Excellent credit equals excellent card options. People with excellent credit typically enjoy lower rates, better introductory rates and bonuses and better rewards. Check out the following offers from our partners for people with excellent credit. Not sure what your score is? Sign up for a CreditCards.com account to get your free credit score and report.
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Updated: November 11, 2017
Excellent credit. It’s the credit ranking smart consumers strive for.
With it, you get better interest rates on loans, and your auto insurance premiums are lower. Also, excellent credit opens up the possibilities of lucrative rewards credit cards.
Whether you are in the market for cash back, travel or even balance transfer, you can save hundreds of dollars a year with the right card. Here’s what you need to know about cards that require excellent credit, from their advantages, to how to build your credit:
An excellent credit score is usually 760 and above on the FICO score, the scoring model most used by lenders. FICO ranges from 300-850, with anything above 700 considered in the good category.
There are other scoring models, such as Vantage, but most lenders opt for FICO. You can get your FICO score for about $20 each at MyFICO.com or your Vantage score for free at CreditCards.com. Also, many credit card issuers now provide your score once a month as a benefit at no additional cost. That said, it isn’t necessary to check your credit score monthly – once every 3 or 4 months is more than enough.
Your score is a snapshot of your credit, allowing lenders to quickly identify whether you are a good risk for their lending products. Insurance companies, cell phone companies, landlords and even employers are also often interested in your credit, which is why it’s important to keep it healthy.
Your credit score is your report card for your financial life, so it’s something you should take care of. If you have a great score, you will be rewarded with excellent financial products, the apartment of your choice, that dream car and more. If you have a bad score, your insurance premiums may be higher, you may have to pay a down payment for utilities and the employer you think is perfect for you may not think you’re perfect for them.
It’s important to check your credit reports each year to make sure there are no mistakes (and get them corrected asap). You actually don’t need to check your score that often, as long as you are checking your reports regularly. You can check them once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com or you can check your TransUnion report for free at CreditCards.com. You want to make sure your on-time payments are reflected and your available credit is accurate. Pay in full and on time each and every month, limit applications for credit, and the rest will fall into place.
To get a credit card for excellent credit, you’ll need to make sure your credit matches the card’s requirements. Card issuers also look at income.
First, check your FICO credit for about $20 at MyFICO or check your Vantage score at CreditCards.com for free. A good score is over 700; an excellent score is over 760 out of a range of 300-850, with 850 as the best.
There is no guarantee that you will be approved, and issuers typically don’t specify what your score needs to be. But if you have steady income and an acceptable score, your chances of approval are considerably higher.
Do your research and only apply for one card, because “hard pulls” on your credit can ding your score, particularly when there are several credit pulls. A hard pull is when a lender checks your credit and it impacts your score. Several credit pulls can be interpreted by lenders as desperation for cash – that’s why they don’t like multiple applications for credit cards.
Because rewards cards tend to fall in the good or excellent categories, you can save hundreds of dollars a year with these cards. You can also benefit by taking out a balance transfer card.
Rewards cards can be cashback or travel cards, both of which are great for saving money.
With a cashback card, you can get a signup bonus of up to $300 for a certain spend within a certain amount of time, typically 90 days or 3 months. Then, you can get cash back for specific categories, such at 6% back on U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1% with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred. You can also get a cashback card with a flat rate on everything, such as 1.5% with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise. There is also a way to get double cash back on 5% with quarterly categories with the Discover it Cashback Match.
A travel card can have a host of features. Basically, a travel card will have a signup bonus that comes in miles or points. They work the same way as a cashback card – a minimum spend in a certain amount of time gets you the bonus. Then, you get points for purchases you make. Rewards points can be for brand loyalty, such as Amex Gold Delta SkyMiles, or for worldwide dining and travel, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred.
With a balance transfer card, you can transfer existing debt from one card to another with an introductory 0% APR, giving you the chance to pay down debt without paying interest charges. But you’ll need to make sure you pay off the debt before the introductory offer ends, so that you don’t resume paying interest fees.
Excellent credit is the gold standard for the savvy consumer. And the credit cards that require excellent credit are usually worth your while. You need to look at the annual fee, foreign transaction fees and other aspects of a card.
While having a card that requires excellent credit isn’t an advantage in and of itself, except for perhaps a lower interest rate, the offers can be richer when you have excellent credit. Before choosing a card, you’ll want to assess your goals for your new financial product, such as what kind of card you are looking for, whether a travel card or a balance transfer card.
Here are the different scoring categories on a scale of 300-850, according to the dominant scoring model, FICO:
FICO considers this group exceptional, noting that it is much beyond the national average and only 1% of these consumers are likely to become delinquent.
FICO says this category falls under very good, adding that the range is above the national average as well. Only 2% of consumers in this range are likely to become delinquent.
This falls under the good category, according to FICO. Borrowers are “acceptable.” That means you may not get as low an interest rate as higher score ranges. FICO says about 8% of consumers in this category will likely become delinquent.
This is the fair category, and it falls below the national average, says FICO. It’s harder to get credit when you are in this category, and interest rates will likely be higher than those with better credit. About 28% of consumers in this group will likely become delinquent.
The poor category, consumers in this group are considered a poor credit risk and lenders may reject them, says FICO. You may have to put down a deposit or pay a fee to get a credit card or home utility services. Some 61% of consumers in this group are likely to become delinquent.
Excellent credit is determined by how you have handled your credit over the years. If you have missed payments or even just don’t have a lot of information in your file, your credit may not be great. FICO looks at:
Your credit report is the accumulation of credit behavior in the last 7-10 years. Your credit score is a measurement of the data from the credit report.
Lenders send your credit data to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Each bureau generates a report, which includes personal information, such as your name and past addresses, your accounts and whether you paid bills on time.
FICO, the dominant score, uses a formula with 5 major components, including on-time payments, a debt-to-available-credit ratio, and other credit habits. The data for the components come from the credit reports. The FICO credit score is the scoring model most used by lenders to assess your lending risk.
You can access your TransUnion credit report for free on CreditCards.com, or on the one site directed by federal law to release the 3 reports for free: AnnualCreditReport.com.
You are legally allowed to access each report for free once a year. Some credit experts recommend that you pull one of your reports every 4 months, staggering the requests.
AnnualCreditReport.com will ask for personal data, such as your birthdate and your social security number, ask you to choose which credit bureau’s report you want, then ask you a series of detailed questions only you would know, such as payment amounts for past loans, past addresses and other information. It helps to have this information handy when you pull a report. If you answer incorrectly, you may be shut out of the system for that bureau, and you may have to apply by snail mail.
The reports are compiled by the 3 major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, using data collected from lenders. They include personal information, such as your name(s), past addresses and payment history.
Check the report thoroughly for inaccurate information, such as unknown accounts. Request that the bureau correct any inaccurate information, preferably by snail mail, so that you don’t lose any negotiation rights.
There are a number of advantages to cards that require excellent credit, not because of the credit category itself, but because you are considered a low credit risk, which opens up the possibilities to better financial products. For example, you can save hundreds of dollars a year and land great rewards, travel and otherwise.
First off, if you pay in full each month, and you take advantage of the card’s rewards, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. Why? Because you are avoiding paying interest charges while taking advantage of the card’s signup bonus and points, miles or cash back for purchases.
Also, with excellent credit, you can get the best of the rewards cards out there, with signup bonuses of up to $300 or points in the tens of thousands. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a signup bonus of 50,000 points with a $4,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership. By using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, those 50,000 points actually come to $625 in travel rewards.
There can be a couple of disadvantages to cards that require excellent credit if they aren’t used correctly, including annual fees and the need for organization. But it’s nothing insurmountable.
First off, cards that require excellent credit often have annual fees, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are great cards with no annual fee, such as the Wells Fargo Cash Wise, but don’t automatically opt out of cards with annual fees. With that fee often comes top-notch rewards, such as 2X points on all travel and worldwide dining or 6% cash back on U.S. supermarkets. Look at your spending history to help you make a choice.
Another possible disadvantage is that cards that require excellent credit are the better cards on the market, but that can mean they require a fair amount of organization. You want to be organized enough to pay in full and on time each month, and it helps to put everything on your go-to card so that you max out your rewards.
However, you want to make sure you don’t buy anything that you don’t already have the money for. Remember, credit cards aren’t to be used as long-term loans; rather, they are for building credit and convenience.
Credit cards that require excellent credit range from cashback and travel cards to business and balance transfer cards. Here are the different types, and why they are to your advantage:
Cash back – Most of these cards do not have an annual fee and let you earn a signup cash bonus in exchange for a certain spend within a certain amount of time. You can also earn cash back of up to 6% on certain categories and even 10% at the end of your first year, depending on the card and the category. There are also flat-rate cards that earn you up to 2% back on everything.
Travel – Travel cards often have an annual fee, but they can have generous benefits in return. One card, the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, offers its Famous Companion Fare, while you can use Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles toward all manner of travel expenses, and you are not limited to specific hotel and airline brands.
Business – Annual fees can be high on these cards, such as $175 after your first year with the Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN. But you also get excellent rewards, such as 3X points on this card on 1 out of 5 categories and 2X on the other 4. Don’t let the term “business” scare you away – if you are a solopreneur or freelancer, you can still qualify.
Luxury – Excellent credit isn’t enough with these cards – they can also be looking for a high household income. If you travel a lot and the hassle of said travel gets to you, luxury cards can be worth your while. Weigh the hefty annual fees with the benefits offered.
Balance transfer – These cards may have no annual fee and sometimes even no balance transfer fee, such as the Barclaycard Ring Mastercard. Otherwise, the balance transfer fee can be 3%-5% or $5-$10, whichever is greater. These cards are great for when you have a balance on an existing card and you need to reset your debt. With a balance transfer card, you can pay 0% APR for a limited amount of time, such as with the Ring, 15 months on purchases and 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening your account.
The most elusive of payment cards is actually not a credit card, but a charge card. Sometimes called the Amex Black Card, American Express’ Centurion is an invitation-only product that targets the wealthiest of American Express customers. Platinum card users are invited after they met certain criteria. There are three types of Centurion cards – personal, business and corporate.
A charge card means that you don’t have a set credit limit, but rather than allowing you to make an unlimited purchase amount, it quickly approves you for big-ticket items based in part on your past spending and payment habits.
While Amex does not release specifics about how you can qualify for the Centurion, the Motley Fool reported in 2014 that invitees will have spent $250,000 on another Amex charge card in the past year, have an average annual household income of about $1.3 million and have a net worth of about $16 million.
American Express reports that there is a $7,500 initiation fee and the annual fee is $2,500.
Luxury cards, whether credit or charge, vary widely in criteria, but if you don’t have exemplary credit, don’t even think about applying. The cards also look at your household income, and vary in how much you have to make to qualify.
These cards have hefty annual fees in exchange for premium benefits, such as priority seating, access to airport lounges and annual credits. For example, Gold Card from Barclaycard is gold-plated, has a $200 annual airline credit and offers luxury gifts. It has an annual fee of $995.
With the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, you pay a $450 annual fee, and in exchange benefits include 35% back on points on all business or first class flights and access to the Amex Global Lounge Collection.
These cards are a good option for the frequent traveler who doesn’t love the hassles of travel.
The closest thing to a credit card with no limit is a charge card.
American Express has charge cards, such as the Premier Rewards Gold and the Centurion. With charge cards, you get cleared for big-ticket items at the time of purchase, and in exchange you pay in full each month. Technically, there isn’t a “no limit” opportunity, but if your payment and charging history are excellent, and your income is sufficient, you can pay for large amounts with your charge card.
Because you should pay in full and on time each month anyway (it’s good for your credit and you save by not paying interest charges), it shouldn’t matter if your financial product is a charge card. Rather, you should look at the annual fee and card benefits to decide if the card suits your lifestyle and purchase habits.
The best signup bonus varies based on limited time offers. For example, last year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offered a 100,000-point bonus.
Signup bonuses are bundles of points or miles that you collect when you sign up for a new card and put a certain spend within a certain amount of time on the card, usually 3 months or 90 days.
Cashback rewards can also vary widely, depending on limited time offers, but usually they don’t go over $300, such as the Ink Business Cash from Chase. Similarly, you earn cash back when you put a certain amount on your card within a certain amount of time.
You can build your credit to have an excellent score within months. It’s just a matter of knowing how. An excellent FICO score is typically considered anything above 760 on a scale of 300-850, with 850 as the best. Follow these 8 steps:
Have great credit but concerned it could go down? You should be. It is much easier to harm your credit than to build it. One late payment can impact your score, dropping you from “excellent” to “good” with just a few points. Follow these 5 steps:
Having a card that requires excellent credit typically has richer rewards, so if you plan to use your card for cash back or travel, a card with excellent credit can be help you reach your goals.
With excellent credit, you can access the best cashback cards, travel cards and other rewards cards, some of which don’t have annual fees.
But having excellent credit is more important than just the card you choose. It also impacts your interest rate on loans, the job offers you get, the apartment where you live and how much you pay in auto insurance.
Make up your mind that you will build or maintain excellent credit starting now!
|Card||Rewards Rate||Welcome Bonus||Bonus Requirement|
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day||20,000 Miles||Spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter||$150 Online Cash Rewards Bonus||Spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases||50,000 Bonus Points||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day||50,000 Miles||Spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening|
|BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card||Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases||20,000 Online Bonus Points||Make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||Unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases||$200 Cash Rewards Bonus||Spend $1,000 in the first 3 months|
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Capital One® SavorSM Cash Rewards Credit Card||Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, 2% on groceries and 1% on all other purchases||$150 Cash Bonus||Spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening|
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day||$150 Cash Bonus||Spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening|