Dear Liz: I recently refinanced my home and one of the perks was a 0% interest credit card. The problem is that I have two credit cards and I am happy with them, but I am afraid that having a third will adversely affect my credit score. I have no plans to borrow money in the near future but I can’t shake the feeling that it is a detriment to have the card. I haven’t activated the new card and I never carry a balance on either of the older cards I use. What do you advise?
Answer: The new card affects your credit reports and scores whether or not you activate it. Chances are good, though, that the overall effect will be positive.
Yes, your scores may have been dinged a few points when the new card was issued, but over time responsibly handling multiple credit cards will help, not hurt, your numbers.
Failing to use the card, on the other hand, could cause the issuer to close it, and that could negatively affect your scores.
Just do what you do with your other cards: Charge lightly (no more than about 30% of the card’s limit) and pay the bill on time and in full. There’s no credit score advantage to carrying debt.