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Credit cards for consumers with excellent credit
An excellent credit score means you’ll have access to some of the top credit cards available, from cash back to travel rewards. We’ll help you learn everything you need to know about leveraging an excellent credit score to find the right card for you.
The more you know…
The pandemic has resulted in financial challenges for many Americans. According to our study
, 33 percent of cardholders did something that could hurt their credit score during COVID-19.
In this guide:
Compare Bankrate’s top cards for excellent credit
A closer look at the excellent-credit selections
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Pros: Generous rewards rates in multiple categories help this card stand apart among its cash back competitors. If you have a large, on-the-go family, take note of the 6 percent cash back earned at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent), 6 percent on select U.S. streaming services and 3 percent at U.S. gas stations.
Cons: This card has a $95 annual fee, $0 introductory annual fee for one year (see rates and fees), although strategically using it for purchases in the high-return categories should offset that cost. A 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees) limits its usefulness for overseas travel and online purchases from international vendors.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for excellent cash back returns to go with your excellent credit, this family-friendly card is one of the top choices on the market. Shopping and entertainment perks add even more to its value.
Read our Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Pros: If you want a card with high cash back rewards on the purchases you’re already making, this may be the perfect card for you. The Blue Cash Everyday Card is a simple, low-maintenance card that earns generous rewards with no annual fee and no rotating categories to keep track of. You’ll earn 3 percent cash back at U.S supermarkets, on up to 6,000 a year (1 percent after that), 2 percent back at U.S gas stations and select department stores and 1 percent on everything else. For the shopper with excellent credit that is frequently buying gas and groceries, this card could bring you a lot of value.
Cons: This card has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees), so if you often travel outside of the U.S, this is something to keep in mind. Also, American Express doesn’t have much of a presence abroad.
Bottom line: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a great tool for the frequent family shopper to earn cash back rewards on everyday purchases.
Annual Fee: $0
Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Pros: The Capital One Quicksilver offers an uncomplicated rewards structure with 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases made. Rather than checking quarterly rewards calendars to see for which categories you could earn cash back, you can rest assured knowing all eligible purchases will fall under this steady rate. This card doesn’t come with foreign transaction and annual fees, and if you spend $500 within the first three months, Capital One will give you a $200 sign-up bonus.
Cons: Sure, there are rewards cards out there with heftier cash back percentages. If you’re looking for a higher rewards rate in a specific category (like travel or dining), this might not be the card for you.
Bottom line: The Capital One Quicksilver can provide you with a low-hassle way to earn rewards on all eligible purchases. It might be especially appealing to those who don’t have an allegiance to a certain spending category.
Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Citi® Double Cash Card
Pros: In addition to a strong ongoing rewards program, you can get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then it’s 13.99%-23.99% variable). Also, there’s no annual fee with this card.
Cons: This card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, which is an unfortunate reality. Also, there is no 0% intro APR offer on purchases with the Citi Double Cash.
Bottom line: With 2 percent cash back (1 percent back when you make a purchase, then 1 percent when you pay for that purchase) and a solid balance transfer offer, this no-annual-fee card is a fine option. However, if you want a 0% intro APR on purchases, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Pros: This easy-to-use card offers at least 1.5 percent unlimited cash back on eligible purchases, all with no annual fee. It’s also a great choice for purchases, with a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases (then variable 14.99% – 23.74%).
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.
Bottom line: This is a solid no annual fee cash back option. 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.
Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.
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 unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1 percent on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee, and cardholders will enjoy a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 15 months (15.49% – 25.49% variable thereafter). Plus, if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening your account, you’ll earn a $200 bonus.
Cons: The SavorOne’s rewards structure isn’t quite as robust as its sister card — the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers 4 percent 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).
Bottom line: The SavorOne is a well-rounded card that provides ample room to earn cash back on dining and entertainment.
Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Pros: Cardholders earn 1.25x miles per $1 on all purchases. You can redeem your miles directly through Capital One or transfer them to Capital One travel partners. The sign-up bonus offers 20,000 miles after you spend $500 within the first three months, equal to $200 in travel. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.
Cons: People with excellent credit who spend more than a couple of thousand dollars on travel every year should have little trouble finding more lucrative travel cards, including the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Also, when you pay for travel booked outside the Capital One website, you have 90 days from the date of purchase to redeem the statement credits.
Bottom line: The Capital One VentureOne is an easy-to-use travel credit card with no annual fee and a decent sign-up bonus. If you’re a casual traveler who wants flexible options for using your travel miles, this card might help you reach that destination.
Read our Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.
Discover it® Cash Back
Pros: You’ll earn 5 percent cash back in rotating bonus categories when you activate, up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 and 1 percent thereafter. The Discover bonus categories cover a diverse range of goods and services, including grocery stores, restaurants, online retail stores and more.
Cons: If you don’t do the majority of your spending in the rotating bonus categories, there’s probably a better-targeted cash back option for you. You’ll also have to stay diligent in keeping up with the rotating categories and activating them every three months.
Bottom line: If you spend big in the rotating categories, the bonus rates make this card an excellent cash back option. Pair it with another cash back card that covers further categories to earn even more strategically.
Read our Discover it® Cash Back review.
Pros: The Citi Rewards+ Card’s 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 points, making your $4 purchase worth 10 points, and so on. You earn 15,000 ThankYou points if you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening, an easily attainable sign-up bonus.
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 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: The round-up feature and 2X points categories make it great for everyday purchases and can really increase the value you get out of owning the card. As a good to excellent-credit consumer, you can use this card to earn rewards easily without trying to rack up a large amount of high-dollar purchases.
Read our Citi Rewards+® Card review.
Discover it® chrome
Pros: Discover automatically matches the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder. This one-time bonus effectively doubles the cash back you can earn during your first year (2 percent at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%), as well as 1 percent on all other eligible purchases.
Cons: Other cards offer higher rewards rates in similar bonus categories. Although the Cashback Match™ feature is generous, it’s a one-time bonus that applies only to your first-year earnings.
People who regularly spend a lot at gas stations and restaurants have the best chance to maximize this card’s value, and they’re certain to appreciate the first-year bonus. Just keep in mind that people who have excellent credit could easily find a card with higher cash back rates in those two categories.
Read our Discover it® chrome review.
What is an excellent credit score?
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 “exceptional,” 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 three 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 and make a first-class credit card a realistic option.
The difference between excellent and good credit
According to Experian, a good credit score is 700 or higher while a score of 800 or above is in the excellent range. However, the difference between good credit and excellent credit means more than a 100-point gap between FICO scores. Here are some of the ways you can benefit from having excellent credit:
People with higher credit scores tend to get more favorable interest rates when they borrow money, which includes credit cards. A lower credit card APR can save you money if you ever have to carry a balance. Let’s say you had a $5,000 balance that took you three months to pay off. According to Bankrate’s Credit Card Payoff Calculator, you’d pay $125 in interest at 15% APR compared with $167 at 20% APR .
There are more credit card benefits to having an excellent credit score. You can qualify for a solid credit card with a good score, but many of the cards with premier benefits and higher rewards rates 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.
Consider the types of loans you might take out over your lifetime, like mortgages. According to FICO data updated on April 8, a person who takes out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a FICO Score of 760 or better could get a 2.8% interest rate while someone with a 620 score could get a 4.39% interest rate. With a $216,000 mortgage, the person with excellent credit would save about $2,304 a year.
It’s possible to take out a car loan with subprime credit, but those loans often come with high interest rates. If you have excellent credit, though, you’ll probably qualify for better loan terms and possibly even 0% financing.
Working on your financial health to obtain 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. An essential component is checking your credit score periodically to see how you’re doing.
Next, familiarize yourself with the factors that make up your credit score: credit utilization, the age of accounts, payment history, credit mix and new credit.
Improving your score takes time, but there are ways you can begin working toward better credit now:
- Dispute any errors you find on your credit report (which is not the same as your credit score). Your credit report is a compilation of your entire history as a credit user, while the credit score can be thought of as a current-day snapshot. You can remove negative items from your credit report by reaching out directly to the credit bureau in question.
- Work to pay down any outstanding balances on your credit cards and keep your credit utilization ratio between 20 percent and 30 percent. That means, if your credit card has a limit of $10,000 try to keep your balance between $2,000 and $3,000. Different scoring methods have different ideal utilization ratios, but staying in the 20-30 percent range should cover you.
- Pay all of your bills in full and on time every month. Doing this consistently will have a major positive impact on your credit score.
- Avoid opening several new lines of credit in a short time period, as this can indicate risk to lenders and temporarily lower your score.
Perhaps most importantly, you need to have patience. You likely won’t achieve an excellent score within months of opening your first credit card.
Also, remember that you don’t need to strive for a perfect 850 credit score. Anyone with a score within the “exceptional” range, which FICO considers 800 and above, should be able to enjoy the same benefits as someone with a perfect score.
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 “exceptional” 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 Experian, an excellent credit score isn’t as uncommon as you may think. The credit bureau’s data show that the majority of U.S. consumers are at least in the good credit range, with 21 percent of people qualifying for the excellent tier.
Experian also found that the average credit score in the U.S. has seen a steady climb for years, all the way up to 711 in 2020.
FICO credits an increase in credit responsibility, reduced negative histories and consumer education for the improvement.
How we rate cards for consumers with excellent credit
Bankrate’s 5-star scoring system evaluates features that offer maximum value and first-rate user experience. For cards in the excellent credit category, we refine the method to focus on a set of particular factors including:
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.
Annual percentage rate (APR) represents interest charges you would face if you didn’t pay your balance fully. With excellent credit, you’re more likely to qualify for a low APR.
Extras and discounts
On top of earning rewards, each credit card on this list offers features that raise its overall value. Perks like statement credits on travel, access to travel lounges, and free credit score monitoring allow cardholders to maximize the benefits of achieving a strong credit score.
Cost of ownership
Some of these cards come with an annual fee, but in those cases the earnings potential should outweigh the cost. The travel cards frequently waive foreign transaction fees.
More research for excellent credit consumers
If you have excellent credit, you can qualify for some of the best cards on the market. Here are some resources to help you get more information about credit cards and credit scores:
Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.