What Credit Score Do I Need To Get A Credit Card?

merrAre you looking for your next credit card? Improve your chances of being approved by learning which cards are the best fit for your credit score.

Your credit score is based on several factors: your payment history, the number of years you’ve had credit, the types of loans you have, your total credit limit, the credit amount you’re currently using, your total amount of debt, and the number of hard inquiries on your credit report within the preceding two years.

While you might know exactly what your credit score is, exactly how you plan to improve it, and exactly what kind of credit card you’d like to apply for next – it’s not always clear exactly what credit score is needed for the credit card of your dreams.

How Do You Know What Credit Score Is Needed For A Credit Card?

So, how do you know if your credit score is good enough to be approved for your ideal credit card? In this case, there’s a very easy trick to finding out!

Know Your Credit Score

what credit score do i need to get a credit cardFirst, you’ll need to know your credit score. Services like Credit Karma offer free credit reporting access based on information from one or more of the three main reporting bureaus:

  1. TransUnion
  2. Experian
  3. Equifax

(These three companies recently collaborated and now call their monitoring service VantageScore to be more consistent.)

If you already have a credit card, you should also be able to monitor your score with free credit score reporting through your bank. Log in and look for a link or toolbar where you can click to see your credit score.

Credit Karma and some credit card companies, like CapitalOne, even offer a credit simulation tool that allows you to see what would happen to your score if you were to make specific life changes. For example, if you pay off debt and lower your credit utilization ratio, your score will typically go up.

At the same time, taking out an auto loan or another kind of favorable debt sometimes improves your credit score because “good” debt is more desirable for creditors to see than “bad” consumer debt with high-interest rates, like credit card debt.

Though we don’t advocate taking out unnecessary loans to increase your credit score, it’s helpful to know which types of debt are considered “better” than others in the eyes of the credit bureaus.

CreditKarma Price: FREE Sign-up with CreditKarma to get your credit score for free, today! Get Started CreditKarma

Find Credit Cards for Your Credit Score Range

Once you know your credit score, the next step is finding out which credit cards are best suited for scores in your range. A good card rating website will often tell you which scores are typically accepted for every credit card.

You’ll commonly see categories like “excellent credit,” “good credit,” “fair credit,” and “bad credit.”

Though you’ll see some variability, here’s how these terms are roughly broken down based on your credit score:

  • “Excellent”: credit rating is between 800 and the maximum score of 850
  • “Very Good”: credit is 740 to 799
  • “Good”: credit rating is between 690 and 740
  • “Fair”: credit is between 580 and 690
  • “Bad” or “Poor”: credit is anything lower than 580

What Are The Best Credit Cards For My Score?

After you’ve learned what factors go into your credit score, you’ve used a free credit monitoring service to find out what your credit score is, done all that’s within your power to raise your credit score to the highest number possible, it’s time to start exploring some options.

Here are just some of the cards we recommend, based on your current credit score.

Best Credit Card for Good to Excellent Credit:

Once you have an “excellent” credit score, it will start to feel like the world is at your fingertips. By gaining an understanding of what score is needed for a credit card, you are well on your way to making your dreams a reality.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account, and there's no limit to how much you can earn. Learn More Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best Credit Card for Fair Credit

Credit cards are abundant when you have fair credit, you can earn some pretty good rewards, but if you keep working on improving your credit, the benefits can get even better!

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card Pay no annual fee, get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time, plus, fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen. Learn More Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Best Credit Card for Bad Credit

If you have poor credit, you can still get a credit card. Though you will likely have a small credit limit and very high interest, you can use a credit builder card as a lifeline to help you establish creditworthiness.

Once you demonstrate good habits of paying off your balance every month, you’ll see your credit score grow.

Merrick Bank Double Your Line™ Visa® Credit Card See if you are Pre-Qualified in less than 60 seconds without harming your credit score. Double Your Line by making at least your minimum payment on time each month for the first seven months your account is open. After you make your payments, the increase is automatic. Get your updated FICO® Score each month when it is provided to us from the credit bureau. Learn More Merrick Bank Double Your Line™ Visa® Credit Card

Best Credit Card for No / Limited Credit

Don’t have any credit? No worries, you can get a card to help you build your credit, and you can earn cash back!

Deserve EDU A college credit card for all students - both from the US and visiting from abroad. (For international students, a SSN is not required to apply) Amazon Prime Student Membership (get reimbursed for subscription fees up to a lifetime total of $59) 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Learn More Deserve EDU

What Credit Card Will You Get With Your Credit Score?

It’s probably no surprise that the cards offering the absolute best rewards (and the lowest interest rates) require that customers have the highest credit scores.

So when you’re dreaming of your trip to Fiji, be sure to stop and ask whether you have the credit score needed for a travel rewards credit card.

If not, it’s worth taking steps to improve your score and apply once you make a better candidate. If your credit score is hurting, the best credit cards for bad credit can help you improve your score while providing the convenience of a credit card for occasional purchases.

David Weliver

David Weliver

David Weliver is the Credit Cards Editor at Millennial Money. He is the Founder of Money Under 30 and is widely regarded as one of the top credit card rewards experts in the world. David has been writing about personal finance and credit cards since 2006 and been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and many others.
David Weliver

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Millennial Money has partnered with CardRatings and creditcards.com for our coverage of credit card products. Millennial Money, CardRatings and creditcards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or financial offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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