An infographic released recently by Credit Karma revealed some interesting characteristics about credit card usage and credit score.
For those with so-called excellent credit scores, 750 and higher, the average Credit Karma user had $4,829 in credit card debt on 6.7 credit cards.
While nearly seven credit cards may seem excessive, it was the norm for this stellar group of credit users, meaning it’s generally okay to have this many credit cards open in your name.
Well, at least as far as credit score is concerned. At the same time, this group kept their debt in check, with less than $5,000 outstanding, despite all those credit cards at their fingertips.
Meanwhile, for those with credit scores of 579 and below, deemed the “very poor credit” group, average debt was $1,868 on 0.9 credit cards.
If we do the math here, the excellent credit score consumer had an average of $720.75 in debt per card, versus $2,075.56 in debt per card for the very poor credit consumer.
How You Use Your Credit Cards Matters
In other words, it’s not so much about the number of credit cards you have, but rather how you use them.
Excellent Credit – $4,829 in debt on 6.7 cards ($720.75 per card)
Good Credit – $8,792 in debt on 5.4 cards ($1,628.15 per card)
Fair Credit – $6,436 in debt on 4.6 cards ($1,399.13 per card)
Poor Credit – $3,513 in debt on 2.7 cards ($1,301.11 per card)
Very Poor Credit – $1,868 in debt on 0.9 cards ($2,075.56 per card)
If we look at the full spectrum of credit scores and credit card usage, the trend is clear. More debt per card results in a lower score. And vice versa.
However, it gets a little murky in the middle with debt per card, as seen above. Those with more credit cards seem to be rewarded, despite carrying slightly higher levels of debt per card.
So there appears to be a positive correlation with the number of credit cards you take out, regardless of debt.
This could be because of the more robust credit history involved with having more credit cards, along with all those on-time payments made each and every month over the years.
A consumer with more credit cards probably has a deeper (and longer) credit history, which can also help raise a credit score.
These consumers may also have higher credit card limits, meaning credit utilization rates are lower, despite larger amounts of debt.
The takeaway is that you shouldn’t worry too much about the number of credit cards you have, but you should do your best to keep associated debt to a minimum.
Additionally, it’s not good practice to open a ton of credit cards in a short period of time. It’s okay to open cards over the years as you see fit, but don’t chase every new reward or bonus.
Aside from it being hard to keep track of, it will also damage your credit score. Remember, moderation is the name of the game if you want to be perceived as a low credit risk to prospective lenders.
Read more: How many credit cards should I have?