How many credit cards should you have? Zero.

You should never spend money on a credit card unless you have no other option available. Those purchases create a debt responsibility that can eventually cost hundreds or thousands more than the initial purchase.

Even if you have an excellent credit card that delivers points, money back, or other rewards, you should never spend what you cannot pay off by the end of each month.

The eventual choice is up to you. If you can balance several accounts and maximize rewards, it makes sense to have several credit cards.

When you struggle with spending and debt, having one might be too much.

Top Tips for Maximizing Your Credit

1. It helps to open credit card accounts slowly over several years instead of trying to open multiple ones simultaneously.

2. Even if credit gets extended to you, that balance doesn’t mean you need to do some spending. Always work to pay off the balance each month.

3. Closing a credit card account can hurt your score because it raises your optimization rate. It might be better to lock an unused one away somewhere instead of calling to close it permanently.

4. Take advantage of reward promotions. Discover offers a card that matches your total cashback reward after one year of activities. If you focus your transactions on that account, you can maximize the return received.

5. Unless your rewards can pay for an annual fee, it’s better to apply for a credit card that doesn’t cost anything to carry.

About one in five people don’t have a credit card. Although that limits their emergency spending power, it also keeps their long-term expenses down. That’s why zero is often the magic number.