How many credit cards can you handle? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There’s some consensus that no more than five, perhaps three, credit cards is optimal for the average adult. So, starting off, two-to-three, max., seems prudent.
Why more is better: Each credit card you get adds to your credit history and total available credit line. (If you have $3k on your Citi card and $2k on your Chase card that’s $5k in available credit.) Getting credit suggests you’re creditworthy and using just a fraction of your credit lines (30%-50%) says you’re in control.
Why more is less: Mounting debts and applying for too many cards suggests desperation. Define “too”? That’s part of FICO’s “secret sauce,” and they won’t explain their algorithims.
Insider information: A former FICO executive gives his answer to the question while the president of the nonprofit credit counseling agency, Family Credit Management, explains how credit card clutter factors into your FICO.