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There are some people who use one credit card for everything, and there are others on the opposite end of the spectrum who hold a dozen — or more — open credit lines. Most people fall somewhere in between. Experian found that in 2020, the average American held three credit cards.
So, can you have more than one credit card? Yes. But the better question is: Should you have more than one? And should the credit cards be from the same bank or different ones?
Here’s what you need to know to decide for yourself.
Should you have more than one credit card?
For many people, the answer is yes. If your credit scores are in good enough shape to get approved for another card, and you use credit responsibly, there are several advantages to having multiple credit cards:
It can help your credit score: Using multiple lines of credit can help your credit score, if you make payments on time and in full and don’t max out your card.
You could earn more rewards: Oftentimes, credit cards will reward new applicants who meet certain initial spending requirements with a nice sign-up bonus. Plus, some cards earn high rewards in certain categories, while others earn better rewards in different spending categories. Coupling your cards and using them strategically can yield higher rewards on everyday purchases.
Different cards offer different perks: Having multiple cards could get you access to perks you couldn't get with just one. If you’re a Hyatt hotel fan, for example, the World of Hyatt Credit Card can be a great choice, since it offers a free night certificate, automatic elite status and more. But it won’t offer the travel protections you’ll find on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, nor will it insure your cell phone like the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card.
Most banks have restrictions on how many credit cards you can have and still be approved. Chase has a “5/24 rule” that limits the number of cards you can open in a two-year period, across any issuer. American Express has a “once per lifetime” rule that prohibits you from getting another bonus on the same credit card. Citi only allows you to earn one welcome bonus per card every 48 months.
Should they be from the same bank?
If you’re thinking about adding another credit card to your wallet, it’s not only possible to have two credit cards from the same bank, but it can also be preferable.
That said, there are a few cons worth considering, too.
Advantages of sticking with one bank
Here are some advantages of having multiple credit cards from the same bank:
Keeps things simple: When your finances live under the same roof, they can be easier to keep track of. You can log in to one place and pay your bills with just a few clicks rather than keeping track of multiple logins and learning separate banking interfaces.
You may be able to pool points: Some banks issue credit cards that complement each other as part of the same family and allow you to combine points. For example, if you have a Chase Freedom Flex℠ as well as a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can combine your points and get the 50% uplift that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers when redeemed for travel through the Chase portal.
Potential for relationship rewards: Many credit cards feature a bonus to entice new applicants. But banks that issue credit cards aren’t thrilled to acquire fly-by-night customers in the process. They prefer to build long-lasting relationships with cardholders, and some banks will give extra rewards to customers with multiple accounts. Bank of America®, for example, has a Preferred Rewards program that allows some customers the chance to earn 25%-75% more points on multiple credit cards if they also have an eligible bank account with enough funds.
» MORE: Is credit card loyalty a virtue?
Every time you submit an application, an inquiry into your credit history is made, which shaves off several points from your credit score. As such, apply for a second credit card only if you think your chances of approval are realistic.
Disadvantages of sticking with one bank
Here are some downsides to having multiple cards with the same bank, and why you might consider branching out to another credit card issuer:
Fear of missing out could be real: Each bank operates in different ways and offers different credit card products. If you’re committed to using credit cards only from one bank, you could be missing out on some better credit card rewards or perks that may be a good fit for you.
No balance transfers: If you’d like to take advantage of a 0% balance transfer offer, you won’t be able to use the same bank. Most banks use balance transfer offers to entice new customers and prohibit transferring balances between cards that they issue.
Credit missteps could be more glaring: If you have a history of missing payments or maxing out your credit card, you may want to think twice about getting a second card from the same bank. Repeatedly missing payments on just one of your two cards from the same bank could result in an increased annual percentage rate or reduced credit on both pieces of plastic.