Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

By: Robin Saks Frankel, @robinsaks

Updated: August 14, 2018

In This Article:

How we chose our favorite credit cards for excellent credit

With your terrific credit score we know that you have your pick amongst top-tier credit cards, our job is to help you find the card that’s right for you. Bankrate’s experts have been busy studying over 1,500 credit cards for people with excellent credit and grading them against our proprietary scoring matrix to generate a Bankrate score out of 100.

Review criteria

The Bankrate scoring matrix measures cards on a myriad of features including; APR rates,  annual fee, sign-up bonuses, reward value, ease of redeeming rewards, rates and fees, travel perks, and discounts. Someone with an excellent credit score can afford to be choosy when it comes to getting a credit card so our experts zeroed-in on features that offer the maximum value so you can get the most bang for your buck. Our Bankrate score for excellent credit score cards is weighted towards rewards value, annual fee, sign-up bonuses, and extras and discounts.

  • Rewards – There are a lot of great rewards credit cards on the market that boast generous programs for cardholders with excellent credit. Some rewards systems can be complicated with rewards coming in the form of cash back, points, and miles. Cutting through the confusion to find the cards that return the most value on your spending, we identify the lifestyle categories each card would best suit to maximize returns.
  • Annual fee – Some cards charge a fee every year and we try and determine when this fee is worth it, usually when we believe the credit card rewards more than offset the cost of the card.
  • Sign-up bonuses – Excellent credit score holders are in high demand, therefore many cards offer fantastic sign-up bonuses. Often cards come with bonus rewards if you spend a certain amount in a given time window, some cards also waive the annual fee for the first year. We factor all of this into our Bankrate score and tell you simply how much you need to use your card to unlock the full value of these bonuses.
  • Extras and Discounts – Often credit card perks slip under the radar but they shouldn’t. Benefits for card members such as airport lounge access and free credit score monitoring add to the value proposition of the card. We estimate these extra benefits worth to cardholders and include that in our determination.

Editor’s Take: Bankrate’s best credit cards for excellent credit

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is an ideal card for foodies. If you’re frequently dining out — whether it be at high-end restaurants, diners or the latest fast-casual joint — this card deserves serious consideration. It offers unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. Capital One is also offering a sign-up bonus of $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the card, which really supercharges the returns for this card. The card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year and, for a lot of people, the cash back returns will more than make up for the annual expense.

Highlights:

  • 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at the grocery store, 1% back on all other purchases.
  • Capital One offers $500 sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening the card.

Editor’s take: If you eat out often and spend heavily on dining and entertainment this could be a great card to get maximum rewards on dollars you’re already spending. Food lovers should give this card serious consideration, 4% back on dining out and 2% back at the grocery store will add up quickly. Furthermore, the rewards structure is simple and unlimited and the redemption is straightforward.

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 since you can transfer your rewards as Chase Ultimate Rewards points across accounts.

Highlights:

  • $150 sign-up bonus if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of card ownership.
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee.
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 16.74% – 25.49% variable)

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

This card has it all- enhanced rewards on all spending, a low cost of ownership and a juicy sign-up bonus. Cash in those rewards with ease using their “Purchase Eraser” to get a statement credit for travel purchases. Thanks to a 2018 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.

Highlights:

  • 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

A great choice if you don’t want to fork over hundreds of dollars for a premium rewards card. Even with the $95 annual fee (which is waived the first year) this card still pays great dividends for anyone who likes to dine out and travel frequently. The sign-up bonus is one of the best available on any card with a low annual fee.

Highlights:

  • The card pays 2X points on all travel and dining purchases made with the card.
  • Rewards take on 25% more value when used to book travel through the Chase portal. That means 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth $625 when used this way.
  • Chase’s definition of travel is broad and includes tolls, parking garages, and taxis so you can earn boosted rewards on all methods of travel.

What is an excellent credit score?

When it comes to your credit score, the higher the better. When you have a credit score of 740 or above, you’ll qualify for the lowest rates on mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and most other types of loans. This 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 one 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 culled 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. For example, if you have a recent bankruptcy, that would result in a low credit score and you may have trouble qualifying for a traditional mortgage or credit card as lenders might view you as someone who is at a high of a risk of not paying back your loan and charge you an APR at the high end of their offered range.

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:

Credit Score Rating % of People Impact
300-579 Very Poor 16% Credit applicants may be required to pay a fee or deposit, and applicants with this rating may not be approved for credit at all.
580-669 Fair 18% Applicants with scores in this range are considered to be subprime borrowers.
670-739 Good 21% Only 8% of applicants in this score range are likely to become seriously delinquent in the future.
740-799 Very Good 25% Applicants with scores here are likely to receive better than average rates from lenders.
800-850 Excellent 20% 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

Excellent credit is typically considered anything from a score of 740 up to a perfect score of 850. According to Experian, scores ranging from 670 to 739, are considered “good.” Here’s why it matters: 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. One key factor is paying all of your bills in full and on time every month. You should also strive to keep your debt-to-available-credit ratio below 30%. This means that you should try to never owe more than 30% of the maximum you can borrow.

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 it can have on your score.

You also need to have patience. You won’t achieve an excellent score just by opening your first credit card. 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.

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