By Christina Lavingia
With the abundance of credit card offers found in mailboxes, advertised on TV and offered at retail stores, it’s no wonder Americans have a crippling amount of credit card debt. According to CreditCards.com, the average American had 1.96 credit cards in 2012, down from 3.7 in 2009. Credit card debt per U.S. adult, excluding zero-balance cards and store cards, was $4,878, although those who regularly carry a balance had almost double the debt at $8,220.
Plastic already disassociates consumers with the actual dollar value of their purchases; multiple cards only make this problem worse. Here are 10 ways to tell if you have too many credit cards.
YOU’VE RUN OUT OF SLOTS IN YOUR WALLET
Your wallet might be equipped with eight card slots, but that doesn’t mean you should have eight credit cards. Between your driver’s license, gift cards, frequent buyer cards and membership cards, those slots should be filled with some plastic that doesn’t come with a link of credit. Too many credit cards make it difficult to keep track of which charges were made on which cards, and hence, make it harder to maintain a budget. Plus, the more cards you have, the more damage a thief could do should your wallet be misplaced or stolen.
YOU CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH RETAIL CARDS YOU ALREADY OWN
You’re out shopping and you are asked by the checkout attendant if you’d like to open a retail card with the store today. The opportunity to save 15 percent off your purchase is tempting, but you can’t remember whether you already have a card with this retailer or not. That’s a sign that you likely give into retail marketing a little too often and have way too many cards.
YOU’VE BEEN DENIED ADDITIONAL CREDIT CARDS
You might have had a perfectly easy time qualifying for your first credit card and maybe the second, too. But depending on your line of credit and eligibility guidelines, you might have a hard time qualifying for another. If you’re applying for more credit cards and finding only rejection letters in the mail, it’s probably because your high credit utilization ratio and multiple credit inquiries are red flags to creditors.