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.
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® Premium Rewards® credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Receive 50,000 bonus points - a $500 value - after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Terms and Restrictions 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 Plum Card® from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
Annual Fee:
$0 intro annual fee, then $250
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Paying early pays off: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
  • Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest, if you pay your minimum due.
  • Use the power of the Plum Card to buy big for your business.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $250
  • Terms & Restrictions Apply.
Luxury Card 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 Luxury Card's secure website

Mastercard® Titanium Card™

Rewards Rate:
2% Value for Airfare Redemptions 1% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
Annual Fee:
$195
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles on BT within first 45 days; APR after will be 16.99%
Regular APR:
16.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Brushed Stainless Steel - Patented Card Design
  • Luxury Card Rewards Program
  • 2% Value for Airfare Redemptions
  • 1% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge™
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel Benefits
  • Members-Only LUXURY MAGAZINE
  • Annual Fee: $195 ($95 for each Authorized User)
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

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%) 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations 1% Cash Back on other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on balance transfers for 12 months
Regular APR:
14.74%-25.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • New 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • New 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Over 3 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017 and 2018.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Citi 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 Citi's secure website

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Regular APR:
15.99% - 25.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.99% - 25.99% based on your creditworthiness.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 25.99% based on your creditworthiness.*
Terms and Restrictions Apply
HSBC 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 HSBC's secure website

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Rewards Rate:
10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards earned once a year Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases for the first 12 months from account opening
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months from account opening
Regular APR:
Variable APR of 14.99% - 24.99% will apply after the Introductory Period

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards earned once a year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.99% - 24.99% variable APR.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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

BankAmericard® credit card

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:
14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Luxury Card 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 Luxury Card's secure website

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Rewards Rate:
2% Value for Airfare Redemptions 2% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
Annual Fee:
$995
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles on BT within first 45 days; APR after will be 16.99%
Regular APR:
16.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 24K-Gold Plated – Patented Card Design
  • 2% Value for Airfare Redemptions
  • 2% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge™
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel Benefits
  • $200 Annual Airline Credit Toward Qualifying Purchases
  • $100 Global Entry Application Fee Credit
  • Annual Fee: $995 ($295 for each Authorized User)
Terms and Restrictions 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

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
Limited Time Offer: Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on your combined eligible purchases on the Card, up to the first $50,000, at U.S. restaurants, on hotel stays booked directly with hotels, and on airfare purchased directly from airlines in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 11/6/2019. Earn double Membership Rewards® points for each dollar of eligible purchases made when you book on the American Express Travel website. Earn one Membership Rewards® point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
N/A

Card Details

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on your combined eligible purchases on the Card, up to the first $50,000, at U.S. restaurants, on hotel stays booked directly with hotels, and on airfare purchased directly from airlines in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 11/6/2019.
  • Earn double Membership Rewards® points for each dollar of eligible purchases made when you book on the American Express Travel website
  • Earn one Membership Rewards® point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases
  • Choose rewards from over 500 leading brands in travel, gift cards, merchandise or entertainment
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • Terms & Limitations Apply
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago 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 Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's secure website

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
Welcome Offer:
Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR:
15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 15.15% - 25.15%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
  • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
  • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
  • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
  • No Annual Fee
  • Select Your Rewards Your Way
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
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: 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
Chase Freedom Unlimited® No annual fee with everyday spending 4.6 / 5
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card Dining and entertainment card with no annual fee 4.2 / 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

* 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.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.