cardpileCredit card issuers are not shy about wanting you to sign up for their cards. Their offers stuff your mail box, appear all over the Internet, and are pitched by cashiers at nearly every store.

The best offers can be enticing, with valuable rewards in the form of points, miles, and cash back.

Credit card numbers vary

How many of these offers can you apply for, and be approved? The answer is there is no hard limit on how many credit cards you can have.

Each credit card issuer will probably have some sort of limit on how many personal cards you can have, and how many you can have in the name of each business you own.

For example, American Express only allows its customers to have four different credit cards at one time. On the other hand, there are some credit card issuers that are widely believed not to have any limits at all.

Nevertheless, there are some practical limits. First, card issuers will not offer you an unlimited line of credit, so each new card you are issued will have a smaller and smaller credit limit.

If the purpose of receiving a new card is to get a sign-up bonus, it can be hard (but not impossible) to meet a $5,000 minimum spending requirement if your card has a $500 credit limit.

Avoid credit card interest charges

The other factor to consider is whether you actually should apply for as many credit cards as you can. People who pay interest charges by financing their purchases with credit should strongly reconsider their need for additional credit cards. Credit card interest is unsecured debt that is never tax deductible, and is therefore very costly.

Even those who avoid interest charges by paying each month’s statement balances in full and on time should question their need for numerous credit cards from each of the major banks. By having so many lines of credit open, cardholders can be overwhelmed by all of the statements received and payments that must be made.

Applying for many new cards in a short amount of time can hurt your credit score by showing too many new inquiries, a factor in the “new credit” portion of a FICO score.

How many credit cards should you have?

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