Written by Missy Nolan
If you’ve got excellent credit, you’re probably a seasoned expert when it comes to credit cards - unless you’ve had lots of money-management help from your parents or a financial advisor. Even if you’ve gotten where you are with no help whatsoever, you still might have a few questions about maintaining your credit card or choosing the best card for your lifestyle. Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about credit cards for people with excellent credit!
General Questions About Credit Cards for Excellent Credit
What is a credit card for excellent credit?
A credit card for excellent credit is a card that’s geared toward individuals with FICO scores that are 720 or higher. FICO scores range from 300 to 850 - and the higher the score, the better your credit.
Credit cards for excellent credit often have low APRs, generous rewards, and high credit lines. That’s because credit card companies have faith that you’ll pay your bill on time, every time, if you’ve got excellent credit. Basically, good behavior is rewarded in the financial world.
If I don’t have bad credit, does that mean I have excellent credit?
Not exactly. The opposite of bad is good, not excellent - but you might not have good credit either.
As we mentioned above, FICO scores range from 300 to 850. If you don’t have bad credit, you might have poor credit (which is still bad credit, but slightly less bad), fair credit, good credit, or excellent credit.
How do I know if I have excellent credit?
Honestly, if you’re asking this question now, there’s a good chance you don’t have excellent credit. That’s because excellent credit doesn’t happen by accident; it takes careful planning and a lengthy history of responsible credit usage.
You can find out whether you have excellent credit by requesting a credit report. You’re allowed to get one free copy from each of the three major credit bureaus each year, but these reports don’t list your credit score. If you want your credit score, you’ll have to check loan documents (sometimes they list monthly score updates) or buy a credit score.
You can buy your FICO score at MyFico.com, but keep in mind that scores can change quickly. The score you see today might be totally different tomorrow, so consider a subscription service that lets you track changes to your score and view your updated credit history regularly.
Are credit cards for excellent credit better than credit cards for bad credit?
Yes, they’re usually much better. If you compare the benefits listed in our articles about the best secured credit cards and the best credit cards for bad credit, you’ll notice they’re nowhere near as impressive as the perks for cards tailored toward folks with excellent credit.
For example, credit cards for bad credit often require a security deposit. It’s refundable unless you default on the card - and many people do.
Cards for people with bad credit also have high APRs and few, if any, rewards. It’s not uncommon to pay a variable APR that’s higher than 25% if you have bad credit, but people with excellent credit can often get cards with rates that fall between 10% and 20%. People with excellent credit earn airline miles and cash-back rewards as high as 5%, but people with bad credit are lucky to score some free roadside assistance and 1% cash back.
If I have bad credit, is there any way I can get a credit card for people with excellent credit?
Yes, but you probably can’t do it on your own. If you know someone who has excellent credit, you can ask them to add you to their credit card account as an authorized user. This may help increase your credit score if you (and the original cardholder) use the card responsibly.
What is the best credit card for excellent credit?
We’re glad you asked! We’ve got several cards that we recommend for people who have excellent credit, but our favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s got plenty of perks, including no annual fee for the first year and tons of cash-back rewards.
Here are some other cards that are perfect for people with excellent credit:
- Capital One Venture Credit Card
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
- Discover it Credit Card
- The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
- The Platinum Card from American Express
You can learn more about all of these cards by reading the article above this helpful tips section.
Applying for a Credit Card for Excellent Credit
How do I get a credit card for excellent credit?
You can get a credit card for excellent credit the same way you get a credit card for bad credit or average credit:
- Apply online
- Apply over the phone
- Mail in a paper application
- Apply in person at a local bank or credit union
Some credit cards for excellent credit card are only available by invitation, so keep an eye on your mailbox if you’re hoping for a hard-to-get card.
Do online applications for credit cards offer instant approvals?
Most of them do, yes. Sometimes there’s a delay (which we explain below), but usually you’ll know right away if you’re approved or rejected for a credit card.
Why did I get a message saying I’ll get a decision in 7 to 10 days?
Sounds like the credit card company needs more information about you before they can approve your application. Don’t panic, though - this doesn’t mean your app is getting rejected.
Here’s the deal: When you apply for a credit card, a computer verifies your information. It pulls your credit report and makes sure there are no discrepancies with basic info like your name, address, date of birth, etc. If you have recently moved or accidentally input some wrong info, there might be a delay.
The company might also need more time to process your application if you’ve got a security alert on your credit report or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft in the past. Companies also verify info that seems unusual, like if you’re a full-time college student who reports that you earn $500,000 a year.
Why does the credit card company want to verify my identity first?
Safety first! Credit card companies often offer generous lines of credit to folks with excellent FICO scores, so they need to make sure that you’re really you before they mail out a card.
You’ll also have to undergo an identity verification if you have a note on your credit report requesting one. You may not remember adding this note, but sometimes people place notes on their file after dealing with messy divorces, fraudulent charges, or identity theft.
Sometimes identity verifications are simply random requests that have nothing to do with you or your credit history.
Why did I get denied if I have excellent credit?
Rejection sucks, doesn’t it? It’s especially disappointing when you’re used to getting approved for nearly every credit card or loan you request.
Here are some reasons why someone with excellent credit might get rejected for a credit card:
- Too many recent inquiries (meaning you applied for too many different cards or loans recently)
- Too many new accounts
- Debt-to-income ratio is getting too high
- Recent collections or late payments
Another potential issue is that maybe you have average or good credit, not excellent credit. We talk more about this above, under the question titled “What is a credit card for excellent credit?”.
If I get denied for a credit card, when can I reapply?
Technically you can reapply whenever you want, but as a general rule, you should wait at least 6 to 12 months.
Don’t reapply until you’ve addressed any issues that caused the rejection. If your FICO is below 720, work on raising it. If your rejection letter stated that you had too many recent inquiries, give them some time to fall off your credit report (this can take up to 2 years).
Account and Usage Fees
Do credit cards for excellent credit have an annual fee?
Yes, many of them do. That’s because credit cards for excellent credit often have impressive benefits that outweigh the minor inconvenience of an annual fee. Plus, most popular cards waive the annual fee for the first year so you have time to test drive the card(s) of your choice.
Will I have a better APR than someone with bad credit?
You probably will have a decent APR if you’ve got excellent credit. It’s not uncommon to deal with APRs between 24% and 36% if you’ve got bad credit, but folks with excellent credit often have APRs that are less than 20%.
In fact, there are even some cards on our list of the best credit cards for excellent credit that have APRs that start between 10% and 12%. Keep in mind your APR is based on creditworthiness, which is just a fancy way of saying you’ll pay more interest if your credit sucks.
Can I withdraw cash at an ATM with my credit card?
Yes, but it’ll cost you a hefty fee with a high APR. APRs for cash advances are usually at least 25%, plus you have to pay a transaction fee.
This is still much cheaper than getting a payday loan, though.
How do I avoid paying interest on my purchases?
Depends on the card, but it should be clearly outlined in your cardholder agreement. If you decide to pay in full each month rather than carry a balance, you might be able to avoid paying interest on your purchases.
You can also take advantage of promotional deals. Many cards for excellent credit offer special introductory APRs of 0% for anywhere from 12 months to 21 months.
Improving and Maintaining Your Credit Score
How can I get excellent credit?
It won’t happen overnight, so be prepared to work hard. People with excellent credit generally share some common traits, including:
- Very few, if any, late payments
- A diverse mix of credit, including installment loans and credit cards
- A low debt-to-income ratio
- Hardly any collections or legal judgments
- Credit lines with low balances and high limits
- A lengthy credit history that shows responsible actions
If your credit needs some TLC, tackle negative items on your credit report before you request new lines of credit. After that, spend some time “in the garden,” as folks often say during credit repair.
“The garden” refers to the waiting period after you get a new card. Instead of applying for new cards or racking up a bunch of debt on existing cards, you just pay your bills on time and give your credit history time to grow.
How do I keep my FICO score high?
Keep your FICO score high by paying bills on time, and do whatever you can to prevent accounts from getting sent to a collections agency. Oh, and don’t get sued or get hit with a tax lien. These derogatory marks stay on your credit report for at least 7 to 10 years.
Don’t go crazy with your credit cards. Keep your balances below 30% - preferably much, much lower. For example, a card with a $10,000 limit should never carry more than a $3000 balance.
If you accidentally pay a bill late, contact your credit company ASAP. Many companies will remove late payments from credit reports for customers with a previous history of paying on time.
Will I have excellent credit if I file for bankruptcy?
You might eventually, but it’ll take a while. When you first file for bankruptcy, your credit score might drop significantly. After your discharge, it might increase, but you’ll probably still be in the poor/fair range on the FICO scale.
If you want excellent credit after bankruptcy, follow the suggestions listed under the question titled “How can I get excellent credit?”. They’ll help you boost your score, but keep in mind that your discharged bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 7 to 10 years.
Common Issues and Concerns
Is it safe to apply for a credit card online?
Yes, as long as you take steps to protect your personal information. We don’t recommend applying for a credit card at work, school, or the local library, even if you’re using a secure connection. People can easily walk by and see what you’re doing, which puts you at risk for identity theft.
If you’re using Google Chrome, check the upper left corner for a lock. This indicates that you’re transmitting data via a secure connection.
You can also apply over the phone or request a paper application if you don’t feel safe. Many cards offer these options.
Will getting a new credit card lower my credit score?
Sometimes, but there’s also a chance that it will increase it. It’s hard to answer this question without viewing your personal credit history because new accounts affect everybody in different ways.
If you’re currently utilizing a lot of your available credit, adding a new credit card with a high credit limit can help lower your overall utilization rate. However, the credit check for the card - especially if it’s a hard pull - might knock some points off your FICO.
Help! My credit card was stolen!
Please open a new tab and find the contact info for your credit card company immediately - as in, right now. You need to report this ASAP so the credit card company can freeze your card.
You might be thinking, “Oh, but I have fraud protection, so what’s the big deal?” Well, fraud protection isn’t always instant or automatic. You might have to dispute the fraudulent charges, and that can take weeks - or even months!
In the meantime, your credit card will continue reporting your balance and payment history to the three main credit bureaus. That’s bad news if Cathy CoffeeLover stole your card and charged $3000 worth of Starbucks frappucinos before you started disputing her caffeine binge.
My interest rate is too high - can I get the company to lower it?
Possibly, but it depends on a few factors. We recommend reviewing the cardholder agreement to see the current APR range for your card. If the range is 15% to 24% and you’re hoping for a 10% APR, you’re probably out of luck.
If you currently pay the highest APR for your card, you might have some luck getting it lowered if any of the following apply:
- Your credit score has improved significantly since you received the card
- You’ve had the card for a long time and used it responsibly
- You’re thinking about closing the card but want to give the credit card company a chance to keep you as a customer
When you call, be polite. Don’t demand a new interest rate; ask for a supervisor and calmly explain why you feel you deserve one. If the supervisor says no, call back another time and try again.
What should I do if I can’t pay my bill on time?
Contact the credit card company immediately! Sometimes a company is happy to extend your due date or waive a late fee if you usually pay on time.
Also, calling the company might prevent them from blowing up your phone every 5 minutes to remind you your bill is due. If you’ve ever paid late, then you know what we mean.