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Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: April 5, 2019
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In This Article:
Bankrate’s picks for the best credit cards for excellent credit
Why trust Bankrate
Bankrate has been providing guidance for every stage of financial life for over a decade. As someone who’s earned an excellent credit score, you truly have the pick of the litter when it comes to credit cards. To help you choose between so many outstanding options, our experts have studied over a thousand cards for people with excellent credit.
Bankrate’s 100-point scoring system evaluates the features that offer maximum value and first-rate user experience, including:
- Rewards: By matching lifestyle categories with the cards most likely to maximize returns, we’ve made it easy for you find the card that will offer the best value — points, miles or cash back.
- Annual fee: Our scoring system helps you determine when the rewards and benefits offset the annual cost of the card.
- Sign-up bonuses: We factor sign-up bonuses into our Bankrate score and guide you on how much you need to use your card to unlock the full value.
- Extras and discounts: Get maximum value with the help of benefits such as airport lounge access (to treat yourself) and free credit score monitoring (to help you keep your excellent credit score in tip-top shape).
Your credit score shows that you have a knack for making good financial decisions. Our expertise can help you make another wise choice with a credit card for excellent credit.
Deeper analysis on the best credit cards for excellent credit
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Looking for a solid cash-back card that won’t make you jump through hoops? Consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited. With 1.5% cash back on everything and no annual fee, this card is a frontrunner in terms of simplicity and value. It’s also ideal for cardholders with other Chase cards, as you can transfer your rewards as Chase Ultimate Rewards points across multiple accounts.
- Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- No annual fee.
- 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 17.24-25.99% variable).
Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited card review.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
If you’ve planned 2019 as your dream year for travel, this card can help you enjoy hassle-free rewards on your journeys. Cash in those rewards with ease using the “Purchase Eraser” to get a statement credit for travel purchases. Thanks to a partnership with Hotels.com, all purchases made with the Venture Rewards card through the hotels.com/venture link will earn a whopping 10 miles per $1 spent. A Capital One Venture mile is worth one cent when redeemed as a statement credit, so this is a juicy mileage-earning opportunity. The newest benefit involves the addition of more transfer partners, giving cardholders more opportunities to exchange points for frequent flyer miles at a favorable exchange rate.
- The amount of rewards you can earn is unlimited—and they never expire.
- Earnings are as flexible as they come—use on any type of travel purchase including discounters and online travel agencies.
- The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.
Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover Cashback Match® matches your cash-back rewards at the end of the first year, with no limit to how much is matched. This perk can help turn your eligible 2019 purchases into a huge reward the following year. The card gives 5% cash back on rotating categories up to a quarterly maximum (you need to remember to enroll every quarter to get your benefits!) and the spend categories it includes tend to be on categories you may already be spending highly on like gas stations and grocery stores, or on Amazon.com. On all other spending Discover offers 1% cash back. The Discover Cashback Match really adds a lot of value to this card’s first-year rewards.
- Discover will match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
- No annual fee.
Read our full Discover it Cash Back card review.
Citi Rewards+SM Card
The Citi Rewards+SM card is replacing the no-longer available ThankYou Preferred Card in Citi’s line-up. The card offers a fairly standard 2x ThankYou “Basic” points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 in combined purchases annually, then 1x) and 1x points on all other purchases. Where this card gets interesting is in the card’s unique round-up feature. This new feature makes your daily $3 coffee worth 10 points, and your $11 salad at lunch would be worth 20 points. That’s an incredibly high rewards rate for a no annual fee card if you frequently use your card for small purchases. The ThankYou “Basic” points offered with this card are valued at a flat one cent when redeemed for gift cards, travel or statement credit through the Citi portal. If you already have a premium Citi card – such as the Citi Premier℠ Card – you can transfer points for extra value and greater travel flexibility.
- 2x points on supermarket and gas station spending (on up to $6,000 a year, then 1x) and 1x on everything else.
- 15,000 ThankYou Points after spending $1,000 within the first three months (worth around $225 according to expert valuations).
- Citi Private Pass which gives you access to VIP and pre-release tickets for live events.
Read our full Citi Rewards+SM card review.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is an ideal card for foodies. It offers unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. Rewards at that rate will more than cover the annual $95 fee, which is waived for the first year. So if you get the card now, you won’t have to worry about an annual fee until 2020. Capital One is also offering a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the card, which really supercharges its impact. That’s a huge reward for keeping your excellent credit in tact.
- 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at the grocery store, 1% back on all other purchases.
- Capital One offers a one-time $500 sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening the card.
- Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more.
Read our full Capital One Savor review.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all credit card, but the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card comes pretty close. You can choose which 2 categories out of a list of 11 earn 5% cash back (on up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter, as well as choose 1 additional category (gas, groceries, or restaurants) for 2% cash back. The only card that offers a similar choose-your-bonus-category rewards structure is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, but it offers a lower bonus cash back rate. If you are looking for a more customizable approach to earning credit card rewards, this is the right card for you.
- No annual fee.
- You’ll receive Visa Signature benefits, including auto rental and travel insurances.
- Rare choose-your-bonus-category rewards structure.
Read our full U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
For excellent credit households that will spend heavily on gas and groceries in 2019, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers generous rewards for no annual fee. With 3% back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 a year (then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases, this card has a lot to offer suburban families looking to get rewarded for dollars they are already spending. The automatic cash-back benefits make this card low-maintenance with no rotating bonus cash back categories to track. If you travel often outside the U.S., you should know this card charges a foreign transaction fee. You may be better off pairing this with a travel rewards card to avoid those extra fees.
- There is no enrollment required to earn in any of the above categories.
- No annual fee.
- Above average grocery rewards.
- See Rates & Fees.
Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review.
If you’re up for putting in a little bit of work to track and sign-up for bonus categories, the Chase Freedom card can give you a lot of cash-back value. If you would rather not deal with rotating categories, then you will be better off with a flat-rate cash back card. However, the Chase Freedom stands out for its rotating cash-back categories which change every quarter and pay 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases, and then 1% thereafter. Point are easily redeemed as gift cards through the Chase Portal or you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points onto another Chase credit card, which can increase the points redemption value.
- Sign-up bonus worth $150 in cash back if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of card ownership.
- No annual fee.
- 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.
Read our full Chase Freedom review.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
The VentureOne card’s introductory 12-month low APR offer (14.24-24.24% variable APR after that) makes this card a compelling choice. Keep it in mind if you’re planning some large purchases in 2019. In addition to its introductory rate, this is a solid travel rewards card offering 1.25x miles on every dollar you spend. What’s more, Capital One offers 10x miles on thousands of hotels when stays are purchased through hotels.com/venture. Those miles will add up quickly and you can redeem them easily with any airline or hotel with no blackout dates. The newest benefit lets cardholders exchange points for frequent flyer miles with a growing number of Capital One transfer partners, at a generous exchange rate.
- 20,000-mile sign-up bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel.
- 1.25x miles on every purchase and 10x miles on thousands of hotels through hotels.com/venture.
- No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Read our full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
If your cell phone is basically an extension of your hand at this point, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card should be at the top of your list. You’ll earn 1.8% cash back on eligible mobile wallet purchases (including Apple Pay® and Google Pay®) during the first 12 months from account opening. Plus, you’ll get 1.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases and a $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months.
- Receive up to $600 in cell phone protection when you pay your monthly bill.
- No annual fee.
Read our full Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card review.
What is an excellent credit score?
You can earn a credit score anywhere between 300-850, but most credit scores tend to fall between 600 and 750. When it comes to your credit score, the higher the better. A credit score of 740 or above is considered excellent, and you’ll qualify for the lowest rates on mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and most other types of loans. This privilege can save you thousands of dollars in interest charges over the life of a loan.
Your FICO score (short for the Fair Isaac Corporation) is the score that’s most commonly used to measure your creditworthiness by potential lenders. Using predictive analysis based on your individual financial history, FICO generates your score based on your information pulled from one or more of the three big credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Generally speaking, your score can represent the likelihood that you will pay back and not default on the loan from your lender. IF your credit score indicates that you are timely and consistent with your payments, you can benefit from a host of lenders vying for your applications, as well as lower interest rates and generally greater perks.
Another type of score you are likely to hear when it comes to your credit is your VantageScore. A VantageScore is also based on data from the three big credit bureaus but uses a different mathematical model to be computed. The scoring model was developed by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax and is a direct competitor of FICO.
There are some subtle differences between the two scores, but generally speaking, if you have excellent credit, it will be reflected in both your overall FICO score and your VantageScore.
The impact of your credit score
According to data from credit reporting agency Experian, 45% of people have a FICO score of 740 or higher. Here’s what the impact of your FICO score is likely to be:
||% of People
||Credit applicants may be required to pay a fee or deposit, and applicants with this rating may not be approved for credit at all.
||Applicants with scores in this range are considered to be subprime borrowers.
||Only 8% of applicants in this score range are likely to become seriously delinquent in the future.
||Applicants with scores here are likely to receive better than average rates from lenders.
||Applicants with scores in this range are at the top of the list for the best rates from lenders.
The difference between “excellent” and “good” credit
The difference between an “excellent” credit score and a “good” credit score might not seem that much but it can make a big difference. Excellent credit is typically considered anything from a score of 740 to a perfect score of 850. According to Experian, scores ranging from 670 to 739, are considered “good.” If you’re applying for a credit card, and that card offers a variable APR of 17% to 25%, that means the issuer will give a more favorable interest rate to those with the best credit, which can save you money. If you have excellent credit, and you are approved for a credit card with an APR of 17%, over the course of a year, a $10,000 balance will accrue $1,700 in interest. But, for someone with good credit who is offered a card with a 20% APR, that same $10,000 balance will accrue $2,000 in interest over a year.
This may not seem like a significant difference, but consider that with other types of loans, like mortgages, which can take decades to repay, it could mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan. Aiming for excellent credit is a worthy goal as it will ultimately save you money on many of your biggest purchases — like a home, student loan or auto loan.
How to get an excellent credit score
Achieving excellent credit requires a combination of good financial habits and patience. The best place to start is to check your credit report, that way you can find out your current score and check your report for any errors. Your credit score is calculated using a number of factors: debt utilization, the age of accounts (the longer the better), and payment history to name a few. Here are a few actionable steps to help improve your credit score:
- Dispute errors on your credit report that may be weighing down your score. You can do this online through the website of whichever credit bureau is reporting the error.
- Work to pay down any outstanding balances as this helps to improve your debt utilization.
- Pay all of your bills in full and on time every month.
- Avoid opening many lines of credit in a short time period.
- Think very carefully before closing lines of credit, especially your longest-open accounts.
Keeping your debt-to-available-credit ratio below 30% — meaning that you should try to never owe more than 30% of the maximum you can borrow — will help to improve your score. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, aim to charge no more than $3,000 on it to stay at or below that 30% threshold. The closer you get to reaching your credit limit, the more negative the effect on your score.
You also need to have patience. You won’t achieve an excellent score just by opening your first credit card. The length of time you’ve had an account also plays a part in determining your overall credit score. In fact, closing a long-held credit card could impact your score in a negative way. Opening too many accounts in too short a period of time can also hurt your standing, as every time a credit check is performing, it can cause a dip in your score.
A perfect FICO score is 850 but it’s a near impossible ideal to attain — similar to a perfect SAT score. A more realistic goal would be to aim for the “Excellent” range of 740 to 799. If you pay your bills in full and on time, even if you own multiple cards, your credit score will remain strong.
More reviews and research if you have excellent credit
If you have excellent credit, you can qualify for some of the best cards on the market right now. If you want to do more reading, we have reviews for pretty much every major credit card, whether it is focused on rewards another benefit. Here are some reviews to check out in popular categories.