How many credit cards should you have?

Having multiple credit cards can benefit your finances, but only if you use them carefully.

If you’ve got more than 1 credit card, you’re certainly not alone. But how many credit cards should you have and what are the pros and cons of having multiple credit cards? This guide explains all you need to know.

What is the best number of credit cards to have?

There’s no perfect answer to this and there’s no legal limit on the number you can have either. Different credit cards have different purposes, so you may find it useful to have more than one type in your wallet.

What might impact your chances of getting another credit card is your credit score and income. If you have a poor credit score, a low income and existing debt to pay off, you may find it harder to get accepted for another credit card compared to someone with low levels of debt, a high income and a good credit rating. This is because the lender may be concerned about your affordability levels.

Benefits of having several credit cards

There are several different types of credit card, with each type designed for a different purpose. Providing you can comfortably juggle multiple credit cards, they can help you to better manage your finances and even save you money.

For example, if you’re already paying interest on existing credit card debt, applying for a 0% balance transfer credit card and moving your debt across can reduce your monthly repayments and save you paying interest for several months.

Meanwhile, if you have a large purchase coming up, taking out a 0% purchase credit card can help you to spread the cost of your spending over a number of months interest-free.

You might also want to have a rewards credit card in your wallet for any spending that you can afford to repay each month. Many of these cards offer loyalty points to be spent in certain supermarkets or retailers, cashback or even air miles. Many also come with high interest rates, so it’s important to pay off your balance in full each month.

There are also credit cards that can save you money when you go abroad. Unlike most standard credit cards, travel credit cards charge no foreign transaction fees, which can be beneficial if you regularly travel overseas.

Finally, credit builder credit cards can help those with a low credit score or no credit history rebuild their credit rating. Just bear in mind the interest rate charged is often very high and credit limits are low.

Risks of having multiple cards

Although there are many benefits to having multiple credit cards, there are also a number of drawbacks to consider.

Perhaps one of the most obvious is that having several credit cards can encourage you to spend more than you can afford to repay. It can also be harder to keep track of your different credit cards, increasing the risk of you missing a payment. This can result in late payment fees and also have a negative impact on your credit score.

If some of your credit cards charge annual fees, holding multiple credit cards can rapidly become expensive. It’s important to consider whether you’re getting full value from each card and whether paying the annual fee is worth it.

Another issue to be aware of is that the more cards you have, the higher the risk of fraudulent use or theft. Managing multiple cards can make it harder to spot if one of them has gone missing or has been used fraudulently.

How multiple credit cards affect your credit score

Your payment history is one of the most important factors in your credit score. Having multiple credit cards can increase the risk of you missing payments, which will damage your credit score. But on the flipside, if you’re able to keep on top of all your payments, this can have a positive impact on your credit score. Setting up monthly direct debits for each card can help you to do this.

Having several credit cards and using a smaller portion of your credit limit on each can also help your credit score if you’re careful. This is because your credit utilisation ratio (or rate) will be lower. This is the portion of credit you’re using out of the credit limit available to you, and it’s calculated on a “per account” basis. Keeping it below 30% can have a positive effect on your credit score.

For example, let’s say you had one credit card with a credit limit of £2,000 and you were using £1,500 of it. Your credit utilisation would be 75% and this could negatively affect your credit score.

However, if you were to spread your £1,500 worth of purchases across several credit cards, your credit utilisation ratio would fall, boosting your credit score. For example, if you had 3 credit cards, each with a £2,000 credit limit, and you spent £500 on each, your credit utilisation rate would be 25% for each one.

In other words, using multiple cards will result in multiple accounts of low credit utilisation instead of one account with high credit utilisation.

Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Incentive Link
M&S Bank Rewards Offer Mastercard
0% for 12 months reverting to 19.9%
2.9% (min. £5)
0% for 12 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% APR (variable)
Double points on spend in M&S for first 12 months (2 points per £1). Then earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
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Santander Everyday Long Term Balance Transfer Credit Card
0% for 31 months reverting to 20.9%
2.75% (min. £5) for 31 months reverting to 3% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 20.9%
£0
20.9% APR (variable)
Earn up to 15% cashback with your selected Retailer Offers at selected major retailers.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 20.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander Everyday No Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card
0% for 18 months reverting to 20.9%
0% for 18 months reverting to 3% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 20.9%
£0
20.9% APR (variable)
Earn up to 15% cashback with your selected Retailer Offers at selected major retailers.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate is 20.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card
0% for 23 months reverting to 21.9%
2.9% (min. £5)
0% for 23 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
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The Royal Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 22 months reverting to 21.9%
0%
0% for 3 months reverting to 21.9% p.a. (variable)
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable), your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
HSBC No Fee Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa
0% for 20 months reverting to 21.9%
0%
21.9%
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
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Name Product Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Incentive Link
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card
0% for 23 months reverting to 21.9%
0% for 23 months
(2.9% fee)
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card Visa
0% for 22 months reverting to 22.9%
0% for 22 months
(2.9% fee)
£0
22.9% APR (variable)
£25 cash back when you successfully apply for an HSBC Credit card. Spend or balance transfer over £100 within 60 days of opening the account to be eligible. Available to new customers only. Offer ends 13th February 2022. T&Cs apply
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
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Santander All in One Credit Card
0% for 20 months reverting to 17.9%
0% for 26 months
(0% fee)
£3 per month
23.7% APR (variable)
0.5% cashback after £1 of monthly spend. Cashback paid monthly into card account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 23.7% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Rewards Offer Mastercard
0% for 12 months reverting to 19.9%
0% for 12 months
(2.9% fee)
£0
19.9% APR (variable)
Double points on spend in M&S for first 12 months (2 points per £1). Then earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Tesco Bank Clubcard Plus Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 24 months reverting to 19.944%
21.814%
(3.99% fee)
£7.99 per month
37.7% APR (variable)
1 point per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco, must have available credit to earn points. Card can also be used as a Clubcard to collect standard points at 1 point per £1 spent on shopping and 1 point per £2 spent on fuel. Points are converted to Tesco vouchers which can be used towards shopping or exchanged for Partner Rewards.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.944% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £7.99 per month, your representative rate is 37.7% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Platinum All-Rounder Visa
0% for 24 months reverting to 21.9%
0% for 22 months
(2.9% fee)
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Up to 5 months free trial of Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple News + and Apple Arcade.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
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Name Product Max. intro bonus Earn-rate with brand Default earn-rate Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Incentive Link
M&S Bank Rewards Offer Mastercard
N/A
2 points per £1 spent
1 point per £5 spent
£0
19.9% APR (variable)
Double points on spend in M&S for first 12 months (2 points per £1). Then earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card
N/A
1 point per £1 spent
1 point per £5 spent
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Transfer Plus Offer Mastercard
N/A
1 point per £1 spent
1 point per £5 spent
£0
21.9% APR (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander All in One Credit Card
N/A
0.5% cashback
0.5% cashback
£3 per month
23.7% APR (variable)
0.5% cashback after £1 of monthly spend. Cashback paid monthly into card account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 23.7% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
American Express Rewards Credit Card
10,000 points
1 point per £1 spent
1 point per £1 spent
£0
24.5% APR (variable)
As a new Cardmember, earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership. Earn 1 point for every £1 spent thereafter.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.5% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.5% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card
£100
1% cashback
1% cashback
£0
24.5% APR (variable)
New Cardmember offer: Get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £100) for the first 3 months of Cardmembership. Spend £0 to £10,000 and receive 0.5% cashback on all purchases. Spend over £10,000 and receive 1% cashback on purchases.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.5% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.5% APR (variable).
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Name Product Annual/monthly fees Initial credit limits Minimum income Representative APR Incentive Link
Bip Credit
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit not specified.
Not specified
29.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
HSBC Classic Credit Card
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit £1,000.
£6800
29.9%
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 29.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Aqua Classic Credit Card
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit £1,200.
Not specified
32.9%
Representative example: Assumed credit limit £1,200, representative 32.9% APR (variable), purchase rate 32.94% p.a. (variable).
Please note: you can’t have two Aqua accounts or open an Aqua account within 12 months of opening a Marbles, Fluid or Opus account, issued by New Day
Check eligibility
Aqua Classic Balance Transfer Card
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit £1,200.
Not specified
34.9%
Representative example: Assumed credit limit £1,200, representative 34.9% APR (variable), purchase rate 34.95% p.a. (variable).
Please note: you can’t have two Aqua accounts or open an Aqua account within 12 months of opening a Marbles, Fluid or Opus account, issued by New Day
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Tesco Bank Foundation Card
£0
Min. limit £100, max. limit not specified.
£5000
27.5%
Collect 1 Tesco Clubcard point per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco in each purchase transaction.  Must have available credit to collect Clubcard points. Clubcard points are turned into Clubcard vouchers every 3 months or sooner using Faster Vouchers. Clubcard vouchers can be used in Tesco or with Clubcard Reward Partners to get even more value on dining out, hotel stays and travel.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.542% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.5% APR (variable).
TSB Classic Credit Card Mastercard
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
Not specified
27.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.9% APR (variable).
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How to cancel an existing credit card

If you’ve decided to cancel 1 or more credit cards, you will need to pay off the balance in full or move it to a balance transfer credit card before you can do so. Once this is complete, you will need to contact your provider to cancel the card – you can’t just throw it away. You can either phone your provider or put your request in writing.

Once your cancellation request has been accepted, wait a few days for the cancellation to go through and then check your statement to ensure it’s up to date. You can then cut up your card through the name and number and throw it away.

How often should you apply for a credit card?

Every time you apply for any form of credit (whether that’s a credit card, loan or mortgage), a hard credit check will be carried out and this will leave a mark on your credit file. Too many hard searches in a short space of time can make you look desperate for credit, and lenders may be less willing to let you borrow. For this reason, it’s best to space out credit applications by at least 3 months, preferably 6.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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