5 Signs You Have the Wrong Credit Cards

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  • Using the wrong credit cards can mean missing out on valuable perks and rewards.
  • If there are some credit cards you never use, or cards that you use, but find the rewards hard to redeem, you need a new card.
  • If you haven't opened a new card in a while, or have had big lifestyle changes, these could also be signs that it's time to look at new cards.

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There are a ton of credit cards out there. Every major bank seems to offer at least a few -- some have far more than that -- and even your local credit union probably has one or two.

With so many options, it's hard to know when you've found the right ones. However, it's much easier to tell when you have the wrong cards.

Since both your money and your wallet space are limited, it's best to get rid of cards when they no longer work for you. Here are a few telltale signs it's time for a wallet refresh.

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1. You aren't using them

The most obvious sign that your credit cards aren't the right fit is that you aren't using them. If you have a few different rewards cards, for instance, but you only really carry one -- think about why. Do you simply prefer a one-card lifestyle? Or is it that your other cards don't offer enough rewards or perks to make them stand out?

2. You aren't earning competitive rewards

I get that not everyone is as dedicated to maximizing rewards as I am, but you don't need to be a pro rewards churner to want to make the most of your spend. Having at least one or two cards with bonus rewards in your biggest spending categories can be well worth the wallet space.

3. You haven't opened a new card in years

Some folks may be stuck in a rewards rut without even realizing it. Credit cards change and evolve all the time, both for good and for ill. Not only could your go-to card have been devalued at some point, but you could be missing out on new (or newly revamped) cards that are much better fits. Browse our credit card reviews to get a look at what's out there.

4. Your lifestyle has changed recently

Of course, not only do cards change over time -- so do we. If you've had major lifestyle changes recently, you may want to give your wallet a good audit. Are you shopping online instead of in stores? Have you switched from buying groceries at the supermarket to the warehouse club? Maybe you just had a baby. Any of these can mean it's time for a new card.

5. You're struggling to use your rewards

The best rewards card in the world isn't so great if you can't use your rewards. Do you have a pile of points gathering dust because you don't know how to redeem them? Has your travel rewards card given you a ton of miles, but you don't have the time to travel? If you're finding it hard to make the most of your rewards, it might be time to try a different type. (Cash back cards are a great alternative for people tired of messing with rewards points.)

What to do with your defunct cards

If you've done some introspection and found that your cards aren't making sense, it's time to make space for new ones. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should cancel your old cards.

Cards with no annual fees can be beneficial even if they're unused. That's because the extra credit lines can help your credit score (through your utilization and credit diversity). What's more, while the card may not be a good fit as your go-to card anymore, it may still offer perks or benefits worth keeping.

On the other hand, if those cards have annual fees, your options are to cancel or to downgrade. Both options have pros and cons, so consider the best options for your scenario. Whatever you choose, make sure to keep your renewal dates in mind so you aren't stuck paying an annual fee for a card you're planning to axe.

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