How to Manage Multiple Credit CardsUpdated: June 28, 2019

There are quite a few advantages that come with owning multiple credit cards if you can handle the financial responsibility, as we’ve noted before. By using several credit cards, you have more options for earning rewards, access to a more diverse array of perks and an easier time keeping your credit utilization ratio down, which can improve your credit scores. Of course, the downside is that you also have more to keep up with, and no one wants to make their finances more complicated than necessary. So, to help you enjoy the benefits of using a plethora of credit cards while mitigating the drawbacks, we’re covering ways you can maximize your rewards and avoid penalties. Read on for tips on how to make managing multiple cards easier.

Maximizing card rewards

If you have a few different rewards credit cards, that probably means your cards earn different rates of cash back or points on different purchases. In that case, you’ll want to develop a system of using your credit cards so that you’re always earning the highest rate of rewards you possibly can. For example, if you’re at a supermarket and you have a Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited with you, you’ll want to use the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card to pay for your purchase because it earns an unlimited 2% cash back at grocery stores while Chase Freedom Unlimited only earns 1.5% cash back at grocery stores — it earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. If you’re a new cardholder, you should also be sure you’re purchasing enough to meet the minimum spending requirements for any intro bonuses you have on your cards — most spending requirements can be achieved if you pay all of your monthly bills and expenses with the card.

It can be difficult to remember all the category bonuses that some credit cards have, particularly for cards with rotating categories that change every quarter, so it may help you to label your cards with the sorts of purchases they’re best used for. Just put a strip of masking tape (or your label of choice) on each card and write its primary spending purposes, such as “restaurants and gas” or “general use.” Be careful not to put the label near the card’s EMV chip or on the other side of the card’s stripe, though, as the label will get worn out and damaged pretty quickly during transactions.

Paying on time

This is probably the most important aspect of managing multiple credit cards. Earning a lot of rewards won’t matter much if you pay your bills late, racking up late fees and finance charges. To manage your payments, you should keep track of all your card statement closing dates, which is the day your credit card bill is sent to you, and payment due dates, which is the day by which you have to have at least made your credit card bill’s minimum payment. You can keep the dates in a digital spreadsheet, put them in your calendar and set reminders, or if you’re old-fashioned, you can just write them down on a notecard and put it somewhere obvious, such as on your refrigerator. It’s very possible that these dates will fall on different days for all of your cards, though there are some credit cards, such as the Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fees Ever (a NextAdvisor advertiser), that let you select your own payment due date, and some credit card issuers will work with you and change your due date if you ask it.

It’s fairly easy to pay all of your credit card bills at the same time online at least once a month, but if you have trouble remembering to do so, you may want to consider turning on autopay. This will let you set up a recurring payment to cover your card’s minimum payment, your entire card balance or a custom amount of money that you specify. Autopay is convenient, but if you use it, you need to take note of when the recurring payments will go through and make sure you have enough money in your bank account to cover them. Otherwise, you risk inadvertently overdrawing your bank account, which often comes with its own set of fees and penalties.

Remembering important dates

In addition to your payment dates, credit cards can come with plenty of other important dates you’ll definitely want to keep track of. Many credit cards come with 0% intro APR periods for purchases and/or balance transfers, and if you’re relying on those intro APR periods to pay off debt interest-free, you should jot down when they end. For credit cards with annual fees, a major thing to remember is the month your card’s fee renews, which, in many cases, is the same month you received the news that your credit card issuer approved your card application. If you want to close any of your credit cards with annual fees, it’s smart to do it before the next fee posts to your card statement. Similarly, for premium travel cards, like the American Express Gold Card (a NextAdvisor advertiser), that give you annual credits to cover TSA PreCheck fees or flight incidentals, recording the date those credits reset can help you make the most of them. As noted in the previous section, it’s simple to compile these dates digitally in a spreadsheet, add them to your calendar (and turn on reminders) or just write them down.

With a few simple practices, you’ll be reaping the benefits of having a wallet full of credit cards without sweating the upkeep. To find more advice on getting the most out of cards, follow our credit cards blog.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.