Cash 1 Blog
How Many Lines of Credit Should You Have?
There is no one size fits all answer to how many lines of credit you should have. The perfect balance for you depends on the requirements, your ability to pay them off, and how you use your line of credit. Having two lines of credit could be too many if you can't afford to make your payments or don't have plans to use it soon.
A new line of credit may improve your credit score. However, you should never take out an additional line of credit unless necessary. Applying for multiple lines of credit in a short period is not advised, and having too many lines of credit make you look risky to lenders.
How Many Lines of Credit Do Americans Have?
While Americans, on average, have nearly four credit cards each, that's only a national average. FICO discovered that cardholders in the excellent range of credit, scores 750 to 850, had three open accounts. They had a total of six lines of credit if you include closed accounts.
New Jersey residents have an average 3.49 credit cards.
New York residents have an average 3.34 credit cards.
Rhode Island residents have an average 3.26 credit cards.
Hawaii residents have an average 3.25 credit cards.
California residents have an average 3.23 credit cards.
Do Lines of Credit Affect Your Credit Score?
How many lines of credit you have doesn't directly affect your credit score. More important than the number of credit lines you have is whether you pay on time and what percentage of your available credit you use. Most people with excellent FICO scores, 795 or higher, do not have late payments on their credit reports. They also only use 7% of their credit limit. If you're thinking of opening or closing a revolving line of credit, keep these in mind:
Your Payment History
How much credit you use and your payment history determine 65% of your FICO score. Paying your credit lines on time is far more important than how many lines of credit you have. If you want to build your credit score fast - pay your credit bills on time.
Your Credit Utilization
How much of the credit limit you use, called the credit utilization ratio, accounts for one-third of your credit score. Keeping your ratio below 30% can help you maximize your credit score.
If you open a new line of credit and increase your overall credit line, it could help build your credit score by decreasing your credit utilization. It's important to know that applying for a new line of credit results in a hard credit inquiry which can temporarily drop your score a few points. You'll want to avoid applying for multiple credit lines; spacing applications six months apart will prevent numerous hard inquiries from affecting your score.
Your Credit History
The age of your line of credit is essential. Lenders and creditors like to see stable and long credit histories. But having one old line of credit that was appropriately managed is not enough.
Your credit score is the average of all the lines of credit that you have. A ding to your credit may be worth it if you close a line of credit when you feel the interest rate is too high or the service is terrible. It's always worth communicating with your lender to see your options before closing your credit line.
Your New Credit Accounts
Recently opened credit accounts calculate 10% of your credit score. The new credit can be detrimental to you if you have a short credit history. As mentioned before, you should wait at least six months before opening another.
Your Credit Mix
Another 10% of your FICO® score is your credit mix or amount of credit lines. The credit bureaus consider your variety of lines of credit, retail accounts, and credit cards. It's unnecessary to have each type of credit, but lenders like to see you manage a diverse range of credit lines.
Is It Good to Have Multiple Lines of Credit?
Yes, you can have multiple lines of credit at one time. Most people have several at a time. If you currently have credit cards, a mortgage, student loans, etc., you have more than one line of credit. There are pros to having multiple as long as you keep up with all payments.
Your FICO® score determines the amount and variety of loans you can manage at once. This is one of the most widely used credit scores, and having multiple lines of credit can boost it. FICO sees the variety of loans as experience with borrowing money. You won't benefit from multiple lines of credit if you don't keep up with payments, have a high credit utilization rate, and use unhealthy credit practices.
Even though having more than one line of credit can be helpful, it comes with potential risks. When you have multiple loans, you are adding additional interest to your monthly expenses. If you have high interest rates, it could become challenging to meet all payment obligations on time.With multiple lines of credit to pay off, it is easier to forget to pay a bill. This could negatively impact your credit score and affect your chances of getting a long-term or short-term loan.If you take out too many lines of credit, FICO may see this as you being in financial trouble.
How to Manage Multiple Lines of Credit
When you want to build your credit, it's best to have at least two open lines of credit. Keep your oldest credit line open, and you should be able to get an upgrade after making payments on time for six months. There are many ways to manage your credit line, so here are scenarios for one, two, and three or more lines of credit.
One Line of Credit
One credit account is common, especially if you're starting or building from any financial mistakes. If you have more established credit, you may choose to have a single line of credit to avoid any temptation of overspending or forgetting to make a payment. The only issue with having only one credit line is that you may be leaving savings on the table.
Two Lines of Credit
If you don't have any debt with your two credit lines, you could use a pair of reward cards. One might offer cashback rewards, and the other could give you travel rewards or discounts at your favorite store. If you have debt or are preparing to make a large purchase that could take months to resolve, you should use a rewards card for everyday spending and a 0% card for financing.
Three or More Lines of Credit
Having a third credit line allows you to be more opportunistic with special offers and pick and choose the best terms. If you plan on paying in full, you can opt in for the best rewards card for your most significant monthly purchases. You can use two core cards and supplement with the best initial offers available. You could also use a couple of rewards cards with a 0% APR offer. But remember, the more lines of credit you have, the more you'll need to manage these financial responsibilities.
How to Choose the Right Number of Credit Lines
Expand As Your Credit Grows
The most important factor determining how many lines of credit you should have, or can have, is your experience. You'll need to ask yourself if you have established credit or are you starting out? The less experienced or, the worse your credit score is, the fewer options you'll have and the more you'll need to focus on one credit line and manage it responsibly.
Perfectly Manage Your One Card
If you have good or bad credit, you'll need to master a single line of credit before you expand to new horizons. It may take a year to pay more than the minimum requirement on time and avoid racking the balance. Adding a new line of credit to the mix could potentially increase your costs, hurt your current score and complicate matters.
Automate Your Payments
The best way to limit your chances of missing a payment is by setting up automatic payments. It's almost imperative if you have multiple due dates to remember. You'll have the option to pay a custom amount, pay the entire balance, or the minimum. You'll need to decide what works best for your budget, but if you've read this far, you know the option is to try and pay in full. Paying off cards you don't use often is essential because small balances can quickly add up with charges on small purchases that you may forget about.
Increase Your Spending Limit
If you want to increase your spending limit to decrease your credit utilization, consider asking your current card to increase your spending limit. You can avoid the risk and hassles of applying for a new line of credit.
Pros & Cons of Opening A New Account
- If you already have credit, you can lower your overall credit utilization ratio
- You can build your credit faster because more information is reported to major credit bureaus each month
- You can have access to 0% financing or better rewards You have emergencies covered with more credit
- You can take advantage of excellent sign-up perks
- You can increase your debt to unsustainable levels
- You can damage your credit temporarily
- You can have difficulty managing multiple due dates
Average Credit Card Balance by State
Are you wondering how your state matches up with a line of credit balances? Here's who has the highest credit balances.
Average Credit Card Balance
|District of Columbia
Are You Looking for A Line of Credit?
Noel Ballon is a skilled personal finance writer passionate about helping people to succeed financially.
As a guest writer for CASH1, Noel has shared his knowledge on a variety of financial issues, including budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning
Noel has a background in economics and finance with over five years of experience writing in the financial sector.
He works to simplify complicated financial ideas so that people from every area of society may understand them.
When Noel isn't writing, he likes keeping current on the latest financial sector changes and looking for fresh approaches to assisting people in choosing wise financial decisions.