Using a credit card responsibly can be a great way to build credit and take advantage of cash back and travel rewards. But you may be wondering if your credit score is good enough to get a credit card.
There’s no general minimum credit score to get a credit card. Some credit cards, particularly those with excellent rewards, do have a very high minimum credit score requirement. Others will give you access to credit even if your credit score is very low.
As with other types of credit, when it comes to getting a credit card, a higher credit score means that you’ll have more options. With a higher score, say around 720 or better, you can apply for premium credit cards, get a higher credit limit, and get better benefits.
But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if your score is lower. Many lenders offer credit cards specifically for those with bad credit. The rewards may not be as great, and you may have a lower credit limit, but this type of credit card can be a great way to build or rebuild your credit score.
Apply for a Card that Fits Your Credit
If you don’t know your credit score, you may want to check it before you apply for a credit card. This will give you some idea of the types of cards that you can apply for.
Check out myFICO.com for ways to get your credit score, including a free trial of its credit monitoring service. This service is particularly great if you have low credit because it gives you access to a forecaster to help you find the quickest way to bring up your credit score.
Once you know your credit score, start looking for credit cards within your credit score range. Credit Karma, which offers consumers free access to their credit scores, has data on the scores needed to qualify for specific card offers. Based on this data, below we list some credit card offers based on credit scores.
Important: It’s important to keep in mind that credit scores are just one fact bank’s use to assess an application. An individual’s income and debt levels are also very important factors. As a result, just because you may not fit within one of these ranges does not mean you won’t qualify for the card. As you review the cards below, you’ll see that the credit scores for approved applicants range significantly.
Cards for Excellent Credit (720 – 850)
If your credit score is above 720, the sky’s the limit when it comes to credit cards. Though your credit limits will still be based somewhat on your annual income, your high credit score makes you look very credit-worthy to creditors. This means that you have access to lower APR, better balance transfer offers, excellent rewards programs, and more.
If you have excellent credit, you don’t need to shop for a card based solely on your credit score. Instead, you can shop around for the card with the best rewards for your particular spending habits and needs. Here are three options:
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card comes with a zero percent introductory APR for 18 months* and has no annual fee. It offers access to concierge services, making it a decent option for frequent travelers, and it also offers access to special deals and VIP packages through Citi Private Pass.
Unlike some of the other cards for excellent credit, this one doesn’t come with a fancy rewards system. You can use it to earn Citi Easy Cash, which gives you a discount on items you purchase through Citi’s online store.
Credit Karma lists the average approved credit score for this card as 730, with the lowest approved score being 674. If you’re working on paying down high-APR balances to boost your credit score, this is an ideal card to check out for balance transfers. The very long zero percent APR period is practically unheard of these days and could save you some serious cash as you pay down balances and boost your score.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express features a very straightforward cash rewards program. Unlike more complex programs, you don’t have to keep track of rotating rewards. You get 3 percent cash back at supermarkets, 2 percent cash back at certain department stores and the gas pump, and 1 percent cash back everywhere else.
It also has a 12-month zero percent introductory APR on purchases, making it a good option if you need to finance a large purchase soon.
Credit Karma notes very high score requirements for this card: 734 is the average approved score, and 686 is the lowest approved score. MyFICO forum users note that this card looks particularly closely at your credit utilization, even if you have a high credit score. So if you are carrying high balances, pay them down before you apply for this card.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
With excellent credit, you have lots of travel rewards credit card options, including this one. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card lets you redeem rewards miles for airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals, and your miles never expire. You can also take advantage of zero percent introductory APR on purchases for 12 months.
The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is, according to myFICO forums, one of the most difficult cards to get approved for, so be sure you’ve dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s before applying to this one.
If you like the rewards program offered by this card but aren’t sure you’ll get approved, try applying for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card instead. It has a similar rewards program (in fact, you earn more miles per dollar) but a higher APR and no introductory APR offer. Because of the higher APR and annual fee, it’s easier to get than the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card.
Cards for Good Credit (640-719)
If your credit score is in the high 600s to low 700s, you’re doing better than a large portion of Americans. (You still have room to improve.) And you can qualify for cards with lower fees, higher credit limits and more benefits.
Capital One® Platinum Prestige Credit Card
Here’s another option from Capital One, though the low APR Capital One® Platinum Prestige Credit Card requires better than average credit. The Capital One website says that this card requires excellent credit, but we think its standard for excellent should be renamed good. According to Credit Karma, the average approved score for this card is 689, while the lowest approved score is 632.
Information about this card in myFICO’s forums runs the gamut. Some lower-credit users were approved for very low credit limits, while others with slightly higher scores were offered limits in the thousands of dollars. Either way, with its zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers and its no annual fee, this is a decent card for those with good credit.
Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard®
According to the lender, the Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® was made specifically for those with decent credit who want to build their scores still higher, without missing out on credit card rewards. The card offers a 12-month zero-percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, and it has no annual fee. Plus, you can earn points for every $1 spent.
Users in the MyFICO forums note that Barclaycard rarely approves users instantly. If you aren’t approved immediately, you might consider calling a representative to talk about the particulars of your credit situation, which could make you more likely to be approved for this card.
The average approved credit score for the Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® is 666, and the lowest approved score is 614. Mid-600s credit scores and a great rewards program make this an excellent credit card to move into as you build your credit.
Cards for Fair Credit (550-639)
If your credit score is between 550 and 639, you’ve got a few more credit card options, particularly with unsecured credit cards. You’re still not going to get premium rewards, but you may qualify for a higher credit limit.
VISA Platinum from Credit One Bank
This card is designed specifically for those with bad credit. Credit Karma shows that this card’s average approved score is 606, and its lowest approved score is 555. It lets you pick a flexible payment due date, and sends you text and email alerts when your payment is due.
Although this card has a fairly high annual fee – $75 for the first year – it doesn’t have an added monthly fee like similar credit-building cards. (Though the annual fee is divided out and charged on a monthly basis on top of your minimum payments.)
Card users in the MyFICO forums note that this card is easy to get, even if you’ve been through bankruptcy, and that Credit One often gives credit increases every few months, as long as you use the card responsibly.
Capital One Classic Platinum Credit Card
The Capital One Classic Platinum MasterCard comes with basic benefits, like extended warranties on items that you buy using this credit card. It also has a zero percent APR introductory rate that can be a huge benefit if you have a larger purchase in mind. Credit Karma says the average approved score for this card is 613, while the lowest approved score is 554.
Users of the MyFICO forums note that this is a popular card for rebuilding credit but isn’t a great option for long-term use. According to users there, Capital One usually increases the credit limit after a few months of responsible use but rarely agrees to another credit limit increase after that.
Cards for Poor Credit (549 or lower)
If your credit score is below 550, you’ve got some serious work to do. Your very low credit will restrict your options when it comes to credit cards. The good news is that you still have options and exercising a credit card option can give you a leg up in boosting your credit score.
USAA Secured Platinum Card
This secured credit card has an interesting twist. As part of getting the card, you’ll also be opening a 2-year CD that holds your security deposit of at least $250 (but can go as high as $5,000 if you want more credit). You’ll earn interest on the money in the CD, which is a bonus. It also comes with a low interest rate of 9.90%. You can get more details at the USAA website.
Open Skysm Secured Visa® Credit Card
This unsecured credit card starts with a credit limit of $200-$3,000, depending on the amount of the security deposit. No credit check is required to obtain this card, and it offers automatic reporting to the credit bureaus to help build your credit. you can get more details at the OpenSky website.