A Balancing Act: Multiple Credit Cards
Having multiple credit cards can be a good thing as long as you stay on top of them. The security of knowing you have more than one card to choose from is worth it. However, trying to juggle multiple cards with their due dates can be challenging. This gets even more challenging as you deal with different issuers. This article will give you nine tips to ensure that you successfully juggle your cards. We’ll also list a short pro and con list of having multiple cards. If you follow them, you’ll reduce the risk of having to pay late or unnecessary fees.
Nine Tips for Success with Multiple Credit Cards
You don’t want to pay extra fees because you accidentally mixed two cards due dates up. You also don’t want to forget a payment on any of your cards. Being organized will be the key component in preventing credit card mistakes.
- Sign up for Auto Pay
If you’re worried about remembering each due date, sign up for auto pay. This will take a huge portion of your problem away. If you’re trying to remember multiple due dates, it is so easy to forget one. If you’re even a single day late, you could get hit with late fees. It could also damage your credit. As long as you have money in the account to cover the payment, you should do fine.
- Set up Alerts
Even if you opt in for auto pay, you have to have money in the account to cover the cost. Set up payment due date alerts with the amounts for each credit card. Many lenders offer this for free when you get a credit card with them. You can choose credit card text alerts, email alerts, or both. Sites like credit karma offer a free alert system, or you can manually set them on your phone.
- Pay Your Balance off Each Month
If you can help it, don’t carry a credit card balance from month to month on any of your cards. This is doubly true for rewards credit cards. Those types of cards tend to have higher interest rates. You’ll end up paying them if you don’t pay the card off each month. This is also an easy way to let your debt get away from you. You may not realize how much you’re spending until you’re in a hole. Once you get stuck, it is hard to get back out and on the right track again.
- Make a Budget for Each Card
Sit down with all of your multiple credit cards and figure out what you can pay each month in total. Once you have this, divide it up between your cards. Once you set the budget amount, stick to it each month. A budget will ensure that you can afford to pay it off at the end of the billing cycle. You’ll also be able to keep track of exactly what is due on each card.
- Group Your Due Dates
Most lenders will let you change your due date. So, if you get paid on the first and fifteenth of each month, arrange your payments for those days. You could even split your cards up. You would pay half of them on the first and half on the fifteenth. However, if you don’t get paid on set days, allow some leeway. You want to make sure you have your money before the due date.
- Keep Track of Each Card’s Limits and Terms
If you have multiple credit cards, start a spreadsheet. Put each card with their interest rates, fees, restrictions, and conditions on it. This will help you decide which card to carry a balance on if you absolutely must. If you have rewards cards, use this spreadsheet for tracking those as well. You want to know if credit reward points expire, how many you have, and how you can maximize your rewards.
- Keep Your Credit Score in Mind
Ideally, you only want to use 30 percent or less of each card’s credit limit. If you go over, this will start lowering your credit score. So, it’s a good idea to keep track of each credit card’s limits and credit utilization. If you notice one getting too large, work on paying it down as quickly as you can.
- Monitor Your Credit Activity
You should be monitoring your credit card activity. However, if you have multiple cards, this is even more important. It is easier for identity thieves to steal your information with multiple cards. You should be checking each statement closely every month. If you notice an odd purchase, investigate it and notify your card issuer. You want to catch it early before they do a lot of damage.
- Utilize Online Card Tracking Services
Some apps will allow you to see all of your cards in one place. Taking advantage of these apps can help you when you’re trying to keep track of everything. They will display each of your cards in one place, and you can check your balances easily.
Pros and Cons of Multiple Credit Cards
Now that we’ve gone over a few tips to manage multiple credit cards. We’ll list pros and cons to having multiple credit card accounts. How many credit cards should you have? This should help you decide if multiple cards are right for you.
Pros of Having Multiple Credit Cards
- You’ll have an available backup card for travel.
- If you lose a card, you’ll still have access to credit from another card. You won’t have to wait for a replacement.
- Flexibility for which card you use for cash back or other reward offers.
Cons of Having Multiple Credit Cards
- It can be difficult to remember due dates.
- It’s easier to let your spending get away from you.
- Multiple new accounts can lower your FICO credit score.
This article has gone over nine tips to help you manage your multiple cards. We talked about options you have, and how to utilize them. Finally, we listed pros and cons of using multiple credit cards. You should know if multiple cards for every day purchases are a good or a bad idea for your lifestyle. If you take these points into consideration, you should have success with your credit cards.
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