Comparing Credit Card Offers for Good Credit
Updated: September 18, 2018
Good credit is your reward for all those months of on-time payments and other terrific credit habits. However, one or two wrong steps can cause your score to drop quickly. That's why it's important to understand the nuances of credit and how good credit can reward all that hard work.
We analyzed more than 1,400 credit cards on where good credit is needed to get approved and evaluated them on such criteria as: rates and fees, rewards, redemption options, customer service, and other benefits. Below are our best cards for good credit along with factors to consider in your decision and tips to improve your credit score even more. Here, we look at:
Learn more about how to build credit and the benefits of good credit.
Summary: CreditCards.com's Best Credit Cards for Good Credit
|Best For:||Card||Reward Rate||Annual Fee||CreditCards.com Rating|
|Sign-up Bonus||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||2X on travel and dining||$0 first year, then $95||4.2 / 5|
|Low Interest||Discover it® Cash Back||Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year||$0||4.1 / 5|
|Simple Travel Rewards||Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||$0||1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase||3.6 / 5|
|No Annual Fee||Chase Freedom Unlimited®||1.5%||$0||3.4 / 5|
|Bonus Cash||Capital One® Quicksilver® Card||1.5%||$0||3.5 / 5|
|Anniversary Bonus||HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card||1.5%||$0||3.6 / 5|
|Dining||Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores||$0||4.6 / 5|
|Gas||Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||3X on dining, gas, and travel||$0||3.7 / 5|
|Everyday Spending||Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||3% at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 1% everywhere else||$0||3.3 / 5|
|Hotels||Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||2x miles on every purchase, 10x miles on purchases at hotels.com/venture||$0 first year, then $95||4.4 / 5|
Credit cards for good credit analyzed: 1,478
Criteria used: Credit needed, rewards rates, rewards categories, sign-up bonuses, redemptions, customer service, ability to move credit line, credit score tracking, annual fee, other rates and fees, application process, other benefits and features
Editor's take on the best credit cards for good credit
Best for Sign-up Bonus
This card is very popular with people who have used a few credit cards and want to try a "next level" card. It offers a strong sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4,000 in your first 3 months. That's a lot of immediate value considering the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. Points can also be redeemed for 1.25X value through Chase's travel portal, and you can continue adding to your stash with 2X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases.
Bottom Line: The CSP is a great all-around card with a big sign-up bonus.
Best for Low Interest
As a credit card with rotating rewards categories that earn 5% cash back, the Discover it Cash Back is perfect for people who find themselves buying a diverse assortment of goods and services throughout the year. Its most distinguishing feature is the cashback match offer – at the end of your first year, Discover will match all the cash back earnings you accumulated. It also works well as a low interest credit card, although it's always best not to carry a balance on your credit cards.
Bottom Line: The Discover it's low APRs and cashback match feature make up for its lack of a sign-up bonus.
Best for Simple Travel Rewards
Similar in name and similar in features, the VentureOne is a "lean" version of the Venture card, also from Capital One. Primarily, the flat rewards rate is lower (1.25 instead of 2 miles per dollar), the sign-up bonus is smaller (20,000 miles instead of 50,000 miles), and the annual fee is lower ($0 instead of $95). Luckily, the VentureOne still retains its big brother's best feature: 10x miles per dollar on hotels booked and paid through hotels.com/venture.
Bottom Line: The little brother of the Venture, with lower cost at the expense of lower rewards.
Best for No Annual Fee
No fuss, no hassle, no annual fee – that's what you get with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Offering an easily attainable $150 sign-up bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, and a constant 1.5% cash back on all purchases, the CFU is ideal for those who want to forego the bother of keeping track of rotating categories. Cardholders will also enjoy the flexibility in redemption from Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal.
Bottom Line: The Chase Freedom unlimited card is a great for easy cash back with no annual fee.
Best for Bonus Cash
Another fairly straightforward credit card offer, the Capital One Quicksilver provides easy to understand benefits. Its largest value propositions are 1.5% cash back on all purchases, a $150 sign-up bonus that's easy to hit, and no annual fee. You'll also never have to worry about foreign transaction fees, making it a solid card to take on trips abroad.
Bottom Line: Straightforward and sweet with flat-rate cash back and a nice sign-up bonus.
Best for Anniversary Bonus
The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard starts with a $150 bonus after a $500 spend in the first 3 months, then there's the 1.5% back on all purchases. Here's a fun little feature – a 10% anniversary bonus on all cash back rewards earned each year. Additionally, there is no annual fee.
Bottom Line: Not many cash rewards cards come with no foreign transaction fees, which means that with this card, you can save on foreign travel and spending.
Best for Dining
This card's bonus is considerably stronger than most, with a $500 cash sign-up bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. It offers an extremely generous 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, easily qualifying as the best card for foodies. As a cherry on top, there's also 2% back at grocery stores and no foreign transaction fee.
Bottom Line: A large intro bonus and fantastic cash back rates make the Capital One Savor a winner.
Best for Gas
The Propel offers some of the most compelling rewards value, despite not even charging an annual fee. It offers 3X points across a wide swathe of categories that include gas, flights, hotels, ridshares, and other travel purchases, as well as dining and select popular streaming services. The sign-up bonus is also sizeable at 30K points and is awarded for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Bottom Line: This is the cream of the crop for high rewards among cards with no annual fee.
Best for Everyday Spending
The Blue Cash Everyday shines the brightest when it is used as a daily driver – that is on ordinary purchases like gas and groceries. We say this because of its fantastic 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. All that cash back (plus a respectable $150 welcome bonus) is available at an annual fee of $0.
Bottom Line: The BCE is arguably the strongest no-annual-fee option for your "mundane" purchases.
Best for Hotels
Consumers with good credit who are looking for their next credit card should mark this on their short list. With its rewards rate of 10x miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture, this credit card is perfect for those who travel frequently, whether for business or leisure. The rewards rate on all other purchases is a robust 2x miles per dollar while the sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles is a healthy dollop to jump start your earnings. The Venture card is well worth its $95 annual fee, but waives it for the first year anyway.
Bottom Line: For all your hotel and lodging purchases, look no further than the Capital One Venture.
What is good credit?
A "good credit" FICO score is 670-739 out of a range of 300-850, with 850 as the best. With the same scale, a good VantageScore is 700-749.
With good credit, you can enjoy not only better lending products but lower insurance rates, improved rental options and even better job opportunities. With bad credit, higher interest rates, loan rejections and credit cards with inferior rewards can come your way.
Pay attention to your good credit, because within a month, your score can take a hit because of one misstep. In fact, it can take considerably less time to drop your score than to improve it. By paying on time and in full each month, you are addressing 65% of your FICO score.
Here are the score ranges for FICO, the dominant scoring model, and VantageScore, which you can access for free on creditcards.com.
Credit score ranges...
|FICO Category||FICO Score||VantageScore Category||VantageScore|
What do we know about our credit?
As confident as we feel about our credit, studies show our abilities and knowledge often don't match our perceptions.
For example, Experian found that while 71% of millennials feel confident about their credit knowledge, 32% don't know their credit scores. Also, while they think their generation's debt stands at an average of $26,600, it actually averages almost double that, at $52,200.
Add to that, credit cards lead the pack of millennial debt, not student loans, as might be expected:
Breakdown of millennials' debt...
- Credit cards
- Student loans
- Auto loans
- Home loans
- Personal loans
Source: Experian millennial credit survey
Cards for good credit often offer excellent rewards, can have superior balance transfer options and are great for building credit. Although cards for excellent credit offer more options, a variety of cards are available for good credit. Here are 4 types of cards, with cards for good credit and no annual fee.
Different types of cards for good credit...
|Type of card||Card||Features|
|Cash back||Blue Cash Everyday||3% back on U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000; 2% back on U.S. gas stations, select U.S. department stores; $150 bonus/$1,000 spend in 3 mths (Terms Apply)|
|Cash back, rotating categories||Discover it Cash Back||Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in rotating categories throughout the year; match cash back at end of first year|
|Travel||Capital One VentureOne Rewards||20,000 miles/$1,000 spend in 3 mths; 1.25X miles on every purchase|
While cards for good credit may be slightly more limited in choice than those for excellent credit, there are still some great options, as you can see. Not sure if a card for good credit is right for you? Here are the benefits and limitations of cards with good credit:
Benefits and limitations of credit cards for good credit...
|Benefits of cards for good credit||Limitations of cards for good credit|
|More choices than bad, fair||Fewer choices than excellent credit|
|Don't have to pay a security deposit||May not get a luxury card|
|Fees may be better than cards for bad, fair credit||May need to pay annual fee for greater rewards|
What determines good credit?
Good credit simply means that your score, generated by a scoring model, such as VantageScore or FICO, is high enough that you can benefit from better financial products. The scoring models look at several factors in an effort to ascertain whether you are a good credit risk. The higher your score, the less risk you are for the lender.
Here are the primary factors scoring models look at:
- Paying on time. The most important aspect of your credit score is on-time payments. It makes up 35% of your FICO score, the score most used by lenders to assess your creditworthiness. One late payment can drop your score to the next range, although the older that late payment gets, the less impact it has. This category is also the most important factor for VantageScore, the scoring model developed by the 3 major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
- Paying in full. This category makes up 30% of your FICO score. It looks at the amount of credit you have available compared to the amount you owe. That's called your utilization ratio. For example, if you owe $100 and you have $1,000 in available credit, your utilization ratio is 10% -- you want the percentage as close to zero as possible. The amount of credit used is considered highly influential in the VantageScore model.
- Credit history. How long have you had a credit file with the 3 credit bureaus? This makes up 15% of your FICO credit score and it's highly influential with VantageScore.
- Recent credit. Avoid applying for multiple credit cards at once, because that can negatively impact your score, although a single pull typically only impacts your score by about 5 points. Recent credit makes up 10% of your FICO score and falls under "less influential" on VantageScore. Note that rate shopping for installment loans within a short amount of time, which can range from 15-45 days, typically only counts as one credit check, because credit score models recognize that rate shopping is a good credit habit.
- Credit mix. FICO likes it when you have different types of credit, such as revolving credit (cards) and installment credit (car loans and mortgages). It makes up 10% of your FICO score and is highly influential in VantageScore.
- Available credit. VantageScore also has a category called "available credit" that is considered less influential. There is also a category called "total balances/debt" that falls under moderately influential.
Why should I care about my credit score?
From dating to getting an apartment, it's almost impossible to function in today's world without credit, unless you live off the grid. Here are 7 reasons why you should care about your credit score:
- Installment loans. The best known of credit score uses, your credit can impact not only your interest rate but even whether you can get a loan. Credit scores are used by lenders of mortgages, car loans, private student loans and other lending products.
- Credit cards. The credit cards with the richest offers typically require good or excellent credit. For example, you can get a rewarding cashback card with no annual fee if your credit is good or excellent.
- Apartments. Increasingly, landlords are looking at potential renters' credit before making a call on accepting a lease application. If you have good credit, you are that much more likely to be accepted.
- Insurance premiums. An InsuranceQuotes.com study in 2014 shows that if you have poor credit, your home insurance premiums nearly double when compared to excellent credit. In the same way, your auto insurance premium can be affected by your credit.
- Cellphone. Your cellphone provider may run a background check to ensure you can meet your obligations.
- Employment. Employers are increasingly running background credit checks prior to offering a job. Employers access a different report from that of lenders, and they don't have access to your score. Also, they have to have your approval to pull a report.
- Dating prospects. When asked if a credit score could make you think twice about dating someone, 35% of men and 50% of women said yes, according to a Bankrate poll commissioned in May 2017.
What should I look for in a credit card if I have good credit?
Having good credit unlocks a whole new word of options when it comes to the credit cards you can get. "Consumers with good credit are in an excellent position to earn lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for ongoing spending. Many of the best cash back cards are targeted at people with good credit," points out Ted Rossman, CreditCards.com industry analyst.
From generous sign-up bonuses to great balance transfer offers, cards for good credit abound. Compare the cards you are interested in to decide which has the best options for you. Look at:
- Types of cards. With good credit, your options open up tremendously. You can earn 2%, 3%, even 5% back with a cashback card, or earn points or miles in the 10s of thousands in a travel card's sign-up bonus.
- Sign-up bonus. Compare the sign-up bonuses for the cards you are looking at. But be sure to compare apples with apples. For example, is there an annual fee? And what is the actual valuation of the points or miles?
As Rossman advises: "When comparing options, think about how you spend most of your money and how you want to redeem your rewards. Look to maximize key categories like groceries, travel and dining out."
Comparing sign-up bonuses...
|Card||Annual fee||Sign-up bonus||Point valuation|
|Capital One Venture Rewards||$95, waived first year||50,000 miles/$3,000 spend in 3 mths||1:1|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards||$0||20,000 miles/$1,000 spend in 3 mths||1:1|
- Ongoing rewards. Study the points, cash back or miles you would earn when you make purchases on your card.
- Benefits. Cards that require good or excellent credit often offer benefits such as rental car insurance, free luggage and even annual airline credits.
- Interest rates. If your priority for your next credit card is a low interest rate, your good credit will help with that. There are a few low-interest cards out there and a number of 0% intro APR offers.
- Balance transfer. If you need to transfer a balance to a 0% intro APR, look at the length of the offer, and see if you can pay off the debt before the offer ends. Here are 4 that require good credit and have no annual fee:
Comparing interest rates...
|Amex Everyday||0% intro APR for 15 months, BT & purchases||14.74%-25.74%, variable||10,000 points bonus/$1,000 spend in 3 mths; no BT fee within first 60 days; 2X points at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000|
|Discover it Cash Back||0% intro APR for 14 months, BT & purchases||13.74%-24.74%, variable||Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in rotating categories throughout the year; match cash back at end of first year|
How many people have good credit?
Credit bureau Experian studied data from scoring model FICO and found that 21.5% of consumers have good credit and 18.2% of consumers have very good credit. Americans with exceptional scores make up 19.9% of the population.
But what do those scores mean for you? Here, we look at the percentage of people with each scoring range and what that score means for them.
Percentages of consumers by credit range...
|Credit Score||Rating||% of People||Impact|
|300-579||Poor||17%||Credit applicants may be required to pay a fee or deposit, and applicants with this rating may not be approved for credit at all.|
|580-669||Fair||20.2%||Applicants with scores in this range are considered to be subprime borrowers.|
|670-739||Good||21.5%||Only 8% of applicants in this score range are likely to become seriously delinquent in the future.|
|740-799||Very Good||18.2%||Applicants with scores here are likely to receive better than average rates from lenders.|
|800-850||Exceptional||19.9%||Applicants with scores in this range are at the top of the list for the best rates from lenders.|
Source: FICO data, from Experian
How to build and maintain a good credit score
A surprising number of Americans misunderstand what it takes to build a good credit score.
In one Bankrate poll, it was found that 51% believe that accounts with high balances help your score, when actually, high card balances can negatively impact your score. Also, 37% thought you need a balance to build your score. Actually, you want as close to 0% as possible, but you also want to keep the account active with a charge that you pay off each month.
Here's what the Bankrate poll shows:
Consumers' misconceptions of building credit...
- Believe accounts with high balances help credit
- Believe you have to carry a balance to improve credit
- Believe having a short credit history helps your score
Source: Bankrate Money Pulse survey
How to build good credit
Building good credit takes patience and determination, but even the thinnest of files can be improved within a few months.
The easiest and fastest way to build credit is with a credit card – but it's important to make sure you use it responsibly. That means paying in full and on time each month. Here are some tips on how to build good credit:
- Check your credit score. You'll need this for the next step.
- Apply for a credit card. Only apply for one, and make sure it's one that you have a good chance of getting. You may need to get a secured card, which means you pay a refundable deposit in exchange for a credit limit. Make sure the card issuer will share your credit habits with the credit bureaus.
- Pay in full and on time. This is 65% of your FICO score.
- Become an authorized user. If your credit is too poor for landing a card or you don't trust yourself with one, look into being an authorized user with a cardholder who has responsible credit. You won't have to use the card to build credit, and you won't be responsible for the debt. Eventually, you'll want to get your own card, though, so that you can withdraw from being an authorized user without losing credit ground.
- Take out a credit-builder loan. To give your score that extra little boost, take out an installment loan, such as a car loan or a credit-builder loan. Don't take out more than you can afford.
How to maintain good credit
In some ways, maintaining good credit is more difficult than building because one false step can drive your score down to the next tier. Here are a few tips for maintaining your credit:
- Make reminders. You know you need to pay on time and in full each month. Now, set up a reminder so that you remember to pay by the due dates each and every month.
- Make a small payment. Even if you don't use a card much, make a small payment each month to keep the account active.
- Don't close accounts. There are a few exceptions to this, but typically it's a good idea to keep accounts open and active because available credit with a low balance helps your score, and when you close an account, your aggregate available credit goes down.
- Keep a budget. Allowing for saving and fun, maintain a workable budget to ensure you don't overspend on your credit card.
How long does it take to build good credit?
It takes at least 3 months of credit activity before a credit score can be calculated, and sometimes 6 months, according to Experian's Rod Griffin.
You need at least one credit account to have a credit file. When you don't have much credit to speak of, that's called having a thin file. With good habits (pay on time and in full each month), you can build your credit score within months.
Rebuilding? It can take anywhere from a few months to years, depending on what's on your credit file. Large debts, collections, bankruptcies – all of those weigh more heavily than one or two late payments.
Here's how to rebuild good credit:
- Check your credit files. Look for collections, unpaid bills and other issues that can be cleared up. Contact the credit bureaus to correct any inaccuracies. Quickly resolve any problems with creditors, and get in writing that they will contact the credit bureaus with the resolution.
- Catch up. Your payment history is your most important aspect of your credit, so it's critical to catch up with any payments and stay on top of them.
- Reduce your card balances. The second most important aspect of your credit score is the debt-to-balance ratio, called your utilization ratio. That's why it's so important to keep your balances low.
How to improve from good credit to excellent credit
The difference between good and excellent credit can be the difference between good and great rewards, nice and amazing balance transfer offers, and pretty great and outstanding benefits. You can also get better interest rates, lower insurance rates and other financial advantages.
Once your score hits about 750, know that things start to slow down in terms of score improvement. But there are a few tricks to help your score achieve its best. Here, we look at a few quick tips for maximizing your score and landing an 800 or better.
- Pay on time. If you have good credit, you are likely already paying in full and on time. Keep it up!
- Don't close your old cards. This allows you to continue to have high available credit and to keep building your long-term credit. Put a small charge on them each month, paying them off each month.
- Take out an installment loan. Installment loans include mortgages, car loans and some credit-builder loans. While you don't want to incur unnecessary debt, a small installment loan can give your credit score a little nudge.
- Avoid taking out multiple cards at once. Stay steady and don't apply for multiple credit cards at once. While a small part of your credit score, applications can drop it to the next tier in a worst-case scenario. One card application can affect your score by about 5 points, whether you are accepted or not.
- Plan taking out credit. If you know you want to, say, apply for a mortgage soon, keep things low key for several months by not suddenly taking out a card or incurring new debt. Lenders can see sudden changes in your financial habits as a warning sign that you are desperate.
- Be patient. One element of credit building is time spent building that credit. That's a big reason why a cardholder with great credit habits might have a lower score than a consumer with great credit habits and more years as a card user.
What to do when you have excellent credit
Superior credit opens up the possibilities in terms of better rates and saved money. Once you have excellent credit, there are a few things you'll want to take care of:
- Ask for lower rates, higher credit limits. A creditcards.com poll found that of those who asked, a quarter of consumers got an improved credit limit. Of those asking for a lower interest rate, 13% received one. So, it's worth a try.
- Upgrade to better credit cards. With excellent credit, you can get improved benefits and richer rewards.
- Do a loan and insurance premium checkup. Have your loan officer and insurance agent run the numbers again, because chances are, you qualify for a better rate.
Laura is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura's work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.
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