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March 12, 2020

Credit Score Needed for Credit Card

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What's the easiest card to be approved for? Take a look at the best cards for bad, fair and excellent credit.

© CreditDonkey

Your credit will largely determine what kind of credit cards you qualify for. To improve your odds, apply for a card that suits your credit score.

Luckily, there are credit cards available for every range of credit score.

Of course, the higher your score, the more options you have. Many premium reward cards require excellent credit. But even if you have poor or no credit, there are credit cards to help build your credit.

We'll go over what cards you can get for your credit score.

If You Have Excellent Credit (720+)

Congrats on managing credit so responsibly. Excellent credit usually means:

  • A positive credit history of 5+ years
  • Mix of accounts (credit cards, auto loan, student loans, etc.)
  • No late payments
  • Paying in full each month
  • Low credit utilization

If you have Excellent credit, you basically have your pick of credit cards. You'll be able to qualify for the best benefits, such as cash-back rewards, travel rewards, large bonus offers, and intro APRs.

Think about your goals and choose a credit card to help you reach that goal. For example, if you want to score free flights for your vacation next year, look for a credit card that earns airline miles.

Ultra-premium credit cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (a CreditDonkey partner) and Chase Sapphire Reserve, are only available to those with excellent credit.

Your income may affect your approval for some credit cards. Issuers for ultra-premium credit cards will want to see that your income can support the high annual fee.

Here are some of our favorite credit cards for Excellent credit:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95

The Platinum Card from American Express
Apply for The Platinum Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/ASee Pay Over Time APR
$550

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Apply for Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% on purchases for 12 months
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$95

If You Have Good Credit (670 - 719)

Good credit usually means:

  • A credit history of 3 years
  • No recent late payments
  • Low utilization ratio

If you have good credit, you'll still be able to qualify for good rewards cards and benefits, though the elite credit cards may be out of your reach.

You can qualify for better cards if you have other factors in your favor. These include overall low debt, good income, and not too many open card accounts.

Some of our favorite credit cards for Good credit are:

Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

  • Discover It will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. This offer is only for new customers. This card earns 5% cash back in bonus categories that change each quarter (up to the quarterly maximum; requires free activation each quarter). All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

  • Capital One Venture offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. 50,000 miles is equal to $500 in travel. This card earns 2x miles per dollar on all purchases. You can redeem miles toward travel purchases on any airline, hotel, or car rental. There are no foreign transaction fees. You get up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®. There is a $95 annual fee.

If You Have Average Credit (551 - 669)

Average credit may mean:

  • Shorter credit history of 1 year
  • A couple of late payments
  • Sometimes carrying a balance

In this credit range, you won't be able to qualify for popular rewards cards. But you're not out of luck. There are still cards available for average credit, and some even have rewards.

You may also qualify for a store card because they tend to have much lower credit requirements.

Here are our top recommended cards for those with fair/average credit.

  • Capital One QuicksilverOne earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. After making your first 5 monthly payments on time, you can be eligible to receive a higher credit line. There is a $39 annual fee.

  • Capital One Platinum offers a no annual fee credit card to people with fair credit. You may get access to a higher credit limit after you make your first 6 monthly payments on time.

If You Have Bad or No Credit (550 and Below)

If you're new to credit or you've made some mistakes and have poor credit, your choices are pretty much limited to secured credit cards.

These cards don't require a credit history for approval. Instead, they require a security deposit, which will usually become your credit limit. You can then make purchases and pay off the bills as normal. If you don't make payments, the lender can use your deposit to cover the defaulted amount.

A secured credit card is a good way to build or rebuild your credit history. As you make payments, it reports to the 3 credit bureaus. After 6 months to 1 year of on-time payments, you can upgrade to an unsecured card. You'll get your deposit back if your account is in good standing.

  • Discover It will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. This offer is only for new customers. This card earns 5% cash back in bonus categories that change each quarter (up to the quarterly maximum; requires free activation each quarter). All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

  • Capital One Secured Card reports to the 3 major credit bureaus to help you build credit when used responsibly. This secured credit card's variable APR is 26.99%. You can receive an initial $200 credit line with a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your creditworthiness. And if you make your first 5 monthly payments on time, you can get access to a higher credit line with no additional deposit. There is no annual fee.

Other Factors That Affect Your Approval

But credit score isn't everything. There are many other factors that card issuers look at. Even if you have the required credit score, these can still hurt your chances:

  • A high debt-to-income ratio (too much overall debt compared to your income)
  • Credit utilization over 30%
  • A recent late payment
  • A lot of open cards
  • Too much available credit across your card accounts
  • Having recent hard inquiries
  • Too short of a credit history

On the other hand, even if your credit score falls a bit short, but you have no debt and no late payments, you may still be approved for a card a little above your acceptance range.

If you already have a card with a certain issuer and you got denied when applying for another card with the same issuer, you can ask to shift the existing credit limit.

For example, if you have a card with a $10,000 credit limit, you can ask to reduce it to $5,000 and give $5,000 to the new card. This may help you get approved since it's not extending more credit.

The Best Time to Apply for a Credit Card

Timing your credit card application wisely can improve your chances too. The best time to apply is when:

  • You have paid down your other credit card balances (as much as possible).

  • You have no recent credit inquiries (don't apply for a bunch of credit cards at once).

  • You haven't missed any payments in a year

In other words, don't apply if you just accidentally missed a payment. Or if you just made a large purchase and haven't paid it off yet.

Bottom Line

No matter what your credit score is, there are choices available to you. Even if you have bad credit, you can still use a credit card to responsibly build credit and then upgrade to a better credit card. So don't give up if you worry that your credit isn't ideal.

As always, use your credit card responsibly. Make payments on time and try to always pay in full, if possible.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

For rates and fees of the American Express Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card, please click here.

Disclaimer: The information for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, Discover it® Cash Back, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® Platinum Credit Card, and Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More from CreditDonkey:


Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Score


Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Score


Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Score


Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95


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650 Credit Score Credit Cards

A credit score of 650-700 is considered Above Average to Good. Find good credit cards you can qualify for in this score range.

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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.