What Credit Score is Needed for a Credit Card?

Banks Editorial Team · November 3, 2018

What credit score is needed for a credit card? The short answer is, it depends. Nearly any credit score will qualify you for some type of credit card, though a lower score may prevent you from getting the particular card you’d prefer. The majority of “prime” and “superprime” credit cards require a credit score of at least 750. Basic cards with fewer rewards, higher interest rates, and lower credit limits are available to consumers with average or good credit (scores of 650-750). If you have poor credit, a secured card can help you to rebuild credit. Find out your credit score before you apply for a credit card:

 

 

Factors Affecting Credit Card Qualification

Your credit score is a key factor in determining whether you will qualify for a credit card — and several other factors are important too. Card issuers also consider your full credit report, especially your total debt and the length of your credit history, as well as your annual income and housing expenses. A recent missed payment might prevent you from qualifying for a credit card, even if your credit score is high. Low-income relative to your housing expenses might lead an issuer to offer you a card with a lower credit limit. And banks may be hesitant to issue you a new credit card if you already have several others, even if you manage them responsibly. While there is no clear answer as to what credit score is needed for a credit card, individuals with a higher credit score are more likely to qualify for lower interest rates.

The only way to know for certain whether you will qualify for a credit card is to apply. But applying for multiple credit cards and getting declined can lower your credit score, making it even more difficult to qualify for future cards, so it helps to have an idea of what credit score is needed for a credit card before applying.

Credit Score Tiers

Credit scores are divided into several tiers. These tiers vary somewhat by the lender, but generally fall along the following lines:

  • 750-850 Excellent
  • 700-749 Good
  • 650-699 Fair or Average
  • 560-649 Poor
  • 300-559 Very Poor

Credit scores below 650 are generally considered subprime and will be addressed collectively here under poor credit. Find out where you stand:

 

 

Excellent credit

If your credit score is in the excellent range (750 or higher), you are likely to qualify for any card you choose, including premium cards that offer high-value rewards or large signing bonuses. Cards in this category include most platinum cards, preferred cards, cash back cards, and cards offering travel rewards. An excellent credit score will also likely qualify you for any card from major issuers, such as Citi, Bank of America, Discover, Barclaycard, and Capital One. Plus you’re likely to qualify for a low interest rate.

Good credit

If your credit score is in the good range (700-750), you may still qualify for cards from major issuers, though they may place more importance on your income, existing debt, and other factors. Some cash back and reward cards are available to consumers with good credit scores, such as the Discover it Cash Back card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, and the Chase Freedom card.

Average credit

If you have an average credit score (650-699), you may not qualify for rewards or cash back cards, but you should still qualify for basic credit cards with no annual fees. A higher credit score is needed for a credit card with premium rewards, but average credit still gives you plenty of options. Capital One is widely regarded as the best issuer of credit cards for folks in this range, with cards such as the Capital One Platinum Credit Card and the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card designed to help consumers build credit through responsible credit card use. Retail store cards offer another possible avenue for credit building, as they often have lower approval requirements than cards issued by big banks. Be sure to read all the fine print before deciding on a retail card, however, as they also tend to have less favorable terms.

Interested in learning more about these credit card options? Visit the Capital One website for additional details.

Poor credit

If your credit score is poor or very poor (below 650), you still have a few credit card options available to you. There are several credit cards specifically designed for people with poor credit; approach these cautiously, as some have unfavorable terms or bad reviews for customer service. Your other option is to begin with a secured credit card, which requires a security deposit equal to your credit limit. It’s similar to a debit or prepaid card in that you have to deposit the funds in your account before you can use the card, but a secured credit card helps you rebuild your credit by reporting your payment history to the credit bureaus. Most of the major issuers offer secured cards.

No credit

A credit score is usually n=needed for a credit card, but there are some exceptions for new borrowers. If you don’t yet have an established credit history, you might still qualify for cards described in the average credit category above. Store credit cards and secured credit cards are other options, or you might consider opening a credit account with a co-signer who does have a credit history. There are also credit cards designed specifically for students to begin building credit.

Whatever your credit score, there’s a credit card out there for you. A little research into what level of credit score is needed for a credit card before you apply can ease the process and maximize your chances of approval.

 

 

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