Congratulations! you’re on the top tier of US credit scores. If you’re shopping for the best credit cards for very good to excellent credit you’ll have every option open to you, and you’ll qualify for the best terms on every card.
In reality, of course, you’ll be choosing from the same menu of options as many individuals with scores in the “good” range. You’ll get the same cards – and many of them are very good ones – but your interest rate offers will be at the low end of the range instead of the high end.
Low rates are a good thing, but remember that if you’re paying your balance in full on or before the due date, the APR on your card won’t matter, because you won’t pay interest at all!
Choosing the Right Credit Card for Very Good to Excellent Credit
With very good to excellent credit you’ll have no shortage of choices. When applicants with those credit scores come around, issuers roll out the red carpet and offer their most persuasive perks and bonuses.
Many of these cards have a lot to offer, but none is “best” for everyone. You’ll have to choose the card that best fits your needs and your spending patterns.
Most of the best credit cards for very good to excellent credit come with some form of rewards. Rewards can be attractive and many people use them to their advantage. That doesn’t mean you should automatically leap on the card with the highest rewards.
The Other side of Rewards
Credit card companies don’t offer rewards because they are nice and generous. Rewards are designed to encourage you to spend more money on your cards, carry balances, and pay interest.
Before applying for a rewards card, consider these questions.
- Is there an annual fee? If it does, how high is the fee? How much will you have to charge on your card to earn enough rewards to cover the annual fee?
- Do the rewards fit the way you spend? Many cards offer rewards designed to fit specific types of spending. Look for rewards that fit your spending style.
- Will you have to up your spending to maximize rewards? If you’re not a big spender you might not charge enough to maximize rewards. That can be an incentive to spend more, which may not be good for you.
Rewards are most productive if you do a lot of spending on your card. That’s fine if you would have done a lot of spending on your card anyway. If you end up putting more spending on your card just to maximize the rewards, you may not be helping yourself.
Upping your card spending has two risks.
- You may end up carrying a balance from month to month. If you do, your interest payments will quickly cancel out your rewards.
- Boosting your credit card spending could raise your credit utilization and harm your credit.
Make sure you are controlling the rewards, rather than the rewards controlling you. If you are not going to spend big on your card, you might want to look for a simple zero-fee card rather than going for the best rewards.
What About Premium Cards?
If you are looking at credit cards for very good to excellent credit, you will come across offers for cards positioned as elite or super premium products. Some of these cards are invitation-only and available only to the very rich. Others are open to anyone who meets the credit requirements.
These cards tend to have one thing in common: astronomical fees. The invitation-only Centurion Card from American Express has a $10,000 initiation fee and a $5000 annual fee! If you don’t get invited, you can apply for the Mastercard Gold Card – it’s literally plated with gold – which has an annual fee of a mere $995.
These cards might give you a huge ego rush when you whip one out at the end of a business dinner, but they rarely make financial sense. Many have attractive rewards packages, but you’d have to spend enormous amounts to generate enough rewards to cover the fee.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to have good to excellent credit. Your credit score doesn’t depend on your income at all. We’ll be looking at cards that are suited to ordinary mortals who happen to manage their finances well.
The Best Credit Cards for Very Good to Excellent Credit
Here are some of the top credit cards for users who have very good to excellent credit.
Best Basic Card: Citi Simplicity
If you’re looking for a straightforward card with no bells and whistles, the Citi Simplicity Card is there for you. There’s no annual fee, no late fees, no penalty APR. The regular APR is 14.74% to 24.74%. With very good to excellent credit, you’ll be at the low end of that range. There’s a 0% APR on purchases for your first 18 months. There are no rewards.
This is also a solid balance transfer option. The 18-month 0% APR window is also valid for balance transfers made within 4 months of opening the account. You’ll pay a 3% balance transfer fee.
This is a great choice if you keep your credit card spending minimal.
The downside: the lowest APR is not as low as those of some competitors. If you pay your balance in full every month, it won’t matter!
Rewards for Everyday Spending: Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa
The Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa has a $95 annual fee, but the rewards package is comprehensive enough that you’re likely to come out ahead. This is a great choice for people who use their card a lot. Here are the rewards.
- 5% cash back on groceries, gas, internet, mobile phone services, and cable or satellite TV, up to $5000/year. 1% cash back after $5000.
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Up to 10% cash back at selected retailers.
The 5% category covers a wide range of day to day spending, and if you make the $5000 limit you’ll get $250 back. The cash back is credited to your statement automatically and there’s no limit to the rewards you can earn.
This is a card for day to day use, not travel: there is a foreign transaction fee.
The downside: The APR is high at 23.99%, so you’ll want to pay off your balance in full each month. You’ll have to spend around $1900 in the 5% categories to make up for that annual fee.
Best No-Fee Rewards Card: Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card has no annual fee and a solid range of rewards.
- If you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months you’ll get a $200 reward.
- You get 5% cash back on your grocery shopping (not at Target or Walmart) up to $12,000.
- Discover will match your first year’s cash back.
The rewards hold up after the first year.
- 5% cash back at a different group of merchants each quarter.
- 1% cash back on all other spending.
You’ll get a 14-month intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. The regular APR is from 11.99% to 22.99%.
The downside: Participation in the quarterly spending categories requires activation.
The Card for Road Travel: Discover it Chrome
If travel by car is a big part of your life, Discover It Chrome Credit Card may be your credit card. Look at the rewards:
- 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, up to $1000 per quarter in combined purchases. That’s up to $800 a year!
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Discover will match your rewards at the end of your first year.
There’s no annual fee, so the rewards are pure gain.
There’s a 0% intro APR for 14 months, applied to purchases and balance transfers. The regular APR is 11.99% to 22.99%. You’ll also have access to an app for paying your bill, monitoring your account, tracking and redeeming rewards, and viewing your lovely FICO score.
The downside: if gas and restaurants aren’t high on your spending list, look for a different card!
Rewards for Groceries and Gas: Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express has a rewards program focused on some of the most basic and common spending categories.
- 3% cash back at US supermarkets up to $6000 per year, 1% after you pass the $6000 mark.
- 2% cash back at US gas stations and at select department stores.
- 1% on all other purchases.
There’s a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases. The regular APR is from 13.99% to 23.99%. There’s no annual fee.
The downside: This is a great family card, but if you live alone you may not spend enough at supermarkets to make the rewards attractive.
Best Balance Transfer Card: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
If you want to consolidate credit card debt with a balance transfer card, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card could be the card you’re looking for. The 20-month 0% intro APR for both purchases and balance transfers is one of the longest in the industry. That gives you enough time to pay any balances you transfer. There’s no annual fee. The card has no annual fee, and there’s a range of additional benefits. The regular APR is 14.49% – 24.49%
The regular APR is from 12.99% to 22.99%, and the minimum credit score is 690.
The downside: you won’t be able to transfer a balance from another U.S. Bank card.
Best Travel Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best cards for general travel use. Here’s a summary of the rewards.
- Spend $4000 using the card in your first 4 months and get 100,000 bonus points.
- Travel and dining expenses get 2 points for every dollar spent.
- Other purchases get 1 point per dollar spent.
- You get 25% more value if you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program . 100,000 points are worth $1250.
- There’s a 1 to 1 points transfer program with many hotel and airline loyalty programs. That lets you combine points from different programs.
The APR is 15.99-22.99% and there’s no foreign transaction fee.
The downside: You have to travel regularly and spend plenty to justify the $95 annual fee.
A Card for Frequent Hotel Users: Mariott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
If hotels are more familiar than your bedroom, consider the Mariott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. Here’s what you get.
- If you spend $3000 in your first 3 months you’ll get 3 free night awards plus 10x total points.
- 10x total points on up to $2500 in total purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants in your first 6 months.
- 6x points for every dollar spent at 7,000 participating hotels.
- 10x points from Mariott.
- Other purchases earn 2 points for every dollar spent.
- Every anniversary of your first day with the card gets you a free night award.
- There are no foreign transaction fees.
The APR is from 15.99% to 22.99%.
The downside: there’s a $95 annual fee. It’s only worth it if you’re a heavy spender on hotels and travel.
The Foodie Card: Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card
If you eat out more than you eat in, try the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. The food-focused reward package includes.
- 3% unlimited cash back on dining, groceries, entertainment, and some streaming services.
- 1% cash back on other purchases.
- If you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months you’ll get a $200 bonus.
There’s a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months and a 15.49% – 25.49% APR after that. The card has no annual fee or international transaction fee.
You might also consider the Savor Rewards from Capital One card. It has higher rewards and a larger introductory bonus. It also has a $95 annual fee and no 0% intro APR. We like the cheaper card because we like cheap! introductory bonus and higher rewards. There’s no 0% intro APR, though, and you’ll have to eat out a lot for the extra rewards to be worth the $95 annual fee.
The downside: Approval may be easiest with excellent credit.
Custom Cash Back: Citi Custom Cash Card
No annual fee and a self-customizing rewards program make the Citi Custom Cash Card stand out. Your spending is divided into categories: restaurants, gas stations, groceries, selected travel & transit, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness, and live entertainment. Whatever category you spend most on in a given billing cycle gets 5% cash back, up to $500. You’ll get 1% cash back on spending over in that category and on all other purchases. The card adjusts to your spending, you don’t have to select a category:
There are multiple options for redeeming rewards: direct deposit, a statement credit, a check, or other redemption options, including gift cards, travel, and Amazon shopping.
There’s a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from the date of your first transfer and on purchases for your first 15 months with the card.
The downside: Not much to complain about here, but there is a foreign transaction fee, and you will pay a penalty APR if you make a late or returned payment.
Customize Your Card Holdings
The average American has between three and four cards. If you don’t need that many cards there’s no need to keep up with that average. If you do decide to carry multiple cards, make sure you have a specific purpose for each card.
You might choose to use one card for everyday gas and groceries and another for travel, or set up any other combination that suits your needs. Just be sure that each card has a purpose and you know exactly when to reach for each card and why, and always keep an eye on those fees!
Enjoy Your Credit
We won’t lecture you on the importance of credit utilization and on-time payments, or the need to monitor and understand your credit reports. If you’re looking for credit cards for very good to excellent credit, you’ve figured that out already!
You’ve earned your privileges, so pick the card that best suits your needs and enjoy it! Using it well will help you push that score even higher!