How Many U.S. Credit Cards Should Newcomers Hold?

by Susan Paige on January 2, 2020 · 0 comments

Individuals who move to the United States on a work visa, such as an H-1B visa, may plan to stay in the country for several years. Some hope they can work for six years on their H-1B, before earning a sponsorship for a Green Card through their employer. It means that building a credit history is something newcomers seek to do from the moment they arrive in the country.

The question that many newcomers ask is how many U.S. credit cards they should hold. It is a very valid question, as different credit cards have unique benefits while having more than one card can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Below is our guide on how many credit cards to hold. 

How Many Credit Cards Is Ideal?

Most experts believe that newcomers to the U.S. should have anywhere from two to four credit cards, which would help them gain a diverse range of benefits from each of those cards.

It possible, for instance, to have one credit card that offers maximum rewards on spending at U.S. supermarkets, another that has significant travel perks, and a third card that provides flat-rate cash back rewards.

People assume that if they are being told to obtain all these cards so they can load them up with spending, but it is not the case. It is, in fact, the opposite idea.

Part of the reason why having several credit cards is helpful is because it lowers the percentage of your credit limit that you have filled up. An individual’s credit score in the U.S. is negatively impacted if almost all their lines of credit are maxed out.

It means that a person who has a single credit card with a $3,000 limit suffers on their credit score if they have a $2,500 remaining balance on that card. Someone who has three credit cards, each with a $3,000 limit, and has only $800 on each of those cards is helping keep their credit score up.

Strategic Spending

Having more than one credit card allows for strategic spending. An individual could, for instance, use their American Express credit card anytime they want to buy tickets to a concert or sporting event. Amex often has early access to the best seats, which is a perk non-members cannot enjoy.

There are excellent lists of the best Amex credit cards for newcomers on sites like Nova Credit that would help with deciding on which Amex card to get. While American Express is not as famous around the world, it is widely accepted in the U.S. and offers excellent benefits on almost all its cards.

Leveraging Intro APR Offers

Another appealing aspect of having more than one credit card is leveraging the intro APR offers for spending and balance transfers. If you are planning to make a significant purchase that you want to pay off within six to 12 months, applying for a new card with an intro APR offer is one way to stagger those payments without dealing with interest.

American Express offers many cards with intro APRs that last from 12 to 15 months, and apply to both spending and balance transfers. The latter is helpful as it can allow you to transfer your balance from one card to another, which can save you money on interest payments.

Practice Good Spending Habits

It is easy for newcomers to the U.S. to become overwhelmed when they see the different credit cards that are available to people with stable income and good credit scores. The temptation to rack up thousands of dollars on five or six cards is very real, but it is imperative that you avoid going down such a route.

The best way to maintain and improve your credit score and save money, in the long run, is to limit your credit card spending to what you can afford. Spend what you can easily pay off each month while limiting significant spending to instances where you obtain a new credit card with a 0% intro APR offer.

Then you can enjoy the many rewards offered through credit cards from American Express, Chase, Capital One, and other providers in the U.S.

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