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:

Need more information?

Skip down to read our card profiles and expert advice.

Best for travel redemptions

Capital One 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 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:
17.49% - 24.74% (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.
  • 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
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flat-rate cash back

Capital One 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:
15.74% - 25.74% (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; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% 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

Best for international travel

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
Balance Transfer 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.

Best for dining, food and travel

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 $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$250
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
See Rates & Fees

Card Details

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 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.

Best for first-year rewards

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® 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:
13.49% - 24.49% 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 overall versatility

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 Unlimited®

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
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:
16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 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 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 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
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One 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:
$300 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:
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn a one-time $300 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.
  • 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 travel card with no annual fee

Capital One 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 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:
13.74% - 23.74% (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
  • 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
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74% - 23.74% variable APR after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for rotating cash back categories

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:
16.49% - 25.24% 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 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 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 balance transfers

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 Simplicity® Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on Purchases
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR:
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
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 | bbridges@bankrate.com


Find the best credit card to match your good credit score

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 today.

Bankrate resources on credit cards for good credit scores:

Best credit cards for good credit: Bankrate’s top picks

Card Name Best for Bankrate Score
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Travel redemptions 4.7 / 5
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate cash back 4.7 / 5
The Platinum Card® from American Express International travel 4.8 / 5
American Express® Gold Card Dining, food and travel 4.4 / 5
Discover it® Cash Back First-year rewards 4.7 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Overall versatility 4.6 / 5
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment 4.9 / 5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Travel with no annual fee 4.4 / 5
Chase Freedom® Rotating cash back categories 4.5 / 5
Citi Simplicity® Card Balance transfers 4.4 / 5

A closer look at the top credit cards for good credit

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Why you’ll love it

If your credit is good and your passion for travel runs deep, this may be the card you’re looking for. The 2X miles per dollar rewards rate is generous, and the miles you redeem aren’t tied to any particular hotel or airline or subject to blackout dates.

Why it might not be for you

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 the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

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.

Why it might not be for you

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 the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Why you’ll love it

Very few travel credit cards offer comparable rewards rates across multiple categories like this card does. Also, the money-saving perks and benefits should appeal to your practical side as a good-credit consumer.

Why it might not be for you

People who’ve worked to achieve good credit tend to be on the cautious side, so they might see the $550 annual fee as a red flag. You’ll need to make sure that the frequency of your overseas travel and your willingness to maximize the card’s rewards and benefits will be enough to offset that yearly cost.

The bottom line

If you travel overseas often, this card probably won’t feel extravagant. As long as you maximize its rewards and benefits, the Platinum card can become an essential part of your travel strategy for years to come.

Read the full review and apply on the American Express secure website.

American Express® Gold Card

Why you’ll love it

With the American Express Gold Card, you don’t have to leave your taste for good food behind when you travel. You can earn generous rewards not just on U.S. supermarket purchases but also on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and at restaurants worldwide.

Why it might not be for you

The $250 annual fee might seem steep to good-credit consumers who are cautious with their money. To offset that yearly cost, you must be prepared to use the card strategically to take advantage of the generous rewards and money-saving perks.

The bottom line

For frequent travelers who enjoy dining out and eating at home, this card has the potential to yield significant benefits. It also offers a rare opportunity for people with good credit to enjoy the kind of premier credit card normally reserved for excellent credit only.

Read the full review and apply on the American Express secure website.

Discover it® Cash Back

Why you’ll love it

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, then 1%).

Why it might not be for you

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 rate.

Read the full review and apply on Discover’s secure website.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why you’ll love it

Even if math wasn’t your favorite subject in school, it’s easy to understand how earning unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases can really add up. Also, pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited with one of the Chase Sapphire cards can give you a potent rewards-boosting combination.

Why it might not be for you

Other cards offer higher rewards rates, and the 3% foreign transaction fee should be a red flag for international travelers.

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 the unlimited cash back earnings, the payoff could be considerable.

Read the full review and apply on Chase’s secure website.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why you’ll love it

If you frequently dine out and spend a lot on entertainment (as well as at grocery stores), the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card offers solid cash back potential. Not many credit cards offer rewards in the entertainment category, which helps make this card an intriguing option for a particular kind of good-credit consumer.

Why it might not be for you

This card charges a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), which could set off alarm bells for budget-conscious consumers. Still, the cash back potential and the welcome offer should more than compensate for the annual fee.

The bottom line

A good credit score doesn’t have to mean denying yourself some enjoyment. As long as you maintain your responsible spending habits, the Capital One Savor’s cash back earnings can make it easier to save room in your budget for dining and entertainment.

Read the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Why you’ll love it

This card offers 1.25X miles per dollar spent to the Venture’s 2X miles per dollar spent. However, the Capital One VentureOne benefits from a growing number of transfer partners, which gives you more options in redeeming your miles for travel.

Why it might not be for you

Although it doesn’t have the $95 annual fee (after the first-year waiver), the Capital One VentureOne doesn’t measure up to its big sibling on the rewards rate. Earning 1.25 miles per dollar is definitely a step down from 2 miles 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 the full review and apply on Capital One’s secure website.

Chase Freedom®

Why you’ll love it

The Chase Freedom card offers great cash back value for anyone who doesn’t mind keeping up with rotating categories. Past categories have included gas stations, wholesale clubs and department stores — all areas where the typical consumer could expect to make a lot of purchases. There’s no annual fee, either.

Why it might not be for you

If you’re looking for simple cash back rewards, this card’s rotating category structure might become tedious. There’s also a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it’s not ideal for international purchases.

The bottom line

The Chase Freedom’s diverse array of categories makes it a potentially lucrative cash back option if you dedicate yourself to keeping up with the rotating bonus categories. As someone with good credit, you just might have the discipline to get maximum value from this card.

Read the full review and apply on Chase’s secure website.

Citi Simplicity® Card

Why you’ll love it

The Citi Simplicity Card offers one of the lengthiest 0% intro APR offerings on the market for balance transfers at 21 months. After that, your APR will rise to a variable 16.24% – 26.24%, depending on creditworthiness. For context, the only other card in this lineup with a comparable amount of 0% balance transfer interest cushioning is the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with a 15-month offering (variable APR of 16.49-25.24% thereafter). If you’re looking for a card that will help you maintain your good credit by paying off debt at an introductory rate of zero percent interest on balance transfers, the Citi Simplicity will give you time to do so (16.24% – 26.24% variable APR after the 21 month intro period). Additionally, you won’t have to worry about avoiding certain fees in the process — including annual fees, penalty APR fees and late payment fees.

Why it might not be for you

Despite its lengthy balance transfer APR intro offering, the Citi Simplicity doesn’t provide any cash back rewards. And, if you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to think about having another card on deck before boarding the plane. The Citi Simplicity charges 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase on every foreign transaction.

The bottom line

The Citi Simplicity is an excellent choice if you’re looking to pay off debt with some breathing room and keep your credit score squarely in the Good range. For travelers and rewards-chasers, there are more suitable cards for your interests.

Read the full review and apply on Citi’s secure website.

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.

The same principles apply to the difference between good credit and excellent credit, which FICO defines as any score over 800. People with excellent credit scores generally have the best shot at premier credit cards and low interest rates on everything from car loans to mortgages.

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.

An example of using a credit card to help your credit score

If you already have good credit but want to keep improving your credit score, many of the sound financial habits that have served you well so far will continue to be useful. The way you use credit cards can also make a difference.

Consider the Capital One Quicksilver, our selection for best flat-rate cash back among credit cards for good credit. Making payments on time benefits your credit score, but cards like the Quicksilver also have the potential to help you reduce debts on other credit accounts.

The Quicksilver card offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 months (15.74%-25.74% variable APR thereafter). You could transfer a balance from one or more credit accounts, including a credit card, student loan or personal loan. Transferring your debt would give you 15 months to pay it off interest-free (before the offer expires and the card’s regular APR takes effect).

To potential lenders, having high credit utilization across multiple accounts could make you seem like a risky borrower. Consolidating debt with a balance transfer is a possible remedy that might help you take your credit score from good to excellent.

UltraFICO, Experian Boost 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.”

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.

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

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.


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, 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.