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Looking for a new credit card? It might be tempting to apply for the best credit card, even if you don’t have the the highest credit score. While shooting for the credit card with the best rewards makes sense, it might not be the smartest idea. If you get turned down more than once when applying for a credit card, it can start hurting your credit score, and then your prospects will worsen for getting the best credit card for your credit score.
Your credit score matters quite a bit when it comes to the type of credit card you can get — or whether you can even get a credit card in the first place. For example, if your credit score is 600 and under, your only option may be secured cards. On the other hand, if you have excellent credit, meaning that your credit score starts somewhere at 750 or north of it, you can expect the best credit card perks, the best APR, the best fee situation, the best everything. If you have good or average to fair credit, you should still be able to qualify for credit cards with decent perks and interest rates.
How do you find the best credit card for your credit score? We’ve done the work of researching the best credit cards out there for a variety of different credit scores. Whether you’re looking for the best credit cards for good credit, the best credit cards for average credit, or even just the best credit cards for building credit — which, if used correctly, can be very helpful in raising your credit score over time — we’ve got all of the information you need to start your credit card search right here.
When you have one of the highest credit scores, you shouldn’t have to settle for a credit card that doesn’t offer the creme de la creme of bonuses and extras. In fact, many credit cards for people with top-of-the-line credit offer hugely generous bonuses if you charge above a certain amount during a time period, say your first three months.
Here’s an example. Suppose you love vacations, so you choose a credit card that gives you travel miles if you charge at least $3,500 in your first three months. In exchange, you receive bonus points that, when you redeem them, equal hundreds of dollars in travel rewards. Such credit cards can also give you financial incentives for travel-related purchases and don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
If traveling is not your priority, many top-notch credit cards still give one-time bonuses or rewards if you meet a minimum dollar amount of purchases after signing on with the issuer. You just get the, say, $400 back in the form of another type of reward, such as a gift card.
In addition to these bonuses for new members, you should expect perks such as the lowest credit card interest rates around and a 0 percent introductory APR for a time period, such as one year, which is perfect if you wind up carrying a balance. There are many great credit cards and rewards for people who have different priorities, so it is worth your while to compare at least several credit cards.
List of All the Best Credit Cards for Excellent Credit
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If your credit is good (with a score ranging from about 680 to 749), look for credit cards that offer many of the same things the top-tier credit cards do. You can likely enjoy similar perks, especially with travel cards, but perhaps not as lavish. For example, you should still be able to qualify for 0 percent APR offers and bonuses for meeting purchase minimums in your first few months. The bonuses might not be for as much money, but they are still incredibly generous.
It is a good idea to consider what matters more to you: the rewards/bonuses or a low interest rate. For example, if you’re unsure you will pay your balance in full every month, then a credit card with a low interest rate, or APR, may be preferable even if that means you forego some tempting rewards. On the other hand, if you believe you can and will pay your credit card balance in full every month, you may feel safer choosing a credit card with liberal rewards and a higher APR.
Check out the list below to see some of the best credit cards for good credit.
You still have some options for a credit card with good rewards when your credit is average or fair, meaning that it hovers between 600 and 679. When it comes to finding the best credit cards for average credit, the priority for many people in this range is to find a credit card with the lowest APR possible versus one that offers rewards. But don’t settle for just any one of the good credit cards for average credit; if think you can make payments of the full balance every month, you have more choices.
In general, though, don’t expect to see too many credit cards offering substantial rewards if you have an average credit score. Not surprisingly, the higher your score (say 650 to 679), the more reward cards you might qualify for or the lower your interest rate might be. That said, there are still several options and things to look for when it comes to good credit cards for average credit.
In this average/fair bracket, you can find credit cards that don’t charge annual fees. If you like to take trips, you should also be able to find a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. In fact, if it is a travel-oriented credit card you want, you might be able to snag one that people with good and excellent scores are also able to qualify for. Also, some companies give their cardholders double rewards at the end of their first full year — which can be a great deal no matter what credit score you have.
The bottom line is that you do have choices with average or fair credit, but it helps to know what you want going into your search and to remain realistic with your fee, APR and rewards expectations. With patience, you can find one of the best credit cards for average credit.
If your credit is bad, you should still be on the lookout for the best credit card for your credit score — but you should be aware that you may not able to get a traditional credit card at all, let alone one that offers any kind of cash rewards or travel rewards. However, you might qualify for a secured credit card. With this type of credit card, you put down a cash deposit, say $500. You are then allowed to charge up to $500 (or whatever the cash deposit amount was) on the credit card account and pay the balance every month. After a year (or some other time period), you may be able to convert the credit card into a traditional credit card and get your cash deposit back.
Particular things to look for include a credit card that reports to all three credit bureaus. This reporting should raise your credit score as long as your payments are timely. There are also many secured cards that do not charge annual fees and foreign transaction fees, so you can be free from fees.
Your credit score is a good indicator of the types of credit card rewards and interest rates you can expect to be offered. People with average or fair credit may enjoy the best rewards from travel cards such as airline cards, or the best cash rewards and rebates on certain types of purchases. On the other hand, the difference in rewards quality, fee situations and APR rates are sometimes big enough that downloading your credit report and correcting any errors may end up making a huge difference. Or you can try a credit repair company to help you get over that hump to that next credit level. Here’s a list of the best credit repair services if you need it. Getting help repairing your credit score can require some cash up front, but it opens the door to a better tier of credit cards that offer better APR rates, travel rewards, cash rewards and more. If you just want to get started finding the best credit card for your credit score, even if your credit score is below average, check out the list below.
Here are the best credit cards for a bad credit score.
Once you see what types of credit card rewards are out there, it can be tempting to start applying for cards left and right to take advantage of as many sign-on deals as possible. However, this isn’t always such a good idea. Many misconceptions exist about how applying for new lines of credit such as credit cards can impact your credit score. Here are some facts about credit card applications that should help make things clear.
Applying for one credit card won’t affect your score. Applying for two credit cards might not even hurt your score; however, as the number increases, so do the chances that you are dragging down your credit score. When you apply for more than one loan at a time, it can look to lenders as if you are trying to take on too much credit. That’s why the amount of accounts you apply for within a certain period of time — whether they be loans, mortgages or credit cards — will have an affect on your credit score.
That is why it’s smart to apply for a credit card that corresponds with your credit score, and to only apply for one at first. Here is a good list of the best credit cards for each credit score range. Remember, you can even find a good credit card for average credit scores. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get a free (no credit card required) credit score here.