Having excellent credit typically qualifies you for the best credit cards. This often means higher rewards rates, premium benefits, and valuable redemption options. Check out our top picks to find the right credit card for you.
The best credit cards for excellent credit
- Best for earning travel rewards on everyday spending: Citi Premier® Card
- Best for flexible travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for premium travel benefits: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for overall travel value: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Best for grocery rewards: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for maximizing rewards: Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Best for balance transfers: Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
- Best for simple cash back: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for gas and restaurant rewards: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
The best credit cards for excellent credit for December 2022
|Card name||Best for||Why it’s special||Annual fee|
|Citi Premier® Card||Earning travel rewards on everyday spending||Earn 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Flexible travel rewards||Receive airport lounge access, $300 annual travel credit, and redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards with over a dozen transfer partners or for an added 50% bonus through the Chase travel portal||$550|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Premium travel benefits||Receive over $1,500 in value with card credits plus airport lounge access and elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors||$695 (Terms apply)|
|Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card||Overall travel value||Receive $300 annual travel credit, 10,000 anniversary miles, and airport lounge access||$395|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Grocery rewards||Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases||$95 (waived first year) (Terms apply)|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||Maximizing rewards||Earn 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases||$0|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Balance transfers||Receive 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then 17.74% to 27.74% (variable))||$0|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Simple cash back||Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)||$0|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Gas and restaurant rewards||Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (up to $7,000), 3% on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% on all other Costco purchases, and 1% on everything else||$0|
Citi Premier® Card: Best for earning travel rewards on everyday spending
The Citi Premier Card offers access to the valuable Citi ThankYou points rewards program, making it an ideal card for travelers. With the Citi Premier, you can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
In addition to earning points of travel spending — which includes gas stations, airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and more — Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to over 12 different Citi transfer partners or used for redemption options that include gift cards, statement credits, and travel. Transfer partners include many international airlines, like Aeromexico, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Turkish Airlines.
To quickly earn rewards for travel redemptions, use the Citi Premier to earn 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases. If you’re traveling abroad, keep in mind the Citi Premier has no foreign transaction fees. This can help cut down your travel expenses on purchases in other countries.
Learn more in our Citi Premier Card review.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for flexible travel rewards
For frequent travelers who want an enhanced experience with premium benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides plenty of value as a travel rewards credit card. Earn 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on flights booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else.
There’s a $550 annual fee, but you can offset this with the $300 annual travel credit, complimentary Priority Pass membership, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit, and special benefits from The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
Additional benefits include up to $120 in DoorDash statement credits over a two-year period ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021) and a complimentary 12-month DashPass subscription. DashPass helps you avoid DoorDash delivery fees on eligible orders.
Even better, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel on the Sapphire Reserve. This can be very useful for any rewards you earn, including the 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
Outside of travel, this card also gets you purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty protection.
Check out our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for premium travel benefits
The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best overall travel rewards cards available, especially if you like earning Amex Membership Rewards points. Membership Rewards can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, statement credits, and more. Or you can transfer them to Amex transfer partners like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors.
With the Amex Platinum, cardmembers earn 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. There is a $695 annual fee, but the card’s premium benefits can help offset the cost.
Take advantage of free Priority Pass membership, Amex Centurion Lounge access, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, Hilton Honors Gold status, and much more. Select benefits require enrollment. And that’s not even including the generous welcome bonus. New cardmembers can earn a welcome offer of: 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months.
Read our American Express Platinum review.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for overall travel value
The Capital One Venture X is a premium card that builds on the benefits of the original Venture card. As a new cardholder: Earn 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, you'll enjoy 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 10X miles per dollar when you book on Turo through May 16, 2023; and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
Cardholders receive up to $300 in annual travel credits for bookings made through Capital One Travel, plus you'll get 10,000 bonus miles each account anniversary. This card offers complimentary and unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges, as well as access to Plaza Premium and Capital One Lounges. And you get up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck programs.
Miles earned with this card can be transferred to over 15 Capital One travel partners, including Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, and Wyndham Rewards. You'll also receive complimentary elite status, called President’s Circle, with Hertz.
Learn more in our Capital One Venture X review.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for grocery rewards
With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you’ll have the chance to earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases.
If groceries are one of the big expenses for your household, this could translate to hundreds of dollars in cash back every year. Plus, you’ll earn $250 statement credit if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first 6 months after account opening.
While the card does have an annual fee of $95 (waived first year), the potential cashback rewards far outweigh its cost for most cardmembers. The card allows you to redeem your rewards for a statement credit whenever your balance hits $25 or more, so it's easy to cash in quite often. You might really love this card if you also have a lot of streaming subscriptions. It is also considered to be one of the best credit cards for groceries.
In addition, the Blue Cash Preferred also offers a 0% introductory APR period for the first 12 months of account opening. After that time ends, your balance will be subject to the regular APR of 17.74% to 28.74% (variable).
Be aware though that if you do most of your shopping at specialty shops or superstores, this card may not be for you. Groceries purchased at Amazon, Walmart, Target, or warehouse stores aren’t eligible for the 6% cashback rate.
Check out our American Express Blue Cash Preferred review.
Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for maximizing rewards
With its rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Flex offers savvy cardholders the opportunity to plan ahead for the calendar year and make the most of their rewards earning opportunities.
The Chase Freedom Flex offers 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases. It also comes with a $0 annual fee, and you can earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
The Chase Freedom is also a great card if you want an introductory APR on new purchases. It offers a 0% APR on purchases for 15 months after account opening, then 18.74% to 27.49% (variable).
Pro-tip: Pairing this card's rotating categories with the flat-rate cash back of the Chase Freedom Unlimited can earn you even more Ultimate Rewards on more purchases.
Read our Chase Freedom Flex review.
Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for balance transfers
For a flat-rate cash rewards credit card that also comes with the opportunity to save money through a balance transfer, consider the Citi Double Cash Card. This card is considered by many to be among the best cashback credit cards. Cardholders can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay for those purchases. With an unlimited and uncomplicated rewards rate, it's easy to see how simple spending and earning with this card can be.
The Citi Double Cash has a $0 annual fee, so there’s no need to offset an annual cost. This allows you to focus more on earning your cashback rewards instead of stressing about fees. In fact, the Double Cash is widely considered to be among the best no annual fee cards.
What makes this card truly special though is that new cardholders get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that time is up, you'll pay the regular variable APR (17.74% to 27.74% (variable)) on any balance that remains.
This low-interest balance transfer offer can save you a lot if you're currently paying interest on a balance on a different credit card. Just remember there will be a balance transfer fee, based on the amount of each transfer you do, but given the average credit card interest rate, you can typically still save a lot by doing a balance transfer.
Learn more in our Citi Double Cash Card review.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for simple cash back
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward option for earning cash back on everyday purchases. You can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). You can also earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
There’s also a 0% intro APR offer on purchases that lasts for 15 months (then 17.99% - 27.99% (variable) APR).
Check out our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards review.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Best for gas and restaurant rewards
The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi can help you earn great rewards in a few different places. With the Costco Anywhere Visa, earn 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (up to $7,000), 3% on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% on all other Costco purchases, and 1% on everything else. Of course, you’ll earn bonus cash back from Costco purchases, but using the Costco Anywhere Visa for spending in certain bonus categories — like gas, restaurant, and travel purchases — will net you even more rewards.
All cash back earned on this card is redeemable for cash or merchandise at any U.S. Costco warehouse. So if you want to put it straight back into more everyday purchases at Costco, it’s easy to do so. This will help you save on common expenses like gas and groceries.
Read our Costco Anywhere Visa Card review.
Methodology: How we chose these cards
In general, people with excellent credit want to see their creditworthiness pay off. It’s not always easy to build your credit, especially up to an excellent score, so the credit cards with the most rewards and benefits are reserved for individuals with excellent credit. Keeping this in mind, we picked credit cards that provide the best benefits and rewards in their respective categories.
We can’t assume everyone who wants a credit card is looking for the same thing or has the same financial needs. This is why there are different types of credit cards and why we chose the best ones in many common categories, including travel, luxury travel, cash back, grocery rewards, and restaurant rewards. There’s a wide variety of cards to choose from and they all provide amazing benefits.
How to improve your credit score to excellent
If you want to improve your credit score to excellent, there are different steps to take that can help build your credit. The best way to build your credit, though, is to incorporate all the steps together into a combined effort instead of focusing only on one or two.
Here are ways to improve your credit score to excellent:
- Open credit accounts. It’s impossible to build credit if you don’t open any credit accounts or get added as an authorized user on an account. As soon as you’re able to open an account, by meeting the requirements and being financially responsible, you should do so. This will start the process of building your credit history. Just don’t open too many accounts in a short period of time.
- Never miss a payment. If there’s ever a reason for you to miss a credit card or other type of credit payment, you likely shouldn’t have a credit account. If you simply forget about payments now and then, make sure you have on payment reminder notifications, which can be set up in any online credit card account.
- Keep debt levels low. Credit cards are great tools, but only if used correctly. Use them to pay for expenses, but don’t continuously max out your credit limits. It may seem like using a lot of credit is good for your credit score, but if your credit utilization is too high, your score will go down.
- Keep old credit accounts open. The average age of your open credit accounts affects your credit score. If you keep old accounts open, opening a new account likely wouldn’t have as much of an impact on this credit score factor.
- Mix up your credit. Only using credit cards or only having a car loan can build your credit a lot, but you’ll need to have multiple sources of credit to continue improving your score. Lenders want to see different types of credit so they know how well you can handle your finances. This step should come naturally as you open credit card accounts and then look to make big purchases, like on a car or home.
How to choose a credit card if you have excellent credit
You’ve checked your credit reports from the different credit bureaus and you know you have excellent credit. Now it’s time to decide which credit card to get from the many credit card issuers out there. Here are five factors to consider:
1. Welcome bonus offers
Welcome offers, sometimes called sign-up bonuses or welcome bonuses, are an excellent way for new cardmembers to receive a large amount of rewards soon after signing up for a credit card and meeting qualifying activities. They typically follow the format of having to spend a certain amount on your new card within a few months or more of signing up — and then you receive the welcome bonus.
As an example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides this sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
There are more factors to consider, including rewards and benefits, but welcome offers can help you decide between multiple credit cards. For instance, you might discover one credit card has a limited-time bonus for new cardholders that’s too good to pass up.
2. Types of rewards
Credit card rewards are generally separated into three categories: points, miles, and cash back.
You would likely be interested in earning points or miles if you want to use your rewards on travel redemptions, including flights and hotel stays.
But if you aren’t interested in travel redemptions, cash back is often better for more flexible redemption options, such as statement credits that can go toward any purchases you’ve made on your card.
3. Earning potential
How you earn rewards and how many rewards you can earn depend on the earning rates on your credit card. You typically want to choose a credit card that has earning categories that align with your spending habits.
For example, if you typically spend a lot at grocery stores, it makes sense to apply for a credit card that offers elevated rewards for groceries. But if you’d rather not have multiple credit cards for different types of purchases, you might prefer a flat-rate rewards credit card.
These types of cards offer the same rewards rate no matter what you purchase, which could free up some space in your wallet and make it simpler for you to earn rewards.
4. Perks and benefits
If you’re comparing similar credit cards, taking a look at their perks and benefits could help you narrow down your choice.
For example, two travel credit cards might provide similar earning potential with points or miles. But one card might offer a free checked bag on a certain airline and another card might offer airport lounge access. In these types of situations, the better card for you depends on your preferences.
And it’s not just for travel cards, but any type of credit card you’re considering. You might find that two cards are generally the same in terms of rewards and benefits, but one also has an intro offer for 0% APR on purchases or balance transfers. Finding this additional benefit could make your decision easier.
5. Annual fees
Nobody necessarily wants an annual fee on their credit card, but cards with annual fees tend to have better benefits than their no-annual-fee counterparts. You have to weigh the benefits of a credit card with an annual fee to see if it’s worth it for you.
For example, if a card has a $300 annual fee and provides a $300 travel credit each year, it might be easy to justify the annual cost. Especially if there are other benefits and also rewards to consider.
What is an excellent credit score?
An excellent credit score is a high-ranking score on either the FICO score or VantageScore models. For FICO, an excellent credit score is 800 or above. On the VantageScore model, it’s a score above 780. Both models have credit score ranges between 300 and 850, and a score of 300 is considered very poor, whereas an 850 is a perfect score.
How do you get an excellent credit score?
You get an excellent credit score by paying attention to these factors:
- Payment history: Make full and on-time payments.
- Credit utilization: Use less than 30% of your total available credit.
- Credit history: Keep your oldest credit accounts open.
- Credit mix: Use different types of credit products.
- New credit: Don’t have too many hard inquiries in a short period of time.
How many people have excellent credit?
If you have excellent credit, you can likely qualify for a variety of different credit card offers, ranging from cashback credit cards to travel cards. But finding the best cards for excellent credit really depends on what you’re looking for. Each rewards card has its own unique benefits and perks, so the right card for someone else might not be the right card for you.