Best Credit Cards for Excellent Credit: 2019 Preview

In 2019, your excellent credit can help you qualify for some of the lowest interest rates and best rewards cards on the market. Use your 740+ credit score to your advantage by cashing in on rewards and low interest rates. We’ve compiled the best credit cards for excellent credit from our partners. The "best" card for each person is going to be different based on your spending habits and current financial situation, so read our analysis to find the right card for you, now and in 2019.

Bankrate's best credit cards for excellent credit of 2018:

Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which Bankrate.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. Bankrate.com does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers.

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.

Best for dining and entertainment

bc497160-9f2b-11e8-b3b7-dd1fc1cf23ad.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable) Regular APR
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

97 out of 100

Card Details

  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for everyday spending

a0f6d2c0-c8e0-11e8-a3eb-a72e4907d68a.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months Purchases intro APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months Balance Transfers intro APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

92 out of 100

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for low APR

capital-one-ventureone-rewards-credit-card-041217.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Capital One's secure website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% intro on purchases for 12 months Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable) Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

80 out of 100

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best overall rewards credit card

wells-fargo-propel-american-express-card-071018.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% for 12 months Purchases intro APR
0% for 12 months Balance Transfers intro APR
14.49%-26.99% (Variable) Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

97 out of 100

Card Details

  • New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 14.49%-26.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for travel

capital-one-venture-rewards-credit-card-032217.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) Regular APR
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

94 out of 100

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for gas & groceries

blue-cash-everyday-card-from-american-express-061616.png Card Image
Apply Now ON American Express's secure website

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% on Purchases for 15 months Purchases intro APR
0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months Balance Transfers intro APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

89 out of 100

Card Details

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Best for rotating cash back

chase-freedom-082917.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom®

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months Purchases intro APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months Balance Transfers intro APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

90 out of 100

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for first-year rewards

discover-it-cashback-match-012518.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Discover's secure website

Discover it® Cash Back

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% for 14 months Purchases intro APR
0% for 14 months Balance Transfers intro APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

93 out of 100

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts—Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Best for cash back and cell phone protection

wells-fargo-cash-wise-visa-041718.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% for 12 months Purchases intro APR
0% for 12 months Balance Transfers intro APR
15.99%-26.99% (Variable) Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

90 out of 100

Card Details

  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 15.99%-26.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for banking customer bonuses

bank-of-america-cash-rewards-credit-card-041718.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Recommended Credit Score:
670 - 850

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles Purchases intro APR
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days Balance Transfers intro APR
15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

87 out of 100

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • New Offer: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store
Terms and Restrictions Apply

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.


Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: November 25, 2018

Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


In This Article:

Bankrate’s picks for the best 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
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel 94/100
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
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Banking customer bonuses 87/100

Why you can 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.

Review criteria

 

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 more than offset the annual cost of the card.
  • Sign-up bonuses: We factor sign-up bonuses into our Bankrate score and tell you 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

 

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. Those rewards will more than cover the annual 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 the end of 2019. 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 the returns for this card.

Highlights:

  • 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.

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 16.99% – 25.74% variable).

Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited card review.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

The VentureOne card’s introductory 12-month low APR offer (13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that) makes this card a compelling choice. Keep it in mind if you’re planning some large purchases in 2019. 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. 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.

Highlights:

  • 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.

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.

Highlights:

  • 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 gas station and restaurant rewards.
  • No annual fee.

Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express 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 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 newest benefit involves the addition of new transfer partners, giving cardholders more opportunities to exchange points for frequent flyer miles at a favorable exchange rate.

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.

Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit 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, 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.

Highlights:

  • There is no enrollment required to earn in any of the above categories.
  • No annual fee.
  • Generous grocery rewards.

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review.

Chase Freedom®

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 Preferred Card.

Highlights:

  • 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.

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover Cashback Match® doubles 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 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.

Highlights:

  • 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.

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. You’ll earn 1.8% for the first year on mobile wallet purchases, which could make 2019 a great year to pay with your smartphone more often. If you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, transferring 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.

Highlights:

  • 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).
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • No annual fee.

Read our full Wells Fargo Cash Wise review.

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.

Highlights:

  • $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%.

Read our full Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card review.


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.

More reviews and research if you have excellent credit

Like we’ve mentioned before, 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.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.