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Should you carry multiple credit cards?

Consumers may be dialing back on their credit card usage, but there are still plenty of good reasons to carry multiple credit cards.

Although there's no one-size-fits-all answer as to how many credit cards consumers should have, taking a good look at your own financial situation and spending patterns can help determine what's best for you.

Here are a few reasons to consider having several credit cards:

Sense of security
Having more than one major credit card can help you feel more secure. Carrying multiple credit cards in your wallet means that if something goes awry, like a credit card purchase won't go through or an ATM eats your card, you have another one to fall back on. In addition, not all retailers and service providers accept all credit cards, and you don't want to be stuck somewhere without a way to pay for a purchase.

Some consumers use a dedicated credit card for online shopping. It can make it easier to keep track of fraudulent activity or limit damage if you become a victim of identity theft.

Or you might want to keep a spare card tucked away safely at home or in a bank safe-deposit box in case your wallet gets stolen or you lose your main card.

Rewards and discounts
Some consumers want a wallet full of credit cards that offer rewards for purchases. These can include perks for travel, entertainment, shopping and services.

Gasoline station credit cards often offer lower gas prices for those who use their card for gas purchases. And many retailers offer percentage discounts off purchases or coupons to entice consumers to use a particular store's credit card.

Boost credit score
While people may fear having several credit cards looks bad to lenders, managing several cards responsibly helps show you're a good credit risk. Lenders look at your debt-to-limit ratio, or the proportion of your available credit you actually use.

Paying your bills on time or paying off your credit cards can bolster your credit score.