Best Credit Cards for Good Credit of 2019

Having good credit grants you access to a lot of exciting financial opportunities, including some great credit cards available from our Bankrate partners. Read our in-depth reviews, check out our expert advice and choose the card that helps you do the most with your good credit.

Bankrate's best credit cards for good credit in 2019:

Best for travel

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 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 Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)

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, through January 2020; 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. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • 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 first-year rewards

Discover it® Cash Back 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® Cash Back

Rewards Rate:
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. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome 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.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
14.24% - 25.24% Variable

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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card 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 Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment Earn 2% at grocery stores Earn 1% on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$500 after you spend $3000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

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. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • 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 rewards rate for daily spending

Citi Rewards+℠ Card 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 Rewards+℠ Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro for 12 months on Purchases
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro for 12 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR:
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Introducing the New Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for overall rewards

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card 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 Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Rewards Rate:
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
Welcome Offer:
Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR:
16.24% to 27.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 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% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.24%-27.24% 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 low APR

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 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 Capital One's secure website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a 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
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24% - 24.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • 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 for gas & groceries

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from 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 Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
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
Welcome Offer:
$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
15.24%-26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $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 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • 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.

Best for large cash back potential

Chase Freedom Unlimited® 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 Unlimited®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after initial $20,000 spend in your first year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
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:
17.24% - 25.99% Variable

Card Details

  • New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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 balance transfers

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card 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 Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 18 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR:
13.74%-27.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.74%-27.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • 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 Platinum Visa card
  • Easy access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flat-rate cash back

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 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 Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 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
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
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.


Find the best credit card to match your good credit score

Author: Barry Bridges | bbridges@bankrate.com

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

Building a good credit score is something you should take pride in. Bankrate can help you choose a credit card you’ll be proud to carry. Check out our analysis and reviews of the best credit cards for good credit and make an informed decision.


In this article:

Best credit cards for good credit: Bankrate’s picks

 

Chase Freedom®

Card Name Best for Bankrate Review Score
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel 4.6 / 5
Discover it® Cash Back First-year rewards 4.8 / 5
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment 4.6 / 5
Citi Rewards+SM Card Daily spending 4.6 / 5
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Overall rewards 4.5 / 5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Gas & groceries 4.1 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Balance transfers 4.3 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Large cash back potential 4.6 / 5
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card Balance transfers 4.6 / 5
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate cash back 4.8 / 5
Chase Freedom® Rotating cash back categories 4.5 / 5

How Bankrate scores credit cards for good credit

A good credit score means more than better interest rates on mortgages and loans. It also gives you access to many of today’s best credit cards. The experts at Bankrate have years of experience in personal finance, and they’ve used their expertise to compare the top credit cards for people with good credit. Only the cards in this review made the grade.

Review criteria

Our 5-star scoring system analyzes everything you should look for in a credit card. For this category, we paid particular attention to the benefits that open up to consumers who are able to achieve favorable credit:

  • Rewards programs: You don’t have to sort through fine print studying points, travel miles and cash back rates, because we’ve done the research for you. We show you the real value of rewards, how to redeem them and how to maximize them.
  • 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.
  • Annual fee: For each card that charges an annual fee, we ask the same question as you — is it worth it? Our Bankrate Score weighs the annual fee against the rewards rate and redemption options to estimate the card’s overall value

Deeper analysis of the best credit cards for good credit

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

What you’ll love

If your credit is good and your passion for travel runs deep, this may be the card you’re looking for. The 10X rewards rate on eligible hotel.com/venture purchases through January 2020 is truly exceptional, and the points you redeem aren’t tied to any particular hotel or airline or subject to blackout dates.

What you might not love

The $95 annual fee is modest for a card of this quality, and it’s waived the first year. It’s still a fee, however, and you’ll need to utilize the card strategically to offset that cost.

The bottom line

The Capital One Venture Rewards is one of the best travel rewards cards available from our partners. It might seem like you’d need excellent credit to apply for a card like this, but good credit will do.

Read Bankrate’s Capital One Venture Rewards Card review.

Discover it® Cash Back

Good credit and disciplined budgeting go hand-in-hand, which helps make Discover it Cash Back such a tempting credit card. Match your spending patterns with the Cashback Calendar to earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (when you enroll and up to a $1,500 quarterly maximum).

What you might not love

Rather than offering an upfront welcome bonus, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. It’s a potentially valuable incentive, but not everyone will be OK with waiting a year to cash in on it.

The bottom line

Knowing how to adjust your spending habits when necessary is one of the keys to maintaining good credit. Discover it Cash Back helps you earn cash back in the process at an exceptionally generous 5% rate.

Read Bankrate’s Discover it Cash Back card review.

Citi Rewards+SM Card

Why you’ll love it

As someone with good credit, you probably avoid splurging. This card’s signature rewards feature, rounding up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, is tailor-made for everyday spending.

What you might not love

The Citi Rewards+ charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, and the ThankYou Points earned with this card have limited transfer value with most travel partners. If you’re a travel enthusiast, those two flaws could combine for a deal-breaker.

The bottom line

The Round Up feature could make the Citi Rewards+ a nice fit for frugal consumers who spend carefully to maintain (or achieve) good credit. At the same time, pairing it with a second Citi card might hold the key to maximizing the value of your rewards points.

Read Bankrate’s Citi Rewards+ Card review.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Why you’ll love it

This card has a rewards program seemingly built for people who live (and occasionally eat) on the go. You’ll earn a generous 3x rewards points on travel, including gas purchases, and dining without having to pay an annual fee.

What you might not love

The card makes it easy to earn rewards points, but redeeming them for travel might be another story. You can’t transfer your points to other programs and you have to book through the Wells Fargo Go Far travel site. You might get better value by redeeming points for cash back, statement credits or gift cards instead of flights or hotels.

The bottom line

The Wells Fargo Propel has a lot of appeal, especially if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel and in the drive-thru. You won’t find many cards like this one — high rewards, no annual fee — available to consumers with anything less than excellent credit.

Read Bankrate’s Wells Fargo Propel American Express Rewards Card review.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Why you’ll love it

This card shares some of the same selling points as the Capital One Venture, especially the fact that you can earn 10x miles on purchases made with the card at Hotels.com/Venture through January 2020. Likewise, the CapitalOne VentureOne also benefits from a growing number of transfer partners, which gives you more options in redeeming your points for travel.

What you might not love

Although it doesn’t have the $95 annual fee (after the first-year waiver), the CapitalOne VentureOne doesn’t measure up to its big sibling on the non-hotel rewards rate. Earning 1.25 points per dollar is definitely a step down from 2 points per dollar.

The bottom line

One mark of a good-credit consumer is the ability to live within your means. If you like traveling but not extravagant travel spending, the rewards earned through the Capital One VentureOne can help you chip away at those costs.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Why you’ll love it

This card has exceptional rewards rates for spending at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores — three categories where on-the-go families make a lot of purchases year-round.

What you might not love

The welcome offer — a $150 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months — is unremarkable, especially compared with other good-credit cards on this list.

The bottom line

The Blue Cash Everyday Card seems tailor-made for suburban families with lots of places to go and meals to prepare. The straightforward rewards might even provide an opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of good credit and financial responsibility.

Read Bankrate’s full Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why you’ll love it

Even if math wasn’t your favorite subject in school, the welcome offer has some intriguing arithmetic: 3% cash back on the first $20,000 in purchases in your first year equals $600 in cash back rewards. It really leaves the old sign-up bonus ($150) in the dust.

What you might not like

As lucrative as the introductory offer is, frugal spenders might see it as a double-edged sword. Once you get used to the 3% rewards rate, it could be tempting to keep spending all the way to the $20,000 per first year maximum.

The bottom line

Your good credit instincts probably tell you to take it easy on the credit card spending. If you can reconcile those sensibilities with this card’s first-year earning potential, the payoff could be considerable.

Read Bankrate’s Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

Wells Fargo Platinum card

Why you’ll love it

Zero-percent intro APR offers can provide an effective tool to make sure your good credit stays good. You may find the Wells Fargo Platinum card especially useful for avoiding high APR while paying off a large purchase or qualifying balance transfer.

What you might not love

The card has no rewards structure or welcome offer, so forget about racking up points, miles or cash back. Also, the perks don’t measure up very well against those you could get with other credit cards.

The bottom line

When we compared the Wells Fargo Platinum card to a tool, we weren’t just being poetic. It’s a 0% intro APR hammer to help you smash the debt of a big purchase or a large balance transfer. If you need a card for either of those goals, you can feel confident adding this one to your kit.

Read Bankrate’s full Wells Fargo Platinum card review.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why you’ll love it

In one word: simplicity. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, which means not having to mentally juggle categories or calendars. You get the same cash back rewards whether you’re at the gas pump or the lunch counter.

What you might not love

As a new cardholder, you get a $150 bonus once you spend $500 in the first 3 months. Many cards, including cards in the good-credit category, have bigger and flashier welcome offers.

The bottom line

If you’ve worked hard to establish good credit and want to enjoy some of the benefits, the Capital One Quicksilver is a good way to enter a new world. You’ll find it easy to use and a consistent source of cash back rewards.

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver card review.

Chase Freedom®

Why you’ll love it

Every 3 months, you get another opportunity to score outstanding rewards in the rotating bonus categories. Just keep an eye on the Cash Back Calendar, activate the bonus categories every quarter and watch 5% cash back roll in on eligible purchases.

What you might not love

There’s a certain degree of difficulty involved in getting the maximum benefit out of rotating category cards. Between calendar-watching and Chase Ultimate Rewards® pairing strategies, getting the most bang for your buck could feel like a lot of work.

The bottom line

If you put in the required effort, the Chase Freedom can help you earn rewards at a level that most other good-credit cards can’t match. It’s a serious credit card for serious credit card users.

Read our full Chase Freedom® review.

New scoring models may be good news for good credit

New credit-scoring models launched earlier this year aim to benefit consumers who have good credit habits even if their traditional credit profiles are lacking.

Credit bureau Experian now offers UltraFICO™ and Experian Boost, which expand the criteria used to evaluate creditworthiness. Credit bureaus have traditionally focused on five indicators: payment history, length of credit history, amounts owed, credit mix and new credit. These new products supplement that information by adding deposit accounts to the mix — checking, savings and money markets — and considering factors including:

  • How long the accounts have been open
  • The accounts’ level of activity
  • Amounts in savings accounts
  • Mobile wallet transactions such as PayPal and Venmo

Experian Boost goes a step further by factoring in payments for utility and cellphone service as well.

UltraFICO and Experian Boost are designed to open doors to people whose credit activity doesn’t line up with traditional scoring methods. “Thin-file” consumers who’ve never taken out a car loan or a mortgage, for example, tend to come up short under the prevailing definitions of credit history.

If consumers in those groups have positive histories with their checking and savings accounts, the new systems can partially compensate for shortfalls in traditional credit score criteria. They can also help those working to rebuild their credit after suffering a financial setback.

“I think it’s too soon to tell the overall impact, since they’re only been in the marketplace a few months,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of marketing for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). “But the potential is significant.”

What does good credit mean?

A FICO score between 670 and 739 generally qualifies as a “good” score. However, what does a good credit score mean beyond the numbers?

A credit score usually refers to FICO score (short for the Fair Isaac Corporation), which uses predictive analysis based on your financial history to measure your overall creditworthiness. The score relies on information taken from one or more of the three big credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The “good” credit range for VantageScore, another credit scoring model, goes from 700 to 749.

Lenders use credit scores and other financial information to determine what kind of interest rates you qualify for. If your financial history shows that you always pay your bills in full and on time, you’re considered less of a risk and you’ll probably get better interest rates.

Good credit can make it easier to get approved for credit cards and to secure a mortgage or car loan. It also improves your chances of qualifying for more favorable interest rates, which can save you money on interest charges over the life of your loan.

Of course, people with excellent credit usually get the lowest rates. You’re still likely to fare better than someone who has a fair or poor credit score.

So, when it comes to your credit score, aim high.

What’s the difference between good credit and fair credit?

If you have a fair credit score, the distance between you and a good score could be as little as 1 point or as many as 90. It depends on whether your score lies on the low end or the high end of the fair credit spectrum (580-669 for FICO or 650-699 for VantageScore).

Regardless of the distance, being one level below good credit can make a huge difference when you apply for credit. You could miss out on access to great credit card offers on rewards, cash back and 0% interest cards. You could also end up paying higher interest when you borrow money.

Consider this hypothetical example involving two credit card applicants and the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) they might pay depending on their credit scores.

FICO score

APR offer

Interest charges on $10,000 balance paid off in 2 years at $500 per month
Applicant 1

670 (Good)

15%

$1,579

Applicant 2

665 (Fair)

18%

$1,978

Source: Bankrate Credit Card Payoff Calculator

In this example, just a 5-point difference in your FICO score could cost you $399 over two years.

The difference doesn’t end at credit card APR. Paying a higher interest rate on long-term loans (a mortgage, student loan or car loan) can mean the difference of thousands of dollars over time.

How to get a good credit score

If you have fair credit or poor credit, it may be easier to improve your credit score than you think. Follow these tips to get your credit score closer to good:

  • Get a copy of your credit report so that you can correct any errors or inaccuracies that show up. A good rule of thumb for anybody is to check your credit report at least once a year.
  • Pay your bills on time, if at all possible. Even if you can’t pay off the entire balance, you can at least make your minimum payment. Any late or missed payments will hurt your score.
  • Don’t carry a balance above 30% of your credit limit on any of your cards, although you’ll want to keep it as close to 0% as possible. Your credit utilization — how much of your available credit you’re using — is one of the key components in determining your credit score. Using more than 30% of your available credit could drive your score down.
  • If you have an old credit card, think about keeping it instead of closing it out. VantageScore points out that an account held for a long period of time says “experienced credit user” to potential lenders. Even if it’s a card you don’t use anymore, that card could pay dividends to your credit score. Keep the account active by making a small charge and paying in full and on time each month.
  • Keep an eye on all your credit accounts. In addition to your credit card, your financial behavior with any other loan also plays a part. If you miss a mortgage payment or car payment, you’ll also do damage to your credit score.

How to correct an error on your credit report

Disputing errors on your credit report involves two steps: one, contacting the credit bureau or bureaus in question (such as Experian, TransUnion or Equifax); two, contacting the person, company or organization that provided the information you believe to be inaccurate to the credit bureau.

Some credit report errors can be as simple as a misspelled name or incorrect address, while others may involve outdated information. For example, maybe you paid off a car loan but the account is still listed as open on your report.

You’ll need to provide documentation to address the errors, such as balance statements, receipts, etc. Be sure to send copies of your documents, not the originals.

Uncertain about what to say? Don’t worry. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sample letters for contacting credit bureaus and information providers.

Things to consider before you apply

Any time you apply for a loan or credit line, from mortgages to credit cards, the lender will request a copy of your credit history from one or more of the 3 major credit bureaus. It’s part of how lenders separate qualified candidates for credit from applicants who may be more of a risk.

This request is called a “hard inquiry” or “hard pull.” It can lower your credit score, but usually the effect is temporary. “Soft pulls” involve the kind of credit checks that don’t require your consent, such as pre-approved credit card offers, and they don’t affect your credit score.

The lesson here is to limit the number of times you apply for credit, triggering a hard inquiry that can cause a short-term dip in your credit score.

Exceptions apply in some cases. If you’re “rate-shopping” for a student loan, car loan or mortgage, for instance, FICO treats multiple hard inquiries within the same 45-day period as a single inquiry.

However, the rate-shopping exception doesn’t mean your credit score will escape unscathed if you submit applications for multiple types of credit in a short window — say, a mortgage and a car loan in the same week.

More reviews and research

If you don’t have enough information to make a decision just yet, you’ve come to the right place. Bankrate can help you analyze the facts and sift through the statistics.

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