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Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: September 24, 2018
In This Article:
- How we chose our favorite credit cards for excellent credit
- Bankrate’s top picks for credit cards for excellent credit
- What is an excellent credit score?
- The impact of your credit score
- The difference between “excellent” and “good” credit
- How to get an excellent credit score
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.
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.
Bankrate’s top picks for credit cards for excellent credit
|Card Name||Best for||Bankrate Review Score|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Dining and entertainment||97/100|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Everyday spending||92/100|
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||Low APR||80/100|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||Overall rewards||97/100|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||Banking customer bonuses||87/100|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Gas & groceries||89/100|
|Chase Freedom®||Rotating cash back||90/100|
|Discover it® Cash Back||First-year rewards||93/100|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||Cash back and cell phone protection||90/100|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Travel||94/100|
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.
- 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.
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.
- $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® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
If you’re planning some big purchases over the next 12 months the VentureOne card’s introductory 12-month low APR offer (13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that) makes this card a compelling choice. Aside from introductory rate, this is a solid travel rewards card offering 1.25x miles on every dollar you spend. What’s more, if you’re frequently booking hotel stays then Capital One offers 10x miles on thousands of hotels purchases 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.
- 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.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a great well-rounded travel rewards credit card with no annual fee. The best thing about this card is the broad definition for the high-tier points categories. For instance, travel includes flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Gas station purchases, rideshare, and transit spending, as well as dining out and ordering in all qualify for the high 3x points per dollar rewards rate. Commuters, frequent travelers and heavy spenders on dining have the most to gain from this card.
- Introductory offer of 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of opening the account, equal to $300 in travel.
- Generous U.S. gas station and U.S. restaurant rewards.
- No annual fee.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Existing members of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards client program have the most to gain from this card. For a no annual fee card, the rewards are reasonable with 3% cash back on gas purchases and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 in combined spending per quarter. There are more competitive rewards rates if you spend heavily on gas and groceries but for Preferred Rewards clients there is the potential for bonus rewards – ranging from 25% to 75% boost depending on your status. If you deposit your cash back into a Bank of America account you get a 10% bonus on your cash back.
- $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 in the first 90 days of account opening.
- 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account.
- Preferred Rewards clients get an increased bonus of 25% to 75%.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
For excellent credit households that spend heavily on gas and groceries, 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, this card has a lot to offer suburban families looking to get rewarded for their dollars they are already spending. The automatic cash-back benefits makes this card low-maintenance with no rotating bonus cash back categories to keep track of. If you travel often outside the U.S. you should know this card charges a foreign transaction fee so 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.
- Generous grocery rewards.
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. 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. This makes the card a great option to pair with a Chase travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire.
- 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.
Discover it® Cash Back
At the end of your first year as a Discover it® Cash Back cardholder Discover will match all the cash back rewards you have earned. There’s no limit on how much is matched which makes this a particularly generous welcome offer. The card gives 5% cash back on rotating categories up to a quarterly maximum (you need to remember to enrol 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 station 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.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card offers a very respectable 1.5% cash back on all spending and all for no annual fee. What’s more, the card comes with some unique features like up to $600 cell phone protection when you pay your monthly bill on the card. Mobile wallet payments also offer a very generous 1.8%. If you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, transfering your cash back rewards into your account is seamless. The card’s $200 sign-up bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening the account is easily attainable and boosts your returns from the outset.
- If you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your Wells Fargo card, you can get up to $600 in protection against damage or theft (minus a $25 deductible).
- Introductory 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
- No annual fee.
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.
- 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.
What is an excellent credit score?
Your credit score can be anywhere between 300-850, 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, 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 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. 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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