Below are our staff picks for 2021's best credit cards for good credit, which is generally considered a FICO score of 700 to 750. Get 0% APR, cash back, and more as a reward for your good credit score.
INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
No annual fee.
Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
100% U.S. Based Customer Service available any time.
Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Earn cash back twice! Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance Transfers do not earn cash back and will have a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023
No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after that
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Enjoy a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory 0% APR for your first 15 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
Welcome Offer: Receive a $125 Amazon.com gift card upon approval
5% Back or 90 Days Terms on U.S. purchases at Amazon Business, AWS, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods Market with an eligible Prime membership on the first $120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% Back thereafter
2% Back at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers
1% Back on other purchases
Expense management tools to help you track and organize expenses
Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $250 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership.
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
Buy above your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power. Make business purchases over your credit limit with no penalty or enrollments, and still earn cash back on those purchases. Terms apply.
0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR applies
Earn 50,000 online bonus points (a $500 value) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. Plus, earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases – now through 12/31/21.
1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Flexibility to choose how you redeem your points – redeem for cash back as a deposit into Bank of America® checking or savings accounts, for credit to eligible Merrill® accounts including 529 accounts, as a statement credit to your credit card, or for gift cards and purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
Get up to a $100 Airline Incidental Statement Credit annually for qualifying purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees - automatically applied to your card statement. Also get up to $100 in Airport Security Statement Credits towards TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry Application fees, every four years.
Earn $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then a variable APR will apply
An optional overdraft protection service is available to help prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards
The Citi Rewards+® Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Earn up to $300 Back in the form of statement credits: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership - plus, earn $150 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases
Introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases, then a variable rate applies
Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and more
Earn up to $400 Back in the form of statement credits: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back - plus, earn $200 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year on purchases (then 1%). Also earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
Earn 3% cash back on transit, including U.S. gas stations, taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
Access to Global Assist® Hotline - 24/7 medical, legal, financial and other select emergency assistance and coordination services
0% intro APR for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR applies
Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening
Earn 3% cash back on your choice of one of the following six categories: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services, or business consulting services and 2% cash back on dining on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each year, 1% thereafter
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Get 75% more cash back on every purchase when you're a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you'll earn 5.25% on your selected choice category, 3.5% on dining, and unlimited 1.75% cash back on all other purchases.
0% on purchases for 9 billing cycles from account opening, then a variable APR applies
Earn 150,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year.
Earn up to 25X points total per dollar at IHG® -- That's 10X points at IHG® Hotels and Resorts as an IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember, plus up to 10X points from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club member, plus up to 5X points from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of this card.
Earn 2X points per dollar on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants -- all other purchases earn 1 point per $1
Enjoy a reward night after each account anniversary year at IHG hotels worldwide
Enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year; $89 annual fee thereafter
Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every eligible dollar you spend
You can get double Membership Rewards® points on every dollar of eligible travel purchases—such as prepaid hotel stays, vacation packages, and cruises—when you use your card to book your trip through AmexTravel.com
Amex Offers rewards you at places you like to shop, dine, travel, and more. Simply log in to your account or use the American Express® App to add offers to your card. Then use that same card to pay and enjoy rewards directly on your statement.
Plan It® is a payment option that lets you split up purchases of $100 or more into clear and simple monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest
Earn 30,000 bonus points when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit towards travel purchases
Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases, everywhere, every time – no matter how much you spend
Earn 3 points per every dollar spent when you book your travel (car, hotel, airline) through the Bank of America® Travel Center
You can earn up to 75% more points on every purchase, if you have a business checking account with Bank of America and qualify for Preferred Rewards for Business. That means you could earn up to an unlimited 2.62 points per $1 spent on all purchases and 5.25 points per $1 spent at the Bank of America Travel Center.
0% introductory APR on purchases for 9 billing cycles from account opening, then a variable APR applies
Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending 4,000 within 4 months of account opening
Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines purchases and at cable and internet providers, gas stations, select telecommunications merchants, and car rental services — all other purchases earn 1X points
First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions
25% savings on American Airlines inflight WiFi, food, and beverage purchases when you use your card
Earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate for domestic travel after $30,000 in purchases each card membership year and card membership is renewed. Fees apply.
Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months
Earn 3X miles on Delta purchases and hotels, 2X miles at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and U.S. supermarkets, all other purchases earn 1 point per $1
Get your first bag free on Delta flights booked with your card
Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card
Receive either a statement credit available every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit available every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership through any Authorized Enrollment Provider for TSA Pre✓® (up to $85) with an eligible Card
The Schwab Investor Card® from American Express is only available to clients who maintain an eligible Schwab account.
Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back automatically deposited into your eligible Schwab account for purchases made with your Card.
Earn a $200 Card Statement Credit after spending $1,000 in purchases on your Schwab Investor Card® from American Express in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
0% introductory APR on purchases for 6 months starting from the date of account opening. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, 13.99% to 16.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
Get up to $100 in credit applied to your wireless bill over the first 24 months—just use your card to pay your bill every month. Plus, new enrollees to Verizon's Auto Pay can get up to $10/month off each eligible account or line, up to 10 lines max on select plans
Earn 4% Verizon Dollars on grocery store and gas purchases, 3% on dining and takeout purchases, 2% on Verizon purchases, and 1% on everything else
There are no limits to how much you can earn and no expiration dates
Use your Verizon Dollars for pretty much anything in the Verizon store, even toward your Verizon Wireless bill
This card is exclusively offered to Verizon Wireless customers
Limited Time Online Offer: Get 50,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening
Get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.
Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Miles don't expire on active accounts.
Enjoy 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases and 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge when you pay with your new card
Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation
The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers.
Review Breakdown: Cards for Good Credit
If you're looking for a new credit card and have a good credit history, you'll have no problem finding a great offer to fit your needs. Below we've summarized all the top offers for applicants with good credit, along with the best features of each. Simply click on the card name to visit the issuer's secure online application.
Here are 2021's best credit cards for good credit:
The best credit cards for good credit share several characteristics. They offer ample rewards and many benefits that often include introductory promotions, no annual fee, and relatively low APRs.
What may surprise you is that the average American consumer has a good credit score. That makes the cards in this review available to a broad cross-section of consumers. Whether you have good credit or simply aspire to it, we’ve got the answers to the 17 questions that keep you awake at night.
1. What is a Good Credit Score?
The FICO credit scoring system, with a numerical range of 300 to 850, dominates the U.S. market. A good credit score lies between 670 and 739, while scores from 740 to 799 are considered very good.
An Experian survey found that the average U.S. credit score was 711 in 2020. That’s an increase of 8 points from 2019.
This improvement stems, in part, from the explosion of websites advertising “free credit scores,” although this often refers to a non-FICO alternative. Consumers now watch their scores more closely than ever.
“Since 2019, consumers have seen record improvement in utilization rates, debt amounts and number of delinquencies. The most significant changes between 2019 and October 2020:
Average credit card utilization decreased by 12%.
The average number of consumer accounts ever delinquent dropped by 10%.
These changes are not only positive for consumers’ credit health, but they are unprecedented in recent years,” according to Experian.
2. What Kind of Unsecured Credit Card Can I Get with a Good Credit Score?
Cards aimed at consumers with good and very good credit scores offer plenty of rewards and perks. Look for unsecured credit card interest rates below 20%, moderately high credit limits, and generous cash, point, or mileage rewards.
With a good credit score, you needn’t bother with a secured credit card or prepaid card.
A secured credit card requires a cash security deposit to collateralize your line of credit. The security deposit is refundable when you close the account. A prepaid card can be used as a credit card, but you must load funds onto the card as you would fund a debit card with a bank account — the prepaid issuer is not extending you a line of credit.
Most of the good cards in this group offer a signup bonus — sometimes referred to as a welcome bonus — and an introductory 0% APR period of a year or more. Moreover, you can get all this from many cards that charge no annual or foreign transaction fees.
Card benefits for good-credit consumers can have a generalized or narrow focus. If you want a good general card, look for one offering elevated (i.e., greater than 1%) cash back rewards on all purchases. On the other hand, if you have specific preferences, you can select a rewards card that offers extra rewards for various types of purchases, including travel, groceries, meals, gasoline, among other shopping categories.
3. What is the Best Unsecured Card for Good Credit?
Our top overall pick for consumers with good credit is the Discover it® Cash Back. We like that it charges no annual fee and provides 0% APR for a promotional period after account opening.
4. What Types of Rewards Can I Earn with Good Credit?
If you have good credit, then you have options. You can choose the form of card rewards (cash back, miles, or points) and how you earn them (with a flat, tiered, or rotating rewards card). The available reward schemes are:
Flat: You earn a fixed percentage of your purchases in rewards. The percentage applies to all eligible purchases, with none worth more than others.
Tiered: In the tiered setup, different types of purchases earn different reward percentages. The percentages are fixed over time.
Rotating: This is the most complicated rewards scheme. It employs quarterly rotating categories that earn bonus rewards. You must activate the new category each quarter.
Most cards for consumers with good credit also offer one or more of the following perks:
Better terms: These cards offer lower APRs and higher credit limits than do cards for consumers with fair credit or worse.
Signup bonus: New cardmembers can earn bonus rewards by spending a set amount on purchases during the first three months (or other introductory period) after opening the account. Cards that offer very generous signup bonuses tend to have annual fees.
0% APR: During an introductory period (typically six to 18 months), new cardmembers can carry balances on purchases without incurring credit card interest. Cards may also offer 0% APR on balance transfers for the same or a different period.
Annual fees: Some of the best cards charge no annual fee and/or foreign transaction fee.
Travel rewards: Travel-oriented cards may offer various extra travel rewards, including travel and/or baggage insurance, reimbursement of travel-related fees, and transfers of rewards to partnering travel loyalty programs.
Business perks: Business credit cards for good credit cardmembers offer business-related perks, including high rewards on office supplies, communications expenses, and expense management tools and reports.
We take all of these factors into consideration when we assign an overall rating to each reviewed card. Accordingly, we gave a rating of 4.7 or higher on a 5-point scale to our top 20 reviewed cards for good-credit consumers.
5. Which is Best: Cash Back, Points, or Miles?
Each type of reward has its own charms:
Cash back: For many, cash is the ultimate reward. Indeed, cash back is the easiest reward to manage. You simply redeem your accumulated cash when you choose, either as a statement credit, a check or direct deposit, or to pay for selected purchases. Consumers may prefer cash back if they aren’t frequent travelers, or if they appreciate a little extra cash each month to pay bills. Some cards let you apply cash rewards toward online purchases at merchants such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart, among others.
Miles: Travelers often prefer their rewards in the form of frequent flyer miles because miles may be more valuable than cash when applied to an upcoming travel purchase. Mileage cards offer higher rewards for travel and hotel purchases. In addition, these cards may offer special deals when you redeem your miles for travel accommodations and hotel stays. The best mileage cards offer miles that you can use without blackout dates. Also, look for cards that provide 1:1 mileage transfers to partner rewards programs. You can always cash out your miles, although this may not be their most valuable use. Some travel reward cards, like the Discover it® Miles, let you apply your earned miles toward a previous eligible travel purchase, effectively crediting you the purchase price.
Points: If you can’t decide between cash back or miles, points may be your best choice. You can convert points to cash or miles, or save them for future purchases. Some cards enhance point redemptions when you apply them in specified ways. For example, the points you earn from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel-related purchases at the Chase Ultimate Reward website.
In virtually all cases, your rewards don’t expire unless you close the account. However, always check the fine print lest you find some of your rewards evaporating after a year or two.
Miles and points require some additional work because you need to know how many are required to get a free airplane flight or hotel stay. On the other hand, by keeping your rewards in mile or point form, you may find it easier to build your balance relative to easily spent cash.
Bottom line: The best type of reward is the one that is best for you.
6. What Kind of Fees are Associated with Cards for Good Credit?
By law, all credit cards must provide a uniformly formatted pricing box (the Schumer Box) that discloses interest charges and fees. Look for the following kinds of fees:
Annual membership fee: Many cards in this category offer an annual fee between $0 and $95, with nearly 70% charging $0. If you select a card with an annual fee (the average fee is $110), verify that the rewards you’ll receive justify the extra expense.
Transaction fees: Cards for good-credit consumers usually charge fees for balance transfers and cash advances. Typically, these fees are the greater of a fixed amount and a percentage of the transaction amount. Foreign transaction fees may be waived.
Penalty fees: Let’s face it, card issuers are not known for their sense of humor. Expect to pay penalty fees if you mess up. Issuers may charge fees for late payments, exceeding your credit limit, returned payments, and returned checks. The best cards may waive some of these penalty fees.
Never sign up for a card without first understanding all the fees you may encounter. If you frequently travel internationally, look for cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees.
7. What is the Difference between Good and Excellent Credit?
You should be proud of achieving good, very good, or excellent credit. The main differences between good and excellent credit are the credit card offers with generous perks, the APR on your open balance, and the size of the credit limit.
You have excellent credit when your FICO score is in the 800-850 range. When you join this exalted cohort, you can usually qualify for a credit limit of $10,000 or more, sometimes way more. In addition, look for juicy perks like free access to airport lounges, special concierge service, and VIP tickets to exclusive events and venues.
A very good or excellent credit score may allow you to get a high-limit card, such as the Amex Platinum Card or the Visa® Black Card. The Visa Black Card provides an initial credit limit of $20,000 to $25,000, assuming you meet the requirements for income. You also get 24-hour concierge service, VIP airport lounge access, periodic luxury gifts, and top-level travel insurance, eligible purchase protections, and warranty extensions.
8. How Can I Raise My Credit Score from Good to Excellent?
If you’ve achieved a good credit score, you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting necessary to earn an excellent credit score of 800 or higher. The path to excellence requires a commitment to use your credit cards in ways that positively impact your credit score.
Your fundamental strategy should be to continue paying all your bills on time, as this accounts for 35% of your credit score. This shouldn’t be too hard for you since you’ve already earned a good or very good score. You also will want to maintain a low credit utilization ratio (i.e., equal to credit used divided by credit available, comprising 30% of your score), preferably below 20%.
A long credit history length is helpful, so don’t cancel credit cards that you no longer use. Instead, use them at least once a year so that each credit bureau doesn’t treat them as dormant. This factor comprises 15% of your credit score.
The two remaining factors, credit mix and new credit, each comprise 10% of your credit score. A wide credit mix includes revolving credit accounts, personal loans, auto loans, mortgages, loans from financial companies, and student loans. Refrain from opening new credit accounts while trying to improve your credit, since it can hurt your credit score.
Don’t think of attaining an excellent score as a goal, but rather more as a lifestyle. Good financial habits generate positive momentum the longer they continue uninterrupted. The payoffs far exceed that of just owning the best credit cards, for you’ll benefit from excellent credit all the days of your life.
9. What is the Best Balance Transfer Card for Good Credit?
Balance transfers are a way to consolidate your unsecured credit card debt. It’s advantageous in a couple of ways:
You may be able to reduce your interest rate on the transferred amount, especially when you take advantage of a 0% introductory APR offer. These offers typically run for six to 18 months after account opening.
You replace multiple payments per month with a single one, which is easier to schedule and reduces your monthly minimum payment totals. This way, you can concentrate on paying down a single card balance.
You can arrange balance transfers by contacting a customer representative as soon as you receive your new card. Give the rep a list of accounts from which you want to transfer balances to the new card under the 0% APR promotion. The rep will walk you through the process and arrange the transfers.
The process can take up to three weeks to complete. Remember to make at least the minimum payments to your old cards until you receive confirmation that their balances have been transferred out. Failure to do so can result in late fees and damage to your credit score.
You should be prepared to pay a fee for each balance transfer. The new card’s information disclosure lists the fee, which is usually around 3% to 5% of the transferred amount with a minimum fee of $5 or $10.
It’s important to refrain from using your old cards until you pay off your consolidated balance on the new card. If you run up new balances on your old cards, you’ll be in an even deeper hole for debt, raise your credit utilization ratio, and hurt your credit score. Do not cancel the old cards, even if you no longer plan to use them because it may hurt your credit score by truncating your credit history.
The total amount you can transfer to the new card depends on your credit limit, your current balance, and the transfer fee. Some issuers may impose a limit on how much you can transfer within a specified period. For example, if your new card’s credit limit is $7,000 and the fee is 5% (which works out to $350), then the most you can transfer is $7,000 minus $350, or $6,650, assuming your starting balance is $0.
We like the Citi® Simplicity Card for balance transfers. It offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for new cardmembers, but be aware of a few caveats:
You must complete your balance transfers within four months of account opening.
You will be charged interest on your purchases if you don’t pay your entire balances (including balance transfers) by each month’s due date.
The length of the introductory 0% APR promotion for balance transfers.
The deadline for transferring balances under the 0% APR promotion.
The regular APR once the introductory offer expires.
The balance transfer fees.
Credit limit and balance transfer caps.
Do not confuse a 0% APR balance transfer offer with deferred interest. When you do use the balance transfer offer, the interest on your transferred amount is waived until the offer expires, at which time the card begins to charge interest on any remaining balance.
By contrast, a deferred interest offer requires you to pay off the entire balance before the promotional period expires, or you’ll be retroactively charged all the interest that accrued during the promotion period.
10. How Can I Increase My Credit Limit?
Increasing your credit limit isn’t intrinsically good or bad — it depends on your unique circumstances. If you’ve exhibited responsible financial habits for at least half a year and you can afford to repay a higher balance, then a higher limit can help improve your lifestyle. But if you’ve been late making payments or have maxed out your current cards, a new credit limit may make a bad situation worse.
Increasing your credit limit offers several benefits, including:
A lower credit utilization ratio if you don’t use all of the new credit limit. A lower CUR can help boost your credit score.
A safety cushion to handle financial emergencies.
Access to more rewards from your card.
Ability to charge larger purchases.
A credit increase is like a favorable reference — it may help you secure lower rates on new loans.
Perhaps the simplest option is to apply for a new credit card. The new card’s credit limit will increase your total credit available. A nifty trick is to apply for a new card from your current card issuer and then ask the issuer to reallocate some of your new credit line to your old card.
If you’d rather not apply for a new card, you can ask one of your current card issuers to increase the limit on an existing card. Doing so will require the issuer to pull your credit report from a credit bureau, which may reduce your credit score by five to 10 points for up to a year.
In the process, the issuer will see if you’ve already made several attempts to increase your score or have recently applied for new cards. That may weigh against you if the issuer concludes that you’re in a desperate financial situation. You can counter that conclusion by explaining why you deserve, rather than need, a higher limit.
You have an exemplary record of on-time payments that always exceeds the minimum amount due.
You pay off your balance each month.
Your earnings have increased since you opened the account.
You recently graduated from college, now have income, and want to upgrade from your student credit card. It may be difficult to increase your credit limit on a student credit card.
You have a low credit utilization ratio. Try to get your CUR below 10% to 20% before requesting a higher limit.
You’re a long-time customer and have never missed a payment.
You plan to use the higher limit, in part, to finance balance transfers from other cards.
When you chitchat with the customer rep, be respectful and friendly. Sounding like you’re at your wits’ end will almost certainly send the rep running in the opposite direction. Also, ask for a reasonable increase — say 10% to 25% — so that you don’t come off as a shopaholic chomping at the bit to spend, spend, spend.
One of the favorite cards for higher credit limits is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. A few cardholders report a six-figure credit limit, but a more reasonable amount is $10,000 to $20,000. In addition, the card has a generous signup bonus, good rewards, and plenty of perks.
11. How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?
The ideal number of credit cards is really a personal question, depending on your income, spending habits, and the size of your wallet. Are two enough? Are 40 too many? The answer hinges on a few practical considerations.
The average American consumer owns four credit cards, and most consumers can benefit from having at least one card. It’s an easy way to establish your credit profile, something you’ll need if you ever apply for loans, including mortgages and auto loans. Beyond loans and credit, having a good credit profile helps with renting an apartment, landing a job, surviving a background check, and opening a utility or cellphone account.
You’ll need at least six months of credit card usage to establish your credit score. Continuing to use your credit card will help your credit score by increasing the age of your credit history. Naturally, a good score also depends on paying your bills on time and controlling your debt levels.
The chief reason to own multiple credit cards is to maximize rewards. Cards may target various types of rewards, such as travel, business expenses, dining out, grocery shopping, purchasing gasoline at the pump, etc. By carefully diversifying your credit card portfolio, you can use the right card to get the biggest reward for every purchase.
For example, your first card may offer 5% cash back on grocery purchases and 1% on all other purchases. If you plan to take a vacation, you would do well to obtain a travel card with high rewards for flights and hotel stays, as well as various forms of travel insurance.
Perhaps you drive a lot and could benefit from a gas card. Or you own a small business and want a business credit card to benefit from your purchases of office supplies and communications services. From these examples, you can see how easy it is to work your way up to three or four cards that amply reward all your credit card purchases.
A second card can act as a backup if you max out or lose your primary card. In addition, diversifying your credit card portfolio with cards from different card networks helps when a merchant doesn’t accept all cards. For example, American Express cards are accepted at fewer U.S. locations than are cards from Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.
12. Do You Need Good Credit to Get Store Credit Cards?
Store credit cards are among the easiest of the unsecured cards (rather than secured cards) to get. They are available to consumers with bad credit, although the credit limits may be tight. Some store cards are closed-loop (i.e., can be used only at the issuing store), while others are open-loop and can be used as general credit cards.
Store credit cards may be co-branded with a card network and associated with an issuing bank or credit union. For many consumers, an open-loop card is generally more versatile and rewarding than a closed-loop one. However, if you have fair credit or poor credit, you may have better luck being approved for a closed-loop card.
Among the closed-loop store cards, we give the Target REDcard high marks. You get a 5% discount for online or in-store Target purchases and access to exclusive deals while paying no annual fee. Like many store cards, this one has a relatively high APR, so you want to avoid carrying a balance over multiple billing cycles.
If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you very likely own or have considered owning the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Although there is a version available for non-Prime consumers, you’ll only get full benefits if you are a Prime member.
The Fingerhut Credit Account is easy to obtain if you have bad credit and is a good way to start building credit with responsible use. The account can be used for purchases at the Fingerhut online store. The initial modest credit limit may be automatically increased over time if you pay your bill when due.
If a store card rather than a secured card is your first credit card, keep in mind that it isn’t the store shopping that builds your credit. Rather, you can build your credit by paying the associated issuing bank on time each month. For example, WebBank issues the Fingerhut Credit Account and reports payment activity to the three major credit bureaus.
13. What Kind of Interest Fees Can I Expect to Pay?
The primary interest fee for credit cards is known as the annual percentage rate or APR. If you have a good credit score, you can expect an average APR of around 20%, give or take a few percentage points. However, if you pay your full balance every month, then your APR is 0% (and the credit card companies will be less than thrilled with you).
Although the APR is an annual rate, you actually are billed in monthly billing cycles. The payment due date is typically 21 to 25 days after the last day of the billing cycle, known as the grace period. For purchases, you only pay interest on balances remaining after the grace period expires.
However, cash advances incur interest daily — there is no grace period. The cash advance APR need not match the purchase APR nor the balance transfer APR, all of which will be disclosed in the standard Schumer Box required by the federal Truth in Lending Act. In fact, the Schumer Box discloses all interest rates and fees your card can charge.
Credit card companies calculate your interest charges by applying a daily percentage rate (DPR), which is your APR divided by 365. It then applies the DPR to the average daily carried balance for the cycle times the number of days in the cycle. If you don’t carry a balance from previous cycles, then you won’t incur any interest.
In addition to the purchase, cash advance, and balance transfer APRs, you also may encounter a penalty APR that can replace the standard APR when you commit an infraction such as:
Making a late payment.
Making a payment that is returned, such as when you pay by check and the check bounces.
Exceeding your credit limit.
A penalty APR can remain in effect indefinitely. One other interest-related disclosure you’ll find in the Schumer Box is the minimum interest charge if you are charged any interest. Typically, the minimum interest charge is well under $5.00.
14. What is a Good Credit Card APR?
If you peruse the information in this review article for good credit cards, you’ll see an approximate APR range of 13.99% to 25.49%. This is a variable APR, meaning the range adjusts to changes in the Prime Rate.
The APR you will be offered depends on your creditworthiness. Within the score range for good credit, a 670 score will probably pay the maximum APR, whereas you may receive the minimum APR with a 799 credit score.
Typically, credit cards for good credit offer introductory 0% APR promotions to new cardmembers. The offer allows you to avoid interest payments on carried balances for purchases or balance transfers during the introductory period (typically six to 18 months). These promotions do not apply to cash advances.
The 0% APR promotion, coupled with a signup bonus, can help you finance big-ticket purchases. A signup bonus gives you extra rewards (bonus points, cash back, or miles) when you spend a specified amount on purchases during the bonus period (usually three months). The trick is to obtain a new card with the highest signup bonus and the longest promotional period, and then use the card to make your expensive purchase(s).
For example, imagine you need a new refrigerator that’s going to cost $1,500. After researching your options, you get a card that offers (1) a $200 cash back bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months and (2) a 15-month 0% APR on purchases by new cardmembers. By using the card to purchase your appliance, you save $200 and can finance the remaining $1,300 over 15 months (i.e., paying $86.67/month) interest-free.
15. Is Visa or Mastercard Better?
There really isn’t much difference between Visa and Mastercard except for size. Both process credit card transactions and facilitate payments from card issuers to merchants. Neither Visa nor Mastercard issues its own credit cards, in contrast to the American Express and Discover networks.
Visa is the largest card network, generating in 2019 $23 billion in total revenue with payment volume of $8.8 trillion. Mastercard is runner-up, with total revenue of $16.9 billion and payment volume of $6.5 trillion. Both are equally accepted in the U.S. by about 9 million merchants (as is Discover), but the situation may vary in other countries.
Merchants pay about the same processing fees for both networks. That fee per transaction is 1.43% to 2.4% for Visa and 1.55% to 2.6% for Mastercard.
Each credit card is associated with a card network. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ only comes as a Mastercard, so if you’d rather own a Visa card, you’ll need to make a different selection. We think most cardmembers don’t really care whether a card has a Mastercard logo or the Visa insignia.
If you travel internationally, you may prefer a card network that has greater acceptance at your destination. Also, although Visa and Mastercard share most of the same fringe benefits, either may offer a unique or better perk that sways your decision. For example, a World Elite Mastercard® offers superior concierge service, travel upgrades, and savings.
16. What is the Best Credit Card Company?
A reasonable way to pick the best credit card company is to assume that it’s the one preferred by most consumers. On that basis, Chase was Number One in 2019 with 16.6% of the market share. Citi was runner-up, having a market share of 11.6%.
Chase is popular for several reasons, including:
A wide variety of cards.
Generous reward programs and signup bonuses.
Cards with rewards in the form of cash back, points, or miles.
Excellent cards for travel, business, and balance transfers.
Chase offers some of our highest-rated credit cards, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex℠, and Chase Sapphire Reserve®. But really, any Chase credit card is a good addition to your wallet, with some of the most lucrative rewards in the biz.
The Chase Sapphire twins are among our favorite travel reward cards, offering numerous perks that make travel more secure and enjoyable. Many Chase cards benefit from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program where redeemed rewards are worth more when applied to travel.
Citibank issues Citi cards, the Number Two card with 11.6% of the market share. Citibank is a huge financial institution with branches in 36 countries and operations in 140 nations. It has roots going back to Alexander Hamilton but now serves more than 2 million customers.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is our favorite card from this issuer. It is unique in that it pays you unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases when you buy and another 1% when you pay. The card charges no annual fee, provides enhanced card security, eligible purchase protection, and gives you special access to entertainment events.
17. Which Credit Cards Give You Instant Approval?
Do you crave instant approval? Fill that hole in your psyche with an instant approval credit card. Just bear in mind that instant approval can also mean instant (or prolonged) disapproval — no issuer can guarantee approval.
When you apply for a credit card, the issuer does a hard inquiry on your credit report, a move that can lower your credit score by five to 10 points for up to a year. If that concerns you, know that most credit cards let you prequalify without damage to your credit score. Simply submit the online request form with information about your income and expenses to see whether your application can expect clear sailing.
In any event, if you have good credit, chances are that most credit cards will approve you right away — that is, in a few minutes at most. But some cards have erected barriers that don’t have anything to do with your credit score. Perhaps the most notorious of these is the Chase 5/24 Rule.
The rule limits your access to new Chase credit accounts when you’ve opened five or more credit or charge accounts in the last 24 months. We don’t mean five Chase accounts — it applies to any five credit accounts. We’re not sure how long you have to wait past the 24-month period before reapplying for a new Chase card.
Citi restricts new cards using the 8/65/95 Rule. This is shorthand for the following restrictions:
You must wait eight days to apply for a second card after applying for another Citi card.
You must wait 65 days before applying for a third Citi card.
You must wait 95 days before applying for a second Citi business credit card.
Unlike the Chase Rule, the Citi 8/65/95 Rule applies only to Citi accounts.
American Express has a 4/4 Rule in which you can own a maximum of four Amex credit cards and for Amex charge cards. Capital One has an even simpler limit: You can own no more than two Capital One credit cards. Some loopholes may exist — for example, co-branded Capital One cards may not count toward the limit.
Discover also limits you to two of its cards at any one time. You must have owned the first card for a year before getting the second card.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy on .
About the Author
Eric Bank has been covering business and financial topics since 1985, specializing in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences. In addition to his work on CardRates.com, Eric has appeared regularly on Credible.com, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Get.com, Zacks, Chron and dozens of other outlets. A former software engineer, Eric holds an M.B.A. from New York University and an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.
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