Do Americans have Too Many Credit Cards?

 
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It is no surprise that many Americans are currently in debt. Credit cards can be blamed for a large part of this debt. Credit cards are easily accessible, but they can carry high interest rates. With these two attributes, it isn’t too difficult to see how credit cards are contributing to the debt that many Americans are accumulating. A person with credit card debt might be curious to know how many credit cards are too many. Although there isn’t a limit to the number of credit cards, studies show that people with higher credit scores have an average of seven cards. So staying under that number may be important. But what is more important is keeping track of debt to open credit ratio.

What is Debt to Credit Ratio?

Debt to credit ratio is simply the amount of debt a person has versus the amount of open credit/lines of credit that they have. This ratio should be balanced, or the amount of open credit should be higher than the amount of debt that a person has. This ratio could be more important than the amount of credit cards a person has. There are things to look out for to keep a debt to credit to ratio balanced:

  • Do Not Close Credit Cards/Credit Lines- After a credit card is completely paid off, most people may be tempted to simply close the credit card to avoid future debt. However, closing credit cards after they have been paid off may make the amount of debt that a person has look worse. Closing accounts will alter the debt to credit ratio and the amount of existing credit a person has. This could potentially look bad to existing or future lenders.
  • Keep in Contact With Credit Cards Lenders- Sometimes credit card lenders will increase or decrease credit limits on their cards without properly notifying their customers. This could also alter a debt to credit ratio. It is best to check your credit card limits every so often, so something doesn’t change unexpectedly.
  • Check a Credit Report- Checking a credit report often is an important part of protecting yourself from identity or account theft. Credit reports may also carry mistakes that could be fixed. Most people have three credit reports, which come from the three major credit bureaus.
  • Keep a Good Amount of Savings- This is the best way to make sure that a person’s debt to credit ratio is balanced. To prevent from gathering more debt, a person should have three to six months’ worth of income saved to fund emergencies.

What to Look for Before Obtaining a Credit Card?

Before obtaining a credit card, it may helpful to think about a few things:

  • The Interest Rate(s) – This should be one of the biggest factors when determining what credit card to obtain. The interest rate of a credit card will determine how much borrowing will cost you. Credit card debt can range from zero to around thirty percent (this is the higher end), but credit card lenders have no limit to the amount of interest they may charge. It is extremely important to pay attention to the interest rate before spending that credit.
  • The Perks- Credit cards come with all sorts of perks including air miles, gas perks, or perks for dining out. Before choosing a credit card, it is important to think about which perk is most important to you.
  • Associated Fees- There are credit cards that come with no late or annual fees. By looking for this benefit, a person could avoid additional debt that may come with credit cards.
  • Spending Habits– Think about spending habits/credit history before obtaining a credit card. If financial responsibility hasn’t been a person’s strong suit, then they should think twice before obtaining a large line of credit.

How Americans Could Cut Down on Credit Card Debt:

There are many things a person can do to cut down on their credit card debt:

  • Pay More than the Minimum – Making only the minimum payment every month will most likely not make a huge impact on paying back debt. When a person can afford to do so, it may be financially beneficial to pay more than the amount due for each month.
  • Tackle the Biggest Credit Card Debt First- By focusing on one credit card at a time, and especially the card with the most debt, paying off debt could be easier and more manageable.
  • Avoid Maxing Out Credit Cards- This could decrease the amount of additional debt and interest on credit.
  • Budget- By planning to allocate income for cutting down debt, a person could realistically see how quickly and easily they could achieve that goal.

Credit card debt is a huge financial issue for many Americans across the country. Many Americans feel as though they have too many credit cards. On average, people with good credit scores usually have an average of seven cards. However, this is not the most important issue to pay attention to when it comes to credit card debt. An even more important detail to pay attention to is the ratio of open credit and credit card debt. In addition, there are ways to choose the best credit card for a person’s lifestyle, and ways to keep credit card debt low.

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