Starting 2019 With 15 Credit Cards and an 836 FICO Score – Stop Believing What You Hear About Having “Too Many Credit Cards”

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Starting 2019 With 15 Credit Cards and an 836 FICO Score – Stop Believing What You Hear About Having “Too Many Credit Cards”

KeithStarting 2019 With 15 Credit Cards and an 836 FICO Score – Stop Believing What You Hear About Having “Too Many Credit Cards”Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

I get the same exact question nearly everytime I discuss my credit card obsession with someone unfamiliar with the miles & points hobby.  They ask “doesn’t having too many credit cards hurt your credit score?”   My response is always no.  And then I explain how I have 15 travel credit cards and an 835 FICO score.

Here’s the secret – if you use credit cards responsibly (i.e. never carry a balance and are diligent with managing your cards), then applying for the best travel credit cards can actually get you FREE travel or piles of cash back!  I’m talking about $1,000s worth of rewards!  For example, my wife and I recently took a First Class trip to Hong Kong and stayed for free at The Ritz-Carlton.  The retail value of this trip was more than $35,000, but we paid just $184 out-of-pocket by redeeming credit card reward.  Our blog is full of similar success stories from team members and readers.

Through Earning Miles & Points With 15 Travel Credit Cards, My Wife and I Can Fly in Business Class for Free or Next to Nothing, Even During Peak Travel Times

Here’s another insider tip – having several open credit cards can actually help IMPROVE your credit score.  The trick is to NOT utilize a large portion of the credit limit on all of your cards.  Besides an excellent payment history, an important factor (30% of your credit score) is your credit utilization ratio.  That’s the total balance reported to the credit bureaus divided by the total available credit limit across your credit card accounts.

So if you only have 1 or 2 cards with a relatively low credit limit, you could actually be negatively impacting your credit score, even if you pay your balance in full each month.  I wrote how this caused my friend’s credit score to drop by 30 points.

When I started in the miles & points hobby ~5 years ago, I had a ~750 FICO score, which is considered excellent.  But after opening up more than a dozen new cards, I’m close to a perfect FICO score of 850!

My 2019 Resolution Is to Continue to Apply for New Travel Cards, Earn Lucrative Welcome Bonuses, and Save on Travel to Destinations on My Bucket List!

This doesn’t mean you should apply for 10 new credit cards today.  Each time you apply for a credit card, the banks look at your credit report.  This is known as a “hard” credit inquiry.  And hard inquiries will have a minor impact on your credit score.  But in my experience, the temporary impact of applying for 1 or 2 new cards is usually offset by the long-term benefit of maintaining a low credit utilization ratio.

If I was just getting started in the miles & points hobby in 2019, I’d start by applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.  This is the top card we recommend to folks who are new to miles & points.  You can use the valuable sign-up bonus to save on airfare, hotels, or rental cars!  Here’s our full review of the Sapphire Preferred offer.

If the miles & points hobby has helped your credit score, let me know in the comments below!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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My husband and I have credit scores over 800 each. We have lots of credit cards but we have run out of miles and hotel points. We keep on getting denied credit cards, because we are told “too many credit cards”. Capital One, Citibank, Barclay, Bank of America, US Bank, America Express and, of course, Chase, have all denied us. Do we have any options?


Hi Fran – part of is it timing and spreading out your card applications. Also, having a banking relationship with certain issuers can be helpful.

When I’m unable to earn new welcome bonuses, I try to focus on maximizing my everyday spending to earn the most points to replenish my balances. For example, I’ll do online shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

I have my main checking account and savings account with Chase. I am over 5/24 and only have the Chase IHG card to use. I also have checking/savings accounts with Citi and Capital One. Bank of America’s reject letter says “You have had a sufficient number of accounts with us and/or our affiliates” Barclays’ reject letter says “Time since most recent account opening is too short; Length of time revolving accounts have been established, Proportion of balances to credit limits on bank revolving or other rev accounts is too high. Too many accounts with balances.” We pay our credit cards in full every month. I thing we have overdone it and need to take a break, maybe 6 months?

A VantageScore is NOT a FICO score thus making the title of this article untrue.


Hi Billy – my credit score is the same through the FICO scoring model based on a recent report I ran through Lexis Nexis. Unfortunately, the presentation of that reports isn’t as clean as the screenshot I included in the post.

OK – not trying to give you a hard time, but as a die hard points collector who also teaches others how to earn, we have a duty to remind the masses that your VantageScore (CreditKarma) is not the score banks use to determine your creditworthiness even though it’s the same in your case. It can vary a lot. I had a perfect Transunion FICO score eariler this year yet my Karma score was showing an 821.

I just say if you’re going to reference your FICO score, showing a VantageScore is still misleading even if it’s just for aesthetic purposes. I use screenshots all the time from the MyFICO app on the iPhone which present well.

Hi Billy! I’ve recently been trying to improve/repair my credit and have been diligently checking credit karma for any score increases. After reading your comment now I’m anxious and a bit discouraged that you said banks don’t consider a vantagescore. What does vantagescore mean exactly and why isn’t it used? Thanks in advance for any feedback.