Too many credit cards?

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Topic Author
germark
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Too many credit cards?

Post by germark » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:53 pm

For most of my life I never had a credit card. Despite everyone telling me how having one would increase my credit score and give me "rewards", I just wasn't interested. I thought: "These companies only make money when someone makes a mistake in managing their own finances. I don't want to do business with them."

This was fine until, 10 years ago, I wasn't able to rent a car because they required a credit card (my debit card wasn't OK!). Fast forward 10 years and now I have 3 credit cards, each with slightly different cash back rewards:

Amazon: 5% cash back at Amazon / Whole Foods, 2% at restaurants / drugstores, 1% everywhere else
AmEx Blue: 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% at department stores, 1% everywhere else
Capital One: 1.5% everywhere

The problem? This all feels too complicated for me. I hate having 3 extra statements to review each month. I hate thinking about which card to use at which store. And during a recent busy period I was late on a payment. I couldn't help but wonder how many months of "rewards" that one late payment wiped out. (Someone recommend setting up autopay, but I like to review bills before paying them.)

I can't help but think that all these different discount cards are advertising in a way that I emotionally respond to ("imagine saving 1.5% on all your expenses for life!"). But that at the end of the day, it's kind of led me astray.

Thoughts?

TravelGeek
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by TravelGeek » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:08 pm

How much spend do you put on your cards, and how much cash back do you earn? Only you can decide if those “earnings” are worth the hassle you perceive. Perhaps a single 2% cash back card would be both simpler and give you enough of a rebate? You need to look at your spend by categories and do the math.

I’d configure any credit card accounts to at least pay the minimum amount due before the due date, so if you get busy again you are not completely missing a payment.

delamer
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by delamer » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:10 pm

If 3 cards are too complicated, then either cancel or just put away 1 or 2 of them. Or even stop using them altogether except where absolutely necessary.

Some places don’t take AmEx so I’d keep one of the others if you decide to cancel.

If you are concerned about your credit score, than it probably would be better to put them away rather than cancelling.

Topic Author
germark
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by germark » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:12 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:08 pm
How much spend do you put on your cards, and how much cash back do you earn? Only you can decide if those “earnings” are worth the hassle you perceive. Perhaps a single 2% cash back card would be both simpler and give you enough of a rebate? You need to look at your spend by categories and do the math.
I think that, combined, I put anywhere between $2k and $3k on them a month.

inverter
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by inverter » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:13 pm

I have five credit cards.

Ztx
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Ztx » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:20 pm

I have around 10 (around 4 active and 6 churning)... 3 is not a big deal at all.

if you want simplicity then you can just get Citi Doublecash that gives 2% cashback on everything and use it everywhere.

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BL
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by BL » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:22 pm

Pick the one that works the best for you for most things and stuff one in a safe place, and tuck one somewhere in your billfold as a backup, especially if you choose AmEx as it may not be accepted everywhere. Use the other 2 at least once a year to keep them active. Not everyone likes to play the game of getting every last cent by keeping up with the different paybacks.

28fe6
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by 28fe6 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:24 pm

Just keep one credit card then. That's all there is to it. If I had to choose, I'd probably keep my Uber Visa or my Fido 2% Visa.

I'm not going to choose though, because I find the perks worth it. Nowadays I don't get paper statements and I always set up auto-pay. Heck with Google pay I don't even have to carry the cards. I am liable to cancel a card if it's a hassle; I dumped my BOA cards because they were a hassle. I had to go into a branch for something, and that was too much for me to be worth it.

JGoneRiding
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:28 pm

First you should have called right away and asked for the late fee to be waved almost always wave a late fee on the first go!

I don't fine 3 excessive but if you do then it is. I find 5 to much and am deciding which to cancel. I hear the citi 2 to 3 % on every thing is a good card.

If you travel outside the US at all keep a card that has no currency exchange fees and then you always want at least 2 because it's common for one to get turned off while traveling

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Stinky
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Stinky » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:40 pm

Ztx wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:20 pm
I have around 10 (around 4 active and 6 churning)... 3 is not a big deal at all.

if you want simplicity then you can just get Citi Doublecash that gives 2% cashback on everything and use it everywhere.
My situation is similar.

I use the Doublecash as the primary card - except for Amazon for Amazon purchases and Costco card for gas, travel, and Costco purchases. No problem keeping up with these three.
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folkher0
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by folkher0 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:28 pm

We put everything on cards. We “earn” rewards. It feels good. It pays for our travel. It seems like free money.

However I think your point about complexity is very true. Will these “rewards” actually improve my quality of life? Probably not.

I know that we probably spend more because we use credit for almost all of our purchases. My house seems like an amazon warehouse some days. Most of it is crap that we don’t truly need, but boy it was so cheap and easy...

All around we would probably be better off just using cash and staying off the internet.

The fact that the game causes you enough anxiety to post the question suggests in your case, you’d probably be happier letting go of the cards or at least simplifying it down to one do it all card.

colonialrampage
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by colonialrampage » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:51 pm

My wife gets a little overwhelmed by the figuring out which credit card to use in which situation (we have 6) so I get it.

Auto-pay and reviewing the bills can work together. I have my accounts to e-mail me statements so I can review them. Assuming all is well the auto-payments go out a week or so later.

If you want to fully simplify, I'd say get down to two cards.

1. Sign up for the Citi DoubleCash card (2% on everything).
2. Save your Amazon credit card info on Amazon and then put it in a drawer.

You only need to carry around 1 card and minimize the work to be done.

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tuningfork
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by tuningfork » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:10 am

I've been in a simplification phase for awhile, which includes no longer trying to optimize every penny of credit card rewards. That said, I do juggle several reward cards but it's very simple and has become second nature:
  • Amex Blue Cash Preferred at grocery stores (6%) and gas stations (3%).
  • Citi ThankYou Preferred at restaurants (3 points).
  • Amazon card used only at Amazon for 5%. It's saved as the default card at Amazon. I never carry the Amazon card with me and never have to remove it from the sock drawer, so there are no decisions to make with it.
  • Citi DoubleCash everywhere else (2%).
With this simple routine I get close to $1000 in cashback rewards every year. If I mess up and use the wrong card, no worries, it's usually only a dollar or two I miss out on.

I have all credit cards set to autopay the full amount on the due date. Late payments are impossible as long as I have enough money in my checking account. Credit card statements are available online about 3 weeks before the due date so there is plenty of time to be sure all the charges are correct before the automatic payments are made. It's easy to cancel the autopay and pay manually if necessary, but I've never had to do that. In actuality I review charges as they occur by using email or SMS alerts of charges, and by downloading transactions into Moneydance. The few times when a fraudulent charge has occurred that was not caught by the credit card company, I noticed as soon as the unrecognized charge occurred, reported it right away, and had it removed before it even appeared on the statement.

Ndop
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Ndop » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:13 am

I appreciate where you're coming from. We started playing the credit card game a few years ago, having opened almost 10 during that time. Some of my frustrations:
I sometimes forget which card is the best to use in various situations. My wife forgets even more often.
I forgot I had over 50,000 airline miles from one card, and they expired.
I don't find any pleasure in monitoring all the accounts to make sure all the transactions were legit, the rewards have been redeemed, and payment amounts will be covered by what's in my checking.

needadvise1
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by needadvise1 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:20 am

I open 3-4 cards a year to loot the sign-up bonuses.

I travel to Europe/Asia every year in Business/First class. I have never bought a ticket with cash.

I keep others because the annual fees ($60-80) covers a free hotel night which I always use in some city costing $200-250, or buy one get one free airlines tickets.

There has been minimal to no impact on credit.

Use awardwallet.com for the point/expiration tracking.

Keep open what's important to you, but outside of exceeding your own self control and organizational capabilities, there's no harm in having many open.

Starfish
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Starfish » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:54 am

OP:
I am not sure what kind of feedback you want. You can't at the same time maximize all the rewards AND have only one card. It's your choice to have 3 because you want all those points.
The "solution" to your so called problem is obvious:
1. Cancel or don't use 2 or all 3 credit cards. But you want to get the rewards.
2. Set autopay like everybody else. But you want to read the statements, although you don't want to read the statements...

You want to have your cake and eat it too. There is no magic recipe for that on this forum.

By the way, autopay and statements come weeks apart, so you still can stop autopay if you have an issue.

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danielc
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by danielc » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:00 am

germark wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:53 pm
For most of my life I never had a credit card. Despite everyone telling me how having one would increase my credit score and give me "rewards", I just wasn't interested. I thought: "These companies only make money when someone makes a mistake in managing their own finances. I don't want to do business with them."

This was fine until, 10 years ago, I wasn't able to rent a car because they required a credit card (my debit card wasn't OK!). Fast forward 10 years and now I have 3 credit cards, each with slightly different cash back rewards:

Amazon: 5% cash back at Amazon / Whole Foods, 2% at restaurants / drugstores, 1% everywhere else
AmEx Blue: 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% at department stores, 1% everywhere else
Capital One: 1.5% everywhere

The problem? This all feels too complicated for me. I hate having 3 extra statements to review each month. I hate thinking about which card to use at which store. And during a recent busy period I was late on a payment. I couldn't help but wonder how many months of "rewards" that one late payment wiped out. (Someone recommend setting up autopay, but I like to review bills before paying them.)

I can't help but think that all these different discount cards are advertising in a way that I emotionally respond to ("imagine saving 1.5% on all your expenses for life!"). But that at the end of the day, it's kind of led me astray.

Thoughts?

I agree that Americans put way too much emphasis on credit cards, and rewards, and stuff like that. I have two credit cards. I picked the one I like best and I ignore the other. This way I only have one statement and one card to keep track of.

JBTX
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by JBTX » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:13 am

Just find a 2% cash back card and roll with it.

I have 15-20 cards, many opened for up front bonuses, others for ongoing rewards. The way I keep on top of them:

1. Set up all on autopsy
2. Set them all up in Quicken. Run/download transactions at least once per week. I rarely have to look at statements
3 set up text and email alerts for transactions, unusual trx or past due balances.

It is a bit of a juggle, but for me the rewards are worth it - thousands of dollars per year.

I've accidentally missed a payment maybe 3 times in my life. Each time I call the card company and ask for forgiveness and they will waive the fees. They will usually do that at least once for you. I recently missed one because I thought the auto pay was setup for the next payment but it didnt process until the following payment. Luckily I caught it one day after due date due to alerts.

Yes, all this is a bit of a fire drill, but it is worth it for the rewards, and is kind of a game to me.

Tonight bought a used car for my kid, dealer let me put $10k of it on credit cards. Put $3000 on a card that will earn a $500 upfront bonus, and the other $7000 went on a 2% card which will net $140.

likegarden
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by likegarden » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:07 am

I also have only one credit card account, at Capital One, which has 2 different credit cards for wife and me. That's all we ever need, and it is simple.

BuckyBadger
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by BuckyBadger » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:09 am

TravelGeek wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:08 pm
How much spend do you put on your cards, and how much cash back do you earn? Only you can decide if those “earnings” are worth the hassle you perceive. Perhaps a single 2% cash back card would be both simpler and give you enough of a rebate? You need to look at your spend by categories and do the math.

I’d configure any credit card accounts to at least pay the minimum amount due before the due date, so if you get busy again you are not completely missing a payment.
This is word for word what i was going to suggest.

We have 4 cards but only use two regularly. We have minimum payments set up automatically.

Citi cashbacks card for everything except Amazon. Amazon card for that. An old Visa with no rewards but also with no foreign transaction fee for traveling overseas. And i still keep a very old Visa that i almost never use but had credit history for me for like 20 years so I'm afraid to close it!

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:32 am

BuckyBadger wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:09 am
This is word for word what i was going to suggest.

We have 4 cards but only use two regularly. We have minimum payments set up automatically.

Citi cashbacks card for everything except Amazon. Amazon card for that. An old Visa with no rewards but also with no foreign transaction fee for traveling overseas. And i still keep a very old Visa that i almost never use but had credit history for me for like 20 years so I'm afraid to close it!
Surely you don't mean you're carrying a balance on these cards? Did you mean to say you were automatically paying the balances in full each month?
germark wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:53 pm
For most of my life I never had a credit card. Despite everyone telling me how having one would increase my credit score and give me "rewards", I just wasn't interested. I thought: "These companies only make money when someone makes a mistake in managing their own finances. I don't want to do business with them."

This was fine until, 10 years ago, I wasn't able to rent a car because they required a credit card (my debit card wasn't OK!). Fast forward 10 years and now I have 3 credit cards, each with slightly different cash back rewards:

Amazon: 5% cash back at Amazon / Whole Foods, 2% at restaurants / drugstores, 1% everywhere else
AmEx Blue: 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% at department stores, 1% everywhere else
Capital One: 1.5% everywhere

The problem? This all feels too complicated for me. I hate having 3 extra statements to review each month. I hate thinking about which card to use at which store. And during a recent busy period I was late on a payment. I couldn't help but wonder how many months of "rewards" that one late payment wiped out. (Someone recommend setting up autopay, but I like to review bills before paying them.)

I can't help but think that all these different discount cards are advertising in a way that I emotionally respond to ("imagine saving 1.5% on all your expenses for life!"). But that at the end of the day, it's kind of led me astray.

Thoughts?
A few comments.

1) You mention you don't want autopay because you want to review bills before paying them. Credit card statements are issue weeks before the payment is due, usually 3-4 weeks. Plenty of time to review the statement. You can note the statement date on your calendar and pull the electronic version the day after it's created, and have even more time. And of course you can either download transactions anytime you want, or log in and review them. So that knocks down that concern.

2) You don't like to have to decide at each store what card to use. Two options - a) put a slip of paper in front of your cards in your wallet telling you when to use what, or b) simply have a default card (like Citi DoubleCash) for most things. For example, using your Amazon card at Amazon and Whole Foods.

I don't play some of the games that others do, but last year I earned over $800, and none of that was due to one-time bonuses.

We use our credit cards for every possible payment - insurance company, utility bills, all normal spending.

However, if it generates a level of stress for you, then pick one and just use it.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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k3vb0t
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by k3vb0t » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:36 am

You can still set up automatic payments and if you find a problem on the bill after reviewing it, call and get it sorted... literally no reason not to set up automatic payments.

mptfan
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by mptfan » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:53 am

I agree with your thoughts, three cards is too much to keep track of and it's not worth the extra few dollars of rewards. I have two credit cards and that's just the right balance for me between simplicity and hassle.

Mike Scott
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Mike Scott » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:53 am

If you are going to use a credit card at all, you should keep a minimum of two different ones open in case one of them gets closed for fraud etc you still have an open card to use. You sound like a candidate for a couple of Visa / MC free 2% cards. Skip the American Epress for minimalism. Perhaps the BOA 2.65% or Alliant 3/2.5% if you really want a single card. I enjoy the "game" and it only takes a few minutes a month to generate rewards that are worth several thousand dollars per year. My wife generally carries 4 cards written on with a sharpie for category; 5% gas, 6% groceries, 4X retaurants and a 2% card for anything else. I keep the same set plus what ever new card bonus I'm working on. Review and switch at the end of the month.

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jfn111
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by jfn111 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:38 am

With auto pay you can set it up to pay just the minimum due. We pay our credit cards off weekly but we have the auto pay in place just in case we miss something.

Jefferson
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Jefferson » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:47 am

I think you need at least two credit cards. I have a visa and an Amex.

1) I like my Amex, but some places might not take it.

2) You always need a backup. It’s becoming more common for card banks to flag suspicious purchases. That’s great, but it also means that your card can get shut down until you call them.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:53 am

I've got a couple dozen card because I open them for bonus, use some for low balance forgiveness and do tradeline sales. For the above shenanigans, I keep a list posted on my cork board in my office, so I know which ones are for those purposes.

Then I have the rotating category ones like Chase Freedom (5% category) and Discover (5% category) and Lowes and Target that are always 5% at those stores.

And of course some like Uber and Bank of America various ones.

But unless I'm buying something big.....like a possible upcoming $400 chainsaw, everything goes on either my Fidelity 2% or my Citi double cash 2%. So I really don't have to keep track of all that much. You could get one of those or simply use your cap one card for the 1.5% and be done with it. Put the other 2 on paperless so you won't get bothered by statements.
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Toons
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Toons » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:00 am

2 cards here.
5% Prime card for everything ,,,,other than
Gas-Sam's card.
No hassle to check balances,online.
Have it auto debited.
Or pay whenever.
:mrgreen:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

Shallowpockets
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Shallowpockets » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:18 am

needadvise1 wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:20 am
I open 3-4 cards a year to loot the sign-up bonuses.

I travel to Europe/Asia every year in Business/First class. I have never bought a ticket with cash.

I keep others because the annual fees ($60-80) covers a free hotel night which I always use in some city costing $200-250, or buy one get one free airlines tickets.

There has been minimal to no impact on credit.

Use awardwallet.com for the point/expiration tracking.

Keep open what's important to you, but outside of exceeding your own self control and organizational capabilities, there's no harm in having many open.
Curious here. How much do you spend annually to get all this? Free notel nights, business and first class, every year?
A quick look at a mileage awards chart show in excess of 100,000 miles one way for business class. So a trip for two is 400,000 miles.
Am I missing something?

Horsefly
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Horsefly » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:22 am

JBTX wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:13 am
Just find a 2% cash back card and roll with it.

I have 15-20 cards, many opened for up front bonuses, others for ongoing rewards. The way I keep on top of them:

1. Set up all on autopsy
....
Do you need to kill the card before you do the autopsy? :)

Back to the OP: I have about 6-7 cards, and I have created Google calendar events for when each statement is available, and a Google calendar reminder to pay each a week or two after the statement is available. This makes it so I never forget.

TravelGeek
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by TravelGeek » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:25 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:32 am
Surely you don't mean you're carrying a balance on these cards? Did you mean to say you were automatically paying the balances in full each month?
I think I was the one who originally said “minimum payment due”, and I meant it. I don’t set up autopay for the full balance due, just the minimum payment due, because the plan is to never actually trigger it. It is just the fail safe to avoid overdue payment penalties in case for some reason I forget to review a particular card and fail to pay. I don’t always keep enough cash in a zero percent checking account to have a random/varying autopay go through at random times (I know I could set up overdraft protection from my Ally Savings account to my Ally checking account, but I prefer to not do that).

I do review my credit card charges/balances every week and schedule payments manually. I have about a dozen cards and most will have no charges in any given month. The weekly review is part of the “cost of doing business” in the game of earning awards. Cost is perhaps 10 mins each week to review and update my spreadsheet. Probably less than I spend reading/writing about the awards game on BH.org ;)

TravelGeek
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by TravelGeek » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:37 am

germark wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:12 pm
TravelGeek wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:08 pm
How much spend do you put on your cards, and how much cash back do you earn? Only you can decide if those “earnings” are worth the hassle you perceive. Perhaps a single 2% cash back card would be both simpler and give you enough of a rebate? You need to look at your spend by categories and do the math.
I think that, combined, I put anywhere between $2k and $3k on them a month.
That by itself isn’t sufficient information. You need to look at your spend by categories. How much falls into the 5% Amazon category (where a 2% cashback card would be at a disadvantage), how much falls into the 1.5% category (where the 2% card would win).

An easier way to figure this out is to just calculate the total sum of your awards (A) last year across all cards and the total spend put on the cards (S). Then calculate the hypothetical cashback (H) you could have earned if you had simplified with a single 2% card. H is, of course 0.02 * S.

H > A — your “complicated” card game actually earned you less money than the simple 2% cash card. If you think last year was a typical spend year, get a 2% card and use it for everything and be happy about a simplified life.

A > H — you successfully beat the 2% card based on your spend pattern, and the difference is what you need to look at to determine if this is actually worth the perceived hassle. You pay for that extra earnings with your “life complication”.

Whatever you do, I would keep more than one card from more than one bank to avoid situations where the one and only card gets locked or compromised. Especially inconvenient when traveling. Just use the backup card once or twice a year for a small charge to keep it active.

jrbdmb
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by jrbdmb » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:47 am

germark wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:53 pm
For most of my life I never had a credit card. Despite everyone telling me how having one would increase my credit score and give me "rewards", I just wasn't interested. I thought: "These companies only make money when someone makes a mistake in managing their own finances. I don't want to do business with them."

This was fine until, 10 years ago, I wasn't able to rent a car because they required a credit card (my debit card wasn't OK!). Fast forward 10 years and now I have 3 credit cards, each with slightly different cash back rewards:

Amazon: 5% cash back at Amazon / Whole Foods, 2% at restaurants / drugstores, 1% everywhere else
AmEx Blue: 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% at department stores, 1% everywhere else
Capital One: 1.5% everywhere

The problem? This all feels too complicated for me. I hate having 3 extra statements to review each month. I hate thinking about which card to use at which store. And during a recent busy period I was late on a payment. I couldn't help but wonder how many months of "rewards" that one late payment wiped out. (Someone recommend setting up autopay, but I like to review bills before paying them.)

I can't help but think that all these different discount cards are advertising in a way that I emotionally respond to ("imagine saving 1.5% on all your expenses for life!"). But that at the end of the day, it's kind of led me astray.

Thoughts?
One thing to minimize hassle and avoid late payments (beside auto payments, which I don't really like either) is to set up a consistent date when your card payments are due. In my case I know all my credit cards payments are due around the 15th give or take a few days, so by the 10th I need to go online and check each card and make a payment if necessary. Haven't had a late payment in years, and I don't have to think about my credit cards multiple times per week (no time for that).

I'd also note that most getting "thousands" of dollars per year in bonuses are playing the signup bonus game. While this can be lucrative, it is definitely more time consuming and is getting more difficult to play as more card issuers implement measures to prevent churning.
Last edited by jrbdmb on Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

frugalmama
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by frugalmama » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:52 am

Ztx wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:20 pm
I have around 10 (around 4 active and 6 churning)... 3 is not a big deal at all.

if you want simplicity then you can just get Citi Doublecash that gives 2% cashback on everything and use it everywhere.
That describes me. I don't find it to be a big deal at all.

OP, you can still review your bill even on auto pay. Put the bill on auto pay and then put a date on your calendar each month to review. Paying and reviewing are 2 separate actions. I review my credit card transactions weekly (just like I would my bank account or even investment account) even though I never mess with paying the bill. This has made sure I've never had a late payment. It also makes sure that I get the transactions in my budget and that no one has gained access to my credit card or bank account.

dbr
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by dbr » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:56 am

The thought is that three cards is not very many. As you have learned and others mention at least two is sort of a necessary number to be functional in out economy or about anywhere in the world really. There are even places here and there where you can't use cash. This has nothing to do with rewards either. I think it is just a fact of life you'll have to adjust to managing.

LawyersGunsAndMoney
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by LawyersGunsAndMoney » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:07 am

It's a total no-brainer to turn auto-pay on for the minimum balance. Will prevent the credit-ding, loss of rewards etc. for late payments, and will also send you an email reminder that your payment was made (which serves as an additional reminder to pay your balance in full).

As far as your overall strategy goes, just simplify and use one card as "front of wallet" for all purchases. I would make this decision based on which card you currently hold offers the best rewards/benefits for your ovreall spending habits AND which has the easist to use interface (for example, Amex lets me see my spending vs. wife's, my Chase Visa lumps them together bc its the same card #).

And honestly, don't even worry about lost opportunity by not strategically using your cash back cards. The entire category of cash back cards is supposed to be simple. The most valuable rewards are found on higher-fee points cards - but that is a whole other complicated ballgame (in terms of both earning AND redeeming). If you like cash back, embrace simplicity, and just pick a card...any card...

Jags4186
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:08 am

This sounds like a non problem. Cut down to 1 card, keep a 2nd as a backup, and only use it when necessary if you don’t want to use credit cards. I reject the premise that having 2 or 3 monthly credit card bills is adding complication to your life unless you have some sort of mental disability. I don’t mean that as a joke, I’m serious. The amount of time spent making this post could have been spent doing a quick once over of your credit cards online activity to see if anything strange is there and then clicking pay now.

bloom2708
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by bloom2708 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:33 am

We use 3 cards. My wife uses 1, I use another and automatic payments come out of a 3rd that gets 529 rewards. Not too complicated, but we could probably get by with 1.

I am one of those strange people that pay our credit cards off every time we get paid. 15th and 30th I pay them off. I charged spring semester of oldest kids college. I paid it off the day after it cleared on the credit card.

I don't worry about statements and holding to the last day to pay the statement. We use them to get some rewards and it makes tracking/categorization in Personal Capital easier.

Carry 1, leave the other 2 at home. I would dump the AmEx. We had the Costco one, but when they switch to Visa, we ditched the AmEx.

Good luck!
Last edited by bloom2708 on Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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iamblessed
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by iamblessed » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:38 am

I don't like credit cards that much and I am lazy with them. I just use a 2% card with everything and have only one bill to pay a month. I might not make the most money but it is so easy.

BayouBoy
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by BayouBoy » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:11 am

I have five cards, but only use two regularly, both cash-back, one for online purchases, the other for everyday. To help simplify, I put all the cards to the same billing date, and all statements sent to the same email address. Thus, I can expect that by the 24th of every month all the monthly credit card statements will be available for review and electronic payment from my checking account. The payment due dates are likewise the same for all the cards.

robertmcd
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by robertmcd » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:20 am

Depending on what airline you fly credit cards are an incredible tool. If you fly southwest with a significant other there is no reason why you should not have the companion pass every year. I have not paid for a SW ticket in years due to Chase UR and SW rapid rewards. Chase quadfecta is a heck of a combo to hold long term

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Freedom unlimited
Chase freedom
Chase ink cash

Then churn thru all these bad boys to load up on points and get the companion pass

SW plus, premier, priority, and premier business
Chase ink preferred
Chase ink unlimited
United mileage plus

robertmcd
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by robertmcd » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:23 am

Shallowpockets wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:18 am
needadvise1 wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:20 am
I open 3-4 cards a year to loot the sign-up bonuses.

I travel to Europe/Asia every year in Business/First class. I have never bought a ticket with cash.

I keep others because the annual fees ($60-80) covers a free hotel night which I always use in some city costing $200-250, or buy one get one free airlines tickets.

There has been minimal to no impact on credit.

Use awardwallet.com for the point/expiration tracking.

Keep open what's important to you, but outside of exceeding your own self control and organizational capabilities, there's no harm in having many open.
Curious here. How much do you spend annually to get all this? Free notel nights, business and first class, every year?
A quick look at a mileage awards chart show in excess of 100,000 miles one way for business class. So a trip for two is 400,000 miles.
Am I missing something?
Also there are many ways to meet minimum spend for bonuses without actually making purchases. Chase cards code as a purchase for most banks that allow credit card funding. PNC bank lets you open and fund with a cc up to 6 accounts with 2000 each. GTE lets you fund with a credit card $5000

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ofcmetz
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by ofcmetz » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:36 am

iamblessed wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:38 am
I don't like credit cards that much and I am lazy with them. I just use a 2% card with everything and have only one bill to pay a month. I might not make the most money but it is so easy.
I don't like keeping up with them as well either but I have 2 which is a lot for me. :D I use my 2% Fidelity Card for most purchases, except restaurants, grocery stores, and gas. I use an AmEx for those other three categories.
Never underestimate the power of the force of low cost index funds.

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IcedDog
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by IcedDog » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:02 pm

I have 4 cards overall but only use the 3 with rewards, and I only keep 2 in my wallet at any one time (depending on categories). I find 3 to be quite manageable, but then I also have all my cards and checking with Chase, so I only have to log in to one place.
bloom2708 wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:33 am
I am one of those strange people that pay our credit cards off every time we get paid. 15th and 30th I pay them off. I charged spring semester of oldest kids college. I paid it off the day after it cleared on the credit card.
Heh, then I must be REALLY strange...I log into Chase almost every day and pay off my cards. Yeah, not necessary, but I've gotten into the habit and I don't mind. In fact, I actually get slightly annoyed when I can't pay off a charge because it's still "pending" :mrgreen:

ft2010
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by ft2010 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:09 pm

I am all for maximize credit card rewards but not to the extent of letting it affect my emotional stress. If you truly feel managing 3 cards is too much burden, then cut down to 1 card for regular use, and keep 1 as a backup. To keep the backup card active and avoid bank closure, you need remember to use that card once or twice a year for small amount then pay it shortly thereafter.

Your regular card could be a straight forward 2% cash back card for all spend, such as double cash or Fidelity card. Your backup card could be one of your existing card, e.g., your longest held card. If you have international travel in future, keep the capital one card as it has no foreign transaction fee. Or pick a new one with sign on bonus and easy to maintain long term. You decide which specific cards are a best fit for your lifestyle. I suspect also it's not the number of credit cards, but the complexity of earning structure and categories that make people heads spin. Once you tame the regular cards to one card with one earning percentage, life is much simplified.
Last edited by ft2010 on Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Starfish
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Starfish » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:12 pm

danielc wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:00 am
germark wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:53 pm
For most of my life I never had a credit card. Despite everyone telling me how having one would increase my credit score and give me "rewards", I just wasn't interested. I thought: "These companies only make money when someone makes a mistake in managing their own finances. I don't want to do business with them."

This was fine until, 10 years ago, I wasn't able to rent a car because they required a credit card (my debit card wasn't OK!). Fast forward 10 years and now I have 3 credit cards, each with slightly different cash back rewards:

Amazon: 5% cash back at Amazon / Whole Foods, 2% at restaurants / drugstores, 1% everywhere else
AmEx Blue: 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% at department stores, 1% everywhere else
Capital One: 1.5% everywhere

The problem? This all feels too complicated for me. I hate having 3 extra statements to review each month. I hate thinking about which card to use at which store. And during a recent busy period I was late on a payment. I couldn't help but wonder how many months of "rewards" that one late payment wiped out. (Someone recommend setting up autopay, but I like to review bills before paying them.)

I can't help but think that all these different discount cards are advertising in a way that I emotionally respond to ("imagine saving 1.5% on all your expenses for life!"). But that at the end of the day, it's kind of led me astray.

Thoughts?

I agree that Americans put way too much emphasis on credit cards, and rewards, and stuff like that. I have two credit cards. I picked the one I like best and I ignore the other. This way I only have one statement and one card to keep track of.
I am not a "real" American, but how can you complain about rewards? I spend almost 10k$ in travel rewards from bonuses last year and I still have hundred of thousads of miles, points etc. And I am not even hard core churner. If you are not really rich 10k for travel it's a lot of money.

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danielc
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by danielc » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:31 pm

Starfish wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:12 pm
danielc wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:00 am
I agree that Americans put way too much emphasis on credit cards, and rewards, and stuff like that. I have two credit cards. I picked the one I like best and I ignore the other. This way I only have one statement and one card to keep track of.
I am not a "real" American, but how can you complain about rewards? I spend almost 10k$ in travel rewards from bonuses last year and I still have hundred of thousads of miles, points etc. And I am not even hard core churner. If you are not really rich 10k for travel it's a lot of money.
You moved the goalpost. I said "too much emphasis". You rephrased it as "bad".

I have a rewards card. I have no doubt that rewards exist only to entice people to get more credit cards, and more debt, and just generally make worse financial decisions. Rewards are not charity from the bank. They are intentional enticements and intentional complexity with the sole goal of making money for the credit card issuer. People who put a lot of emphasis on rewards and pay a lot of attention to them (i.e. most Americans) are more likely to fall into this kind of trap.

As I noted above, I do have a rewards card. But I put conscious effort into choosing a card that was financially sound in the absence of any rewards (e.g. no annual fee) and I chose the reward system with the lowest probability of affecting my purchasing decisions. My card gives me a flat 2% cash-back on all purchases, no exceptions. So I am not motivated to alter my spending habits toward one particular company (e.g. store card, airlines), or a particular type of product (e.g. air fare, gas, groceries).

ft2010
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by ft2010 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:32 pm

Starfish wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:12 pm

I am not a "real" American, but how can you complain about rewards? I spend almost 10k$ in travel rewards from bonuses last year and I still have hundred of thousads of miles, points etc. And I am not even hard core churner. If you are not really rich 10k for travel it's a lot of money.
Some people are not that into travel, or that they would prefer taking more flights to go to destinations in economy class than premium class. Or instead of luxury hotel accommodation, they feel more at home in a Hampton Inn. Our own valuation of miles and points, do not automatically apply to others. I feel fortunate to live in this country as credit card rewards are often fruitful for my lifestyle.

Starfish
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by Starfish » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:46 pm

ft2010 wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:32 pm
Starfish wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:12 pm

I am not a "real" American, but how can you complain about rewards? I spend almost 10k$ in travel rewards from bonuses last year and I still have hundred of thousads of miles, points etc. And I am not even hard core churner. If you are not really rich 10k for travel it's a lot of money.
Some people are not that into travel, or that they would prefer taking more flights to go to destinations in economy class than premium class. Or instead of luxury hotel accommodation, they feel more at home in a Hampton Inn. Our own valuation of miles and points, do not automatically apply to others. I feel fortunate to live in this country as credit card rewards are often fruitful for my lifestyle.
I agree about the valuation, I do not ever consider business class of very fancy hotels as worthwhile benefits as advertised on thepointsguy or whatever.
My points where spent on the cheapest flight and cheapest class, also on decent hotels but nothing outrageous.
Now, if you are not that much into traveling this might not be for you, but if are going to spend the money anyway the points and miles are great value. There are cash rewards cards out there although not as lucrative.

DrivingFun
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Re: Too many credit cards?

Post by DrivingFun » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:42 pm

robertmcd wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:20 am
Depending on what airline you fly credit cards are an incredible tool. If you fly southwest with a significant other there is no reason why you should not have the companion pass every year. I have not paid for a SW ticket in years due to Chase UR and SW rapid rewards. Chase quadfecta is a heck of a combo to hold long term

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Freedom unlimited
Chase freedom
Chase ink cash

Then churn thru all these bad boys to load up on points and get the companion pass

SW plus, premier, priority, and premier business
Chase ink preferred
Chase ink unlimited
United mileage plus
This is fantastic if you travel all the time. Some of us with little ones are lucky to fly (for pleasure) once a year.

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