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The positive and negative impact of multiple credit cards

The average person has more than one credit card. In fact, one study found that those who had a credit score of at least 800 had signed up for around seven cards. For those in the 700s, the average was one card less, at six per person. As you'll see, having multiple cards can have both a positive and a negative impact on your score.

One negative is that a hard inquiry is carried out whenever you decide to apply for another card, and your score can drop slightly. Over time, this can really add up. Of course, if you have too many cards and you start missing payments or letting balances sit on some of the cards -- perhaps just paying the minimums -- then your score can also drop. Debt can increase, especially if cards are used as a way to pay bills when income levels don't match up with what is owed on a monthly basis.

There are positives to having multiple cards, though. Lenders who see you have a variety of different cards, rather than one that is used for everything, instantly know that other lenders trust you with these cards -- this is often called "creditworthiness." Plus, if you make payments on time on multiple cards, it can increase your score.

Experts note that the goal should be to find the proper average, with just the right number of cards. Too few can hurt, but so can too many. The amount each person should have is a bit different, based on debt, income, monthly bills, and many other factors.

If you find yourself with too many cards and too much debt, you may want to utilize some of your legal options in Pennsylvania, such as bankruptcy.

Source: Credit Karma, "Dear Credit Karma… The More Credit Cards The Better?," accessed July 20, 2016

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