Skip to content

​​​​Why you should have multiple credit cards

Sept. 08, 2022
9 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

If you have a friend with more credit cards than there are days in a week, you might wonder why it would make sense to carry multiple credit cards. While you may not want to carry a binder containing dozens of credit cards, holding multiple credit cards can be a way to increase the rewards you earn, access a variety of perks or even strengthen your credit.

Should you be ready to jump from having a single credit card you use for every transaction to multiple rewards cards, here are a few ideas to help you strategize on what cards would be most useful to add.

New to The Points Guy? Want to learn more about credit card points and miles? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Cards for everyday spending

RUDI_SUARDI/GETTY IMAGES

For many people with multiple credit cards, only a few cards that are great for everyday use make it into their wallets. For me, this means carrying a card with 2% or greater rewards on everyday spending, plus a handful of cards that earn increased rewards in the categories where I spend the most.

Here are a few cards that are helpful for everyday spending:

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card — Earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, redeemable as either a statement credit against travel purchases at 1 cent per mile or transferred to one of Capital One’s airline or hotel partners.

Citi® Double Cash Card — Offers up to 2% earnings on all purchases: 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. The rewards can be redeemed as cash back or paired with a premium Citi ThankYou card and transferred to airline and hotel partners.

Chase Freedom Unlimited — Earns 1.5% back on non-bonus spending, making it the best everyday spending credit card for accumulating Ultimate Rewards points when paired with a mid-tier or premium Chase card for the ability to transfer points. In addition to this great 1.5% earning rate, you’ll also earn 5% back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 3% at drugstores.

American Express® Gold Card — Earns 4 points per dollar spent on restaurants worldwide, plus 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year, making it an excellent choice for frequent diners and grocery shoppers alike.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card — Earns 1.5% cash back but is a no-annual-fee credit card that offers a 0% foreign transaction fee.

Related: Does having many credit cards hurt your credit score?

Cards for occasional use

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

In my collection, some cards only see occasional use. This mostly includes cards offering 5% back on various rotating categories throughout the year and 1% back on most purchases outside of their category bonuses.

When there is a rotating category bonus offer that I find useful, that card makes its way into my wallet, but if the category isn’t useful or I’ve exhausted the card’s limit on purchases, the card remains in my sock drawer.

These are two cards I occasionally use for their category bonuses:

Chase Freedom Flex — Earns 5% back on the first $1,500 spent on rotating categories each quarter (activation required), Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. However, dining and drugstore purchases also earn 3% back. All other purchases earn 1%.

Discover it Cash Back — Earns 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in purchases at select merchants each quarter. The eligible merchants rotate quarterly and require enrollment. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The information for the Discover it Cash Back card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Cards for the perks

Amex Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Some of my highest-annual-fee cards earn me very few rewards points or cash back because I don’t spend much on them. But these cards are worth keeping for their generous perks, which often have values well above the annual fees.

The Platinum Card® from American Express — Offers access to Centurion and Escape lounges and hundreds of Priority Pass lounges worldwide. If you’re a Delta Air Lines frequent flyer, this card provides entry to the Delta Sky Club while traveling on a same-day Delta ticket. In addition to lounge access, the Amex Platinum offers over $1,500 in statement credits, including an up to $200 airline fee credit, an up to $200 prepaid hotel credit, up to $155 in Walmart+ credits, up to $240 in digital entertainment credits and more (enrollment is required). The annual fee is $695 (see rates and fees).

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card — Offers Priority Pass membership for the cardmember and all eligible authorized users. Additional cardmembers can be added to the Venture X for no additional annual fee. All Priority Pass memberships receive access for two guests and access to Priority Pass restaurants. The annual fee is $395.

World of Hyatt Credit Card — Cardmembers receive a free night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel every year with the card, which many find they can easily use for a hotel night that would otherwise cost more than the card’s $95 annual fee.

United Club Infinite Card — Provides access to the United Club when traveling on United, Star Alliance or a partner flight for the cardmember and two guests, or one additional guest and dependent children under 21. The annual fee is $525.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® Offers Admirals Club membership for the cardmember, which includes access for you and your immediate family or up to two guests when traveling on an eligible flight. The annual fee is $450.

Related: 7 premium travel cards that are worth the high annual fee

Cards for the credit history

Payment history, length of credit history and amounts owed on your credit cards collectively make up 90% of your credit score. This alone can make it a good idea to keep your oldest cards open, even if they do not offer any rewards or perks. An open card can report additional available credit and continued current status to the credit reporting agencies, whether you use it for spending or not. So any infrequently used older cards continue to help you build your credit history.

One word of caution on keeping older credit cards open: Some issuers will close accounts that have had no activity for an extended length of time, so it is a good practice to make at least one small charge to each of your cards every year to keep them active.

Deciding whether to renew or cancel

Every year, I reevaluate each credit card in my wallet using one simple question: Does this card provide substantially more in value than I am paying for its annual fee?

When evaluating how much value a card provides, it is smart to consider the rewards you earn, but also ask yourself how much you would pay, in cash, for each one of the perks. The $300 travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is easy for me to use, so I value that at close to face value. However, I will likely never use the $300 Equinox credit on my Amex Platinum, so I value that benefit at $0.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • What would I pay in cash for the lounge access the card provides?
  • Does this card provide benefits that are duplicated by my other cards?
  • How much more am I earning on this card than I would be by using a 2% cash-back credit card?
  • Am I already flush with this particular points currency?
  • Can I receive similar benefits from a card with a lower annual fee?
  • What is the baseline value I need to justify keeping this card?

If you find that a card isn’t providing sufficient value, you should consider canceling or downgrading it.

Bottom line

For some, it can make sense to have multiple credit cards to maximize the earning of points and miles. However, there is also value in keeping things simple. If you don’t want to worry about which credit card earns how many points and in what category, during which month, you can always choose to carry one credit card. Make sure you select a card that earns solid rewards on all purchases, provides benefits you will use or rewards you in categories where you spend the most.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases