. I now have two credit cards. Down from three when Chase decided to close a card down I didn’t use much. I was upset at first but didn’t take me long to get over that.
    BTW, these “perks” that we all talk about are not really perks. Merchants usually raise the prices of goods and services by a few percentages to pay for the credit card service fees. So we pay for the fees in higher cost and then get a cut of that. Use a debit card whenever possible which have lower fees. Come to think of it, remember a thing called Cash?

  16. 3. A Visa that gets used constantly and paid in full every month, a M/C that we use a couple of times a year when a place won’t accept visa, and an Amex card that gets used about 3 times a month at Costco and paid in full.

    I like the perks too – our visa gets us about 6 or 7 free Starbucks drinks a month, our M/C gets us about a couple of free nights a year at Sheraton Hotels and the Amex gets us about a $100 gift certificate at Costco. Free is good.

  17. I used to have 4 credit cards, but now only have one and I don’t miss the others a bit. I went a little crazy when I turned 18 and maxed my cards out on electonics and furniture. It took me a long time to finally get them all paid off, I’m 26 now and just paid the last one off in February.

    I keep one card with a small balance and a rewards program, but that is all. I continue to use it for things like car repairs or gasoline and pay the balance off in full (usually before the charge even posts to my account.)

    You can read about my journey into and out of debt at my website, Hundred Goals. :)

  18. I carry a Discover primarily (which is used for gas and household purchases), for their Cashback bonus award, and a Mastercard, which is only used for Groceries and places that don’t accept Discover.

  19. We have two – a Visa to earn airline miles and another Visa that was sent to us by our bank as a means to access a HELOC that we have never used. We will probably never use that except perhaps to fund pre-sale home repairs when we downsize.

  20. I carry 5, for max cashback on variety of items.
    They are labeled:
    books, movies (5% cashback)
    grocery (3% cashback)
    gas (5% cashback)
    restaurant (5% cashback)
    costco (3%(?) cashback)
    everything else (3% cashback)

    I don’t spend a ton, but this is easy to keep track of and nets me a couple hundred extra a year.

  21. We have one card. A citibank American Airlines mastercard. We put the majority of our purchases on this card to rack up miles/points (which we pay off every month). We have earned 3 flights to Australia (via partner Qantas) and 2 domestic flights in the past 5 years. Not bad for just using a particular card.

  22. I only carry my debit cards from two seperate bank accounts. We started the Total Money Makeover in January 2008 and cut up every one of our cards. ALL 6 accounts! We will probably leave one account open once they are all payed off, but I will never carry it with me.

  23. I’m proud to say that I’ve never had a credit card. But I do carry around a Visa Debit Card and use it constantly. I don’t carry cash in order to prevent myself from buying coffee at every coffee shop I pass(5 purchase minimum for credit cards).

  24. 2 – my main credit card is an american express that I use because of the warranty benefits and the points I earn. I pay it off weekly. The other is a visa that I use very rarely when a store doesn’t take american express, and I don’t have enough money in checking to use my debit card. Sometimes I might want/need to buy something and transfer the money from savings and it takes a few days, so I’ll use credit to pay for it and then pay it off a few days later.

  25. I have several credit card accounts — maybe 10 or so. I went crazy last year on the credit apps in an effort to expand available credit, but I’m done with that for awhile.

    I used to carry them all in my wallet for some reason. Never have had any reason to worry, but have since cut it down to about 3 in my wallet at a time (rotate them to keep them all active).

  26. I carry 2 – 1 for all personal charges one for work. My wife and I run everyday purchases through our one CC and then pay it off every month – even if it means dipping into savings to pay it off when there is a large month – repairs, vacations, etc. This card gets us airline miles.

    I do have one card w/ a minimum credit line for on line purchases. May look at cancelling it in the future.

  27. I’m in the majority – one personal (Chase Freedom Signature), one business. I hardly ever use the business one though. My wife and I each have another “extra” card that, like yours, is our longest held account – but those stay at home.

  28. Carry 6 cards, use only a couple of them.

    Probably at least a dozen more at home.

    None ever have balances.

  29. I have no credit cards. I just have a debit card for my shared account with my wife and a debit card for my separate account at home which I use for gift purchases that I don’t want her to know about. I haven’t had a credit card since ’01, I find I don’t really need it, but it would cut down on the hassle when renting a car and such.

  30. I have three credit cards, in the process of retiring one of them. One is for use in the U.S., one for use in Canada (where I live). Rationale: some things can only be purchased online, and it makes it a heck of a lot easier. Goal: pay off in full (online) as soon as you make the purchase.

  31. I have one. It’s from Chase and I get decent rewards. I had one more last year but closed it. My husband has one as well. Its from Wamu but will be Chase soon enough. He does not get rewards points and will be closed once it is paid off.

  32. We have (had) three cards. One, we paid off about six months ago. It felt great to have a totally paid off card! Until they sent me a letter last week saying that they’ve closed the account due to inactivity and to please destroy our cards. If I’d known they wanted to do that, I would have transfered balance from the 2nd card which is half paid off. Now our debt ratio has changed (and not for the better) thanks to a formerly paid-off-$6000-limit-card just got forcibly closed without warning. So BEWARE!!

  33. True story: a few years ago I was in Mexico at a night club. It was about 3:00 AM, and after about 15 beers, I decided to call it a night and pay my tab. The total was a few hundred dollars (this was before my frugal days), and I handed them a debit card, and the waiter came back a few minutes with a frown and said, “Sorry, señor, but your card was declined, do you have another one?” I got a little bit concerned but gave him a second card. A few minutes later they came back again with a frown and said “Sorry, señor, but this card was declined also. Do you have another?” At this point I started to panic; in Mexico you can’t just skip out on a bill, if you try to, they will drive you out to the middle of nowhere and feed you to a cage full of hungry lions. Being very late and in inebriated state and far away from home I could not call my bank and rectify the situation. I gave him a third card, held my breath for a long 10 minutes, and miraculously it was accepted. Called Bank of America (issuer of debit card which got declined) the next day and raised hell for leaving me hanging. I’m sure there’s a lesson in here somewhere about the minimum number of cards you ought to carry.

  34. I carry 2, a Costco/AMEX & a Marriott Visa, both for their reward benefits & only use them for major purchases. Both are paid off in full, often on the same day a purchase is made. I mostly use a Visa debit card for day to day stuff. I have contemplated using one of the CC for everything (groceries to gas) to rack up the bennies, but DH doesn’t like that surprise at the end of the month.

  35. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. They do not usually happen on a weekday while sitting at home with access to your emergency fund in your money market account. I cannot imagine not carrying around a credit card when I travel – in the US or abroad, or when I am driving alone and my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, or when the heater blows on a Sunday afternoon on the coldest day of the year. I am more than happy to use my credit card. I will get the emergency money out of the money market account tomorrow.

  36. @Baker:

    Hotels don’t accept emergency funds as collateral when you book…only credit cards to hold the booking. You don’t actually need to use it to pay for the room or carry a balance, but it’s handy in that regard.

    So there is a legit reason for having one.

  37. I have a BP Visa I use for gas and online purchases. I know that using Debit card online is supposed to provide the same protection, but if somebody gets my debit card number the cash comes out of my account. With the CC I can get the problem fixed w/o ever being out any cash.

    I also have a Home Depot card that I opened for a 10% discount when I bought some appliances for my new house 3.5 years ago. (Paid the bill off that month, of course.) It hasn’t had a balance in over 3 years, but I figure I might use the 10% discount again if I need a lawn mower or something.

  38. I have 3 cards- a Discover that I use most often for cash rebates, a Visa in the event a business doesn’t take Discover, and American Express for business purchases. I’ve always had the balance paid off before a statement would arrive.

  39. 2. One with a bank that I really like that is about a year old. Another on from the credit union I grew up with so I can have a really old open credit account in my credit history.

  40. 1 business card company provided and no personal cc, just my debit card. Although I carry all my relevant cc numbers in my blackberry, but you can’t swipe that at a resturant or gas station :-)

  41. I carry two cards with me. One is a Mastercard that I use often because I can accumulate points on it. And the other is a store card because of the perks that come along with it. I use the latter in small amounts and pay it right away to avoid carrying a balance.

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