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Americans have an average of 4 credit cards—is that too many?

The average American have 4 credit cards, according to the 2019 Experian Consumer Credit Review. But is that too many? CNBC Select explains how to know how many credit cards you should have.

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If you already have a few credit cards and are considering opening another, you may wonder if there's a number of cards that's too many.

While there's no perfect answer to how many credit cards you should have, the 2019 Experian Consumer Credit Review found that the average American has four. If you can responsibly manage multiple credit cards, you can maximize rewards, annual statement credits and interest-free financing.

While having more than one credit card can be beneficial, you should always consider your credit score, finances and personal goals prior to opening a new card. A credit card application can ding your credit score roughly five points, so it's not in your best interest to apply when you're looking to take out a mortgage or trying to improve your credit.

CNBC Select breaks down whether four credit cards is too many and the average number of credit cards Americans have in every state, according to Experian's report.

Key findings

  • Americans carry an average of four credit cards
  • New Jersey residents have the most credit cards, on average 4.1
  • Alaska and Mississippi residents have the fewest credit cards, on average 2.8

Top 10 states with the most credit cards

Residents of many states on the East Coast have multiple credit cards, and New Jersey takes the top spot of any state with an average 4.1 cards.

  1. New Jersey: 4.1
  2. Connecticut: 3.8
  3. New York: 3.8
  4. Delaware: 3.7
  5. Florida: 3.7
  6. Rhode Island: 3.7
  7. Maryland: 3.6
  8. Texas: 3.6
  9. California: 3.6
  10. Illinois: 3.6

Top 10 states with the fewest credit cards

Both Alaska and Mississippi residents have the lowest average number of credit cards, 2.8. If you have fewer credit cards than the average four, that's OK. It's up to each individual to decide the right number of credit cards for their lives.

  1. Alaska: 2.8
  2. Mississippi: 2.8
  3. Oklahoma: 2.9
  4. Wyoming: 2.9
  5. Montana: 2.9
  6. District of Columbia: 3
  7. Alabama: 3
  8. Vermont: 3
  9. Arkansas: 3
  10. South Dakota: 3

How many credit cards is too many?

While Americans carry an average of four credit cards, that doesn't mean four cards is ideal. It all depends on your situation.

Credit card optimizers might be curious if there's a number of credit cards that's too many. Thankfully, there really isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on how responsible you are at managing multiple cards.

If you always pay on time and in full, then you can open as many credit cards as you want. On the other hand, if you often carry a balance or miss your payment deadline, it's in your best interest to limit the number of cards you open.

Choose the right mix of credit cards

If you decide to open another credit card, it's a good idea to consider how each card can help you save money on your spending. You can take advantage of increased benefits by selecting a mix of cards, such as travel rewards, bonus cash back on select purchases, introductory 0% APR cards, and more.

Here are some of our top choices in popular categories.

Travel credit cards

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card
On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide and shop at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    See rates and fees

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred®
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

Check out CNBC Select's roundup of the best travel credit cards.

Cash-back credit cards

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card
On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

Terms apply.

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back
Information about the Discover it® Cash Back has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5% cash back at different places each quarter after you activate bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%). Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    At the end of your first year, Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earned

  • Annual fee

    See terms

  • Intro APR

    See terms

  • Regular APR

    See terms

  • Balance transfer fee

    See terms

  • Foreign transaction fee

    See terms

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

*See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

Check out CNBC Select's roundup of the best cash-back credit cards.

Intro 0% APR credit cards

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Information about the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    14.74% to 24.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
Information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    2X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X), 1X Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    12.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Check out CNBC Select's roundup of the best 0% APR credit cards.

Average number of credit card by state

State Avg. Credit Cards
Alabama3
Alaska2.8
Arizona3.4
Arkansas3
California3.6
Colorado3.4
Connecticut3.8
Delaware3.7
District of Columbia3
Florida3.7
Georgia3.4
Hawaii3.3
Idaho3.2
Illinois3.6
Indiana3.2
Iowa3.1
Kansas3.3
Kentucky3.2
Louisiana3.1
Maine3.1
Maryland3.6
Massachusetts3.6
Michigan3.4
Minnesota3.3
Mississippi2.8
Missouri3.3
Montana2.9
Nebraska3.4
Nevada3.6
New Hampshire3.6
New Jersey4.1
New Mexico3.1
New York3.8
North Carolina3.3
North Dakota3.2
Ohio3.5
Oklahoma2.9
Oregon3.1
Pennsylvania3.6
Rhode Island3.7
South Carolina3.2
South Dakota3
Tennessee3.1
Texas3.6
Utah3.2
Vermont3
Virginia3.5
Washington3.2
West Virginia3.1
Wisconsin3.3
Wyoming2.9
Source: Experian
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.