cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

How many cards should I keep?

tag
Anonymous
Not applicable

How many cards should I keep?

I've read numerous times that three cards is best, while some say four is best.  I currently have 5 cards, two with no balance.  To maximize my score should I ignore 1 or 2 of the cards and let me number fall to 3 eventually and just work those three?  I realize that when they close and fall off the score will take a hit (by then should the utilization shouldn't matter because they will all be paid down to zero)...then again a slight hit after 10 years when they age out...but for a long term plan, is it better to just keep the three?  Or do I just keep all five since I have the five already?  

 

Thanks.

5 REPLIES 5
Brian_Earl_Spilner
Credit Mentor

Re: How many cards should I keep?

3 is the minimum. 4 for Equifax, @Anonymous can explain that theory. You don't have to close cards. Just have the minimum.

    
Message 2 of 6
SouthJamaica
Mega Contributor

Re: How many cards should I keep?


@Anonymous wrote:

I've read numerous times that three cards is best, while some say four is best.  I currently have 5 cards, two with no balance.  To maximize my score should I ignore 1 or 2 of the cards and let me number fall to 3 eventually and just work those three?  I realize that when they close and fall off the score will take a hit (by then should the utilization shouldn't matter because they will all be paid down to zero)...then again a slight hit after 10 years when they age out...but for a long term plan, is it better to just keep the three?  Or do I just keep all five since I have the five already?  

 

Thanks.


It doesn't matter if you keep 3 or 5; either way you can achieve perfect scores.

 

To be sure your FICO scores across the board are maximized on credit card utilization at any given moment in time, have one card report a small balance while the others report at zero.


Total revolving limits 741200 (620700 reporting) FICO 8: EQ 701 TU 704 EX 685

Message 3 of 6
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: How many cards should I keep?

As the others have explained, five cards is certainly not worse than three.

 

There are various reasons to have more than four accounts total on one's report (let's say three cards and a loan). E.g...

 

(1)  There is a FICO negative reason statement that implies that some of the FICO models (possibly all) like it better when you have more accounts (closed and open) than just four.  Contributor Thomas Thumb can tell you the reason code(s) I am thinking of.  There's been a lot of speculation for what might be perfect in this sense.  Perhaps it is something like 9-18 accounts total of which 8-14  are open.  The scoring advantage of the "perfect" profile in this sense is probably quite small, however.

 

(2)  Having a thicker profile (more accounts) enables you to add another account down the road with little impact to your AAoA. 

 

(3)  Having several cards (more than just three) enables any one of them to be closed (perhaps due to the credit card company going bankrupt, perhaps because the company decides you aren't profitable) with no impact on your own life.  Similarly you could lose your wallet with three cards in it and still have a couple cards in your sock drawer, which you can use while the other issuers are sending you new cards.

 

(4)  Some of the FICO models (Equifax mortgage, any of the bankcard enhanced flavors, etc.) really like it when you have several open cards with a $0 balance and only 1-2 showing a positive balance.  That's easier to achieve without even thinking about it when you have 5-6 cards than if you only have 3.

 

All that said, there still may be good reasons for closing one or more of the five cards you currently have.

 

(a)  If any of them have an annual fee.  You should at least consider whether it makes financial sense to pay that when there are so many no-annual-fee cards out there.

 

(b)  If any of them is a store card that you also don't have much use for.  Store cards like that are harder to keep open, since you have to go out to that store once a year to buy something that you really don't want.  Store cards are also penalized in the non-FICO scoring models used by the insurance industry.

Message 4 of 6
Thomas_Thumb
Senior Contributor

Re: How many cards should I keep?


@Anonymous wrote:

I've read numerous times that three cards is best, while some say four is best.  I currently have 5 cards, two with no balance.  To maximize my score should I ignore 1 or 2 of the cards and let me number fall to 3 eventually and just work those three?  I realize that when they close and fall off the score will take a hit (by then should the utilization shouldn't matter because they will all be paid down to zero)...then again a slight hit after 10 years when they age out...but for a long term plan, is it better to just keep the three?  Or do I just keep all five since I have the five already?  

 

Thanks.


I'd recommend keeping all five open unless there is an issue with annual fees which exceed yearly rewards.

 

There are other account QTY metrics associated with Fico algorithms in addition to # of accounts with balances. Having more than "the minimum" number of accounts on file will not hurt score. The benefit of a few additional accounts is they often have a stabalizing effect on score and may increase Fico score potential on industry enhanced Fico versions and some older Fico models as well.

 

I've noticed a drop in my max Fico 8 bankcard score potential since 4 of my 5 closed accounts have aged off my report. In both cases I have the same 7 open accounts: 1 Mortgage, 1 AU card and 5 credit cards. 

 

Current open accounts: 1984, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2005, 2005 and 2011. Closed accounts which have fallen off: 1986 (closed 2005) , 1997 (closed 2005), 2005 (closed 2010) and 2009 (closed 2013). Remaining account 2011 (closed 2014)

 

 

P.S. For those that follow VantageScore 3.0, that model likes to see more accounts on file. Back when I had a total of 11 or 12 accounts I could routinely reach 835. Now, with 8 or 9 accounts depending on CRA, 830 appears to be max. Again, same open accounts in all cases Open account ages have increased, loan B/L has dropped substantially and revolver CLs have increased.

 

 

Fico 9: .......EQ 850 TU 850 EX 850
Fico 8: .......EQ 850 TU 850 EX 850
Fico 4 .....:. EQ 809 TU 823 EX 830 EX Fico 98: 842
Fico 8 BC:. EQ 892 TU 900 EX 900
Fico 8 AU:. EQ 887 TU 897 EX 899
Fico 4 BC:. EQ 826 TU 858, EX Fico 98 BC: 870
Fico 4 AU:. EQ 831 TU 872, EX Fico 98 AU: 861
VS 3.0:...... EQ 835 TU 835 EX 835
CBIS: ........EQ LN Auto 940 EQ LN Home 870 TU Auto 902 TU Home 950
Message 5 of 6
NRB525
Super Contributor

Re: How many cards should I keep?

OP what are the 5 cards you have now?

 

You have two threads going which are trying to find ways to improve your scores. Those threads are really related, and you will get more pertient advice if you give your current stats.... Current score, where it is from, cards list, limits, open balances, any lates that are on your file at any time in the past. It is all relevant to both this thread and the mortgage simulator thread.

High Bal Jan 2009 $116k on $146k limits 80% Util.
Oct 2014 $46k on $127k 36% util EQ 722 TU 727 EX 727
April 2018 $18k on $344k 5% util EQ 806 TU 810 EX 812
Jan 2019 $7.6k on $360k EQ 832 TU 839 EX 831
March 2021 $33k on $312k EQ 796 TU 798 EX 801
May 2021 Paid all Installments and Mortgages, one new Mortgage EQ 761 TY 774 EX 777
April 2022 EQ=811 TU=807 EX=805 - TU VS 3.0 765
Message 6 of 6
Advertiser Disclosure: The offers that appear on this site are from third party advertisers from whom FICO receives compensation.