Consider these factors before signing up for every card that sends you an approval notice
With so many credit cards available to match the many strategies for building and maintaining a healthy credit rating, it can be difficult for millennials to figure out exactly which ones to consider.
On one hand, no credit can be just as bad as bad credit. On the other hand, if you have too many credit cards in your wallet, you could find yourself quickly losing control of your finances and accumulating debt that seems impossible to get out from under. Here are some things to consider when determining how many credit cards you should have in your wallet.
Build Credit With a Single Credit Card
Fortunately, if your goal is to begin establishing credit, you don’t have to sign up for everycard that sends you an approval notice. In fact, if responsibly managed, one credit card can be just as beneficial, if not more beneficial to establishing good credit than an entire wallet full. If you aren’t sure you can handle credit, focus on using one card and keeping the balance as low as possible. And, in order to ensure your debt doesn’t grow out of control, it’s crucial that you are diligent in paying your entire balance in full every month.
Consider Your Spending Habits
If you never use a credit card, you might wonder whether it’s worth the risk of getting yourself into debt, even with just one card. If you examine your monthly spending habits, however, you’ll likely be able to see that you already have many spending opportunities that you could use a card for instead of cash. Whether it’s groceries, fast food, gas or travel, you can simply plan to use your card for those particular purchases. This allows you to build your credit score and limit your debt on expenses you plan to make anyway. Plus, many cards offer extra rewards and benefits, depending on the type of purchase you make.
There are credit cards for nearly every type of purchase. However, if you are fairly new to the world of credit, there’s almost never any reason to carry multiple credit cards even if they each focus on rewarding a particular type of purchase. If you aren’t able to pay your balance in full each month, you are not only charged high interest, but you will find that the interest cancels out any benefits or rewards. In order to keep control of your debt, it’s usually best to examine the type of purchase you make most often and then select one or two cards that you can use for those purchases.
Because of the high interest rates often associated with new credit cards, they aren’t always ideal for emergency situations. In fact, many of these cards also carry annual fees that can become expensive if you simply want to use them as an emergency fund. Part of building your credit score requires using your credit and making your payments on time. Holding a card in case of an emergency may not do anything to help your credit, could cost you extra money and in the end, put you in debt and actually ruin your credit. It’s best to instead focus on saving money and building an emergency fund, rather than relying on a credit card that could cost you significantly more in the end.
Use a Debit Card for Convenience
Although it’s generally recommended to use at least one credit card to begin building your credit, if you look at your spending and income, and you aren’t sure you can manage the account responsibly, it may be best to wait. Before debit cards, this meant going without the convenience of plastic. However, these days, a debit card with the Visa or MasterCard logo is acceptable for almost all types of credit card purchases, including car rentals. If you aren’t quite prepared to manage a credit card, there’s no reason you can’t wait until you are in a better position to do so.
Culled from USnews.com
Written by:Greg Go is the co-founder of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card education blog, where you can find tips on how to find the best travel credit cards.