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Credit Cards: How Many Is Too Many?

BOSTON (CBS) - Managing Money ranks in the top three when it comes to making resolutions.

Credit Cards: How Many Is Too Many?

According to Fair Isaac, the company that created the credit score, on average, today's consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau, 9 credit cards and 4 installment loans.

How many cards do you have? Can you name what's in your wallet? If the answer is no, you have too many cards. You probably don't need more than two cards, maybe three. Yeah, I know you get some great deals with these cards.

But unless you are a really, really big spender it will take you an eternity to reap any real rewards from so many cards.

Pare down the number of cards you have. Pay them off, stop using them, take them out of your wallet and then consider canceling them. I did say consider canceling them. Your credit score uses a very complicated formula to come up with a simple number that creditors can use to judge your credit worthiness.

Part of that score is the percentage of credit you use each month to the amount of credit you have available. The key is not to be maxed out on your credit cards or late with your payments.

You want to keep the cards you have had the longest. Longevity is a plus on your credit score. Ask for an increase on your limit with these cards. Once this is done cancel a few of the cards. Check your credit score again. Then cancel the rest.

This may be a slow process if you need to keep your credit score intact.

If you have a lousy credit score, pare down to the two cards you have had the longest, cancel the rest and work on building up your score. A good score is between 680 and 740. An excellent credit score is over 740. Scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your credit score the lower your interest rate on a loan or the cost of your insurance.

One more thing: The three major reporting agencies are: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. To purchase your credit score you can go directly to their websites. But listeners have told me they have become confused and have actually purchased more than just their credit score.

I would recommend if you are looking to buy your credit scores that you use My Fico and purchase the FICO Standard which gives you credit scores from Equifax and Transunion plus your credit history. Experian no longer shares its credit scores with FICO. Cost is about $16 each.

Money Conference Alert!!

On October 11th I will be the key note speaker at The Money Conference which is a FREE one-day event presented by The Office of Massachusetts State Treasury. It will be held at UMASS Boston and the first 500 registrants will get a free copy of my newest book, Money, Your Personal Finance Guide.

There will be afternoon classes on everything from budgeting to buying a house. The Financial Planning Association of Boston will have volunteer financial planners there to help answer questions. You can set up a meeting with a Money Mentor when you register. If you have questions about the conference, contact Sheila O'Loughlin of the State Treasury at (617) 367-6900 ext 615.

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