What is the right number of credit cards in terms of your credit score?

QUESTION: What is the right number of credit cards in terms of your credit score?

ANSWER: That is a good question because too many credit cards, as well as too few, can negatively affect your credit score. The ideal number is between 3 and 5 credit cards. More than 5, and credit agencies worry you could easily get yourself in over your head if you access them all at once. Less than 3, and the credit agencies do not have enough information about your spending and payment behavior and may score you lower.

Incidentally, if you need to open more than 1 card to reach the 3-to-5 card sweet spot, best to open them at the same time. Part of your credit score is based on the longevity of your accounts. If you open 1 line now and wait several months to open another, it will lower the average age of your five accounts. At the other end, if you have more than accounts, do not close the extras. Better to simply stop using the extra accounts and allow them to become inactive.

Another tip: do not apply for credit cards with your spouse. You should each apply separately for your own cards so you can build individual credit profiles. This way, if you find yourself in a financial bind and can’t pay all your bills, only one of you will take a credit hit. If you have joint credit cards that you cannot pay, both of you will take a hit.

Reserve Mortgage refinancing: Homeowners with a reverse mortgage, also known as a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), can refinance the mortgage just like on a standard mortgage. (An HECM enables homeowners, 62 and older, to draw on the equity in their home without making a monthly mortgage payment. The home remains in the homeowner’s name, and the homeowner is responsible for all property and other taxes associated with the home as well as upkeep.

The loan is paid back when the homeowner moves or dies.

In addition to refinancing an HECM, borrowers have other options unique to this product. For example, those who take a monthly payment can adjust the payment up or down, take a lump sum or alter the payment schedule to a credit line, and vice versa, all without charge.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and Out of Darkness.” Email her at lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.