5 reasons why I only have one personal credit card

Christel Deskins

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always […]

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

  • Having more than one credit card can make it harder to keep track of your spending and stay out of debt.
  • After years of having three cards and accruing debt, I now only the JetBlue Card, and I’m debt-free.
  • Using one card helps me maximize my travel rewards while also limiting my spending.
  • It’s also helped me maintain my credit score since I’m able to make all my monthly payments.
  • See Business Insider’s list of the best credit cards ยป

The temptation to open up a new credit card seems to be everywhere, especially when you’re not looking for it.

Just the other day, I was shopping online for home decor and at checkout I was promoted to open up a store credit card to save $70 on my purchase. I was so tempted to click yes and fill out the application, but I pressed the pause button.

How often would I use this store card? Would I end up spending more because I’d have access to special sales, deals, and offers? I shook the thought out of my mind, just like I’ve done so many times before.

After having more credit cards than I needed (I closed two of them over the years and just kept one), I made a promise to myself in my mid-twenties that I wouldn’t open up any new personal credit cards. I have one, the JetBlue Card, which I picked because it’s the airline I fly two to three times a month and found the travel rewards worked well for my goals and lifestyle.

One card is all I need even though so many people sing the praises of opening up multiple cards and using the perks. I’ve found myself in many heavy debates with friends and financial experts over this rule I have, but I won’t break down and give in. Here’s why I refuse to have more than one personal credit card.

Regular APR

15.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% based on your creditworthiness.

Featured Reward

Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days

Intro APR

0% introductory APR for the first twelve billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening.

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
    • 50% inflight savings on cocktails and food purchases
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • 3X points on eligible JetBlue purchases
    • 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores
    • 1X points on all other purchases
    • Points awarded to your TrueBlue account don’t expire
    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores
    • Cardholders get 50% off in-flight food and beverage purchases
    Cons
    • Doesn’t offer a free checked bag
    • Sign-up bonus is relatively low

    Having one card will keep me out of debt

    I found that when I had three personal credit cards, I was always forgetting to pay all the bills on time and spending more than my budget. I would look at the balances at the end of the month and realize that I could afford to pay one of the three cards off and have to make minimum payments on the other two.

    Before I knew it, my spending on the cards became so out of control that I would only pay minimum payments on the cards and watch as the debt mounted.

    Jordan Tarver, a financial analyst, says that opening multiple credit cards will give you access to more capital, meaning if you have bad spending habits, you can easily overuse your credit cards and spiral into a never-ending debt trap.

    “Owning only one card will help you spend within your means and keep your credit card balances at a manageable level, helping you control your debt and even build a strong credit score,” says Tarver.

    With one card, it’s easier to check up on balances (on a weekly basis) and limit spending. Having more cards to pick from makes the temptation of putting something on a credit card easier.

    Cash is my priority

    Juggling multiple cards became a tricky mental game; I had multiple options to pay for things I didn’t always need but bought because of convenience. I even had each of the cards linked up to different online stores I shopped at. All of this made me ignore my monthly budgets and accumulate things I didn’t need.

    When I switched to just having one credit card and using a cash-envelope system (at the start of every month, I’d put aside cash in marked envelopes that denoted how much I was going to spend that month on different categories like groceries, shopping, and entertainment), I was able to save quite a lot of cash, not carry any debt, and make smarter purchases.

    I want to maximize rewards

    One reason opening up credit cards can be tempting is because of the rewards, including sign-up bonuses. Some people like to have one cash-back credit card and others like to have a few travel rewards credit cards.

    Karra Kingston, a bankruptcy attorney, says that oftentimes individuals open up too many lines of credit because of the incentives the credit card companies offer.

    “The issue that often arises when people seek out these credit card incentives (i.e., no interest for a year, travel rewards, or money back) is that when the interest becomes due people find themselves unable to make their payments on all of their credit cards,” says Kingston. “This is usually why people find themselves going bankrupt.”

    This was a trap I almost found myself in when I played the game of opening up multiple cards just for rewards. I found myself spending more, especially during the first few months of having the card open, so I could meet the minimum spending needed to get that initial bonus reward.

    In the end, the rewards of all these cards hardly paid off and it was more worthwhile for me to have one open credit card, where all my spending was done, and in return, I got travel reward points. I found I was able to get anywhere between $500 to $750 in travel rewards from keeping all the purchases on one card than when I had multiple cards. The rewards were much smaller when they were split between three cards.

    I know I won’t use store cards very often

    Even though I always think for a few seconds about saying yes to credit card offers, especially from stores, I always remember that I won’t use most of these credit cards as much as I think โ€” and some cards even have penalties if you don’t swipe a certain amount of transactions on them per year.

    Having a lot of open credit cards always runs the risk of losing them, not noticing, and having to deal with credit card theft.

    I want to maintain my credit score

    When I decided to close my other two credit cards, I had to do it over the course of two years in order to protect my credit score, which can get dinged when you close down cards.

    But your score can also go down if you have multiple credit cards open that you don’t use or don’t pay off on time.

    Another thing that curbs my desire to open up new cards often is the advice that Valerie Moses from Addition Financial, a credit union, shared with me.

    “Although opening new cards may be tempting, too many inquiries on your credit report can make you appear overextended and unable to make your payments,” Moses said.

    I figured with just one card open, I could manage my spending and pay my balance on time. I could also control my credit utilization rate better (which is the amount of revolving credit you’re currently using divided by the total amount of revolving credit available) with just one card that I paid close attention to and paid down on a weekly basis if my spending went up for any reason.

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

    Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

    Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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