Is a One-Credit-Card Wallet Best for You?

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  • Different credit cards offer different perks.
  • While charging all of your expenses on a single card could make your spending easier to track, you could also lose out on different benefits.

There are benefits and drawbacks to sticking with a single card.

Some people make a policy to charge all of their expenses on one credit card. Other consumers might use up to 10 different cards -- or more -- at a given time. If the idea of having to juggle multiple balances seems overwhelming, then you may want to stick to using one credit card only. But is that the best move?

The upside of a one-credit-card wallet

The best reason to limit yourself to a single credit card? You'll have an easier time tracking your spending and keeping up with your monthly payments. 

Say you charge everything from cable to gas to groceries on the same credit card week after week. If you want to make sure you're not going overboard on spending, you can simply log into your account and see what your balance looks like. You won't have to add that balance to other balances. 

Plus, if you're only using a single credit card, you can put its payment due date on your calendar and avoid running into a situation where you're late with your payments. If you decide to use six or seven credit cards at once, that's six or seven payment due dates you'll need to manage. 

The downside of a one-credit-card wallet

Sticking with a single credit card might seem like an easy solution. But in doing so, you could miss out on rewarding perks. 

Say you have a credit card that gives you extra cash back for gas and groceries, but doesn't come with travel perks, like free checked bags on airlines. Those are money-saving benefits you shouldn't be so quick to give up, especially if you tend to travel a lot.

What’s more, different credit cards come with different revolving rewards categories. So, say your card offers extra cash back at department stores and restaurants at certain parts of the year, but there's no bonus for hardware stores. If you're a newer homeowner, and you expect to do a lot of work on your property this year, it could pay to find a credit card that does have a period during which hardware store purchases result in added cash back.

Finally, perhaps you shop frequently at the same retailer. If you get a credit card for that retailer, you may be privy to special discounts, like 30% off of purchases during promotional periods. If you stick to a single credit card, you're unlikely to snag store-specific benefits. 

What's the right call?

If you've struggled to manage multiple credit card accounts in the past, then limiting yourself to a single credit card could be a good bet. And if the credit card in question offers a lot of perks, then you may not end up missing out on much. 

On the other hand, sticking to only one credit card could mean losing the opportunity to score money-saving benefits. It pays to consider expanding your credit card collection, even if you opt to do so slowly. 

If you're used to using one credit card only, you don't have to go from that to a stuffed wallet. But going from one credit card to two or three may not be such a bad move.

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