The best credit cards for excellent credit typically offer cardholders increased benefits and rewards compared to credit cards for good or average credit. That means you could enjoy airport lounge access and fee credit just for having the right card in your wallet.
If you have a high credit score and you’re interested in applying for a new card, here are some fantastic options from a variety of credit card issuers. You can use this info to compare credit cards and pick the one that's the best fit for you.
The best credit cards for excellent credit
- Best for travelers: Citi Premier Card
- Best for Chase luxury travelers: Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Best for Amex luxury travelers: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for maximizing rewards: Chase Freedom Flex
- Best for balance transfers: Citi Double Cash Card
- Best for easy 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 September 2021
|Card name||Best for||Why it’s special|
|Citi Premier Card||Travel||Generous 80,000-point sign-up bonus; travel rewards; travel partners; $100 annual hotel savings benefit|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Chase luxury travel||Generous 60,000-point sign-up bonus; travel rewards; travel partners; travel insurance; $300 annual travel credit; other premium travel benefits|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Amex luxury travel||Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10x points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first 6 months); travel rewards; travel partners; travel insurance; up to $200 annual Uber Cash; other premium travel benefits; some benefits require activation - terms apply|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Groceries||Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases. 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|
|Citi Double Cash Card||Balance transfers||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Easy cash back||Earn 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day|
|Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi||Gas and restaurants||Earn 4% on eligible gas purchases (on up to $7,000 per year) and 3% on eligible restaurant and travel purchases|
Citi Premier Card: Best for travelers
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 redeemed for 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.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for Chase luxury travelers
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, and hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining, and 1X points per $1 spent 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.
The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for Amex luxury travelers
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 (See rates and fees) 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 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10X on restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S (on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first 6 months, after that 1X).
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for groceries
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 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other 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 $150 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) (See rates and fees), 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 an introductory APR of 0% for the 12 months of account opening. After that time ends, your balance will be subject to the regular APR of 13.99% to 23.99% (variable) (See rates and fees).
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.
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, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including target or walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year) 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.
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. 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.
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 on any balance that remains.
This 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.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for easy 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 rewards on every purchase, every day. You can also earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening.
There’s also a 0% intro APR offer on purchases that lasts for 15 months. And you can earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of becoming a cardholder.
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 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.
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.
What is an excellent credit score?
An excellent credit score is a high-ranking score on either the FICO 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?
Excellent credit scores are achieved when you continuously satisfy the requirements of building your credit score. Here are the common factors that you'll see listed on your credit report that affect your score:
- Late payments: If you miss due dates or entire payments on your debt balances, your credit score will be negatively affected.
- Credit utilization: Consistently utilizing more than 30% of your total available credit is a red flag for lenders and can have a negative impact on your credit.
- Credit history: The length of time you’ve had open credit accounts affects your credit score. The longer the history of your credit accounts, the better your credit score will be.
- Credit mix: Credit cards, car loans, student loans, mortgages, and other lines of credit all affect your credit score. If you have a good mix of different types of credit, your score will be positively affected.
- New credit: If you’ve recently opened multiple credit cards or have had too many hard inquiries from lenders checking your credit history, your credit score can go down.
Individuals with excellent credit are able to comply with all of these requirements and because of this, they enjoy more benefits and better interest rates. They rarely, if ever, make a late payment and typically don’t use more than 30% of their available credit. They also have a good mix of different types of credit with accounts that have been open for a long time, usually years.
How many people have excellent credit?
According to Experian, one of three national credit bureaus along with Equifax and TransUnion, about 21% of Americans have excellent credit. This is opposed to 25% with very good credit, 21% with good credit, 17% with fair credit, and 16% with very poor credit.
Overall, having good credit or above is an acceptable indication of your willingness to lenders to pay off debt. Because more than 60% of Americans have at least good credit, the majority of people in the U.S. can typically enjoy average or better rates from lenders. If you have excellent credit, expect to qualify for the best credit accounts available.
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.
- 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.
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.
Use this guide to narrow down your choices for your ideal credit card. As you align a card’s earning potential and benefits with your spending habits and financial goals, you’ll have an easier time finding a worthy addition to your wallet.