First and foremost, it all depends on how much or how little you like to spend. Are you responsible with your spending; can you skip over the temptation to put every little payment on plastic? Or are you someone that falls all too eagerly into that temptation? Evaluate yourself!
People have different methodologies for getting credit cards. Some people put aside a card strictly for emergencies, another for food, another for travel.
“It’s good for the average person in secure financial standing to have several. That may seem extravagant, but it’s not. I’d say the maximum should be five for your regular and reliable spender,” said Arnold Taubman, an economist with Credit-Land.
“You have to examine it from this standpoint: each one of those cards is to serve a different purpose. As long as someone isn’t too lax with their card and doesn’t go to town, it should be in the clear. Practice frugality with your credit cards and having, say, four is easy to manage,” he added.
This average American, according to an MSN article dated from 2007, carries around with them four cards.
“It’s doubtful it’s changed that much since 2007, although it was a happier time, economically speaking,” Taubman said on this.
If you are someone who feels like you might be wielding too few credit cards and would like to expand that number, do not go overboard when applying for new ones. In fact, be extremely careful about this, only because if you apply for too many credit cards you might end up hurting your score.
Your score would suffer damage because every time you apply for a card, the company you are applying to then subsequently makes an inquiry on your score. If you have too many inquiries, it will hurt your standing with the credit companies, as it reflects to them that you are not a reliable source
At the very least, Taubman recommends, having one card (from a major card issuer – think Visa or MasterCard or something of that tier, preferably) open and available at all times for your use.
“Even if you are somewhat jaded or scared by credit cards, you should have one to your name. This is only a smart gesture,” he emphasizes. “How else could you even begin to build a real credit history?”
Thus: while no real answer exists, an in-depth analysis of your financial situation may determine the answer that fits for you.