Credit Cards Based on Credit Score: What Cards and Issuers Will You Be Approved For?

Madison Baker  | 

Your credit score is one of the most popular representations of the health of your finances. It can affect virtually all aspects of your life, from the interest rates on your loans to what properties you can rent. Credit scores can also affect which credit cards you’re qualified for, and if you have a lower credit score, it may be difficult to get approved.

Your FICO score is only one of many factors that go into your application for a new credit card. Between all of the major credit card issuers, you may have more options than you think. Even if you have poor credit, there might be credit cards you’re qualified for. To find the card that best fits your financial needs, here is a list of credit cards from popular issuers grouped by FICO score:

579 and Below: Credit Cards for Poor Credit Scores

FICO scores of 300 to 579 are considered “poor” credit scores. Generally speaking, if your credit score is poor, it’s more difficult to get approved for a credit card because you are a “risk” for the lender. There are many reasons you might have bad credit, but common causes include things such as late payments on your credit card, or defaulting on payments, both of which are undesirable for a lender.

Your options for a card will likely be limited to secured credit cards, but you may be able to acquire an unsecured credit card with a cosigner or as an authorized user. Some of the best credit cards for someone with a poor FICO score include:

Capital One Secured Mastercard:

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: $49, $99, or $200, depending on your creditworthiness
  • Features: An initial credit line of $200; can be higher if you make a larger deposit before opening
  • Other Rewards: Can get a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on-time

Total Visa Card

  • Fees: $89 processing fee
  • Security Deposit: None, but requires a checking account to open
  • Features: Fast and simple application process with an almost immediate response
  • Other Rewards: Reports monthly to all major credit bureaus

Fingerhut Credit Account

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Reports to all three major credit bureaus each month
  • Other Rewards: Simple application process with a response in seconds

These cards, and others like them, are designed to help people with poor credit improve their credit scores. Rebuilding your credit takes time and effort, but it is an investment worthy of your attention and energy. After using one of these cards to start the process, more and more credit card options will become available to you.

580 – 669: Credit Cards for Fair Credit Scores

If your credit score ranges from 580 to 669, it’s considered “fair” or “average.” Though a fair score is better than a poor one, you likely won’t qualify for as many credit cards as someone whose score is “good” or “excellent.” You may have had a higher score but missed several payments or have a limited credit history, but either way, you will need to continue establishing yourself as a low-risk borrower before qualifying for other credit cards.

Be strategic if you have a fair credit score. You may be eager to submit various applications, but each comes with a hard inquiry. While one or two of these inquiries is nothing to worry about, too many can actually lower your credit score and make it more difficult to get approved. These cards are a great option if you have a fair credit score:

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Can choose your payment due date; monitor your monthly Experian score online
  • Other Rewards: One percent cash back reward on eligible purchases

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Get a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time
  • Other Rewards: Free online monitoring of your credit score with CreditWise

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Fees: $39 annual fee
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase
  • Other Rewards: No limit or expiration on cash back rewards

You may still have difficulty getting approved for these cards if your credit score is on the lower end of this range. If you have concerns about whether or not you’ll get approved, consider sticking with a secured credit card or one of the cards aimed at people with poor credit scores. You’re more likely to get approved and reduce the risk of lowering your credit score with too many hard inquiries.

670 – 799: Credit Cards for Good Credit Scores

A “good” credit score falls within the range of 670 to 799. According to FICO, 704 is the average FICO score in the United States — the eighth year of an increase since the Great Recession in 2008. FICO also notes that this increase is due mostly to fewer consumers having scores lower than 550 and an increase in people with scores above 800.

With a good credit score, a greater number of credit cards with benefits become available to you, such as cash back opportunities and travel rewards. Shop around and determine what kinds of perks are most important to you. Popular options for these rewards include:

Discover it Cash Back

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Earn five percent cash back on qualifying purchases and unlimited one percent on all other purchases
  • Other Rewards: Match all cash back earned in the first year

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
  • Other Rewards: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in first three months of account opening

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • Fees: None during first year; $95 annual fee after
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Earn 2 airline miles per every dollar spent on every purchase
  • Other Rewards: Earn 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in first three months of account opening

These benefits are enticing and can make your spending more rewarding as you continue to build credit. If you continue to use your cards responsibly, you may soon find yourself qualifying for cards aimed at users with excellent credit.

800 – 850: Credit Cards for Excellent Credit Scores

FICO scores from 800 to 850 — which is the maximum score — are considered “excellent.” Even if you don’t have a perfect 850, any score above 800 is enough to get approved for practically any credit card. This high of a score puts you in a great position, because the credit cards with the best benefits have the highest credit score requirements.

If you have an excellent credit score, you have proven that you are a reliable and trustworthy borrower, which is why such exciting benefits are available. In addition to perks like cash back or travel rewards, you may also encounter higher credit limits, lower interest rates, and larger sign-up bonuses. The following credit cards provide these benefits and are generally only available to those with excellent credit:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • Fees: None during first year; $95 annual fee after
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Earn two cash reward points per dollar spent on travel and dining; earn one point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Other Rewards: Receive 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening account

Citi Double Cash Card

  • Fees: None
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Earn unlimited double cash back: one percent on every purchase and an additional one percent when you pay it off
  • Other Rewards: Use Citi Private Pass to access presale tickets and deals to eligible events

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

  • Fees: $95 annual fee
  • Security Deposit: None
  • Features: Earn six percent cash back at supermarkets in the U.S. of up to $6,000 in purchases; enjoy one percent cash back after $6,000
  • Other Rewards: Receive a $200 credit to your statement after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account

Getting approved for a credit card can be tricky, regardless of what your credit score is. Just as there is no minimum score needed to obtain a credit card, having an excellent score may not be enough to get qualified for one either. Other factors can influence whether or not you do get approved, some of which you may not be able to control — like the length of your credit history, for example.

Your credit score can give you an idea of what you might be approved for, but it’s not a guarantee that you’ll qualify. Instead of worrying about how your credit score can affect which cards you qualify for, try to focus on using your available credit responsibly. As it builds, your score will naturally increase, and that’s how you’ll be able to reap the associated rewards.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

This post was updated March 18, 2019. It was originally published February 7, 2019.