9/17/2012 12:56 PM ET|
How many credit cards is too many?
5. You are saving less than 10% of your gross income. If you look at your savings and you're not comfortable with what you see, it could be that you are spending (and charging) more than you can afford. Ideally, Lazarus says, you should be saving 10% or more of your gross income.
For example, if you earn $3,000 every two weeks (taking home $2,300 after taxes and other deductions), you should be able to save at least $300 every two weeks.
If that goal is too hard to achieve, fewer credit cards or none at all might be the way to go. "Less or no credit is better, because you will avoid overspending, underpaying, incurring excessive interest and reducing your credit score," Lazarus says.
Next steps: If, after reading this, you are convinced you have too many credit cards, should you immediately start closing accounts? And how do you know which cards to keep?
If you are looking to cut the number of credit cards you own, Howard says the first ones to go should be store credit cards, specifically those not carrying a MasterCard, Visa or American Express logo.
"Store credit cards are easily given to individuals with low creditworthiness," Howard says. "Once you have MasterCard, Visa or American Express, you need to start thinking about closing those store cards, because they will only hurt you during a loan application process."
Don't close all your cards at the same time, though. Every time you close a credit card account, your credit scores take a small hit. Howard's advice is to close them at six-month intervals, so your credit scores have time to recover before you cancel the next card.
Lazarus suggests hanging onto credit cards that have no annual fees and no overseas transaction fees and that offer rebates or cash-back rewards. He says the Chase Ultimate Cash Award MasterCard, CapitalOne Visa and American Express Blue cards are worth considering. "If you're going to use credit, you might as well make the most from it. In today's world, credit card issuers want your business and are willing to reward you for it."
If you find that the number of credit cards you have isn't causing you any problems, Experian's Griffin says you should be focusing on other financial issues that could be having a greater effect on your creditworthiness.
On the other hand, if you find it difficult to curb your spending or use of credit, you may want to check in with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Another useful resource is AdviceIQ, which lists financial advisers in your area.
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