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I currently have a single credit card. I don't really use it at all, maybe $50-500/month on it which I pay off.

In checking my credit score, which is already near 800, I got a pretty good ding for this. Apparently only one open line of credit makes me a less reliable borrower. Anyways.

I was looking at Amazon again and see they are offering me $80 to open a new account. It seems like free money, with the exception of:

  • I will have a new credit card that I likely won't use except perhaps on Amazon
  • I am slightly more at risk of credit card fraud if I don't close the account
  • ?????
  • Temporary hard credit ding against my credit
  • Potential closing/annual fees

I also know there are significant opportunities if you take advantage of these sorts of offers (some have stipulations, i.e. spend $1k in the first month, etc).

Am I missing a compelling financial reason to not open multiple cards to take advantage of their introductory period offers?

  • You did check for annual fees and closing account fees right? – JB King Jan 6 '16 at 0:13
  • @JBKing yeah. I edited that in, I was going from the assumption you were finding cards where the fee was waived or you would cancel and still get a benefit. – enderland Jan 6 '16 at 0:14
  • Some additional points to consider: the new card will reduce your Average Age of Accounts. It will eventually/potentially be closed by the lender if you never user it. You may be more likely to miss a payment on an infrequently used card. Some lenders have a maximum card count/credit limit you can have with them, your open unused account may prevent you from getting a card you actually have a use for. A very excessive number can occasionally cause problems when an underwriter is reviewing your report. – VBCPP Jan 6 '16 at 1:15
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The biggest (but still temporary) ding you'll see on your credit score from opening a new account is from the low average (and low minimum) account age. This will have a stronger effect than the hard pull of the credit report, which is still a factor (but not much of one if you only have 1-2 pulls in the past couple years).

Having a lower average account age increases your risk to lenders. Your average will go up by one month per month, and each time you open an account it will suffer a drop proportional to the number of accounts you already had open before. So if you want to have a more "solid" credit score that stays strong in the face of new accounts in the future, it's better to open a few more accounts now (assuming you can ride out the temporary drop in score and aren't planning to go e.g. mortgage-shopping in the very near future).

Having an additional line of credit will also likely cause your credit card utilization (total balance / total credit limit, expressed as a percentage) to decrease, which would tend to increase your credit score, counteracting the age factor, unless your utilization is already extremely low (which it probably is given your monthly account payoffs). There are various credit score simulators out there, from places that show you your credit score, and you can put in a hypothetical new card account to see the immediate likely impact for your particular situation.

You identified other costs, such as risk of fraud and fees. You should check your statements once in a while even if you're not using the card, just to make sure no one else is. The bit of additional time required for this is a nonzero cost of having an open credit card account. So is the additional hassle of dealing with having the card stolen etc. if you carry it in your wallet and your wallet's stolen.

If you have an account with zero activity for some number of years, the bank may close it automatically and that can reflect negatively on a credit report (as a bank closure of the account, the reason is often obscured). Check your terms and conditions and/or have some activity every so often to prevent this from happening.

Some of the otherwise most attractive credit cards have monthly or annual fees, which will cost you, and you won't want to close those because it would then reduce your credit score (e.g. by reducing the total available credit and increasing your utilization percentage) - so the solution is don't apply for credit cards that have monthly/annual fees. There are plenty of good cards without those fees.

With a credit score that high, you can get cards that have some very good benefits and rewards programs, as well as some with great introductory offers. Though I'm not familiar with details of Amazon's offer, $80 cash up-front with nothing else seems unlikely to be among your best options. I would think that for at least some of the fee-free cards available to you, the benefits exceed the costs, and you could "cash in" some of the benefits of your good credit record to get those benefits (i.e. this is one of those things you work hard to build good credit for), while also building your long-term reputation for repayment reliability.

Also be aware as you shop around for cards that credit card companies pay fairly high referral fees to websites that send customers their way, so if you want you can think about who you're supporting when you click the link that takes you to an application you complete, and choose to support a site you think is providing a useful consumer-focused service.


As factors affecting your credit score in addition to payment history (i.e. making regular payments as agreed on the new account will help you), Equifax lists:

  • Length of credit history. In general, a longer credit history is better and can sometimes have a positive impact on your score. Credit history typically accounts for around 15% of your score.
  • New accounts. Opening multiple new accounts in a short period of time may negatively impact your score.
  • Inquiries. Whenever someone else gets your credit report -- a lender, landlord, or insurer, for example -- an inquiry is recorded on your credit report. A large number of recent inquiries may negatively impact your score. Your new credit accounts and inquiries generally make up about 10% of your score.
  • Accounts in use. The presence of too many open accounts can have a negative impact on your score, whether you're using the accounts or not. This activity usually makes up approximately 10% of your score.
  • I commend and agree with picking an appropriate referral to go through. To some it may seem unimportant or negligible, but it's a way of supporting a service you enjoy/use. It also helps that who you go through doesn't affect your acceptance chances. – Xrylite Jan 6 '16 at 16:47
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It depends on your definition of "inactive". If you have credit cards open and do not use them at all for a period of time, some lenders will not update your usage to the credit bureaus while some will close your account in which will definitely hurt your credit score. But since you use your card once in a while and pay them off, you should be good. Lenders like to see some activity rather than no activity.

If there are great offers out there by credit card companies, then why not take advantage of them? The only downside may be the annual fees if there is any but with your credit score, it implies you are financially responsible so there should be no 'compelling financial reason' to not open more cards. In fact, the number of credit accounts you have open can play a role on your score. Essentially the more the better. According to Credit Karma, 0-5 credit accounts is very poor, 6-10 is poor, 11-20 is good, 21+ is excellent.

  • Credit Karma's statements about more accounts being better is suspect, especially given their business model based on referral fees for customers opening new accounts. Of course Credit Karma wants you to believe that you should be opening more accounts; that increases the probability you'll open something they've suggested and boost their bottom line. "Too many open accounts" is a stock factor adversely affecting creditworthiness that one might see on a report (how much, if any, impact that reason actually has is a different question). – WBT Jan 6 '16 at 5:28
  • I understand your reasoning and I believe your not far off but I think lenders still prefer more credit accounts in a prospective customer. – NuWin Jan 6 '16 at 6:03
  • I agree, particularly that 1 seems quite low, but see the quote from Equifax at the end of my answer. – WBT Jan 6 '16 at 6:04

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