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Best credit cards for excellent credit of September 2021

Achieving excellent credit takes hard work. CardRatings editors reveal the best credit cards which reward those with excellent credit scores.
Jennifer Doss, CardRatings Editor Last Updated, September 8, 2021

Best credit cards for excellent credit

TOP CREDIT CARDS FOR EXCELLENT CREDIT

Don't let your excellent – and hard-earned – credit score gather dust. Use it to cash in on the amazing perks and features only those with your level of credit receive with our tops picks for the best credit cards for excellent credit from our partners.

The reality is that your top score makes you a hot commodity for credit card issuers because you've shown you know how to handle credit and you are likely to be a low-risk cardholder, also known as a person who uses their card and pays off the balance. In other words, you're the golden goose of credit card customers and issuers are willing to throw their best features, perks and rewards your way in hopes of landing you as a cardholder. 

There's nothing wrong with being wooed by highly-coveted rewards, perks and features. All those extras could ultimately save you money, and not just when it comes to the rewards. Cards for people with excellent credit often feature some "fine print" features like auto rental insurance or travel reimbursements or purchase protections that will save you money because you won't be buying those features separately.

The cards below reflect our picks for individuals with excellent credit and they range from offers of travel rewards to cash back to low interest; there are even options for business credit cards, which often feature some of the best bonuses on the market.

BEST NO-ANNUAL-FEE CREDIT CARD

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
With this card you'll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all non-bonus category purchases, which is a step up from what you'll earn on "other" purchases from most no-annual-fee credit cards. If you don't mind strategizing with your cards, this card has no annual fee so it's a great one to work into your rewards-earning strategy to help you optimize the amount of cash-back you earn.

The Bonus: Enjoy a $200 cash-back bonus once spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account, plus an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months (then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable). Also, rack up 5% cash back on grocery store purchases up to $12,000 spent during your first year (excludes Target and Walmart purchases).

The Annual fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining at restaurants and on drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

PROS:

  • If you have a large purchase to make and need some extra time to pay it off, you're sure to love the intro 0% APR offer that comes with this card. (Regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR applies after the intro period.)
  • Because this card has no annual fee, it's great for both those looking to amp up their rewards-earning strategy with a solid "everyday" card, as well as for those who just want something simple to use without worrying about any extra costs.
  • The new card member bonus is a good offer for a no-annual-fee card.

CONS:

  • Even though there is no annual fee this card does charge for foreign transaction fees so it’s not the best card to travel abroad with.
  • The 1.5% rate for all non-bonus category purchases is solid, but to make the most of this card, you might need to strategize a bit.

Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 82.8 86.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.6
Customer Service 8.5 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH FLAT-RATE REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Sometimes simplicity is the greatest reward of all when it comes to rewards credit cards. This card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day, making it a great option for anyone who doesn't want to worry about categories or spending caps.

The Bonus: Earn a one-time $200 cash-back bonus after you spend $500 on purchases with in the first three months of account opening. Plus, take advantage of an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases (then, 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)).

The Annual fee: $0

The Rewards:  Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no caps or categories to worry about.

PROS:

  • The 1.5% cash back earned on every purchase is great for a no-annual-fee card.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees so you can use this card without worry while traveling abroad. This is rare for a no-annual-fee cash-back credit card.
  • This card has some of the best benefits on the market for a no-annual-fee card including a new cardmember bonus of $150 cash back earned after you spend $500 in the first three months from account opening.

CONS:

  • The straightforward cash back earning of 1.5% on every purchase is great for simple rewards, but there are cards on the market with higher rewards on specific categories that you could maximize your rewards earning with.
  • Paying no annual fee is great, but if you plan to use your card often, choosing an annual fee card that offers higher rewards might be worth it. With regular use, offsetting the fee shouldn't be too difficult.

Read our full review of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 89 85
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.9 8.4
Customer Service 8.9 8.5
Website/App Usability 8.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.3 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.9 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH TIERED REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
 This is a unique rotating-category/tiered-rewards card hybrid, meaning it offers a ton of point-earning potential. Not only can you earn up to 5% cash back each month in rotating categories, but there are a number of static bonus categories as well that you can earn bonus rewards in all year long. If you're okay with being strategic with your card use, you stand to earn a lot of rewards with this card.

The Bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. Plus, earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) during your first year.

The Annual fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases in quarterly bonus categories when you sign up (then 1%). Additionally, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3% at restaurants and on drugstore purchases, and 1% on all other eligible purchases.

PROS:

  • Enjoy intro 0% APR on new purchases for 15 months (then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).
  • Take advantage of up to $1,000 a year in cell phone insurance when paying your monthly cell phone bill with your Flex℠ card.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership for free two-day shipping from more than a hundred online retailers and complimentary three-month DoorDash DashPass, followed by a 50% discount for the following nine months.

CONS:

  • This isn't a great card to travel internationally with as it charges foreign transaction fees.
  • Although it earns 5% back on Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel purchases, this isn't really a travel card. That's a nice perk, but keep in mind, you won't earn bonus rewards on travel purchases outside this portal.

Read our full Chase Freedom Flex℠ review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 84.2 Did not survey
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 n/a
Customer Service 8.6 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.3 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR CARDHOLDER-CHOICE REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
The option to choose your top rewards category from a list of six plus solid rewards for everyday spending and the opportunity to earn up to 25%-75% more on purchases makes this a great cardholders-choice card, particularly if you already bank with Bank of America.

The Bonus: Earn $200 in online cash rewards after making $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 3% cash back in your choice category (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishing) and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and earn an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. Update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the mobile banking app or online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.

PROS:

  • As a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client (membership and tiers are based on a three-month average balance across your eligible Bank of America accounts) you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on each purchase depending on your tier.
  • Because you're able to choose which category you earn the most rewards in, and you're able to update your category once each calendar month, this is a great card for maximizing rewards if your spending tends to be all over the place.
  • The welcome bonus of $200 (earned once spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account) is a nice offer, especially considering the fact that this card doesn't charge an annual fee.

CONS:

  • There's a lot of rewards-earning potential with this card, but be aware that there are spending caps for how many bonus rewards you can earn each quarter.
  • This card charges foreign transaction fees, so it's not the best option to travel internationally with.
  • Once you reach the bonus spending caps, and on all "other" purchases, you'll only earn 1%. This is pretty standard with tiered-rewards cards, but still, it is something to make note of.

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

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 88.1 84.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.9 8.5
Customer Service 8.9 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.8 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR EARNING REWARDS WHERE YOU SPEND THE MOST

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
With this card it doesn't matter where you spend the most. The card automatically rewards you for spending in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, then 1%) so using it is an easy way to earn rewards on purchases you regularly make. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: Spend $750 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account and you’ll receive 20,000 ThankYou® Points, worth $200.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (1% cash back thereafter) - there are no category enrollments to worry about or no need to juggle reward tiers. On everything else you purchase, you’ll get 1% cash back. Eligible 5% categories include: restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, fitness clubs, live entertainment, drugstores, and home improvement stores.

PROS:

  • Thanks to 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months (then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)) this is a good card if you have a large purchase coming up or if you need some time to pay off an existing balance interest free.
  • If you don't want to worry about rotating categories or category enrollments, this card may be a good fit for you as it automatically earns you bonus rewards in the eligible category where you spend the most.
  • The eligible bonus categories are popular spend categories, so it should be pretty easy to maximize rewards with this card.

CONS:

  • This card is ideal for those who don't want to worry about when and where they're spending money. If you're willing to keep up with rotating categories or a tiered-rewards structure, you may stand to earn more rewards with another card.
  • It's pretty normal for cash-back cards to charge foreign transaction fees, but even still, be aware that this may not be the best card to travel internationally with due to those fees.

Read our full Citi Custom Cash℠ Card review.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

BEST TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD FOR EVERYDAY PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This card earns 2X miles on every purchase you make, no matter the category, and your miles don't expire as long as the account is open and can be applied to flights, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises and more. The card comes with no foreign transaction fees when making purchases outside of the United States AND this card offers an application fee refund of up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application, a perk normally reserved for credit cards with much higher annual fees.

The Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.

The Rewards: Earn two times the miles per $1 spent on every purchase without a cap or category to consider. 

And another thing, you can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime and not have to worry about blackout dates. Plus, you can transfer your miles to numerous leading travel loyalty programs.

The Annual Fee: $95

PROS:

  • Enjoy up to a $100 application fee credit to cover Global Entry or Pre✓™ membership.
  • This card does not have foreign transaction fees so it’s great to use on your next trip abroad.
  • With the ability to earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase, the travel rewards with the Venture card are as straightforward as it gets.
  • The ability to use the Purchase Eraser feature is incredibly valuable. After making a qualifying travel purchase, simply redeem your miles as a statement credit against that purchase.

CONS:

  • Earning 2X miles on every purchase is certainly easy to understand, however there are alternative travel rewards cards on the market that have higher points earning potential.
  • The current partner airlines with the Venture card are not the most common or frequently used for rewards travel so transferring points may not provide as much value as other card programs.
  • The annual fee is $95, so you'll need to be sure you can cover it with the rewards and benefits.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.6 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.2
Customer Service 8.3 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST LOW-ANNUAL-FEE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to many frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, so you aren't tied down to a single brand with this card. Plus, points are worth 25% more towards travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. And, importantly, the card is currently offering it's best-ever signup bonus.

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That's worth $1,250 in travel.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards® portal; three points per $1 on dining (including takeout and delivery), online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholdsale clubs), and on select streaming services; two points per $1 on travel; and earn one point per $1 on everything else. Plus earn five points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's three points in addition to the two points you already earn on travel. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to numerous frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.

The Annual Fee: $95

PROS:

  • The new cardmember 100,000-point bonus offer after $4,000 spent in three months of membership is an unbelievably valuable bonus offer, so don't miss out.
  • As an Ultimate Rewards® earning card, the points earned with the Sapphire Preferred® can be combined into a single pot and redeemed, potentially, at a higher value.
  • The points earned with this card are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, meaning the bonus alone is worth $1,250 in travel.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is something to keep in mind if you prefer a no annual fee card.
  • No introductory 0% APR balance transfer or purchase offer.
  • If you are not a frequent traveler there are other cards on the market with higher points earning potential.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 82.3 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.3 8.3
Customer Service 8.4 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR GROCERY PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Grocery purchases are just one of those things we all have to make, like it or not. Might as well get rewarded for it. This card earns a whopping 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases, on up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases made on the card within the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 within the same time frame. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

The Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

The Rewards: The card offers 6% cash back on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% cash back on purchases made at U.S. gas stations and on transit including trainand bus fares, rideshares, parking, tolls and more; and 1% cash back on other purchases.

PROS:

  • The welcome bonus for new cardholders gets membership off to a nice start.
  • The everyday rewards earning with this card is great. The card allows you to earn 6% cash back for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit like parking, tolls, taxis, bus fares and more; and earn 1% back on all your other purchases.
  • This card is currently offering intro 0% APR for 12 months on new purchases (then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable).

CONS:

  • One downside to this card is that it is an American Express card, which still isn’t as widely accepted as cards issued by Visa or Mastercard.
  • The card does charge foreign transaction fees and has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. annual fee.
  • There is a minimum redemption amount of $25 with the card, which eliminates some of the smaller redemption options available with some other cards.

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

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.0 86.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.6 8.3
Customer Service 8.7 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.8 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.9 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.8 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CARD FOR RESTAURANT PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
There's a lot of value here even with an above-average annual fee. Consider, for instance, that cardholders earn 4X Membership Rewards® points for charges at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year).

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first six months. You can also earn up to $10 total in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed, Ruth's Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.

The Annual Fee: $250

The Rewards: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points for charges at restaurants including takeout and delivery, and 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases each year, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com and 1x points on all your other purchases.

PROS:

  • One of the biggest benefits of this card is the points earning potential, especially on dining out. The Gold card earns 4X Membership Rewards® points for charges at restaurants and 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases each year, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com and 1x points on all your other purchases.
  • Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year. Plus, get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • Earn up to $10 total in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed, Ruth's Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required. 
  • The new cardmember bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points earned after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months can get you well on your way to your next points redemption.

CONS:

  • Unlike typical credit cards, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
  • The annual fee is relatively high, especially for those who won’t be able to take advantage of the travel and dining benefits to help offset the fee.
  • The overall rewards earning with the Gold card is good, however the travel rewards earning being higher only on specific travel purchases made through American Express can be a bit of a barrier compared to other travel rewards cards that offer higher points earning on most travel purchases.

Read our full review of the American Express® Gold Card.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 88.9 84.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.3
Customer Service 9.1 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.9 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.7 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CREDIT CARD FOR THE WELCOME BONUS OPPORTUNITY

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This card offers plenty of opportunity rake in some serious cash back, especially given the match offered after your first year as a cardholder. Not bad for a card with no annual fee.
  • 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.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor's Business Daily.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
See More

PROS:

  • One of the biggest benefits of the Discover it cash card is that Discover will match all the cash back new cardholders earn during their first year as a member.
  • 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. Great for a no-annual-fee card.
  • Discover announces the quarterly earning categories at the beginning of the year, so for those that want to maximize points earning you can plan ahead.

CONS:

  • If you prefer to not plan in order to maximize the rewards on your purchases, this card may not be for you. With rotating quarterly categories of bonus spend, this card can take some work to maximize rewards earning.
  • The 1% cash back earned on non-bonus categories is low and there may be other cards on the market, depending on your spending habits, that help you to earn more rewards.

Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.7 88.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 9.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.6 8.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR PREMIUM TRAVEL PERKS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are valuable and flexible. This card takes what you love about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and gives it a luxury polish. Sure, the annual fee is higher than typical, but your perks and features are tops and you have the chance to seriously offset that fee if you use your card regularly.

The Bonus: You'll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months; in this case, however, those points are worth up to $900 in travel since Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive 50% more value when redeeming points through Ultimate Rewards®.

Annual fee: $550

The Rewards: When you book through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, you earn 5x points on air travel and 10x points on car rentals and hotels after earning your annual travel reimbursement. Earn three times the points on dining at restaurants and on other travel that isn't eligible for the annual travel reimbursement (more on that below) and one point on everything else. Remember that Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to multiple frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, plus they're worth 50% more when redeemed through the Chase travel portal for cardholders.

Additional Features: Cardholders are eligible for up to $300 each account anniversary year in statement credit reimbursements to cover travel costs. Plus, you'll enjoy complimentary airport lounge access and a credit for your Global Entry application fee. Other perks include trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation and transportation coverage, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, and more.

PROS:

  • This card has some of the best travel benefits on the market including up to $300 in statement credits to cover travel purchases made each account anniversary year.
  • The rewards earning rates with this card are quite good with three points earned per $1 spent on dining and on most travel that isn't eligible for the annual $300 travel statement credit reimbursement and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases.Booking certain travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal earns even more (see the Card Details for more)
  • With no foreign transaction fees, this card will be a welcome companion on your next international trip.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is quite high.
  • Not everyone will be able to use travel benefits and statement credits, so if you are not a frequent traveler this isn't the right card for you.
  • The fee for authorized users is also a bit high at $75 per additional user.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 79.6 85.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.9 8.7
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CARD FOR AIR TRAVEL

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Though the fee for this card doesn't come cheap, it offers a lot of bang for your buck. For example: earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership; up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying pre-selected airline; up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue; access to the Global Lounge Collection®, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world; and more. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

The Annual fee: $695

The Rewards: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year); 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com; 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card, up to $25,000 in combined spending, at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. during your first six months of card membership; and 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

PROS:

  • The point earning for flightswith the this card is one of the highest on the market with 5X Membership Rewards points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel.
  • As a luxury travel rewards card, it should come as no surprise that the Amex Platinum has some of the best travel benefits on the market, including a $200 annual airline incidentals fee credit with a pre-selected airline.
  • The Membership Rewards points earned with the Platinum Card® are extremely valuable and the new cardmember bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points earned after spending $6,000 in the first six months can help to get you well on your way to your next redemption.

CONS:

  • If you are someone that prefers to have low or no annual fee cards the Amex Platinum will be a poor fit for you.
  • Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. If you are looking to carry a balance from month to month this probably isn’t the card for you.
  • As the card’s features and benefits are heavily skewed towards travel, if you are not a person who frequently travels then it may be difficult to justify the annual fee without taking advantage of the perks.

Read our full The Platinum Card® from American Express review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 87.8 88.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 9.1
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 9.1 8.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR GAS PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
A card that rewards you for hotel and airline purchases and for everyday expenses is somewhat hard to come by these days. With this card, you can have the best of both worlds.

The Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, worth $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.

The Annual Fee: $95

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 spent at gas stations, air travel and hotels; three points per $1 spent at restaurants and supermarkets; and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

PROS:

  • Traveling abroad? Don't forget to pack this card! It doesn't charge fees on foreign transactions, so it makes a good international travel companion.
  • Transfer ThankYou® Points to participating airline loyalty programs or redeem for a wide selection of gift cards at thankyou.com. Points can also be used to shop online at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com.
  • If you also have the Citi® Double Cash Card, you can combine rewards and convert your Double Cash rewards to ThankYou® Points.
  • Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com once per calendar year. If you frequently stay at hotels, this is a great perk that offsets the cost of the card.

CONS:

  • Looking for a no-annual-fee card? Unfortunately, this one charges a $95 fee. We think this is a fair cost considering the perks of the card, but it's something to keep in mind.
  • The redemption options are great for the right type of user, but if you prefer the flexibility of cash-back rewards, this might not be the best option for you.

Read our full Citi Premier® Card review.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

BEST REWARDS CREDIT CARD FOR BALANCE TRANSFERS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
First, you get your rewards as straight cash back: You don't have to redeem miles for travel or route them through particular investment accounts. And, secondly, this card rewards you for paying off your balance – something we always support. Furthermore, enjoy an 18 month intro period of 0% APR on balance transfers, a rare perk for rewards credit cards. (After the intro period, 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) applies.) 

The Bonus: The cash back applies whether you pay down your balance for your purchases all at once or over a number of months or years.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: You earn 1% back per $1 spent on every purchase, then earn another 1% back when you pay your balance (you must pay the minimum amount due on time to earn cash back). That brings your total cash back opportunity to 2% on every purchase with no caps or categories to think about. 

PROS:

  • The 2% cash back earning (after purchases have been paid) for all purchases is excellent for a no-annual-fee card.
  • This card is currently offering an intro 0% balance transfer APR, allowing you the flexibility to transfer a balance and save on interest. After the intro APR period, 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) will apply.
  • With the ability to earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase and an additional 1% when you pay for your purchase, the Double Cash Card incentivizes good credit behavior with great rewards.
  • If you also have the Citi Premier ® card, you can combine your earnings and convert your Double Cash rewards to ThankYou® Points to expand your redemption options.

CONS:

  • The intro 0% balance transfer APR offer is one of the best on the market, however this offer does not apply to new purchases, so if you are looking for an intro offer for new purchases this may not be the card for you.
  • This card charges foreign transaction fees, which you should keep in mind if you are planning to use it internationally.

Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 88.2 88.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 8.9
Customer Service 8.9 8.6
Website/App Usability 8.7 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.4 9.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.7 8.9

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR INTRO 0% APR

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This card gives you a year and a half of 0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases; at 18 months, this offer is hard to beat. After the intro periods expire, a regular APR of 13.74% - 23.74% Variable will apply.

The Bonus: There's no traditional bonus, but 18 months to pay off balances is a bonus in and of itself.

The Annual fee: $0

The Rewards:  This card doesn't offer traditional rewards. Again, its main selling point is its generous intro 0% APR period, and its potentially low ongoing APR.

PROS:

  • We can't say it enough: 18 months of intro 0% APR is a very solid offer. If you have some large expenses on the horizon, or you have balances on other cards you need to pay off, and need some more time to make that happen, this card could be a great fit for you.
  • This card doesn't charge annual fees so you can enjoy the intro 0% APR periods without worrying about paying anything extra while you do so.
  • Enjoy pre-sale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, entertainment and sporting events through Citi Entertainment®.

CONS:

  • There is no welcome bonus for new cardholders.
  • There are no traditional ongoing rewards offered with this card.
  • This card charges foreign transaction fees so it's probably not the best fit for overseas travel.

Read our full Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 80.5 Did not survey
Features Satisfaction 7.9 n/a
Customer Service 8.4 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.4 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.5 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST LOW INTEREST CREDIT CARD

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
With its comparatively low 7.49% to 17.99% Variable APR, no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, this is a good card to have on hand if you anticipate needing to carry a balance.

The Bonus: Earn a $100 credit after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening.

The Annual fee: $0

The Rewards:  There are no traditional rewards earned on purchases made with this card. Instead, you can think of the potentially low APR rate as your reward as a low APR could save you a ton in interest charges if you need to carry a balance.

PROS:

  • With its comparatively low 7.49% to 17.99% Variable APR, the PenFed Gold Visa® Card has one of the lowest rates available on the market today.
  • With no annual fee, the card can be used without having to budget for the expense of just owning the card.
  • This card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees so it's a good one to pack for any trips abroad.

CONS:

  • There are no ongoing rewards offered on purchases made with the card.
  • This isn't a flashy card. There aren't a ton of perks to attract new cardholders, however, a low APR could be one of the biggest perks of all depending on your financial situation.

Read our full PenFed Gold Visa® Card review.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

BEST BUSINESS CREDIT CARD FOR CELL PHONE INSURANCE

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are flexible, valuable and combine-able, making them especially attractive to business owners. With this card, you can rack up those points with your business' everyday purchases and then combine them with Ultimate Rewards® points you earn through other cards on the system – even your personal cards. Additionally, if you pay your cellular bill with the card, the primary line as well as all phone listed on that account will receive cell phone insurance against covered damage and theft (terms and deductibles apply).

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points, worth $1,250 in travel when you redeem through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, after spending $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. On an ongoing basis, Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 25 % more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The Annual fee: $95

The Rewards:  Cardholders earn three points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 in combined spending each year on travel; shipping costs; Internet, cable, and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. You also earn one point per $1 spent on all your other purchases as well as on your bonus purchases after hitting that $150,000 cap annually.

PROS:

  • The welcome bonus of 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account is one of the highest on the market. That bonus is worth a whopping $1,250 when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal.
  • At $150,000, the cap on rewards earning spend on bonus categories is quite high so depending on your businesses’ spending habits this card can help you to continue earning bonus rewards as your spending grows.
  • The rewards earning of three points per $1 spent on up to $150,000 combined spending annually on travel expenses; shipping costs; Internet, cable, and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines is very good. All other spending earns one point per $1.

CONS:

  • While the $150,000 cap on purchases in bonus categories is quite high for many, if your business may exceed that amount of spend in those categories you may want to look for a card that has a higher limit of bonus rewards earning.
  • There is an annual fee of $95, so if you are looking to keep your business expenses low there may be alternative small business cards on the market that could be a better fit.
  • If your business has varied spend in many different categories that are not covered by the Ink Preferred, a flat rate rewards earning card may be a better fit for your business as this card is geared towards specific kinds of purchases.

Read our full Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 83.4 81.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.5 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.0
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 7.9

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

This card pairs quite well with other cards in the Chase Ink family, including the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card  and the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (below). Neither of these cards charges an annual fee, but both offer the opportunity to rack up higher amounts of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in certain categories. The savvy credit card user will carry all three cards, use whichever one earns the most rewards for a given purchase and then combine all those rewards under your Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card through which you'll receive 25% more value for those rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.


BEST FOR FLEXIBLE BUSINESS SPEND

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This is a sort of no-annual-fee version of the card above. Yes, your bonus opportunity and ongoing rewards rate are a bit lower, but you don’t have to worry about offsetting an annual fee, and you'll earn bonus rewards on every purchase you make, no matter the category.

The Bonus: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus enjoy 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases (then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable).

The Annual fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no caps or spending categories to worry about.

PROS:

  • The current cash back offer for new cardholders of $750 cash back earned after spending $7,500 in the first three months of card membership is highest we've ever seen on this card.
  • With 1.5% cash back earned on all purchases, you do not have to think about when and where you’re earning on purchases. You’ll automatically earn every time you swipe your card.
  • If your business needs to make some initial purchase, the 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable) is a great perk to help you get the supplies or equipment you need.

CONS:

  • For businesses with specific spend to particular retailers or categories, there may be other cards on the market that can help earn higher rewards than the flat-rate earning of this card.
  • If you will have extremely high spend, especially in particular categories, a card with an annual fee and bonus categories that align with that spend may worth it.
  • This card charges fees on foreign transactions, so you may want to leave it at home on your next trip abroad.

Read our full Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 71.6 78.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 6.9 7.8
Customer Service 7.1 7.9
Website/App Usability 7.2 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.4 7.7
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 7.7

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CARD FOR EARNING REWARDS WHERE YOUR BUSINESS SPENDS MOST

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
If you consistently make purchases in the same categories, this card greatly rewards you for it with 4X Membership Rewards® points on the two select categories where your business spends the most each month.

The Bonus: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the card within the first three months of opening an account.

The Annual Fee: $295

The Rewards: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points on the two select categories where your business spends the most each month and 1X point on all other purchases. The 4X point rate applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from the bonus categories each calendar year.

Additional Perks: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Since this card earns Membership Rewards® points, you can combine your earning here with the earning you may get with a personal card that earns these rewards.
  • Earn 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year. If you travel often, this is a really beneficial perk.

CONS:

  • Earning 4X points where you spend most is an excellent benefit if you steadily spend money on the same things, but if your expenses are all over the place, you may be better off with a card offering more flexibility.
  • The annual fee can easily be offset with the many benefits offered with this card, but it's still something to be taken into consideration.

Read our full American Express® Business Gold Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 84.3 83.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

WHAT ARE THE BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR EXCELLENT CREDIT?

This answer truly depends on what your expectations are from your credit card, but some of our favorite options include the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for cash back, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card for a long 0% intro APR period, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for travel rewards.

These cards all feature no, or a low annual fee, and plenty of perks to help keep you satisfied. Deciding which card if best for you though will depend on your spending habits and how you plan to use your card. For example, though the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is an excellent choice if you need an extended interest-free period to pay off a credit card balance or new purchases, it doesn't earn ongoing rewards, so it's not the best choice for someone wanting to rack up a ton of points on purchases. Opposite of this, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card earns 1.5% cash back on all non-bonus category purchases, but it doesn't offer an interest-free balance transfer period. It does, however, offer an intro 0% APR period on new purchases. And then while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might be great for those who love to eat out and travel, it's likely not the best choice for someone who rarely leaves home, especially considering the fact that the card carries an annual fee.

As you can see from these examples, while one card could be a perfect fit for one user, it might not do much for the next. It's important to do your research, and choose a card based on what works best for your spending habits, instead of just choosing the first card that sounds appealing to you.

WHY DO SOME CREDIT CARDS FOR EXCELLENT CREDIT HAVE ANNUAL FEES?

It can be a bummer when a credit card has an annual fee, and it's understandable when somebody thinks, "I'm not paying money to use a credit card."

We completely get that kind of thinking, but if that is your mindset, you may not be looking at the big picture.

Paying an annual fee for a credit card is often like paying a membership fee to a country club - or a membership fee to a bulk discount warehouse store. You pay the fee because the club or store has stuff you want, and there's a fee because the club or store is a business and has to make money somehow. In the country club case, you want to play golf or use the swimming pool or make good contacts. At the bulk warehouse store, which may be a better analogy, you're paying a fee to get access to a lot of great discounts. If you spend a lot at these stores and you get a lot of great discounts, you know that you'll save more money than the membership fee, and maybe a lot more money, making the membership fee worth it. The same idea applies to credit cards.

Credit cards that require excellent credit tend to come loaded with a lot of perks such as generous cash back rewards, credit card concierge services or travel benefits.

If you tend to not spend all that much, and you don't travel, some credit cards for excellent credit with annual fees may not be worth it for you, in which case you should look for a credit card without an annual fee. But if you do spend a lot on your credit cards every month, and especially if you're frequently traveling, those credit cards for excellent credit that come with annual fees could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. So, again, when you encounter these credit cards, consider the big picture before making any quick decisions.

WHAT BENEFITS COME WITH EXCELLENT CREDIT?

When you have excellent credit, you may feel like royalty. The excellent-credit credit cards that once wouldn't give you the time of day are now going to treat you like you're a favorite grandchild. With excellent credit comes excellent benefits, like cash back or rewards points that can be turned into cash or gift cards. You'll also now qualify for some really great welcome bonus opportunities. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, offers new cardholders the opportunity to earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points once spending $4,000 within three months of opening an account– a bonus worth as much as $1,250 when redeemed for travel!

You may also get some great travel benefits like free checked bags, or even reimburements such as up to $100 back to cover Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application costs, as is offered with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Assuming you're smart with your money and pay everything off on your credit card every month, basically, when you have an excellent-credit credit card, you're constantly going to be rewarded with discounts for spending money on things you'd have to spend money on anyway. But there's another excellent benefit that comes with having excellent credit, and that's that your interest rate tends to be lower than the average credit card holder. That can help you spend far less if you do end up having to carry a revolving balance for awhile; or at least you'll likely pay less in interest than a lot of people with credit cards that have higher annual percentage rates. Having excellent credit can also certainly help land the best deals when looking for financing for a house, a car or any sort of loan.

When you have excellent credit, lenders tend to trust that you're going to pay them back, and because of that, they want you as a customer, and so the excellent-credit credit cards will often give you the best deals.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CREDIT CARD

Having a stellar credit score doesn't make choosing the right credit card for you any easier. On the contrary, you probably have a wider selection from which to choose than someone with an average/fair credit score, so compiling your short list can be more time consuming. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Focus on what matters to you. If you always pay down your card balance in full each month, you never pay any interest, so you shouldn't worry about purchase APRs. If, on the other hand, you often carry forward card debt, you definitely want to focus on purchase APRs.
  • The right type of rewards. Earning miles, points or cash back can be a big deal, so make sure your new card maximizes earning opportunities for someone with your spending patterns. It should simultaneously let you redeem the sorts of rewards that fit your lifestyle.
  • The right rewards program. Some cards make you jump through hoops to maximize the rewards you earn; others make earning automatic. Pick the one you're going to get the most from.
  • Remember to protect yourself. If such things are important to you (and why wouldn't they be?), make sure the card you pick provides you with extended warranties, price and purchase protection, travel insurance, and more.
  • Be realistic about annual fees. Don't automatically reject a card just because it has an annual fee. Ask yourself whether the benefits it buys you are worth the cost.
  • On the other hand, don't apply for a credit card just because you can. Make sure you understand the level of financial responsibility you're ready to assume. Remember that having a credit card opens a lot of doors in terms of ease of use, security and, of course, rewards, but it also opens the door to temptation. You've worked hard for that high credit score; don't ruin it with a spending spree you can't afford even if an issuer is willing to approve you for one of these fantastic cards.

HOW CREDIT SCORES WORK

If you landed on this article, but you're a bit confused about what a credit score is and when it matter, we understand. There's a lot to keep up with when it comes to the topic. But here's the thing: your credit score will determine not only what credit cards you are most likely to be approved for, but also the interest rates on those cards as well as your likelihood of being approved for other types of loans and their interest rates as well.

Credit scores can even impact your insurance rates and, depending on your industry, whether a company decides to hire you. In other words, you need to understand the importance of credit scores and also have a good grasp of where yours stands (as well as how to improve it).

FICO score credit score range graph

Your individual score is determined by a variety of factors including the length of your credit history, the number and types of credit accounts or loans you have, what percentage of your available credit you're using at any given moment (your credit utilization), the number of times a lender has looked at your credit recently (these are called credit inquiries and they generally happen when you apply for a new loan or credit card) and how consistent you are about paying your bills on time, every time.

Some of these things, like the length of your credit history, you can't do much about besides wait for time to pass. But most of the factors are under your control. You can certainly control whether you'r paying your bills on time, keeping your overall utilization low (under 30% is the suggested amount) and only applying for cards/loans you truly need so as to avoid unnecessary credit inquiries.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED AN EXCELLENT CREDIT SCORE?

There are two major credit scoring systems used to evaluate your creditworthiness, and depending on which system you use, what qualifies as an excellent credit score can vary. These two systems, FICO and VantageScore, calculate credit scores based on the following factors:

FICO Score

A FICO score is based on data from the three major credit bureaus– Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion– which track people's credit information to generate a three-digit score ranging from 300 to 850 based on a person’s payment activities; the higher the score, the better.

how fico calculates credit scores pie chart

  • Payment history (counts as 35% of the score)
  • Credit utilization (30%)
  • Credit history length (15%)
  • New credit obtained (10%)
  • Mix of credit accounts (10%)

VantageScore

The VantageScore credit scoring model was developed in 2006 by the TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian credit bureaus in order to offer an alternative to FICO scores. Although it is not as widespread as the FICO scoring system, VantageScore has gained popularity in recent year as it is thought to provide a wider picture of a person’s credit history rather than just a snapshot. Scoring criteria is based on:

  • People's payment history (extremely influential)
  • The age and type of credit used (highly influential
  • Percentage of credit limit used (highly influential)
  • Total balances and debt people owe (moderately influential)
  • Recent credit behavior and inquiries made (less influential)
  • Amount of available credit (less influential)

VantageScore is similar to FICO in that it works on a 300 to 850 scale.

Credit score ranges:

According to the FICO score model, an excellent credit score is anything above 800 points. According the the VantageScore model, and excellent credit score is anywhere within the 750-850 range.

FICO Score vs VantageScore comparison chart

>>Learn more about FICO vs. VantageScore

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD EXCELLENT CREDIT?

Unfortunately, there's no one easy answer where we can say: "It'll take you four months and 11 days to reach a level of excellent credit."

Excellent credit is a little like snowflakes and fingerprints in that everybody's financial situation is a little different. If you're starting off from ground zero, where you've never had a credit card, you might find that you have an easier time building excellent credit than somebody who has spent the last decade wearing a wig, taking on an assumed name and hiding from debt collectors.

Wherever you're starting off, it could take years before you have excellent credit. That said, don't get discouraged– you can often see improvement with your credit score within months. So if you're trying to establish good financial habits, it may not take long before you go from, say, poor credit to fair credit, or fair credit to good credit, or good credit to excellent credit– but you probably won't go from poor to excellent credit in four or five months.

Lenders like to see a pattern of good behavior, and so three months of on time payments and not carrying revolving debt will make a difference, but it probably won't knock the socks of a lender. But an extended period of excellent financial habits should make a lender sit up and take notice.

DON'T HAVE EXCELLENT CREDIT? DON'T GIVE UP ON A CREDIT CARD!

CardRatings.com recommends that you do not apply for credit cards that require excellent credit if you don't have excellent credit. If you apply for multiple cards and are denied repeatedly, these multiple credit card inquiries can end up lowering your credit. If you don’t know your credit score, sign up for a free credit score, credit report card, as well as a personal credit analysis with our preferred partner, Credit Sesame. And if your credit score isn't strong, fret not – there are cards suited for every credit tier. Click the links on below to find a card that matches your credit.

>>Explore offers for Excellent creditGood credit, Fair credit and/or Poor credit

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); American Express® Business Gold Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees; terms apply);

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

Comment
40 Comments

Reviews
  1. THRIFTYMOM
    July 16, 2015 - 11:25 pm
    I have been using Citi Double Cash master card for more than 1 yr now. They are great. I use them everywhere (except Costco) from pumping gas to grocery store.
      Reply »  
  2. A. nonymouse
    July 14, 2015 - 11:29 pm
    Why aren't the interest rates for any of these cards listed? Everyone knows paying the balance within the grace period is the way to go but, in the event something goes awry... It seems that's not a factor in this article.
      Reply »  
    1. Amber Stubbs
      July 20, 2015 - 7:58 pm
      Since we cover several cards in this article, we want to focus on the key points of each card. So, for rewards cards we do not cover the interest rate because we would not recommend carrying a balance on most rewards cards. If you need to carry a balance your only focus should be finding the lowest rate since any rewards you earn will be more than offset by the interest.
        Reply »  
  3. Judith Mulenga
    July 13, 2015 - 12:56 am
    can someone evaluate Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express card. I just received an offer from them. Though I hold a credit card from BOA and Capital one. And capital one has been great to me and helping me with my credit score. So what are the benefits of AMERIEXM?
      Reply »  
  4. MMeinert
    July 04, 2015 - 8:18 pm
    REPLY TO JLBiggs June 05, 2015 at 4:01 pm, USAA has the best deal of all mentioned.
    *****
    ARE YOU SURE? IN WHAT AREA? I WOULD LIKE TO USE IT IF THERE IS AN ADVANTAGE.
      Reply »  
  5. Jeffrey Fissel
    July 01, 2015 - 11:47 pm
    American Express Preferred Cash card is the best card out there. Great rewards and generous cash back plus great customer service. The nominal fee is easily re cooped
      Reply »  
  6. Lisa
    July 01, 2015 - 1:09 pm
    You can call AmEx and ask them about your favorite stores, and they will check to see under which code that store submits their charges. Basically, it has to be primarily a grocery store and not a big department store with just a grocery section, not a discount club, not a convenience store that sells groceries, etc. This means NOT Wal-mart, Target, BJ's, Sam's Club, CVS, Walgreens, Aldi, etc. It works for me because I shop a lot at Price Chopper here in the northeast. Hope this helps.
      Reply »  
  7. MJPer
    June 21, 2015 - 2:43 pm
    Is there any way to find out which grocery stores and gas stations are eligible for the 6% cash back on the Amex Blue card. I would hate to apply and then find out the stores I frequent are not eligible.
      Reply »  
  8. JoAnnR
    June 16, 2015 - 7:20 pm
    I was surprised that Discover Card wasn't listed here either. Discover offers 1% back on all purchases and then each quarter offers 5% back on different purchases. Right now it's on travel.
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    1. Amber Stubbs
      June 16, 2015 - 10:01 pm
      We like the Discover it Card as well and it made our list of the best cash back cards.
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  9. MickinMD
    June 15, 2015 - 4:50 pm
    Having a few no-annual-fee cash back cards and using the right one at the right place and time pays off well.
    For example, Discover gave 5% cash-back at stand-alone gas stations from Jan-Mar, Chase's Freedom Visa does so from July-Sept, and Bank of America's Cash Rewards Mastercard gives 3% back the other months. The last two also give a $100 extra cash-back bonus if you charge $500 in the first 90 days. The Mastercard has a one-time 15% off deal for Five Guys ($6 on my $40 order) and similar ones for Panera Bread and Papa John's Pizza in June.

    I tried out the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card even though it has a $75 annual fee because it gave a $150 cash-back bonus for charging $1000 in 90 days and if gives 6% cash-back at stand-alone supermarkets. But since I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi, Walmart, etc. that don't apply, I'm switching to the no-annual fee American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card when my year is up in November. I just don't use the Blue Cash Preferred Card enough to pay for the annual fee when my other cards pay more cash back in various situations.
      Reply »  
    1. Amber Stubbs
      June 16, 2015 - 10:07 pm
      You are right about that. If you are card savvy, and willing to put in a little work, you can earn some serious cash back using a couple of cards that offer bonus cash back in certain spending categories and the no-fee card with the highest earn rate for everything else.
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  10. cathy carl
    June 14, 2015 - 1:13 pm
    Does everybody accept the citi double cash card? Is it a visa or mastercard?
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