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If you get a cash account, I doubt that requires a credit check. Usually you will not be able to buy a stock until they have cash in hand (as most require payment in 3 days or less these days).

A margin account allows you to borrow funds, sell short, trade options, etc. Then you borrow funds from the brokerage and pay interest on them. Then requirements can be more demanding, but usually you are borrowing against your own assets in the account. (Hence the margin call when asset values fall below certain limits.)

As to how much is too much, diversification provides certain peace of mind. But for small accounts it may not be worth it. Brokers usually provide better service and lower fees for larger accounts. So too small makes it more expensive. The limits of their account insurance can be a useful reference point.
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