How many credit cards is too many? How often should you apply for a new line of credit, especially if you’re interested in taking advantage of welcome bonuses and travel rewards?
In general, we recommend waiting three to six months between credit card applications—but there’s no limit to the number of credit cards you can have in your wallet, especially if you know how to use those cards responsibly.
“Know how credit cards work, know yourself and know what you can handle,” explained Luke Thomas, a 27-year-old public relations manager. Thomas applied for his first credit card at 19—and since has opened a total of 24 credit card accounts. Currently, 16 of those accounts are still active. Thomas has used his credit cards to build excellent credit, fund a Paris vacation and book free flights for an upcoming trip to Puerto Rico.
Here’s what he learned along the way, plus a few tips and tricks that might help you when you apply for your next credit card.
Build your credit as early as possible
Thomas opened his first credit card when he was 19 years old—but he began building his credit history several years earlier.
“I started building credit younger than my peers,” Thomas said. “When I was 15 or 16, my mother added me as an authorized user on one of her credit cards so I would have access to a line of credit if I were in a driving emergency.” Since his mother had a history of using credit responsibly, Thomas piggybacked on that history to start building a positive credit history of his own before he even had his own credit card.
This gave Thomas an advantage when it was time to apply for his first credit card. “I was accepted for the Discover it® Student Cash Back with no problems,” he told us. “The Discover it Student card is a great way to build credit since they don’t give you an outrageous credit limit.”
By making small purchases on his Discover card and paying them off, Thomas quickly learned how to use credit as well as how to take advantage of Discover’s cash back rewards.
How to start building credit
If you want to build your own credit as quickly as possible, here are three tips to help you get started: