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Back in the late 60s, when I got out of college, I applied for several different gas compaies credit card. They all had separate cards - Esso, Texaco, Shell, Sinclair, etc....Two turned me down (no credit history) but two gave me cards....

Then I got a Sears card...and one from Montgomery Wards..... if you went in a store, they would try to talk you into a credit card or 'charge account'.....many times they'd give you $10 off for using credit to start with...so I wound up with about 10 store cards. There was no universal card......

Then along came a national card...... I kept the Sears card, closed down the Penny's and Wards....and one by one the gas cards disappeared.....

Places like Home Depot still give you a 10% discount if you open an account with them. They get to collect 100% of the charges on the card. If you use a different card, they have to pay someone for handling it..... But having too many lines of credit can mess up your FICO score, too.

What FICO usually does is take total balance against available credit. If you have 10 cards each with 10,000 buck limit, you have $100,000 of available credit. If you have an outstanding monthly balance of $30K, they take that ratio.....30%. If it gets too high, your FICO score goes down.

But you are better off keeping the other cards you don't use. If you shut down 5 of them, and just used the other 5, now you have $30K charged on $50K credit limit, or you are at 60% of limit - double what you were before. That sends up red flags.

When you retire, you likely will be paying off bills each month and interest rates will be irrelevant....plus they'll usually stay low...

t.
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