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I am about to get married and we will be combining finances, so please base your suggestions off of the assumption that our finances will be fully combined.

I currently have 3 credit cards of which 1 I have not used in years. She currently has 2 credit cards. Her 2 credit cards are from the same banks as the 2 or 3 credit cards that I am currently using. It seems excessive for us to keep 5 credit cards, 2 cards seems more appropriate. We always pay the full balance of our cards every month so there are no complications there.

What would be the best way to approach combining our credit cards? The simplest approach we can see is just to close a couple of the accounts that have the least benefits to them (such as rewards like cash back). The problem we see with this is that we lose out on a higher overall credit line. I inquired with one of the credit card companies and they just informed me that there was no process of consolidating credit card accounts due to recent credit regulations.

I am not trying to do anything special to move money around to different interest rates (since I pay my cards off every month), I just want to simplify the number of cards I have. We also do not have any loans other then our house, nor do we every plan to have any other loans. What should I do?

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@DilipSarwate - Please make those into an answer they deserve the votes and add great content to the site. –  user4127 Mar 22 '12 at 18:33
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2 Answers

As per Chad's request,

I recommend that you keep at least one card in each name as primary card holder, with the spouse being the secondary card holder, most easily done by each adding the spouse as the secondary holder to his/her own card. Since credit reporting is usually in the name of the primary credit card holder, this allows both to continue to have credit history, important when the marriage ends (in death or divorce as the case may be). When you travel, each should carry only the cards on which he/she is the primary card holder; not all cards. This helps in case of a wallet or purse being stolen; you have to report only one set of cards as lost and request their replacement, and you have a set of cards that you can use in the mean time (as long as you are not in different places when the loss occurs).

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Two factors that positively your credit score are the number of open accounts you have in good standing, and the average age of the accounts. The more accounts you have in good standing, the more likely you seem to pay back what you borrow from new creditors. The older the average age of the accounts, the more you seem like an experienced borrower who has had many years of successful credit activity.

Closing them would lower the total number of accounts in good standing you have, and would also likely lower the average account age (unless you've recently opened them).

To "simplify the number of cards you have", pick the one or two you would consider cancelling (worst rewards/benefits, highest yearly fee, etc.) and just don't keep them in your wallet anymore. You don't have to worry about paying them off every month (because you don't buy anything with them) and you still get the credit score benefits of having the accounts open.

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I understand the theory of more open account in good standing and longer average age of the accounts, this is mostly why I still have the 1 card that I no longer use. I just don't buy into the fact that there really is that much benefit in holding on to that many. We are a couple who will only have debt on our home (and the credit card within each month) and I don't ever foresee anyone not giving us a home loan when they would have give us the loan if we had held on to those 2 or 3 extra credit cards. I just don't like the thought of our combined credit limit being cut in half. –  Kellenjb Mar 21 '12 at 20:51
    
Is the available credit on your unused cards a considerable portion of your overall credit? If it is, you may want to consider cancelling them after you apply for a home loan just to be sure. –  TheSoftwareDev Mar 21 '12 at 20:53
    
We have already bought a house, so we are safe from that perspective to cancel them. –  Kellenjb Mar 21 '12 at 20:55
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