Credit Cards For Excellent Credit

Written by: Joey Robinson | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Brady Porche
|

September 14, 2021

Our editorial team and our expert review board provide an unbiased analysis of the products we feature. Our comparison service is compensated by our partners, and may influence where or how products are featured on the site. Learn more about our partners and how we make money. Please note: The star-rating system on this page is based on our independent card scoring methodology and is not influenced by advertisers or card issuers.

Having an excellent credit score means having your pick of the very best financial products and services. The range of credit cards available to those with excellent credit tend to have the lowest interest rates, lucrative introductory offers, high rewards, and top-of-the-line luxury perks. So what constitutes excellent credit? By FICO standards, it takes a score of 740 to 850, while VantageScore considers 781 to 850 to be excellent.

Once you’ve chosen a card that best aligns with your spending habits, it’s important to maintain your excellent credit. Aside from paying your bills on time and carrying a minimal balance, that also includes strategic measures such as consolidating smaller debts and making sure your overall debt doesn’t exceed 20% of your annual income. Below you’ll find additional steps you can take to ensure your credit score remains excellent.

Why trust us? Our team of credit card experts has analyzed over 300 cards and selected the top offers currently available across categories. We assign these cards a one-to-five star rating along with detailed reviews to help you find a credit card that best fits with your spending habits and financial goals. For applicants with excellent credit, we examine rewards rates and categories, welcome bonuses and redemption values, credit score tracking, plus ancillary perks and amenities, as well as rates and fees. All of our card selections are independently assessed by our editors based on their individual research, opinions, and other factors. Compare these offers from our partners and find a card that’s right for you.

Having an excellent credit score means having your pick of the very best financial products and services. The range of credit cards available to those with excellent credit tend to have the lowest interest rates, lucrative introductory offers, high rewards, and top-of-the-line luxury perks. So what constitutes excellent credit? By FICO standards, it takes a score of 740 to 850, while VantageScore considers 781 to 850 to be excellent.

Once you’ve chosen a card that best aligns with your spending habits, it’s important to maintain your excellent credit. Aside from paying your bills on time and carrying a minimal balance, that also includes strategic measures such as consolidating smaller debts and making sure your overall debt doesn’t exceed 20% of your annual income. Below you’ll find additional steps you can take to ensure your credit score remains excellent.

Why trust us? Our team of credit card experts has analyzed over 300 cards and selected the top offers currently available across categories. We assign these cards a one-to-five star rating along with detailed reviews to help you find a credit card that best fits with your spending habits and financial goals. For applicants with excellent credit, we examine rewards rates and categories, welcome bonuses and redemption values, credit score tracking, plus ancillary perks and amenities, as well as rates and fees. All of our card selections are independently assessed by our editors based on their individual research, opinions, and other factors. Compare these offers from our partners and find a card that’s right for you.

Best Credit Cards for Excellent Credit

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH EXCELLENT CREDIT FOR ONLINE SHOPPING
Discover it® Cash Back
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
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.
1%
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro bonus
Cashback Match™ 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
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% variable
BEST CARD WITH EXCELLENT CREDIT FOR REWARDS AT U.S. SUPERMARKETS
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Our rating:4.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

6%
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6%
6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3%
3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
1%
1% Cash Back on other purchases

At A Glance

Intro bonus
Up to $350 Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% variable
BEST CREDIT CARD WITH EXCELLENT CREDIT FOR SIMPLE REWARDS
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:3.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Intro bonus
$200 One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable
BEST CREDIT CARD WITH EXCELLENT CREDIT FOR FLEXIBLE CASH BACK CATEGORIES
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Our rating:4.2 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

3%
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
2%
Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
1%
Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro bonus
$200 $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
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All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Comparing Credit Card Offers for Excellent Credit

Cards that require excellent credit can be among the best in the market. They can also be among the most expensive by way of an annual fee (but not always). Travel cards, cash back cards, balance transfer cards – the options are plentiful. We researched over 1,500 credit cards in the excellent credit range and are ready to walk through the process of finding the best one for you. Want to learn more? Here, we look at:

 


Compare the best credit cards for excellent credit for 2021

Excellent Credit CardBest for…Annual FeeCreditCards.com Rating
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Unlimited cash back$04.5 / 5
Discover it® Cash BackOnline shopping$04.5 / 5
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressRewards at U.S. supermarkets$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.4.0 / 5
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit CardSimple rewards$03.0 / 5
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit cardFlexible cash back categories$04.2 / 5
Citi® Double Cash CardLow interest$03.5 / 5
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardDining and entertainment$04.0 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressU.S. Supermarkets$03.9 / 5
American Express® Gold CardNo blackout dates$250 4.5 / 5
Citi® Diamond Preferred® CardIntro balance transfer offer$04.0 / 5
Citi Rewards+® CardGas station rewards$03.2 / 5
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit cardTravel rewards$954.2 / 5

Applicants with excellent credit are eligible for top credit card offers from issuers like Capital One, Chase, and American Express.

Best Credit Cards for Excellent Credit

best credit cards for excellent credit of 2021

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best unlimited cash back card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: If you’re looking for an all-purpose, everyday cash back card, it’s hard to go wrong with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Like many cash back cards, you’ll get 1.5% cash back on general purchases – but that’s just your baseline. You’ll earn 3% cash back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 3% on drugstore purchases, and 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You’ll also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 spent during the first year. And there’s no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn.

Pros: With several lucrative rewards categories, it’s pretty impressive that this card has no annual fee. Add to that, the sign-up bonus is generous and easy enough to attain: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 within the first 3 months from opening an account. New cardholders will also enjoy the 15-month 0% introductory APR for purchases (it’s 14.99%-23.74% variable after that).

Cons: There’s no introductory APR offer for balance transfers, so this probably isn’t your card for paying down debt.

Who should apply? With a great rewards rate on general purchases and multiple opportunities to earn boosted cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is bound to be valuable to nearly every type of consumer.

Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Discover it® Cash Back: Best online shopping card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: Online shoppers, foodies and road warriors can earn a versatile 5% cash back in rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly after required activation, then 1%). After that, you can match your whole first year’s rewards with Cash Back Match™. That means you can turn the $300 from your maxed out quarterly  categories into $600 at the end of your first year!

Pros: For online shoppers, summer’s categories include purchases made through PayPal as well as restaurants. Check Discover’s 2021 cash back calendar for the full round-up.

Cons: If you don’t treasure the idea of strategically timing purchases with rotating categories, this card is not the best option. Instead, look at a card with a flat-rate rewards offer, such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which can earn cash back online year-round.

Who should apply? If you want to maximize your rewards, the Discover it Cash Back is a good choice. With opportunities to earn while shopping online, a rotating category schedule and Discover’s generosity, this is a high-earning cash back card for attentive cardholders.

Read our Discover it® Cash Back review.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best rewards at U.S. supermarkets for excellent credit

Why we picked it: This card’s time-honored 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%), unlimited 3% cash back on U.S. gas station and transit purchases, and 1% on everything else remain impressive thanks to another everyday category – unlimited 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

Pros: The welcome offer sweetens the deal, an offer of a $150 statement credit with a required spend of $3,000 within the first 6 months of card membership and earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first 6 months (up to $200 back).

Cons: It’s tough to find something not to love about this card, but you may find the ongoing $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year) to be an unfortunate piece of the pie.

Who should apply? If the Blue Cash Preferred’s tiered categories are ones that you find yourself often using, this is a card that can earn you significant rewards for the pump and your pantry.

Read our Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best simple rewards for excellent credit

Why we picked it: This is a straightforward card with a simple rewards structure, The Quicksilver from Capital One frees you up from having to keep track of rotating categories and the like. Instead, use this card to get 1.5% cash back on every purchase. We also love that the required spend on the sign-up bonus is rock-bottom: Earn $200 after spending just $500 in the first 3 months.

Pros: There’s no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fee means it’s good to use worldwide.

Cons: The disadvantage to a flat-rate cash back card is that you can’t maneuver your spending to maximize rewards on key categories like you can with the Discover it Cash Back and more specialized reward structures.

Who should apply? The Quicksilver is a great card for anyone hoping to earn consistent, unlimited cash rewards.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best flexible cash back categories for excellent credit

Why we picked it: Imagine switching out your favorite category each month for a boost in rewards that are hard to find elsewhere. Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases, then 1%) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

Pros: In addition to the tiered ongoing rewards with this card, you can earn $200 after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of card membership. Also, there’s no annual fee. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% to 75% more cash back on every purchase.

Cons: While the rewards are great, the quarterly $2,500 combined spend cap on 2% and 3% categories may not be the best fit for big spenders.

Who should apply? Anyone looking for a no-annual-fee flexible rewards card will find plenty to like about the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card. If you’re an existing Bank of America or Merrill account holder, you may qualify to boost your reward earnings through the Preferred Rewards program.

Read our Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.

Citi® Double Cash Card: Best low interest for excellent credit

Why we picked it: Some credit cards with excellent rewards rates seem to compensate by having sky-high interest rates. This isn’t the case with the Citi Double Cash. In addition to a fair interest rate of 13.99%-23.99% variable, cardholders enjoy what is effectively 2% cash back – one percent as you buy, and one percent as you pay off your purchases.

Pros: The 2% cash back on all purchases (1% as you buy, 1% as you pay off your purchases), which makes for a fantastic card for everyday spending.

Cons: There is no introductory APR for purchases, so if you’d like some time to pay off an upcoming purchase without accruing any interest, you should go a different route. Potential applicants should also know that there’s a $25 minimum redemption for cash back – not a huge deal, but something to consider. There’s also no sign-up bonus.

Who should apply?  Anyone who would prefer cash back to travel rewards will appreciate this straight-forward rewards card. Plus, the intro offer is ideal for anyone thinking about a balance transfer.

Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best dining and entertainment card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: For no annual fee, SavorOne’s unlimited 3% on dining and entertainment can earn you a hearty helping of cash back at a surprising variety of places, thanks to Capital One’s generous category definition. Additionally, the 3% cash back on popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), 1% on everything else compliment SavorOne’s 15-month 0% intro purchase APR (15.49% – 25.49% (Variable) after that) for some versatile purchasing power.

Pros: Through January 2023, cardholders can earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats. Plus, rewards don’t expire as long as the account remains active.

Cons: Its bigger sibling, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, earns a slightly better 4% on dining and entertainment and offers a higher sign-up bonus of $300 (after a $3,000 spend in the first 3 months) at the cost of a $95 annual fee.

Who should apply? If you’re looking for a card with excellent rewards for dining and entertainment, this is the best choice among no annual fee cards. But if you don’t want to think about your rewards, or your idea of entertainment doesn’t fall under this card’s categories, a flat-rate cash back card like the Quicksilver may be a better choice.

Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best U.S. gas station rewards card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: American Express gives ways to earn on can’t-miss purchases: Cardholders earn an unlimited 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, a lucrative 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%) and 1% cash back on other purchases.

Pros: Rewards don’t expire as long as the account remains active. This card charges no annual fee. Cardholders enjoy an intro 0% APR offer for 15 months on purchases (then it’s 13.99%-23.99% variable).

Cons: Unlike the 2% cash back categories, your 3% earning at U.S. supermarkets is limited to $6,000 per year, then drops to 1%. Also, rewards can’t be transferred or pooled with other cards.

Who should apply? Those constantly on the road might want to take advantage of the unlimited cash back available when filling up your tank. With multiple ways to earn while making typical purchases, this card suits its name as a great regular-use option.

Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.

American Express® Gold Card: Best no-blackout-date card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: If you love to travel and eat well, the American Express Gold is unlikely to disappoint. Cardholders earn 4X points at restaurants, 4X points on Uber Eats purchases, 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X) and 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com. It’s also packed with additional benefits, like an annual dining credit of up to $120 (up to $10 in monthly statement credits at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations, enrollment required).

Pros: When you’re ready to redeem your points for travel, there are no blackout dates.

Cons: You will need to use the card often to outweigh the cost of the $250 annual fee. If you don’t spend a significant amount on flights, dining or at U.S. supermarkets, there are plenty of cards with low or no annual fee that can give you rewards on similar categories. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 2X points on general travel and 3x points on dining purchases for an annual fee of only $95.

Who should apply? While $250 isn’t the most expensive annual fee, it may cause some applicants to hesitate. But, if you spend big on food and flights, you’ll likely reap the rewards to make the Amex Gold worth it.

Read our American Express® Gold Card review.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: Best balance transfer card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: New cardholders who need to pay off debt will have 18 months on 0% introductory APR of balance transfers completed within the first four months (13.74%-23.74% variable APR thereafter), one of the longer offers on the market. That same rate (0% introductory APR for 18 months, then 13.74%-23.74% variable) applies to purchases, too.

Pros: Cardholders get access to Citi EntertainmentSM, preferred seating and VIP packages at concerts, sporting events and dining experiences, plus discounts on everyday purchases through Citi Easy Deals.

Cons: There is a fee for balance transfers, which is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re transferring a large balance. You also won’t earn rewards with this card, so it’s really only a good option for those who want to do a balance transfer or split up a purchase over several months.

Who should apply? If you’re planning a balance transfer or a large purchase, the Citi Diamond Preferred can help out with its lengthy 0% introductory period. If you’re not in debt and don’t plan to be, a rewards card will probably suit you better.

Read our Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review.

Citi Rewards+® Card: Best gas station rewards for excellent credit

Why we picked it: If you’re like most people, your commute isn’t the best part of your day. But with the Citi Rewards+® Card, you can feel a little better knowing that you’re earning 2X points every time you fill up your tank. That rate also applies to supermarket purchases. That’s up to $6,000 annually combined, then 1X point. While this offer isn’t remarkable on its own, Citi’s unique round-up feature is what makes this card special. The rewards for all purchases get rounded up to the nearest ten. For example, if you bought a snack at the supermarket for $6, you would earn 2x points, so 12. Then the 12 points would be rounded up to 20. With this setup, it’s easy to see how rewards can stack up quickly.

Pros: Points never expire as long as your account remains active and there are no blackout dates.

Cons: If you’re hoping to redeem your points for cash back, you may find a better return by redeeming for gift cards.

Who should apply? Considering there’s no annual fee, this is a solid choice for someone who wants to rack up points on everyday purchases.

Read our Citi Rewards+® Card review.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best travel rewards card for excellent credit

Why we picked it: The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card offers both boosted rewards for travel and a flat rate for other purchases. Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases, 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases (through 12/31/21) and unlimited 1.5 points for each dollar spent on all other purchases.

Pros: This card’s travel perks don’t seem to quit, with the ability to earn a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years on TSA PreCheck/Global Entry, as well as up to $100 in airline incidental statement credits annually. Also, points are unlimited and don’t expire.

Cons: The annual fee of $95 isn’t waived, and there’s no 0% intro APR on purchases or balance transfers, so it may not be the best choice for the cardholder looking for something other than stellar travel options.

Who should apply? Someone who doesn’t mind a moderate annual fee will find a number of ways to earn and redeem with this card, including the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.

Read our Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card review.

What is an excellent credit score?

The answer to this question varies from lender to lender. Each lender decides what an “excellent” credit score range is and what constitutes a risk. Lenders depend on credit scoring agencies to assign scores to potential customers. The scores from FICO and VantageScore are the most frequently used, and each has its own ranges and threshold for excellent credit. A FICO score of 800 to 850 is considered exceptional and a VantageScore of 781 to 850 is considered excellent:

Fico score ranges
300-579Very poor
580-669Fair
670-739Good
740-799Very good
800-850Exceptional

VantageScore ranges
300-499Very poor
500-600Poor
601-660Fair
661-780Good
781-850Excellent

Why is having excellent credit a good thing?

At first blush, there may not seem to be much difference between good and excellent credit. But look deeper, and you’ll see that excellent credit will qualify you for better interest rates and credit cards.

Other than bragging rights, excellent credit can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars by landing you a lower interest rate and better terms, particularly with car loans and mortgages. That’s because lenders deem you to be more credit-worthy when your score is outstanding. In the case of credit cards, a better score will help get you a lower rate on the range of the card’s variable APR.

Also, your options can open up. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve only accepts excellent credit. This is a high-end card with a pricey annual fee, but it is also packed with superior rewards and benefits.

What determines an excellent credit score?

Your credit score is based on information in your credit report. Scoring models like FICO (the dominant model) and VantageScore assign the highest scores to consumers who pose the lowest risks – that is, consumers who consistently pay their bills on time and carry small amounts of debt compared to their overall borrowing capacities. To establish or maintain your excellent credit, here’s a breakdown of the credit scoring criteria and the weight placed on each factor for FICO’s and VantageScore’s most widely used models (FICO 8 and VantageScore 3.0).

Payment history

FICO: 35% | VantageScore: 40%
Making payments on time is the most important aspect of a credit score. This portion of your score factors in the frequency of late or missed payments and the length of each delinquency. The more severe, recent and frequent your late payments, the larger the impact on your score. You need to be scrupulous about paying your bills by the due date if you want to push your score into the excellent range – your credit history should show no recent late payments. Negative information can stay on your credit report for 7 years, although the older the information, the less of an impact. That means that even with a credit mistake, by correcting your behavior, you will see your score rise again soon after a drop.

Credit utilization

FICO: 30% | VantageScore: 20%
The amount of credit that you are currently using is the next greatest factor in your credit score. Lenders look at the total amount you owe on each of your accounts compared to your credit limit, and the total that you owe overall compared to your overall credit limit. It’s called your credit utilization ratio. If you owe $100 and you have $1,000 in available credit, that means your ratio is 10%. Keep your debt as close to 0% as possible. Revolving debt, including credit cards, is an especially important consideration in this portion of your score.

Length of credit history

FICO: 15% | VantageScore: 21%
Scoring models consider the newest, oldest and average ages of your credit accounts and their recent activity. Whether it’s for payment history or credit history, time is a key player (and double-edged sword) in reaching an excellent score. But how much time is needed? According to Experian data, the average FICO score increased by 10-30 points for each 10-year age range below the age of 80 – scores quickly picked up in the average person’s 30s and made the biggest jump in their 50s-60s. Thankfully, you don’t have to have decades of experience under your belt to achieve an excellent credit score. Experian notes that of the small population with a perfect 850 FICO score, only 4% are millennials, a number which jumps to 25% for Generation X.

Credit mix

FICO: 10%
The types of accounts under your name get a smaller amount of weighting in your score. FICO and VantageScore give higher scores to consumers who have a diversity of credit, usually a mix of revolving credit (like credit cards) and installment loans (like mortgages). While FICO keeps this factor separate, VantageScore weighs this factor in credit history. To bump your score into the excellent range, you should make sure you have multiple types of well-managed credit in your credit history.
FICO: 10% | VantageScore: 5%
Your number of recent credit inquiries and new accounts are small factors in both your FICO score and VantageScore. This factor is labeled as “recent credit” by VantageScore. You should be careful about applying for new credit cards. Make sure you qualify before you apply, as these “hard inquiries” show up on your credit report and temporarily ding your score by a few points. “Soft” inquiries (inquiries you did not initiate by a credit application) do not count. To nudge your score up, you should be careful not to open too many new accounts or apply for a lot of cards in a brief period.

Balances (VantageScore only)

VantageScore: 11%
The total debt you owe isn’t nearly as important as how much of your credit you are utilizing, but lenders do look at the balances that you owe on all your accounts. It has a moderately influential weight in the VantageScore model. In general, you should try to minimize your account balances to increase your credit score and decrease interest.

Available credit (VantageScore only)

VantageScore: 3%
For VantageScore specifically, your amount of available credit is ranked as a “less influential” factor, but we’ve found a good supply of available credit can keep your credit all-around healthier.

Credit card perks you can earn if you have excellent credit

  • Rewards: While even cards that accept bad credit can offer rewards, the rewards steadily improve as your credit improves and you qualify for better cards. Sign-up bonuses are higher and ongoing rewards can earn you hundreds of dollars a year if you use them correctly.
  • Benefits: Benefits for the cardholder with excellent credit can include access to airport lounges, annual credits for travel, travel fees and even shopping at exclusive retailers. There can also be numerous shopping and travel benefits such as extended warranties and car rental insurance.
  • Types of cards: With good to excellent credit, your options open up considerably to include cards with 0% APR, loyalty cards like airline and hotel cards, business cards, even luxury cards with exceptional benefits.
  • Interest rates: There are a few things you should do once you achieve excellent credit, including doing a loan check to see if you can get better rates, including calling your card issuers.
  • Higher available credit: Also, a better credit score can get you higher credit limits, which not only give you access to more money, but also can improve your score further by lowering your credit utilization ratio.

The advantages to having excellent credit are numerous, from superior rewards and welcome bonuses to convenient benefits that can save you time and hassle. There are also some advantages that may not have occurred to you, such as being able to get a credit limit increase.

How to compare similar credit cards

Here is a comparison of two seemingly similar credit cards that are both designed for people with excellent credit. However, once we break down the details on different spending categories and other features, one card in the comparison may become the frontrunner to certain cardholders. When comparing two credit cards, look out for details like rewards rates, other hidden benefits, annual fee, intro and ongoing APRs, other fees, and more. We break down rewards comparisons below:

Comparison of Sapphire Preferred vs. Venture Rewards…

CardSign-up bonusGeneral travelOther ongoing rewardsAnnual feeTotal end of first year
Chase Sapphire Preferred**100,000 pts*1.25%=$1,250 (when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards)$1,000*2X pts*12 mths*1.25%=$300$1,000*1X pts*12 mths*1.25%=$150$95$1,605
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card^^60,000 miles=$600$1,000*2X miles*12 mths=$240$1,000*2X miles*12 mths=$240$95$985

**100,000 points after a $4,000 spend within the first 3 months
^^60,000 miles after a $3,000 spend within the first 3 months    

Here’s what you’d have to spend each month to fully take advantage of these cards’ welcome bonuses. As you can see, for heavy spenders, both cards provide an excellent first-year value, although the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers significantly more value due to the welcome bonus.

How many people have excellent credit?

As of last year, the average credit score in the U.S. has risen to 711 – a figure that’s been steadily increasing over the last decade. Our credit score statistics suggest that both older and younger borrowers are becoming more likely to have an excellent credit score. Here is a breakdown of scores and the percentage of consumers who have captured them.

  • 800-850 FICO Score (Exceptional)
  • 20%
  • 740-799 FICO Score (Very Good)
  • 25%
  • 670-739 FICO Score (Good)
  • 21%
  • 580-669 FICO Score (Fair)
  • 18%
  • 300-579 FICO Score (Very Poor)
  • 16%

Experian June 2020 figures
Fortunately, this stumble could be temporary since FICO’s September 2019 data shows that more people are scoring higher, and there has been a yearly average credit score increase since that 2009 low. FICO attributed much of this improvement on strong economic growth since the Great Recession and an increased awareness of scores and active credit building among consumers.

Expert tips to maintain excellent credit

Freeze your credit reports. It’s now free – and advisable – to freeze your 3 credit reports to ensure no one accesses them illegitimately.

Pay multiple payments in a month. Since you won’t know when your card issuers will send your information to the credit bureaus, it’s a good idea to pay at least 2 times a month, even if you pay in full each month. That increases the likelihood that your balance will be low when the credit scoring models pull your information.

Keep old debt on your credit reports. As tempting as it may be, Bankrate recommends that you avoid trying to get your old debt removed from your credit reports once they have been paid off. When you’ve paid the bill off, that actually benefits your credit.

Apply for loans in a short amount of time. FICO scoring models only count up to 3 loan inquiries as one when they are made in a short period of time, as little as 14 days and as much as 45 days. This includes mortgages, student loans and auto loans but not credit cards.

Consolidate balances. Credit expert John Ulzheimer notes that when you carry small balances, it’s best to consolidate them “because you’re penalized for having too many accounts with a balance. It’s better to have fewer accounts with a balance than more accounts. So to the extent you can use fewer cards for the same purchases, the better you’ll be.”

Plan out loans. Strategize several months out before taking out auto loans or mortgages so that you don’t have large balances on your cards and you don’t take out new cards.

Follow the 20/10 Rule. Wells Fargo advises that you not let your card debt exceed more than 20% of your total yearly income after taxes, and that you not have more than 10% of your monthly take-home pay in credit card payments.

Notify your bank of a move. Wells Fargo also advises that you make sure you notify your card issuers and other lenders of address or email changes so that you get your statement in a timely manner.

Stay in touch with creditors. If you are late on a payment, or can’t pay, reach out to your creditor and see what alternative payment plans they might offer. Sometimes just calling and negotiating can lead to better terms.

What missteps do people with excellent credit make?

If you have excellent credit, you likely already have solid credit card habits. Here are a few key things to remember that can take you over the top as a cardholder:

  • By failing to put someone you trust on your card as an authorized user, you are missing out on rewards you can get through their spending.
  • If you aren’t reviewing what’s on the market periodically, new rewards cards that suit your lifestyle may be passing you by.
  • By keeping a card that doesn’t serve your needs, like a card with an annual fee that you don’t really use, you’re not taking full advantage of your excellent credit. If it’s an older card that you want to keep to continue to build your credit, you can ask for the annual fee to be waived, or you can ask for the card to be downgraded to a no annual fee card.
  • There’s nothing in the credit rule book that says mortgage payments or student loans are more important to your credit than card debt. Everything matters, and you need to be sure to pay everything on time, every time. One missed payment can quickly drop your score.
  • Don’t make sudden changes such as suddenly paying less or charging more, says Bankrate. That can indicate to your card issuer that you are having credit issues.

Research methodology: how we got to the best cards

Methodology: We analyzed 1,526 of the top credit cards on the market to narrow down a selection of the best choices. Core criteria we considered in our analysis include:

  • Base rewards program: How well is your spending rewarded? We identified cards at the top of their class when it comes to competitive rewards. These earnings span across a variety of categories (cash back, travel, gas, dining, entertainment, etc.).
  • Introductory offers: Many cards provide enticing things upon opening an account, such as a welcome offer of 0% APR on your purchases and/or balance transfers for a period of time, or a lucrative sign-up bonus after eclipsing a certain spending requirement in the first few months. Some of the best cards offer both. We looked to find the best welcome offers and sign-up bonuses available.
  • Extra benefits: Does the card include any luxury benefits often seen with elite cards? Perks like airport lounge access, sizable statement credits, baggage insurance and more are featured with some top options.
  • Annual fee: Does the card have an annual fee? A few of the top rewards cards carry hefty annual fees, but the rewards programs and other offerings can make up for these tenfold.
  • Redemption options: How much are points worth? Is the redemption process easy? Are there worthwhile redemption options? Some structures can be difficult and lacking in value, so we seek out the top choices when it comes to capitalizing on your spending.