questionshow many different store credit cards is too many?

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vote-for8vote-against

So many of these places just ask you to sign up at the checkout -- including the "it doesn't cost you anything..."

I tend to always tell them no, not interested, or something like that.

Does this have a negative or positive impact on my credit report?
Any particular reason I should or should not take out additional store credit cards?

vote-for22vote-against

each new card you apply for imposes a "hard check" on your credit profile, which automatically lowers your score for several months to years (not sure which).

i only have 2 open lines of credit. one out of necessity to gain entrance to costco (the AMEX they offer), and one card with amazon that's a visa.

i have no need for any other cards, and i've long ago closed all my other accounts. my credit limit on EACH of these cards is to the tune of 5 digits...needless to say, it's impractical to need anything more.

vote-for20vote-against

Every time you apply for credit, there is indeed a check on your credit profile, which at least temporarily lowers your credit score. So don't go signing up for lots of credit when you need your credit score to be in tip-top shape, such as before you buy a car.

And if you're not planning on paying off the balance every month, any promotional offer you get from using the card is canceled out by interest. Store cards tend to have really high interest rates.

But if you are approved, and you don't use the credit very often, it can actually eventually improve your score, as you'll have a better debt-to-available credit ratio.

Too many is different for different people. I only have two store cards; I don't want to keep track of too many cards, and I like to use my 1 regular credit card to earn miles.

Bankrate has a pretty solid explanation of all this: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/store-credit-card-good-deal-1.aspx

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ZERO, store cards, 3 standard issue, One gets heavy use, one gets used at Costco, one rarely gets used.

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I have a Lowe's card because we were able to use it for 18 months of 0% financing on the purchase of our washer/dryer and later on the purchase of our stove. We knew we were 100% able to pay off the balances prior to the end of those 18 month stints, but didn't have the cash to buy them outright, so it was a great deal for us.

I have a Walmart card to take advantage of their holiday 0% financing for any large Black Friday purchases. We don't use it the rest of the year and always pay it off prior to the end of the 0% financing.

At Target, I traditionally use my Target Debit card (it's great!), but I do have a Target credit card as well. I use the credit card if I'm too close to payday to buy groceries or gifts or whatever, but know that I can pay it off prior to the interest being charged.

Granted, the Walmart and Target card use did go up some when my husband was unemployed and this allowed us to continue to eat.

I wouldn't get any more than I have, but that's just me :)

vote-for4vote-against

I think we have a Kohl's card for the discount.
Other than that, it's one of each (Visa, MC, Disco, Amex) and we rotate them depending on who has the better cash-back or rewards program at the time (quarterly).
I don't carry a balance, so $$ in my pocket.

j5 j5
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One is too many. Store credit cards are a terrible deal. They're only good at that particular store. You're much better off getting a general credit card (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) with some kind of rewards program attached.

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@jazzsinger: I disagree. As long as you're very responsible with them, they can really save you some money. Part of the responsibility is to never carry a balance. I'll admit to knowing a number of people who can't seem to do that (including my younger self), but they can really offer some great savings if you know what you're doing.

Also worth noting that until you have decent, if not great, credit, you often don't qualify for a standard credit card that offers rewards worth having. And I would know...I kinda killed my credit at a young age and have worked VERY hard to get to where I am now (went from a 540 to a 762 in the last 3 years!) No matter where I looked, I was never able to get a card that offered anything unless I was willing to pay a large yearly fee until I did the work to get my credit to an "acceptable" level. I'm still not able to snag anything great without a large yearly fee at this point. But if you can get it, go for it if you want credit!

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I don't have any store cards, but I do have three regular credit cards and two debit cards.

The one I use all the time is my Amazon Visa card. The other two credit cards are mainly to keep my average account age up.

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Not including my debit card I have and use ONE card. I can hardly manage a credit card and bank account, I need to keep it simple.

I wouldn't mind a Ralph's shopper card though dude.

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I can barely stand carrying store club cards in my wallet, let alone credit cards. But I signed up for the Target Red Card debit card this year, which saves you 5 percent off every Target purchase while working like a check card.

I admit, I have a Macy's card that hasn't seen use in years. My wife has a Gap card that saved us like $75 on clothes once. And I have lines of credit from big purchases at Dell, Shane Co. and La Z Boy that I'm sure are still open.

Does that add up to six? Six is too many.

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@rhycochet and @dw1771: Does the Costco card work like a regular AmEx outside of Costco? Do you use it for non-Costco purchases?

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None. I have one credit card and it is NOT a store card.

I used to have a Sears credit card over a decade ago, but I missed one small payment and my interest rate went from small and reasonable to over twenty percent. On top of this was a huge penalty which drew interest on that new, incredibly high rate. I cancelled the card, paid down the debt and never went back to store cards.

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I have one "store" card and have never used it...my wife signed up for it to save money on a purchase.@magic cave, care to share your expertise once again?

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@jsimsace: I no longer have any "traditional" store cards; all those I used to have were sold off to one of the Big Banks and are now branded by the store but issued by Visa or Mastercard and are usable anywhere.

By and large, the number of cards is less important than the ratio of their total credit limit to the balances you carry. Ten cards, TCL $50k, actual total balances $6k is better than three cards, TCL $12k, actual balances of $4k. It's generally a good idea to keep old cards ("old" credit tends to weigh more heavily than "newer" credit); use them once or twice a year to keep them active. Unless you're going to get a really good deal by opening an otherwise unneeded store card, the ding to your overall credit score may not be worth the savings.

I personally have an AmEx I've had since 1983, three old Visa cards, and three newer Visas. Total available credit is about $70k; total balance is under $4k, all currently at zero interest. That's just me; YMMV.

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@jsimsace: Other thoughts: if your old, unused store card is several years old, you might want to use it now and then to keep an active history on it. (Remember, old is good.) I often recommend folks mark their calendars to buy a tank of gas monthly or quarterly, just to make sure the card isn't cancelled for non-use since many financial institutions are now monitoring and limiting their unsecured exposure. It's not hurting your credit not to use it, but it's not really helping it, either.

The Target debit card is good for Target because it brings in new money, and Target doesn't have to pay any swipe fees at all since they collect monthly via an ACH direct withdrawal from their customers' checking accounts. It does, however, pose a very real risk for users who don't keep a close eye on their total charges, since the potential for a month-end overdraft is significantly increased, and one NSF fee can wipe out a lot of those 5% discounts.

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@turbizzi: yes, my mom and sisters all use that AMEX whenever possible.

i only got it recently, i've just found no reason to use it outside of costco since amazon's chase visa is more than generous with points. and i've never charged it past 30% of total allowance before i clear the bill. i pay my bill twice or so a month online and make sure i carry a neutral balance at all times. also, outside of getting cig cartons from costco and the occasional carrot juice, i buy 99.9% of everything i need/want off amazon/newegg/zappos/etc. etc.

but for all intents and purposes, yes, it functions like any other AMEX card except you get your pretty (or scary) mug on the back of it.

vote-for1vote-against

1 credit card is 1 too many. I don't do credit. Cash or debit card only.

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I guess that depends on how often you use them. We have a couple store cards (on top of our credit cards) and use them regularly. Here is what we have and how we do it:

Home Depot Card
Nebraska Furniture Mart Card (NFM)
Newegg Card
Dell Card
Bill Me Later

When we want to make a big purchase and plan on using any of the above, we look at what kind of financing they are offering. The Nebraska card, for example, offers pretty much nothing less than 24 months financing. If we want to buy, lets say, a TV, we will look at prices and if the NFM price is close or cheaper, we will buy it there, put it on the card and leave our money in the bank or short term investments and pay off the card at about 80% of term. It is important to note that we always put the money aside to pay off the purchase.

As @magic cave said, keep those old cards current. I.E. use them to buy gas once in a while and pay them off immediately. A company closing your oldest card hurts your credit score bad.

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I always get store cards when they run specials for 0% interest over a period of months. It's free money for me since I can leave my money in the bank.

Then after I pay it all off, I never use the card again. They just sit there until they expire.

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No store credit cards. They cannot flex the APR as regular credit cards can. You can ask for a better rate on regular cards when your credit/pay history is good, but a store card won't adjust. I had a HD card from renovations on my house and they would never adjust. Just closed the account.

Watch your % of credit to debt. If you have too much available credit, insanely enough, it can hurt your credit score. Conversely, if you max out your cards, your score will be lower. The only way I'd want another store card is if I got discounts for it and I paid it off each month - like Kohl's.

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I got a Menards Card to be able to quickly enter their monthly drawing (usually for a vehicle). Whatever you do - do NOT carry a balance or be late with payment, these cards have THE WORST interest rates and nasty late fees as well.

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Thank you for all the information. This has been somewhat helpful and reassuring that I was doing the "right thing"...
We will be buying a new car within the next few months, I would guess, so I think we'll hold off on any more cards until then (at least!).

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@moneymom: very true.

this was someone i wanted to bring up to the poster directly beneath my first comment.
because contrary to what you might think, if you have a huge credit:debt ratio, your credit score CAN be negatively impacted.

after my AMEX was approved awhile ago, the following month i was notified of a credit score dip. the reason given was that i had too much unused credit. my credit limit essentially doubled from when i only used my amazon visa, and apparently for those 2 weeks after approval i only held a balance of slightly under $500, and the less-than-3% debt:credit ratio subtracted something like 18 points from my credit score that lasted a few months.

of course i thought to myself...WTF. i was apparently punished for good credit.