Best Cards for Good Credit of May 2020

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What Can You Expect From Credit Cards for Good Credit?

Here’s what you should know about credit cards for those with good credit:

Rewards earning: More than 80% of cards for good credit earn at least two points per dollar or 2% cash back on bonus categories.
Sign-up bonus value: Almost 11% of cards for good credit have a sign-up bonus worth more than $500.
Annual fee: You’ll pay no annual fee with 61% of cards for good credit. Only about 9% of cards for good credit have an annual fee of more than $100.
APR: About 16% of cards for good credit have a minimum APR of 14.99% or lower, 70% have a minimum APR between 15 to 18.99%.
Benefits: Cards for good credit often have valuable benefits, with most offering travel accident insurance, travel credits, priority boarding, free checked bags, hotel status and other valuable cardholder perks.

What Is Good Credit?

When you have good credit, lenders will view you as less risky than consumers with fair, poor or very poor credit.

“With a good credit score, you’re likely to get into a credit card with a reasonable limit, lower fees, lower interest rates and possibly better program perks,” says Paul Golden, director of media relations with the National Endowment for Financial Education.

But good credit is not as ideal as very good or excellent credit, so scores in the good credit range are not in the top tier. Where exactly you fall in the range depends on whether lenders use FICO or VantageScore, the two main credit-scoring models.

Scores on the FICO scale fall between 300 and 850. Within that range are different categories:

  • Exceptional is 850 to 800.
  • Very good is 799 to 740.
  • Good is 739 to 670.
  • Fair is 669 to 580.
  • Very poor is 579 to 300.

Measuring with the FICO scale, 21% of Americans have a good credit score, which is considered average risk. About 8% of them will become seriously delinquent.

As with FICO, VantageScore 3.0 – the most recent version of the scoring model – assigns numerical credit ratings between 300 and 850. But the categories break down a bit differently:

  • Excellent is 850 to 750.
  • Good is 749 to 700.
  • Fair is 699 to 650.
  • Poor is 649 to 550.
  • Very poor is 549 to 300.

Although your FICO score can be as low as 670 and still qualify as good, 700 is the VantageScore cutoff. Compared with the FICO model, VantageScore 3.0 produces fewer Americans with a good credit rating: Less than 13% have a “good” rating and are likely to be approved for credit at competitive rates.

How Can You Get Good Credit?

Good credit, unlike excellent credit, doesn’t call for a long credit history or an exceptionally low credit utilization ratio – the amount of available credit you use. If you pay your bills on time and keep within your credit limits, good credit is possible.

While VantageScore determines whether your credit score is good based on six factors, FICO looks at five factors. VantageScore 3.0 assesses, in order of importance, payment history, age and type of credit, percentage of credit limit used, total debt, recent credit behavior, and available credit.

FICO weighs payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix and new credit, in that order. In the U.S., FICO scores are used in more than 90% of lending decisions, according to the credit scorer FICO research.

Both FICO and VantageScore consider payment history to be the most important factor. Good credit, then, means you make most or all payments to creditors on time.

It means you don’t max out your credit cards, either. As a general rule, good credit requires using less than 30% of your available credit. Exceeding this level indicates that you may be charging more than you can easily pay off.

On a credit card with a $5,000 credit limit, aim to have a balance of no more than $1,500 reported to the credit bureaus each statement period. Achieving excellent credit may require even lower use, about 7%.

The length of your credit history also can separate good from excellent credit. You might have good credit with a short credit history. However, you’ll need to demonstrate a history of on-time bill payments to reassure lenders that you’re a low credit risk and earn an excellent score.

Credit mix only makes up 10% of your FICO credit score, but showing creditors you can successfully maintain different types of credit is helpful to establish and maintain good credit. Ideally, you can demonstrate an ability to stay in good standing on installment accounts, such as a mortgage, an auto loan or a student loan, and on revolving accounts, including credit cards, and to open credit lines for cellphones or utilities.

Similarly, new credit is not a major factor with either FICO or VantageScore, but managing it properly can be helpful for good credit. If you’re shopping for new credit, multiple card inquiries may temporarily ding your credit score. Limit credit applications to products you will use and are reasonably confident in your likelihood of approval.

Overall, if you have good credit, focus on maintaining your score. “It doesn’t take much for it to fall,” Golden says. “Even one late payment can be significantly derogatory.”

What Do Cards for Good Credit Offer?

Cards for good credit provide many features of cards for excellent credit. Here is what’s in the cards for you if you have good credit:

Rewards. Because good credit offers access to most cards, expect to choose from credit cards with rewards that include cash, travel and points that can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise and more. Cards for good credit commonly offer at least one point per dollar on all purchases.

Depending on the card, you may be able to earn rewards at a higher rate, such as 5% cash back on quarterly rotating bonus categories.

Other cards may earn two or more points per dollar on all purchases, or in bonus categories year-round.

About 63% of cards in the U.S. News database available to consumers with good credit offer sign-up bonuses worth at least $150, but some offer sign-up bonuses worth $500 or more.

Benefits. Often, cards for good credit come with useful cardholder benefits. Some cards offer travel credits or perks, such as free checked bags. Frequently, cards for good credit provide some form of travel insurance, whether it’s trip cancellation and accident insurance or coverage for rental cars. And almost all offer purchase protection benefits, such as extended warranty coverage or cellphone insurance.

Some credit cards offer top-notch benefits, such as annual travel credits and airport lounge access. Benefits available with The Platinum Card from American Express include a $200 annual airline fee credit; access to the Global Lounge Collection, which allows cardholders to use a variety of airport lounges; and Uber VIP status with $15 in free rides each month.

Interest rates. Typically, cards available to consumers with good credit are rated for good to excellent credit. That means if you have good but not excellent credit, you might be approved for a card, but you shouldn’t expect to qualify for the lowest available APR.

Fees. Annual fees aren’t unusual with cards for good credit, but there are some available without an annual fee. Usually, cards for good credit have an annual fee of no more than $100.

How Can You Get Approved for a Credit Card for Good Credit?

Despite your good credit, you may not always be approved for the credit card you want. As with excellent credit, card approval depends on more than your credit rating, although it is an important factor.

In addition to your credit rating, card issuers want to see that you have the income and room in your budget to support at least the standard credit line for the account. They’ll consider your debt-to-income ratio, how many other credit card accounts you’ve recently opened and other factors.

“I recommend applying for credit cards for which you are likely to qualify,” says Gerri Detweiler, education director for Nav, which helps business owners build credit. “Not only is it discouraging to get a rejection, but there will be an inquiry on your credit report.”

Check whether the card issuer offers preapprovals before you apply. A preapproval can tell you whether you’re likely to be approved for the card with a soft inquiry, which has no effect on your credit rating.

When you’re confident you’ll be approved, you can submit an application, which will involve a hard credit check. A hard credit check can have a negative effect on your credit score, although it is typically small and temporary. If your application is rejected, consider a different card, or try again in a few months, after you’ve improved your credit score or other factors considered for approval.

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