5 Credit Score Ranges for Credit Card Approval

5 Credit Score Ranges for Credit Card Approval

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: July 16, 2019
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines and are updated regularly.

Everyone likes having options. That’s why hundreds of ice cream flavors exist and there’s always more than one movie playing in theaters. Life would be dull without choices.

And that goes for our financial lives, too. Credit card options for consumers with every credit score abound. Today, the diversity in rewards, fees, and other perks gives you more options than ever before, making shopping for a credit card much like shopping at the grocery store for your next ice cream fix.

Check out the sections below to see the many card options available for your credit score.

Excellent Credit (740-850) | Good Credit (670-739) | Fair Credit (580-669)
Bad Credit (300-579) | No/Limited Credit (0 Score)

Credit Cards for Excellent Credit (740-850 Credit Score)

An excellent credit score provides a lot of benefits — including greater negotiating power and better car insurance and mortgage interest rates. But consumers with excellent credit also see the greatest perks when shopping for credit cards. This is where you can qualify for top-tier cards with the highest credit limits, greatest benefits, and richest rewards.

Just remember, though, that excellent credit doesn’t guarantee credit card approval. But you should have a better chance than most consumers when looking to acquire our top cards, which we’ve listed below.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back 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.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74-25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74 - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+ See More Cards for Excellent Credit

Credit Cards for Good Credit (670-739 Credit Score)

This range includes the average U.S. consumer credit score — 695 — but there’s nothing average about the benefits that can come from these credit card offerings. A good credit score helps lenders see you as an acceptable risk. This means that card issuers will open a wide array of offerings to you in hopes of earning your business.

And, whenever there are lots of options, there is competition. And you can use that fight for your attention to possibly secure some amazing rewards cards — like those listed below.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back 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.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74-25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74 - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+ See More Cards for Good Credit

Credit Cards for Fair Credit (580-669 Credit Score)

If your credit score falls in “fair” territory, you may find yourself not qualifying for upper-tier credit cards and loans. Your interest rate may be a little higher than the cards offered in the “Good” range and the rewards may not be quite as rich.

But, as mentioned above, recent competition in the credit card space has issuers upping their game — and their rewards — to earn your business. Cards designed for fair-credit consumers, like those below, have many of the same perks that, just a few years ago, were set aside for cardholders with good or better credit.

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.46% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.46% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Qualified applicants will receive a card with a competitive APR and no annual fee along with 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, terms apply
  • View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Access your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99%-25.99% Variable
$0 - $99
Fair

+ See More Cards for Fair Credit

Credit Cards for Bad Credit (300-579 Credit Score)

Mistakes happen. Payments sometimes get missed or life’s circumstances may force you to default on a loan. You may currently find yourself in a space where you need to rebuild your credit but are struggling to find issuers who will take a chance on you.

One of the easiest ways to rebuild credit is through a secured credit card that requires a refundable cash deposit that determines your credit limit. But, if a large deposit is out of the question, there are still a few credit card options available — just be ready to pay higher interest rates and annual fees.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.49% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands
  • Take advantage of low monthly payments if you apply and are accepted for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank, who determines eligibility and qualifications for the terms of credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit
Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • *Dependent on credit worthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

+ See More Cards for Bad Credit

Credit Cards for No/Limited Credit (0 Credit Score)

Everyone has to start somewhere, and, if you’re new to credit building, you’re likely standing on the ground floor and looking up at all of the offers you can’t yet qualify for.

But having no or limited credit doesn’t mean you can’t get a credit card. There’s a whole sector of the credit industry designed for consumers who want to establish a credit history. With responsible card usage, such as a strong payment history, you could be climbing those stairs and reaching for top-tier cards faster than you think.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.46% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.74% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit
Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.74% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

+ See More Cards for No/Limited Credit

What Credit Score Do I Need to Be Approved for Credit?

While there’s no general minimum score needed to obtain a credit card, each card has its minimum acceptance requirements. Those requirements can sometimes be vague, though, and meeting those standards doesn’t guarantee acceptance. That’s because your credit score is just one factor used to determine your eligibility for a credit card.

Don’t know your score? Here are a few free ways to find it. FICO and VantageScore are the two most common credit scoring models used, so make sure it’s one of those scores you’re receiving.

A top-shelf card with the richest rewards and greatest benefits will require not only excellent credit (a credit score above 740) but also a solid proof of income and a low debt-to-income ratio.

On the other hand, some secured credit cards — offerings that require a refundable cash deposit that equals your credit limit — don’t require credit checks for acceptance. But keep in mind that some of these cards will reject you if you have a pending bankruptcy the court hasn’t yet discharged.

But if your needs are simple and you aren’t as concerned with all the bells and whistles — or you don’t want to fuss with the annual fee that often comes with many popular rewards cards — you have options with almost any credit score.

Just remember that, as with most things in life, the higher your standing — in this case, your credit score — the better the offers you’ll receive. If you’re in the lower credit score tiers, you’re likely to encounter more annual fees, lower credit limits, fewer rewards, and higher APRs.

The key to finding your next credit card isn’t to only look for the best card you may qualify for, but rather the card that best suits your needs and current economic situation. That may mean a lower credit limit to avoid an annual fee or opting for fewer rewards so you can obtain a better interest rate.

What is the Easiest Credit Card to be Approved For?

If you’re looking for easy approval, nothing beats a secured credit card. Many of these cards skip the credit check altogether as long as you can provide a refundable cash deposit to fund your credit limit.

Should You Get an Unsecured or Secured Card?

These cards are traditionally designed for consumers who are building or rebuilding their credit profiles. If you have an established credit history, there are literally hundreds of better options you may qualify for.

And, thanks to modern technology, almost all of them are easy to apply for. Most credit cards now feature on online application processes that takes less than five minutes to complete and can provide most credit decisions within minutes.

If you want to improve your chances of acceptance, look for cards that provide pre-qualifying applications. These easy-to-complete forms can let you know your chances of approval before filling out a full application and will only leave behind a soft inquiry that won’t harm your credit score.

It’s important to shop for cards that accept applicants within your credit score range. Don’t get too enticed by premium cards that are out of your reach. By choosing a practical card that you qualify for, you’ll find easier acceptance and can begin clearing your financial path toward a premium credit card offer.

Just remember that each time you apply for a credit card or loan, the financial institution issuing the loan or credit card makes a hard inquiry on your credit report. Credit reporting bureaus typically allow for three or fewer inquiries on your credit report over a two-year period. After that, each inquiry slightly lowers your credit score and can make it harder to gain approval for some credit cards.

That’s why you should limit your credit card applications to one every six months. This keeps you from bogging down your credit report with inquiries and lessens the impact of previous inquiries since their effect on your overall credit score lessens over time.

How Many Americans Have a Credit Score Above 800?

According to an April 2018 FICO report, 21.8% of U.S. consumers have a FICO score between 800 and 850. The number of Americans with excellent credit continues to rise, as only 16.2% of consumers fell in that sterling score range in April 2005.

Depending on where your credit score currently stands, you may need years to get to the 800 level. Consumers who fall in this range have no negatives on their payment history, as well as a diverse mix of credit accounts that show a positive history of managing different types of credit and loans. These can include but aren’t limited to credit cards, personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and mortgages.

Average FICO Credit Scores by State

As depicted in this graph, it takes time to build excellent credit.

The longer you keep your credit lines open and in good standing, the better they look to lenders. That’s because a long history of on-time payments and responsible usage makes you a better credit risk than someone who has only a brief track record of success.

But while you may set a goal to become a member of the 800+ club — which is a great goal to have — remember that most credit issuers place the cutoff for “excellent” credit around the 740 mark. That means you can get a lot of the same offers with a credit score above 740 that you’d get with a score above 800. That doesn’t mean that those extra points won’t make your application a tad more attractive to banks and lenders.

Getting to the 800 mark takes patience, practice, and financial know-how. You don’t need a six-figure income to get there, though. And like every good recipe, the ingredients you add to your credit report will determine the quality of your outcome.

How Can I Quickly Raise My Credit Score?

Your credit score doesn’t just work to help you get better credit card offers. Your overall rating also impacts your access to loans, better interest rates for car insurance, and even job opportunities.

That’s why it’s important to keep your score as high as possible. And there are several ways to give yourself a boost before applying for a credit card, loan, or job.

Your first step should be to obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. While these reports won’t show your actual credit score (there are many free sources for obtaining that information), it will show any items that may be weighing your score down.

Once you better understand the negative information on your reports, you can take the necessary actions to improve your credit.

While you’re working to improve your score, it’s vital that you pay every bill on time. Even one 30-day late payment can knock between 90 and 110 points off your credit score. You also want to restrain from closing credit card accounts (unless it has an annual fee you want to stop paying).

That’s because your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your FICO credit score calculation. You can determine your credit utilization ratio by dividing the amount of credit you’re currently using by the total amount of credit you have available. For example, if you have a card with a $2,000 credit limit and you carry a $500 balance, you have a 25% utilization.

Chart of Example Utilization Rate

Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your FICO credit score calculation. Keep your balances low to quickly improve and maintain a good credit score.

Your credit score will increase when your utilization ratio decreases. But when you cancel a credit card, the amount of credit available to you also drops — which can drastically raise your utilization ratio and create a sudden spike in your credit score.

Even if you don’t plan to use your credit card, it’s better to lock it away somewhere safe than to cancel it with the issuer.

Another way to improve your utilization ratio is to request a credit limit increase on your existing credit cards. If you have a good payment history and don’t carry a high balance, your card issuer may consider you for a credit increase.

You can ask for an increase by calling your card issuer’s customer service number. Some issuers also provide a credit limit increase request form online that provides an instant decision.

By increasing your current credit limits, you immediately lower your utilization ratio, which can improve your credit score.

There’s a Card for Every Score

Just as your local ice cream parlor offers 31 flavors for customers with differing palates, credit card companies often curate several different card options for consumers with varying credit scores. These cards have a wide array of APRs, rewards, and fees, but all can give your wallet an instant boost in spending power.

Before you apply for a card, you should first determine which cards fall within your current credit score range, as we’ve detailed above. When you apply for a card you likely won’t qualify for, you add a potentially harmful hard inquiry to your credit report, which can make it more difficult to be approved for another card down the road.

But, if you apply for a card within your credit score range and work to improve your score — you could find yourself in the 800+ club much faster than you expect — unless you’re already in the coveted “excellent” range.