The World Record For Most Credit Cards Owned: 1,497!

by J. Money on Monday, January 18, 2016

credit card world record

This is the craziest story you’ll read all week: Man Has 1,497 Credit Cards via ABC News

1,497! Can you imagine? With a credit line totaling $1.7 MILLION too. Just insane.

And he keeps adding to it…

In fact, he literally holds the Guinness World Record for owning the most (valid) cards out of anyone! A bet that started over four decades ago that never quite ended, haha… you can guess who’s winning ;)

And if you’re wondering about his credit (which I know you are), here’s what he says:

It’s nearly perfect. I have a nearly perfect credit score. I only use one card and I pay it off at the end of the month. But you should see the length of my credit report – wow!

How do you even manage all that??? I can barely stay on top of my TWO cards, haha…

Which brings me to the actual *point* of this post. Other than helping you to spit out your coffee ;)

Do you know how many cards you own, and where they are? And most importantly, do you know WHY??

I assume none of you are trying to go after this guy’s record, but having a system in place to manage it all is key regardless. And hopefully your system is tight just like his!

Personally, I only like having two cards: one for personal expenses, and one for business. I do have a third open simply to hold onto my good credit history over the years (and to max out my credit available, but not used, @$65,000 to help pump up the score even more), but I’ve long since realized that I work best keeping my finances as simple and streamlined as possible. Even if I don’t earn millions in cash back or miles chasing new credit cards all over… If that’s your game, great, just make sure your system matches up with your goals :) It’s okay not to want to be a travel hacker!

(And if you do want to be one, check out this article my boy Brad did for us last year – Travel Hacking 101. He’s a bad ass when it comes to milking rewards out of cards… and shares his system too.)

If you don’t know how many cards you have, or where they are (or what the balances/interest rates/due dates are), please – for the love of all things finance – STOP reading this right now and go find out!

Open up a new spreadsheet, and create five columns:

  1. Name of credit card (ex. Amex)
  2. Balance left
  3. Interest rate
  4. Minimum monthly payment
  5. Due date

(EXTRA CREDIT: Add a tab where you store usernames/passwords to make it easy to update later. And then make sure to password protect the spreadsheet! (Which is easily done in Excel))

Similar to tracking your net worth, you have to KNOW where all your accounts are to manage it efficiently. And seeing it all in one spot is POWERFUL too!! Scary at times, but powerful…

This will also help you figure out which to kill off first too if you’re in debt. Maybe you choose the snowball/motivational method of knocking off the one with the lowest balance first and move up from there, or maybe you go the financially smarter route of wiping away the one with the highest interest rate first. Either way, seeing what you’re dealing with is important. And then YOU get control over them, vs them controlling you.

All this to say know what accounts you own and why. If you’re happy with everything, pat yourself on the back and consider these three minutes you just spent reading this a waste :) If you’re not, make this week the week you get squared away once and for all. You’re probably still working on your NY’s resolutions right? Was money on it? Hurry up and do it before the motivation fades!!

Curious now to see how many cards y’all own, and what your total credit lines open are too? Let us know in the comments below so we can gawk and have some fun! No judging of course, as always, but cool to see how peoples’ systems are set up… Especially around money.

Share some of the tricks and hacks you rock too so we can learn from them while here!

******
Hat tip to Payoff.com for passing over this world record holding gem… what a riot…


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personal capital Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review
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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Josh January 18, 2016 at 6:06 am

Almost 1,500 credit cards! That’s insane! I can’t even imagine how that guy keeps them all current.

I’m currently carrying 5 credit cards, and each has its purpose. Though I’ll be getting rid of one in May because the issuer reduced the effective total cash back rate, and it will no longer be worth it for me to keep it. (Don’t worry, I pay them off in full every month). Right now, my total credit line stands at $44,800. When I get rid of that card in May, the total credit line will stand at $34,800.

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2 Brian @DebtDiscipline January 18, 2016 at 6:19 am

That’s crazy! I hope he’s getting some super perks, liking travel the world for free or something. :) I have two rewards cards. One is for travel points and the another for Costco. We need to keep three teenager feed. When the cards are use they get paid in full before the end of the month.

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3 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar January 18, 2016 at 6:30 am

Credit karma can help a lot with checking to see which cards you have.

We have about 7 or 8 but only use 3 (amex, chase business, and united for points).

Paid in full every month.

We have a few leftover cards that I don’t use like a Home Depot one that we got for a discount on our carpet installation. Almost $1500 is crazy. The mail alone!

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4 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 7:33 am

I used to open up store cards all the time to get the 10% back or whatever – even if it only saved me like $5! So happy I got out of that habit, haha… I’d imagine you save a lot more w/ big jobs at Home Depot though?

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5 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar January 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, it was a couple hundred. The card blows otherwise. It just gives 6 months interest free. I don’t care about that! Used it one time and done.

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6 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers January 18, 2016 at 7:16 am

I currently manage 4 cards. Two that I’ve had for years and will keep open for the credit history on them and two that I opened after consulting with Brad’s at richmondsavers.com so that I could get the reward miles and get a free flight to climb Kilimanjaro in March. So far it’s worked out perfectly and I’ll be closing the cards down as soon as I get back from the trip.

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7 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 7:33 am

Brad is crazy impressive with that stuff, huh? Sounds like a fun trip!

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8 Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor January 18, 2016 at 7:34 am

We’ve always had one or two until recently, when we’ve churned a few, one at a time. We try to keep the finances pretty simple but the churning has allowed us to get free plane tickets and hotel stays, which is worth it to us. We really can’t churn a lot at once, though, because our expenses are too low.

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9 Hannah January 18, 2016 at 7:45 am

I have exactly one open credit card, and it’s not even a “good” one in terms of cash back rewards. Rather, it has a ton of sweet perks like replicating manufacturer’s warranties, secondary liability on car rentals, and a few other things that I have used in the past. For the sake of ease, I recommend that everyone, even people like me who don’t really use credit cards keep one open.

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10 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm

It’s def. good to have one “just in case.”

None of my cards are exceptionally great with rewards either (they have them, they’re just not the best) but I love having most of my accounts under one roof so I take the convenience/simplicity over the extra cash back. All about knowing how you work best!

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11 S L January 18, 2016 at 7:51 am

Two I don’t count usually, because one is corporate and one is corporate education — but they are mine and go on my credit report. I keep getting surprised to see them :)

Two I got the month after my bankruptcy a long long time ago.
One I got on my own.
Another was a “credit card” opened up when I had to get new air conditioners from a company. The loan was placed through a revolving card company they worked with. I was not happy when I found that out.
and the final one, I inherited. I kid you not. Discover card lets you inherit the deceased’s credit time. I did not get my mom’s credit line (more the pity *grin*) but I did get her start date (mostly) with the company, which apparently was before I turned 18, and thus it starts at my 18th year. I guess they could not have me starting with them before I could legally sign anything. Can you imagine the jump in my average years of credit?

So,
4 (6) cards with a credit line of .. wow. did not realize my total credit line — more than I expected even discounting the [not my card] cards. I pay off every month usually – unless something major comes along. I use two a lot, and the other two to keep them active every now and then.

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12 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:36 pm

I’ve never even heard of that?? Taking on deceased ones’ time? I wonder if that’s just a Discover thing? Fascinating… but hopefully not an option anytime soon! :(

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13 Catina Marie January 18, 2016 at 8:03 am

I seriously have so many untouched cards!! Totally need to do this. I have 2 in my wallet (1 AMEX & 1 Visa) simply because I am a weirdo about swiping my bank card anywhere other than the ATM.
I’m gonna go count them up. BRB!
Catina

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14 Michael Belk January 18, 2016 at 8:15 am

J. Money, I think the bank that loaned him that are irresponsible for extending him credit. It is a good thing he is responsible with his credit because if he owned the banks money they would collect.

I can not image having a 1.7 million dollar credit line. Most ;people would be in trouble.

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15 Loren January 18, 2016 at 8:39 am

Can you imagine what would ever happen if the guy moved… It would take weeks, even months to update all of addresses – ha!

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16 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:37 pm

HAH!!!! TRUTH!

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17 Elise@ Simply Scaled Down January 18, 2016 at 8:40 am

Holy Moly!!! That is a lot of credit cards. I also have to question how easy loan processes would be with a credit history and that many open accounts! I pity the underwriter who gets his next mortgage!

We only have 3 cards. One for personal (which we use for points), one for just me (which I use to buy the hubster his presents and actually keep them a surprise), and one we opened to get a signing bonus of a bajillion airlines miles. All get paid off at the end of the month (because that’s what money gurus do, right?)

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18 Lisa O January 18, 2016 at 9:05 am

I cannot even image having that many. I like to use credit cards to keep my life simple! I charge everything I can because then the monthly statements does my bookkeeping. I have 4 that I use for certain rewards and I usually make about $500 a year for cash backs. I pay them off every month so no interest paid at all.

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19 Free to Pursue January 18, 2016 at 9:05 am

Two active cards and four others I don’t know why we still have open (2 are store cards I’ve had for over a decade and don’t use). I appreciate the food for thought. I think I’ll be picking up the phone and cancelling them.

They’re always paid off at the end of the month. They’re used as debit cards with benefits (points and no fees).

One note: I’d add a column on that spsheet: minimum monthly payment. Why? Adding it all up can help us see what we’re obligated to pay to card companies on time every month in order to avoid late fees, etc. What percentage of your take-home pay does it represent? Looking for more fun? Add every other “low monthly payment” obligation to the list and recalculate. It can be downright bone chilling :-O

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20 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:38 pm

GREAT IDEA!!!

Going now to update – thank youuuuuuuuu

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21 tracy January 18, 2016 at 9:08 am

Two – one we use and one we keep for the emergency backup when the one we use gets compromised…again! (Seriously love my USAA – even though I had to replace twice within a 30 day period. They worked with me through it and got my new card out to me in plenty of time for my vacation!)

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22 Shawna January 18, 2016 at 9:28 am

I have 2 credit cards but only use 1 every day. I use it for all purchases so I get a nice amount of Amazon points every month. I have another credit card with a $5,000 limit that I keep for emergencies and international travel – it somehow has only a 4% interest rate and doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees! I’ve thankfully only has to use it for travel and not for an emergency :)

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23 Justin @ Root of Good January 18, 2016 at 10:18 am

I don’t know how many I have for sure, but at one point I counted and it was something like 141. I have a stack about 3-4 inches thick and bound with rubber bands sitting in my file cabinet and another few dozen floating around in the file cabinet and on the desk. I also cut up over 100 a few years ago.

So how many is that? A lot. :)

Credit score is pretty stellar. It was over 800 (out of 850) until I slowed down on credit card applications and paid off my mortgage in 2015. Now we’re just below 800 even though (because?) we’re opening fewer new credit accounts.

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24 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Finally! One thing about you I don’t like! :)

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25 Emily @ JohnJaneDoe January 18, 2016 at 11:16 am

I have 5, one of which is an associate card on my husband’s account that I have never used and that he keeps locked up. I guess he wants me on the account just in case something happens to him. I have an Amazon Visa I use all of the time, two others I use very rarely and I think are still in my maiden name even though i’ve been married almost a decade, and a Kohl’s card that I use to get discounts maybe 3 times per year. We don’t carry balances on any.

I’m not sure I need to cancel any, but it would probably be a good idea to only carry the one I actually use.

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26 Maggie @ Northern Expenditure January 18, 2016 at 11:27 am

Yes, travel hacking upped our credit card count from two to nearly ten – and we’re conservative with our travel hacking! :)

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27 Michelle January 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I recently read about this guy – just crazy! I couldn’t handle having that many but I know he does it mainly just for the record, so good for him for being the record holder haha!

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28 Heather @ Simply Save January 18, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Wow that is crazy! I’m impressed but wonder about the risk of identity theft with that many cards. I’m down to one these days and pay it off in full.

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29 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Yeah! Literally over 1,000 more odds of getting hacked – hah!

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30 Josh @MoneyBuffalo January 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Have 3 although primarily only use 2 for specific purposes. I only keep the 3rd one for credit history mostly as the rewards have been reduced greatly over the past couple years.

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31 The Professor January 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm

I have 6 but will be applying for a 7th this month. Why? 50,000 pts. That’s why.About a year ago I opened up one with US Airways knowing they were going to get merged with American. Opened up an AAirlines one too. Both gave me something like 50,000 miles. When it merged I cancelled the US Airways one. This year I’ve booked three tickets to Hawaii for me and my daughters for free with the miles. A value of $1,800. Credit score close to 800.

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32 J. Money January 18, 2016 at 3:46 pm

You’re smoother than I, sir!

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33 Mortimer January 18, 2016 at 1:41 pm

We have three credit cards, one opened most recently (~6 mos. ago) to get a free credit score and to boost the credit limit to lower the ratio. We only use one, and are working on cutting out the debt on the third (which at least has interest only at the prime rate—thanks pre-recession deal!). Total current credit line of $22,400. Seems like the issuers are still getting used to my higher income now that I’m out of school—last year AMEX bumped up our limit once a month for about six months. Pretty funny. If anyone is interested in prioritizing payment of credit card debt based on interest rate, low balance, or your own custom order, you can check out my free calculator right here which will let you weigh the financial cost of those decisions. Cheers!

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34 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:41 am

I’m surprised they just automatically bumped up your limits like that? You’d think they’d at least ask first or only do it when you come to them?? So bad for those who can’t control themselves!

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35 Tawcan January 18, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Looking at that number just hurts my head. We have 3 cards. Two personal, one for work. One of the two personal cards we rarely use. We only use it because I’ve had this card for over 10 years and want to keep my credit history.

Seriously thinking applying for a 4th card just so I can do a bit of credit card churning. We’ll see.

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36 Emma | Money Can Buy Me Happiness January 18, 2016 at 2:25 pm

I would have heart palpitations managing all that paper when the statements came in! I have four cards – 2 here in New Zealand, both with 20k limits. One MasterCard for business and one Visa for everything else – and I mean everything. It’s a cash back card so we put everything on it. I also have 2 in Australia (both with no annual fee) an Amex with 7k limit and MasterCard with $4500 limit. That’s just hedging my bets in case we ever move back to Australia – I’d hate to have to reapply as a new resident.

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37 Slackerjo January 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Very rarely do I read of people with multiple credit cards who have a good credit rating.

I had a boss who had about 40 cards, all mostly maxed out. He’d ask me to go buy some office supplies and he’d shuffle through the stack like a deck of cards trying to find one that might still have $20 worth of credit on it. That’s when I learned, you don’t have to be very smart to run a business.

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38 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

OUCH!!!

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39 Vic @ Dad Is Cheap January 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

1500 credit cards is a bit…much. The guy could have cancelled about 1450 of those and I’m sure his credit would be just fine :)

My wife and I currently have 7 credit cards that we rotate depending on what we’re purchasing so we can maximize our sweet rewards. If you manage your credit responsibly and don’t buy stuff you otherwise wouldn’t – it’s free money! I’m also a fan of churning so I’m all about signing up for cards for the sign up bonus. I am getting my feet wet with the travel hacking too ;).

I use YNAB to easily consolidate all of this. Last I checked my score is over 800. I’m actually not too concerned about my score – I have zero debts (besides mortgage) and don’t plan on taking out a loan anytime soon. If my score goes below 750 I might have to readjust my habits. Until then I’ll be enjoying my rewards!

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40 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:45 am

Sounds like you’ve found a good rhythm over there :) Not surprised you’re rocking YNAB with it all either! Haha…

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41 Formative Fortunes January 18, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Wow 1497 is a lot of credit cards! I only have 1, i feel that it helps me control my spending since there is a limit on it. Im definitely interested in adopting his system so i can reap more rewards!

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42 Rob @ MoneyNomad January 19, 2016 at 1:07 am

So I’m just surprised that he can afford all of those cards! If just a quarter of them have a $50 annual fee, he’s paying out close to $20,000 a year on fees!

If only I had know that was something I could do to land a world record! Maybe I’ll start signing up for life insurance policies subscription box plans.

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43 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:47 am

Good point on the yearly fee part actually… Maybe he only sticks to free ones and/or gets them waived just by touting the record? I’m fairly certainly he doesn’t pay thousands of dollars a month just to hold onto it… Excellent question though.

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44 jennydecki January 19, 2016 at 9:47 am

I have about 10. I use 1 regularly for Amazon points and usually break out two store cards for Christmas/birthdays (I have two birthdays within three weeks of Christmas). My goal is to have just the one because I love having bills on CC auto pay whenever possible then just make one payment to the CC for those bills. The unused cards are in a little zipper pouch in a safe. I change all the login passwords once every 6 months. We put so much less on cards this holiday/birthday season I think next year we will be able to do it all with cash! I use ynab to keep everything straight.

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45 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

Smart on changing up the passwords every 6 months! I need to be better about that stuff

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46 Lee S. January 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm

I have 3 cards. 1 with a high available balance that I once was $12k in debt on. Another that has less than half of the first cards available balance and I used it to help get out of debt, free transfer and 18 months no fees helped a lot. Then my third is linked with my Mom’s account to help her shop and manage things. Yay Dementia! I’m currently out of credit card debt and making sure I don’t go back.

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47 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

Ugh… Your mother is so fortunate to have you around to help w/ that stuff. We’re now starting to help out with finances too on our end and gets so scary when they don’t know what’s where anymore :( And even worse are the email scams going into their inbox every other day! They prey on older people!!

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48 Dillon January 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm

1 card for me. I’ve had it for 11 years so far. 1% back on everything. 7.9% APR. I pay it in full every month though. $19k limit.

Thinking about getting another card for better rewards, but use this one every few months to keep the age of the account and the great credit utilization ratio.

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49 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank January 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm

More than a thousand credit card. Wow. I can’t imagine how that person can manage to use each of those like those expenses. Me, having 2 credit card is enough.

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50 Ksenia January 20, 2016 at 4:44 am

Wow, that’s a lot of cards! Actually first question that came to my mind was “where does he keep all these cards?”

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51 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:56 am

I think he said in a safe somewhere… which is smart!

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52 Michelle January 20, 2016 at 8:31 am

I felt really stressed out thinking about all of those cards. Where does he keep them? What if they are stolen? Just…WHY? Uggh.

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53 Jake January 24, 2016 at 8:53 am

For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT add a tab to your unsecured spreadsheet listing the names and passwords of all of your accounts.
Instead, invest in a password manager and USE IT to generate secure passwords and keep track of your sites.
Then, thank me later when your information isn’t easily cracked because of simple and crappy passwords.

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54 J. Money January 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Yes, that would be the ideal route – however most people don’t use it :(

I went back and made a note to password-protect the spreadsheet at least… good looking out.

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55 Mariann January 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm

I have one main card I use as a debit card every month and pay it in full. I have a total of 3 other cards with rewards and they are only used if I can benefit from them. Each card has balance from 1,000-1,5000 each. The main card I used has a 1,500 bal and I carry around $350-1,200 each month with an avg of about 800.00 This is for food out, groceries, entertainment, school, supplies, my clothing budget always finding something new to buy, charity donations and gifts (bdays, new babies, weddings etc)…etc …

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56 John Robinson January 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm

I have two current accounts, one with a limit of £2000, and the other with no overdraft facility. I also have three credit cards, with limits of £900, £500 and £1200. I would love to have more, but i have to wait six months for my credit score to go up i think?

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57 J. Money February 1, 2016 at 10:01 am

I don’t think it takes 6 months for scores to move – either up or down. I believe it’s a constantly changing one. (Though not sure how they work in the UK?)

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58 Rose February 5, 2016 at 9:27 am

I have 3 cards that I actively use, but looking over my credit report last year I found that my old military card was increased to a limit of $7K WTH? haven’t used it in years.

… and duh, a card I got for paying on a dental procedure at 0% interest is considered a real credit card. Who in their right mind would continue to use a card that has 26% interest?

I had been on a mission to find a credit card (for SO) that pays you back 3% on gas and 3% on groceries and gives you a sign up bonus of $200 with only a $500 spending requirement and guess what, I found it:) Sweet!
Paid off every month of course.

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59 J. Money February 8, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Smart woman!

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60 Pat February 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm

We have a card for our household, one for me, and one for my husband who also consults outside his regular job. Recently he got one for rewards to use for his main job when he travels. Anyway, that is enough to keep track of let alone 1497!!!! Crazy! I’m curious if he only uses one why the others haven’t been closed due to lack of activity. I’ve had that happen to me because let’s face it when you’re issued credit that card company wants to see some use of it or it doesn’t behoove them to service the account from their end.

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