Best Credit Cards for Excellent Credit of 2019

Your excellent credit can help you qualify for some of the lowest interest rates and best rewards cards on the market. Use it to your advantage by cashing in on rewards and low interest rates with our guide compiling 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.

Bankrate's best credit cards for excellent credit of 2019:

Need more information?

Skip down to read our card profiles and expert advice.

Best for personalized cash back rewards

U.S. Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good Credit to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On U.S. Bank's secure website

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards Rate:
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0%* intro on BTs for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR:
15.99% - 25.49%* (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn up to $550 cash back in the first year.
  • $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 15.99% - 25.49%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019

Best for rotating cash back

Chase Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom®

Rewards Rate:
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
Welcome Offer:
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
16.99% - 25.74% Variable

Card Details

  • 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
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • 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℠
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for banking customer bonuses

Bank of America Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other popular categories. Earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:
15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other popular categories, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Bank of America Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
Welcome Offer:
25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR:
16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR will apply
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
Terms and Restrictions Apply
American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Rewards Rate:
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$550
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent Credit (740 - 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.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$595
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

American Express® Business Gold Card

Rewards Rate:
Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month** Earn 1X on other purchases Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
Welcome Offer:
Earn up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your American Express® Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card membership.Limited time Offer ends 11/06/2019.*
Annual Fee:
$295
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.24% - 24.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your American Express® Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card membership.
  • Limited time Offer ends 11/06/2019.*
  • More Rewards: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month**
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
  • Expense Management Tools: Connect to Quickbooks, access SpendManager℠, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.*
  • *Terms Apply
American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

American Express® Gold Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X) Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$250
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
See Rates & Fees

Card Details

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent to Good (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.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card
Welcome Offer:
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.74%-26.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (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.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Miles

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel!
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 14 months
Regular APR:
13.99% - 24.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Unlimited Bonus: Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

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: Barry Bridges


Learn about your options with excellent credit:

An excellent credit score means you’ll have the best chance of scoring some of the best cards on the market. Use this guide to learn everything you need to know about leveraging an excellent credit score to obtain the right card for you:

How Bankrate reviews cards

Bankrate’s 5 star 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 to find the card that will offer the best value — points, miles or cash back.
  • Sign-up bonuses: These special offers give you the opportunity to earn hundreds in rewards for using your new card. With different cards offering sign-up bonuses in the form of cash back, miles and rewards points, we take the time to crunch the numbers and assign a comparable value to each card’s welcome offer.
  • Extras and discounts: On top of delivering earnings with every swipe, each credit card on this list has a laundry list of additional features that raises the overall value of the card along with our evaluation. Perks like statement credit on travel, access to travel lounges, and free credit score monitoring allow cardholders to reap the unsung benefits of achieving a strong credit score.

Your credit score shows that you have a knack for making good financial decisions. Our expertise can help you make a wise choice in credit cards as well.

Bankrate’s picks for the best credit cards for excellent credit

Card Name Best for Bankrate Review Score
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel 4.6 / 5
Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment card with no annual fee 4.6 / 5
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card Dining and entertainment card with no annual fee 4.2 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited® No annual fee with everyday spending 4.6 / 5
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card No-frills rewards structure 4.7 / 5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Hotel stays 4.4 / 5
Discover it® Cash Back First-year rewards 4.8 / 5
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment 4.6 / 5
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Flexible redemptions 4.8 / 5
Citi Rewards+SM Card Low-cost spending 4.6 / 5

Deeper analysis on the best credit cards for excellent credit

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Pros: If you want a card with great travel rewards value that’s simple and easy to use, look no further. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, which you can redeem using Purchase Eraser (for a statement credit equal to 1 cent per mile) or with the issuer’s transfer partners. The card also has a generous welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Cons: For the Venture card’s lucrative travel rewards, you will have to pay an annual $95 fee, but that fee is waived the first year. You’ll also have to be diligent about redeeming your miles after making a travel purchase, as you need to complete the redemption within 90 days.

Bottom line: This card is a great pick for frequent travelers who don’t want to think too much about their rewards redemptions. If you don’t mind the statement credit redemption process or the annual fee, the Venture card’s rewards structure, welcome bonus and added travel perks make it one of the best travel cards on the market, especially as Capital One adds more transfer partners to the program.

Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros: If you enjoy trips to the movie theater and habitually explore new restaurants, this might be the excellent-credit card for you. The Capital One SavorOne offers 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. There’s no annual fee, and cardholders will enjoy a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (16.24-26.24% variable thereafter). Plus, if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening your account.

Cons: The SavorOne’s rewards structure isn’t quite as robust as its sister card — the Capital One Savor, which offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment and a $300 cash bonus for spending $3,000 within the first three months. But, if you don’t spend as heavily in the dining and entertainment arenas, the SavorOne’s rewards structure is still solid, especially with no annual fee (compared to the Savor’s $95 annual fee after the first year).

Bottom line: The SavorOne is a well-rounded card that provides ample room to earn cash back on dining and entertainment.

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

Pros: Cardholders looking to pay debt interest-free can do so for the first 18 months with the HSBC Gold Mastercard. There’s a 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers during this time (a variable APR of 12.99% -20.99% applies thereafter). After that, cardholders will pay the greater of the two between $10 and 4% on all balance transfers, cash advances and overdraft protection fees. HSBC will waive the (up to $37) late payment fee once every year, and it won’t raise your APR if you pay late.

Cons: You’ll be forfeiting an opportunity to earn cash back rewards and other perks. For this reason, we suggest pairing this card with a rewards or travel credit card to optimize your spending experience.

Bottom line: For those with excellent credit who want to be strategic about paying off certain debts or financing purchases during the interest-free period to keep credit intact, this card offers a decent amount of room to do so.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Pros: This no-frills card offers a flat 3% back on all purchases (up to $20,000 total spend) for the first year and then 1.5% unlimited cash back, all with no annual fee. It’s also a great choice for balance transfers, with a 0% APR for the first 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers (then variable 16.99% – 25.74%).

Cons: There isn’t much to dislike about this card, but with a 3% foreign transaction fee, it isn’t optimal for purchases made outside the U.S. You also won’t want to get too attached to the first year 3% cash back, as it will drop down to 1.5% after the first year.

Bottom line: This is a solid no annual fee cash back option and the first year 3% cash back offer is especially compelling. If you have other Chase premium cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited becomes even more lucrative, since you can transfer rewards and redeem them as points with added value using Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros: You’ll earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories with the Discover it Cash Back card, ranging from gas stations and grocery stores to restaurants and Amazon.com purchases up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 after activation, plus 1% cash back on everything else. The best value of this card, though, is Discover’s Cashback Match™ offer, which matches all your cash back earned over the first year of ownership with no limit.

Cons: If you don’t do the majority of your spending within the card’s designated categories, there’s probably a better-targeted cash back option for you. You’ll also have to stay diligent in keeping up with the 5% categories every 3 months.

Bottom line: If you spend big within this card’s quarterly categories, its 5% cash back rate combined with the Cashback Match offer and no annual fee makes it an excellent cash back option. Pair it with another cash back card that covers further categories to earn even more strategically.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Pros: Cardholders will enjoy 10x miles on thousands of select hotels through hotels.com/venture and 1.5x miles on all other purchases. The sign-up bonus offers 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 within the first three months (a $200 travel value). You can take advantage of 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months before the standard, variable 14.24% – 24.24% will apply. Of course, there are no foreign transaction fees, and the lack of an annual fee makes this card ideal for the beginner traveler (or someone who simply wants to avoid those hefty yearly charges).

Cons: If you spend more than a couple of thousand dollars on travel every year, there are certainly more lucrative travel and everyday rewards cards out there for those with excellent credit (especially the VentureOne’s sister, the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card). Additionally, there are a few stipulations to leveraging the 10x on hotels when booking outside the Capital One/hotels.com offer. If you do book elsewhere, these points have to be redeemed within 90 days before they expire.

Bottom line: The Capital One VentureOne is the perfect starter travel card with no annual fee and a decent sign-up bonus. For big spenders and miles chasers, consider looking into a travel card with a more robust rewards structure in order to better capitalize on your spending habits.

Discover it® Cash Back

Pros: You’ll earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories with the Discover it Cash Back card, ranging from gas stations and grocery stores to restaurants and Amazon.com purchases up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 after activation, plus 1% cash back on everything else. The best value of this card, though, is Discover’s Cashback Match™ offer, which matches all your cash back earned over the first year of ownership with no limit.

Cons: If you don’t do the majority of your spending within the card’s designated categories, there’s probably a better-targeted cash back option for you. You’ll also have to stay diligent in keeping up with the 5% categories every 3 months.

Bottom line: If you spend big within this card’s quarterly categories, its 5% cash back rate combined with the Cashback Match offer and no annual fee makes it an excellent cash back option. Pair it with another cash back card that covers further categories to earn even more strategically.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros: If going out is a big part of your week, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is one you need in your arsenal. You’ll earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. You can also earn a $300 bonus after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. For this card’s target audience, one of the best perks may also be the issuer’s focus on exclusive access to premium dining and entertainment experiences across the country.

Cons: There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year. If you do a lot of spending on travel, gas and other categories, you’ll likely need to pair this card with another on the market for the best rewards.

Bottom line: This card’s unlimited dining and entertainment rewards are unbeatable for those who enjoy a night on the town, and for big spenders in those categories, the rewards will likely far outweigh the annual fee in value. Capital One’s partnerships with companies like Vivid Seats, Postmates and Resy also continue to add value for Savor cardholders. If you can out-earn the annual fee in rewards value, this will make a fantastic addition to your wallet.

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Pros: The Citi Rewards+ card’s unique rewards structure can be especially lucrative for your everyday purchases. You can earn 2X ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations (on combined $6,000 in purchases annually, then 1X) and 1X points on everything else. The card also rounds up every purchase to the nearest 10-point interval, making your $4 purchase worth 10 points. There’s also a 15,000 ThankYou Point bonus if you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening and 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (variable 15.49-25.49% after).

Cons: If you’ve earned a sign-up bonus with Citi or closed a Citi account within the past 2 years, you’ll be ineligible for this card’s 15,000 point bonus. The points you earn with Citi Rewards+ are also considered “basic” within Citi’s rewards program, so you won’t earn their maximum value unless you have another premium Citi card, like the Citi Prestige Card.

Bottom line: This card’s round-up premise and 2X points categories make it great for everyday purchases and can really add value to your wallet when used strategically, especially when you transfer your points and redeem using another Citi card. You’ll also benefit from no annual fee and access to Citi’s Private Pass and Concierge.

What is an excellent credit score?

Scoring credit

Credit scores are one of the most important indicators of financial health, but they’re also one of the least understood. Your credit score is calculated using a series of factors pulled from your overall credit report. The most commonly-used scoring systems are developed by FICO (FICO Score 8) and VantageScore (VantageScore 3.0).

Both methods score in a range from 300 (the lowest) to 850 (the highest), with most people falling between 600 and 750. FICO deems 740-799 “very good” and 800-850 “excellent,” while VantageScore is a bit more lenient in considering “excellent” anywhere from 750 to 850.

Scoring systems use predictive analysis based on the individual financial history found in your credit report (pulled from one or more of the 3 big credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), to generate your score. VantageScore and FICO both use data from the credit bureaus but their scores are generated with different mathematical models. Despite their differences, if you have excellent credit, it will generally be reflected in both.

You should be aware that there are other, less common scoring systems with different scales. For instance, the FICO Auto Score 8 ranges between 250 and 900. If your lender uses a score with a different range than the standard 300 to 850, it may impact what constitutes a “good” versus “excellent” score.

Why should you aim for an excellent score?

Lenders use your score to estimate the likelihood that you will pay back and not default on the loan from your lender. Lenders and creditors all have their own thresholds for what makes a score fair, good or excellent and who will have the best chances of qualifying for the lowest rates on mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and most other types of loans. An excellent score can save you thousands of dollars in interest charges over the life of a loan.

If you have an excellent credit score, that indicates that you are timely and consistent with your payments and will make a good candidate for lower interest rates and other perks that someone less creditworthy may not.

The difference between “excellent” and “good” credit

The difference between an “excellent” credit score and a “good” credit score may seem like only a few points, but it can make a big difference for your wallet.

Benefits of excellent credit vs. good credit

Credit cards

If you’re applying for a credit card that offers a variable APR, the issuer will assign a more favorable interest rate if you have better credit, which can save you money. For instance, if you are assigned a 17% interest rate, the amount you owe on any balance carried would increase by .046575% each day. With a 25% interest rate, you would accumulate an additional .068493% daily until your next billing cycle. According to Bankrate’s Credit Card Payoff Calculator, if you carry a $5,000 balance and make $200 monthly payments, the difference between 17% and 25% interest is worth $920 in extra interest payments.

There are more credit card benefits to having an excellent credit score as well. You can qualify for a great credit card with a good score, but many of the most premium cards, those with exclusive benefits and higher rewards earning, require excellent credit. Be prepared to pay the high annual fees that often accompany those premium cards, though, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.

Mortgages

Consider the types of loans you’ll take out over your lifetime, too, like mortgages, which can take decades to repay. According to the most recent data from FICO, a person who takes out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an excellent score can score an average 3.84% interest rate while someone with good credit can get an average 4.07% interest rate. For a mortgage of $216,000, that’s a difference of $9,720 in interest over the lifetime of the loan.

Auto loans

It’s possible to take out a car loan with subprime credit, but those loans often come with high interest rates and subpar terms. If you have excellent credit, though, you’ll qualify not only for a wider selection of cars on the market but also better loan terms and possibly even 0% financing.

Working on your financial health to attain excellent credit will ultimately help you save on many of these big purchases and allow you to pay less over each loan’s lifetime, freeing up your money for other goals.

How to get an excellent credit score

Achieving excellent credit requires a combination of good financial habits and patience.

The best way to start improving your score is by checking your credit report. You can find out where your score stands now and evaluate your report for any errors. Next, familiarize yourself with the factors that make up your credit score.

Your credit score is calculated using a number of factors: debt utilization, the age of accounts, payment history, credit mix and new credit.

How to improve your credit score

Improving your score largely comes down to patience, but there are ways you can begin working towards better credit now:

  • Dispute any errors you find on your credit report. Reach out directly to the credit bureau reporting the error.
  • Work to pay down any outstanding balances on your credit cards and keep your credit utilization ratio around 10%. That means, if your credit card has a limit of $10,000 try to keep your balance around $1,000. Some experts recommend a utilization ratio of 30%, but different scoring methods have different ideal utilization ratios and staying around 10% should cover you under them all.
  • Pay all of your bills in full and on time every month.
  • Avoid opening several new lines of credit in a short time period, as this can indicate risk to lenders and temporarily lower your score.
  • Once you’ve paid off a loan or no longer use a card, don’t remove it from your report. Bankruptcies, late payments and other bad debts are removed automatically after seven years, but your good debt history can improve your score through factors like age and responsible payment history, until it drops off as well, typically after 10 years.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to have patience. You likely won’t achieve an excellent score within months of opening your first credit card. All of the major factors are improved over a long period of time: your history of on-time payments, your available credit, your mix of accounts and the age of all your accounts.

How to keep your credit score from going down

If you’ve obtained an excellent credit score, you’ve likely already established the good habits that it takes to maintain that score, like on-time payments and low utilization. The best way to keep it from dropping is simply to maintain.

You can monitor your credit report every few months to keep track of any changes or practices that may be impacting your score negatively. Keep in mind that there are factors, like opening or inquiring about a new account that can make your score drop temporarily, but you should focus on long-term maintenance rather than short-term fluctuations.

Also remember that you don’t need to strive for a perfect 850 credit score. Anyone with a score within the “excellent” range, which FICO considers 800 and above, can obtain the same perks and rates as someone with a perfect score. Ultimately, if you pay your bills in full and on time, your credit score will remain strong.

How many people have excellent credit?

According to FICO, an excellent credit score isn’t as uncommon as you may think. In 2018, 21.8% of consumers had an excellent score (between 800 and 850), making excellent the most common score among Americans. That’s the result of a steady increase since April 2005, when just 16.2% of consumers had an excellent score.

What’s more, FICO data shows that the average credit score in the U.S. sits at 704, a new high and the result of 8 consecutive years of growth. If trends continue, more and more Americans may find an excellent rating within their grasp.

FICO credits an increase in credit responsibility, reduced negative histories and consumer education for the improvement.

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. Here are some popular categories that can help narrow down your search:


Barry Bridges is a senior editor for Bankrate. Before he started writing about personal finance, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

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