Best credit cards for good credit of 2020

Having good credit grants you access to a lot of exciting financial opportunities, including some great credit cards available from our Bankrate partners. Check out our expert advice and choose the card that can help you do the most with your good credit.

Bankrate's Best Credit Cards for Good Credit in 2020:

Need more information?

Skip down to read our card profiles and expert advice.

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 on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

Best for gas & groceries

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% Cash Back on other purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.99%-23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back.
  • Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 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% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for gas stations and restaurants

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® chrome

Rewards Rate:
Earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. Based Customer Service available any time.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

Best for low interest and low cost

Upgrade Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

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 Upgrade's secure website

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Rewards Rate:
Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
6.99% - 29.99%

Card Details

  • Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment
  • Combine the flexibility of a card with the low cost and predictability of a loan
  • $0 fees - $0 annual fee, $0 activation fees, $0 maintenance fees
  • No touch payments with contactless technology built in
  • See if you qualify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Access to a virtual card while you wait for your card to arrive in the mail
  • Great for large purchases with predictable payments you can budget for
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud liability

Best for boosted rewards on select categories

Credit One Bank 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 Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee

Rewards Rate:
2% cash back rewards on eligible gas and grocery purchases as well as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services. Terms apply.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • No annual fee for qualified applicants. Terms apply.
  • Get 2% cash back rewards on eligible gas and grocery purchases as well as mobile phone, internet, cable, and satellite TV services. Terms apply.
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience. Terms apply.
  • Monitor your credit with free online access to your Experian credit score. Terms apply.
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability.
  • Stay in-the-know with customizable account alerts via email and text.
  • Manage your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app.
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees

Best for rewards on internet, TV and cellphone service

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

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 Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa

Rewards Rate:
Get 5% cash back rewards on the first $5,000 of eligible gas, grocery, internet, cable, satellite TV, and mobile phone service purchases each year, and then 1% thereafter. 1% cash back rewards on all other purchases. Terms Apply.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Get 5% cash back rewards on the first $5,000 of eligible gas, grocery, internet, cable, satellite TV, and mobile phone service purchases each year, and then 1% thereafter. Plus 1% cash back rewards on all other purchases, terms apply
  • Zero Fraud Liability protects you from unauthorized charges
  • Get free access to your Experian credit score online, terms apply
  • Automatically earn More Cash Back Rewards for using your Credit One Bank card at participating merchants, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees

Best card for new professionals

Jasper Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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 Jasper's secure website

The Jasper Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Terms apply.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.49% - 24.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Terms apply.
  • Apply by December 31, 2020 using the promo code RVPROMO to receive a $50 signup bonus as a credit to your Jasper account upon activation, if approved. Terms Apply
  • No annual fee*, no security deposit, up to a $5k credit limit
  • All the benefits of a premium Mastercard®
  • Unique autopay settings, push notifications, and utilization alerts that help you manage your account and build your credit
  • No credit history required if you don’t already have one (proof of income required to apply)
  • Not for credit repair
  • Issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
  • *Review the Jasper fee schedule and cardholder agreement

Some of the offers on this page may have expired.


Find the best credit card to match your good credit score

Having 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.

A credit score usually refers to someone’s 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.

However, a credit score represents more than a single number. Good credit is important because it can also send a signal to credit card issuers (and other types of lenders) that you’re trustworthy and reliable. With a good credit score, you have access to a broad range of high-quality credit cards for cash back, travel rewards and more.

Check out our analysis of the best credit cards for good credit and make an informed decision today.

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

Card Name Best for Bankrate Review Score
Discover it® Cash Back First-year rewards 4.7 / 5 (Read full card review)
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express No-annual-fee card for families 4.5 / 5 (Read full card review)
Discover it® chrome Gas stations and restaurants 3.9 / 5 (Read full card review)
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards Low interest and low cost 4.2 / 5 (Read full card review)
Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee Boosted rewards on select categories 3.9 / 5
Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa Rewards on internet, TV and cellphone service N/A
The Jasper Mastercard New professionals 4.4 / 5
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Travel with no annual fee 4.4 / 5 (Read full card review)
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Travel redemptions 4.7 / 5 (Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (not currently available) Multiple rewards categories 4.5 / 5 (Read full card review)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment with no annual fee 4.6 / 5 (Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card (not currently available) Digital wallet users 4.5 / 5 (Read full card review)

A closer look at the top credit cards for good credit

Discover it® chrome

Why you’ll love it

You might think you need a towering credit score for a cash back card that earns more than a basic 1-percent rate, but this card suggests otherwise. The Discover it® chrome earns 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter, along with 1 percent on all other purchases. You could qualify with a credit score in the 670+ range, which Discover considers average to excellent.

Why it might not be for you

This card is most useful for people who spend around $4,000 per year at gas stations and restaurants combined. Those who spend much less in those categories might be better off with a 1.5-percent or 2-percent flat-rate card, while those who spend much more might prefer a higher-rate card.

Bottom line

If your regular routine involves spending money at the pump and on the menu, the Discover it chrome could offer an easy way to cash in on those purchases.

Read our Discover it® chrome Review.

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Why you’ll love it

Pay a fixed monthly payment over a fixed amount of time with this card’s automatic installment plan. Unlike traditional cards’ payment options you’ll pay off your Upgrade Card balance within 12-60 months. Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment.

Why it might not be for you

While this card has no annual fee,  there’s also no 0 percent intro APR on purchases or balance transfers. In fact, balance transfers aren’t allowed.

Bottom line

If you need to get a firm grip on your card payments, the Upgrade Card is a good option. Also, it’s a fine choice as a financial product. However, there’s no balance transfers are allowed with this card.

Read our Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards Review

Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee

Why you’ll love it

In addition to high cash back on select everyday categories like gas and groceries, this Credit One Bank card offers no annual fee (for qualified applicants; terms apply) and no APR penalty for late payments.

Why it might not be for you

Initially, you may not fully benefit from the rewards program if your credit limit starts out as low as $300. That’s because you can’t make the big purchases that could turn into big cash back earnings. Also, the regular APR is a high 23.99 percent (variable).

Bottom line

Although you may not fully enjoy the rewards this card offers in the beginning if you’re granted a low credit line, good credit habits can turn into a higher limit, which can turn into bigger cash back earnings.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa

Why you’ll love it

The main attraction here is the high cash back rate in several specific categories. Many cards earn generous cash back on gas and groceries, but this card also covers internet, cable TV, satellite TV and mobile phone service.

Why it might not be for you

Although the potential cash back rewards could easily offset the $95 annual fee, this card’s 23.99% variable APR makes it essential for you to avoid carrying a balance. Pay your credit card bill in full and on-time to protect your good credit.

The bottom line

If you have a large family that hasn’t cut the cord or dumped the dish, the cash back rewards on cable TV and satellite TV could be a difference-maker. Cash back on internet, cellphone service, gas and groceries should come in equally handy.

The Jasper Mastercard®

Why you’ll love it

Start with the application process, which doesn’t require a U.S. credit history. If you’re approved, you’ll enjoy benefits including a low 15.49% – 24.99% variable APR, no annual fee and an available credit limit of up to $5,000. The card also offers features designed to help you build your credit and manage your account effectively. Also, earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Receive your cash back automatically every month as a credit to your account, as long as your account is active and in good standing.

Why it might not be for you

If you’re interested in earning higher cash back, points or travel miles, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

The bottom line

Credit products like The Jasper Mastercard are designed for consumers who lack experience but crave opportunity. Used responsibly, this card could help you get off to a good start on your professional and financial journey.

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, both the Capital One VentureOne and the Venture 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, 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 our Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Review

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. 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 our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit 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.

Why it might not be for you

As a new cardholder, you get a $200 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 2020 with more tools at your disposal. You’ll find this card easy to use and a consistent source of cash back rewards.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

Discover it® Cash Back

Why you’ll love it

You can match your spending patterns with the bonus calendar and enroll every quarter to earn 5 percent cash back on rotating bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in combined spending per quarter, then 1 percent). Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Why it might not be for you

If instant gratification is your thing, getting a card with an upfront sign-up bonus might be more satisfying than waiting for the end of your first year to receive the Discover Cashback Match.

The bottom line

Knowing how to adjust your spending habits when necessary is one of the keys to maintaining good credit, and patience is a plus. The Cashback Match with the Discover it Cash Back could offer a lucrative reward for being patient.

Read our Discover it® Cash Back Review

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (not currently available)

Why you’ll love it

This travel card gets high marks for multiple rewards categories, earning 3X points not just for airfare, hotels and rental car purchases but also dining out and eating in, gas stations, popular streaming services and more. It’s also worth noting that the Wells Fargo Propel doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Why it might not be for you

This card uses the American Express credit card network, which isn’t accepted by as many merchants worldwide as the Visa or Mastercard networks.

The bottom line

Do you want to earn generous travel rewards without pouring a lot of money into a few expensive categories, possibly putting a strain on your good credit score? Consider the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card.

The information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Read our Wells Fargo Propel American Express® 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 busy families are likely to make a lot of purchases. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee either, which is good news for your family’s budget.

Why it might not be for you

If you do a lot of shopping at places like Costco and Walmart, be aware that American Express doesn’t include wholesale clubs and superstores in its definition of U.S. supermarkets. The generous rewards rates won’t do you any good at establishments that aren’t eligible for them.

The bottom line

The Blue Cash Everyday Card seems tailor-made for 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 building good credit through responsible financial choices.

Annual Fee: $0

Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Review

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why you’ll love it

This card’s rewards program matches up well with people who make room in their budgets for food and fun: unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment and 2 percent back at grocery stores. You also get 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. One thing you don’t get? An annual fee.

Why it might not be for you

Your options for redeeming rewards include statement credits, shopping on Amazon.com and gift cards, but you can’t redeem them for travel. Frequent travelers might consider a travel rewards card that earns miles for dining purchases in addition to airfare, hotels and the like. (The travel category does include numerous choices for good-credit consumers.)

The bottom line

Maintaining good credit doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t spend money on things you enjoy. If the things you enjoy include dining and entertainment, the Capital One SavorOne can help you earn cash back at a more than respectable rate.

Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card (not currently available)

Why you’ll love it

For your first 12 months as a cardholder, purchases with Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ and other qualifying digital wallets earn 1.8 percent cash rewards — a 20 percent boost over the regular 1.5 percent rate. You can also get protection for your smartphone (up to $600 with a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft just by using the card to pay your monthly phone bill.

Why it might not be for you

Even with the first-year bonus on qualifying digital wallet transactions, it wouldn’t be difficult to find a flat-rate cash back card that offers higher returns on every purchase. Also, your wireless carrier might offer its own smartphone insurance coverage.

The bottom line

The bonus cash rewards rate on qualifying first-year digital wallet purchases provides a way to earn more cash rewards without necessarily spending more. Consumers who are fans of digital payment services and good credit scores should check out the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa.

The information about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Read our Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Review

What does good credit mean?

A FICO Score between 670 and 739 generally qualifies as a “good” score. The “good” credit range for VantageScore, another credit scoring model, goes from 661 to 780.

But what does a good credit score mean, beyond the numbers?

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 consistently 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.

Survey: 33% of cardholders did something that could hurt their credit score during COVID-19

A recent survey from Bankrate showed how devastating the pandemic has been for Americans who have had to choose between paying bills and keeping food on the table.

A look at the Bankrate survey findings

According to survey findings, one-third of U.S. credit cardholders have made at least one credit misstep since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March of 2020. For example:

  • 17 percent of U.S. adults racked up additional debt
  • 12 percent paid a bill late
  • 8 percent carried a balance on their credit card with the goal of improving their credit score
  • 6 percent did not pay a bill at all
  • 3 percent canceled a credit card with the goal of improving their credit score

How to keep your credit score in good standing during a pandemic

While there are financial factors beyond your control during the pandemic, do have some control over your credit score, and working to preserve and improve your credit score is one of the most proactive things you can do in the current U.S. climate. Here are all the steps you should be taking now:

1. Pay all your bills early or on time, even if you can only make minimum payments

Since your payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO credit score, even one late bill payment can cause your score to take an enormous hit. It’s crucial to make sure you pay every bill you have on or before your due date.

2. Pay down debt

The second most important factor that makes up your FICO score is your credit utilization. Keeping your credit card utilization below 30 percent of your available credit will boost your score. If you have the means to pay down debt, you should try.

3. Keep old credit card accounts open

The length of your credit history makes up another 15 percent of your FICO score, so make sure you don’t close old accounts thinking this will help you. If anything, you should keep all accounts you have in good standing open as long as possible.

4. Save money while you can

Open a high-yield savings account and see if you can transfer any amount to this separate account on each payday, even if you can only afford to save $20 or $50. Any amount of emergency savings can help you keep up with bills and preserve your credit if your income drops or disappears.

5. Reach out to your issuer

Also remember that you’re not alone in this struggle. Most prominent credit card issuers and lenders are still operating coronavirus relief programs, which can help you skip payments for a few months, qualify for a lower interest rate, or receive some other type of assistance.

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:

Check your credit report

Get a copy of your credit report so that you can check for errors or inaccuracies that show up. Some credit report errors can be as simple as a misspelled name or incorrect address, while others may involve outdated information (loans that you’ve paid off still listed as open, and so on). A good rule of thumb for anybody is to check your credit report at least once a year.

Correct any errors on your credit report

Disputing errors on your credit report involves two steps:

  1. Contacting the credit bureau or bureaus in question (such as Experian, TransUnion or Equifax)
  2. Contacting the person, company or organization that provided the information you believe to be inaccurate to the credit bureau

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

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.

Pay on time across the board

Pay all your bills on time, if at all possible. In addition to your credit card, your financial behavior with any other loan also plays a part in building credit. If you miss a mortgage payment or car payment, you’ll also do damage to your credit score.

Watch your credit utilization

Don’t carry a balance above 30 percent of your credit limit on any of your cards, although you’ll want to keep it even lower if 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 percent of your available credit could drive your score down.

Let an older card age gracefully

If you have an old credit card, think about keeping it instead of closing it out. An account held for a long period of time says “experienced credit user” to potential lenders.

You can keep the account active by making a small charge (automatic payment on your monthly cloud storage, for example) and paying in full and on time each month.

New scoring models expand the criteria for credit scores

Innovative credit-scoring models and payment-reporting services could benefit consumers who have good credit habits even if their traditional credit profiles are lacking.

UltraFICO and Experian Boost 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. Services such as PayYourRent and RentTrack that report your rent payments to credit bureaus could also help you leverage a history of being a good tenant into a better credit score.

So-called “thin-file” consumers who’ve never taken out a car loan or a mortgage tend to come up short under the traditional definitions of credit history. Bruce McClary, vice president of marketing for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, believes UltraFICO and Experian Boost have significant potential to help consumers in this group.

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.

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 (also known as welcome offers)

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 analyze 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, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously 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.