An excellent credit score (800 to 850) allows you to qualify for the very best credit card offers. Most of the top cards require good or excellent credit if you want to earn lucrative rewards, benefit from 0% APR periods and enjoy a bunch of luxury perks. The higher your credit score, the better chances you have at qualifying for these offers.
Excellent credit also gives you access to better terms on other financial products, such as auto loans and mortgages. It's in your best interest to work toward excellent credit so you can benefit from lower interest rates and more generous loan terms.
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CNBC Select breaks down the best credit cards for people with excellent credit, so you can choose a card that fits your needs.
4X Membership Rewards® points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening
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Who's this for? The American Express® Gold Card is a smart choice for consumers who love travel and dining out. While the card comes with a $250 annual fee, it offers a number of luxury rewards that help offset the cost.
One big perk travelers can take advantage of is the annual statement credits. Cardholders get $120 to cover restaurant charges ($10 per month at Seamless, Grubhub and other participating restaurants) and $100 in hotel credits when you book rooms through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel.
When using the American Express Gold Card, users earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 4X Membership Rewards® points on dining worldwide and purchases made at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1X) and 1X Membership Rewards® points earned on everything else.
There are also special travel perks, such as room upgrades at specific hotels, as well as special travel discounts and amenities for those who enroll with The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group at no extra cost.
Check out CNBC Select's best travel credit cards.
2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill
No current offer
0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases
13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
3%, minimum $5
Who's this for? The Citi® Double Cash Card is a straightforward rewards card that offers one of the best flat-rate cash-back programs. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and an additional 1% when you pay your credit card bill.
There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and you don't have to worry about activating bonus categories. Cash back can be redeemed for a statement credit or direct deposit.
This card is also a good choice for debt consolidation: There's a 0% APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR). Just make sure you transfer balances within four months from account opening. There is a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5), which can be outweighed by the amount you save on interest if you make a plan to pay off the balance transfer during the intro period.
Check out CNBC Select's best cash-back credit cards.
5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases
60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Who's this for? The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is one of the best travel cards available with a competitive rewards program and generous welcome bonus. Cardholders earn 2X points on travel and dining worldwide and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
New cardholders earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
This card stands out from the pack thanks to the strong rewards rate when you redeem points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points are worth 25% more, so 60,000 points are worth $750 towards travel. This is a great way to maximize the value of points and the welcome bonus.
Beyond rewards, cardholders can benefit from helpful travel perks, such as no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, travel and emergency assistance services, baggage delay insurance and trip delay reimbursement.
Check out CNBC Select's best credit card welcome bonuses.
0% for the first 18 months on purchases and balance transfers
14.74% to 24.74% variable
3%, minimum $5
Who's this for? The Citi Simplicity® Card offers one of the longest balance transfer intro period at 0% for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR). This is a year and a half to pay off debt, which can be helpful if you have a large balance or if your cash flow doesn't allow you to pay off debt within the 6-, 12-, 15-month time periods of other balance transfer cards.
This card has no annual fee, but it does come with one of the steeper balance transfer fees: 5% (minimum $5). But this can be worthwhile if you're paying high interest charges.
New cardholders have four months to complete their balance transfer (longer than the typical 60 to 90 days). While you have more time to complete a transfer, the intro APR period starts at account opening — so try to make the transfer as soon as possible to get the most benefit of the interest-free period.
This card also offers 0% APR for the first 18 months on purchases (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR) and never charges late fees (though we always recommend you pay your balance on time and in full). There isn't a welcome bonus or a rewards program.
Check out CNBC Select's best 0% APR credit cards.
10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3X points on travel worldwide (immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit), 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
16.99% to 23.99% variable
5%, minimum $5
Who's this for? Chase Sapphire Reserve® is enormously popular among travelers for its luxe perks and strong rewards program. In addition to offering 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022 and 3X points on dining and travel purchases, cardholders get a $300 annual statement credit to apply to qualifying travel expenses.
But it's the perks that really make this card stand out for globetrotters. You can get a statement credit of up to $100 (every four years) to help cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees as well as enroll in Priority Pass Select, which gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide with free amenities, such as Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages and more.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal has everything you need to plan a vacation from booking rental cars to cruises. You can also use the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection to book rooms and take advantage of upgrades upon arrival, complimentary meals, flexible check-in times, extra amenities and special discounts.
The value of points increases 50% when you redeem for travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruise reservations when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is a great way to maximize the value of your rewards and makes this card stand out from the pack.
While this card does come with a substantial annual fee of $550, the many statement credits help to offset the costs. Cardmembers traveling internationally also don't need to worry about foreign transaction fees.
|Category||Travel||Cash back||Welcome bonus||0% APR||Luxury Perks|
|Credit Card||American Express® Gold Card||Citi® Double Cash Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred®||Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever||Chase Sapphire Reserve®|
|See below for our methodology||Learn MoreOn the American Express secure site||Learn MoreOn Citi's secure site||Learn MoreOn Chase's secure site||Learn MoreInformation about the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.||Learn MoreOn Chase's secure site|
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs, vitamins and other vehicle expenses.
CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.
Information about the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.