If you tracked your GPA closely throughout your school years, it's easy to think that letter grades on your credit score carry some official weight. However, competition among credit bureaus and scoring companies has given modern scores more wiggle room than in the past.
You're probably accustomed to the numeric credit scores made popular by FICO. Back when that company was still called Fair Isaac, researchers there figured out a way to rate your credit on a scale from 350 to 850 points. Realistically, you're doing very well if you score above a 720, especially in today's economy.
Yet, over the past few years, other companies have gotten into the credit scoring business. Some financial pundits call their products "FAKO scores," since they resemble FICO's scoring system. Lately, we're seeing some credit reporting agencies summarize your credit score as a letter grade, making it easier for some of us to visualize where our scores fall on the scale.
What are credit score letter grades?
- A+ or A: An A+ credit score means you're always on time with your monthly payments, you only utilize a small fraction of your available credit, and you're well on your way to paying off any mortgage or auto loans in your name. This score should qualify you for the best credit cards on the market.
- B+ or B: Most Americans fall into this category. Like many of us, you've got one or two dings on your credit history. Or, the value of your home or vehicle may have fallen below the amount you still owe. You'll still likely qualify for many rewards credit cards and balance transfer offers.
- C+ or C: Something serious has happened. Maybe you lost your job, got sick, or simply spent more than you made. Multiple accounts have gone beyond 30 days late, more than once. You'll probably only get offers for credit cards for limited credit.
- D+: One or more of your accounts has fallen into collections. A secured credit card or another credit card for bad credit might help you improve your score.
- F: You've endured a bankruptcy, a repossession, a foreclosure, or another personal financial crisis. Right now, you'll need to consider credit cards for after bankruptcy for online shopping and purchase protection.
Remember, no score is ever hard and fast. Lenders often tweak scoring algorithms to fit their business models. Some specialty lenders will ignore a low credit score if you can offer proof of income, verified employment, or a security deposit. Check your credit reports at least every year to ensure that errors aren't dragging down your score.
Best credit cards for A+ credit
If you're an "A+" credit card user, congratulations! It's not easy to be a top student and you should be proud of your work. Now, don't let your excellent and hard-earned credit score gather dust. Cash in on the amazing perks and features only those with your level of credit can receive with our top picks for the best credit cards for A+ credit. And if you're a business owner, we've got rewarding options for you too. In fact, small business credit cards often have some of the highest bonus offers, so if you in any way fall into the small-business owner category, you'll definitely want to check these cards out!
Why We Like It: The wonderful thing about this card is that it earns two miles on every purchase you make, with no spending caps or categories to worry about. From groceries, to airfare to a night out on the town, each and every purchase you make with the card will earn you two miles per dollar. Talk about flexibility!
Redemption options are incredibly flexible as well. Redeem miles towards gift cards or transfer them to leading travel loyalty programs, or for the best value, simply erase eligible purchases by using your miles to cover the cost of a recent travel purchase.
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 PreCheck® application, a perk normally reserved for credit cards with much higher annual fees.
The Bonus: Receive a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
The Annual Fee: $95
The Rewards: Earn two times the miles per $1 spent on every purchase without a cap or category to consider. Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: Another great option for those seeking simplicity, or cash back, this no-annual-fee card is a great way to go. Sometimes simplicity is the greatest reward of all when it comes to rewards credit cards, and this card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
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 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)).
The Annual fee: $0
The Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no caps or categories to worry about. Read our full review of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Why We Like It: Because the points earned with this card are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, this card's welcome bonus is worth up to $750 in travel! New cardholders can earn 60,000 points once spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account. This is an excellent offer, especially for anyone with a big trip on the horizon! Bonuses aside, this card is an ideal fit for anyone who likes to eat out and travel often as it earns bonus rewards on these purchases
The Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That's worth $750 when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The Annual Fee: $95
The Rewards: Earn 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point on all other purchases. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to numerous frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, so you aren't tied down to a single brand with this card. Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.
Why We Like It: We love options and this card rewards you with the ability to choose where you'll earn top cash back from among a list of six popular, everyday categories. What's better than 3% back on your purchases? The ability to decide where you earn that 3% back!
The Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash-back bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days.
The Annual Fee: $0
The Rewards: Earn 3% back in a category of your choosing from among this list: gas, travel, dining, online shopping, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings. Earn 2% back on your grocery store and wholesale club purchases (3% and 2% back apply to the first $2,500 spent quarter in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases, then 1%) and 1% back on your other purchases. Plus, if you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can earn an additional 25%-75% more cash back on every purchases depending on your Preferred Rewards tier. Read our full Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.
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.
The Bonus: Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder. That means if you earn $200 cash back in your first year, that will become $400 after the match.
The Annual fee: $0
The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back in categories that rotate each quarter up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 spent each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases and once you reach the cap. Learn more about the Discover it® Cash Back card.
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 once making $6,000 in purchases in the first six months; up to $200 in statement credits 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 use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first six months.
The Annual fee: $695
The Rewards: 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; and 1X point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. Read our full The Platinum Card® from American Express review.
Best small business credit cards for A+ credit
Compare business credit cards with our full card lineup, or learn more about our top picks below:
Why We Like It: This card offers one of the biggest bonuses for new cardholders that we've ever seen, AND in the the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, one of our favorite point currencies. 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 a whopping $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. Read our full Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: Simplicity can be a great reward when it comes to earning cash back for your business. With this card you'll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase made, every day, with no limits. It's as simple, and rewarding, as that.
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 13.99% - 19.99% Variable).
The Annual fee: $0
The Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no caps or spending categories to worry about. Read our full Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: Another great option in the Chase Ink family, this card offers 5% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores, including on big ticket items such as computers and hardware, as well as on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, making it a natural choice for many business owners. It also offers 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account annivesary year, and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. On top of all this, it offers 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases (then 13.99% - 19.99% Variable).
The Bonus: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
The Annual fee: $0
The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; and unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. Read our full Ink Business Cash® Credit Card review.
Can't decide which Chase Ink card would be the best fit for your business? Consider applying for more than one as all three of these cards work really well together. Neither Ink Business Cash® or Ink Business Unlimited® charge an annual fee, and both offer the opportunity to rack up higher amounts of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in certain categories, and even though the Ink Business Preferred® card has an annual fee, its welcome offer to new cardholders is unbeatable. 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®. To learn more, see: "Which Case Ink business credit card is right for you?"
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card offers the opportunity to rack up solid rewards for your business and also features an introductory 0% APR period on purchases so you can make that purchase that will help get your business off the ground or launch it into its next phase (after the intro period, the APR becomes 14.74% - 22.74% Variable).
The Bonus: Earn a $250 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your card in the first three months. There is also an introductory 0% APR for 12 months on purchases (then 14.74% - 22.74% Variable).
The Annual Fee: No annual fee
The Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 you spend each year. After hitting the spending cap, you earn 1% cash back on your purchases. Your cash-back rewards will be automatically credited to your statement. Read our full American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card review.
For rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please see the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees; terms apply; American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card: See Rates and Fees; terms apply