First, thank you for this forum!! It has really helped me understand credit and make some significant changes...still more to do.
I am definitely one of those that feels more cards is better but am starting to see the light. I have a total of 18 cards. 12 of these are store cards, of which 4 I haven't used in I can't remember how long. The others are Cap One (2 cards), Orchard (2 cards), Juniper and BofA (secured 99/500). As you can see, not the best cards but they have helped tremendously as my score is finally started to creep upwards.
In the last 2 years, I have received a ton of these cards. Now, I'm thinking not such a good move. I usually pay my balances in full and have not had a late payment in at least 4 years. How do I begin the process of either consolidating cards or closing to begin to establish just a few? None of these have really great CLs - most is 1600. Should I wait a while and continue to request soft pull increases or begin now? If I start now, what's the best next step so that my scores are not affected. And yes, I know - stop applying for new cards. :-)
Scores right now are Eq 643, Tu 622, Ex634
if you haven't already check this out before doing anything:
What is too many? When I applied for my mortgage, in 1998, I had 31 cards. Now, I have 8. 31 was getting too many to manage every month for me. However, you may not have that problem. If you do decide to close some, I'd close the newest first. Presumably, the newere ones have the lowest limits.
If you Citi, Chase, AMEX, etc - keep 'em. Dump the ones that have fees attached to them.
Sounds like you use 8 of those 12 store cards regularly. Don't. You get dinged on your score for having too many accounts with balances.
If you must use the store cards, PIF (that's pay in full) BEFORE the close of the billing period. Hopefully, you have access to online bill pay for these accounts. Otherwise, use one of the bank cards to shop with, and pay off every other card as quickly as possible. Don't close any accounts that have longevity, IMO even if they do carry an annual fee, until such time as you obtain a decent-limit unsecured bank card. But do not carry a balance on more than a couple of your cards, ever.
Don't feel as though you've got to use the cards just because you have them. Limit yourself by planning ahead, and know which card, if any, you will use for any given month. This will have an immediate impact on your credit score.
Please let us know how you make out!
My advice is to wait it out for a while. Since you got many (most?) of these cards in the last two years your AAoA is certainly really low. Your scores will jump significantly as your accounts age. How long before your BofA becomes unsecured (normally takes 9-12 months)? THat is the card I would be most concerned with. BofA is a great company and that is the card you will want for a long time. After the BofA becomes unsecured you can do a product change to the worldpoints (or whatever)--this will provide regular CLIs. At that point you might start considering removing some of the lower quality cards you have (cap one, orchard) and replace with the big boys (Chase, discover, usbank etc). I would not apply for anything new for at least one year.
I also agree with the other posters that I would not close any of the cards out unless they have an annual fee.