What Credit Score Do you Need to Get a Rewards Credit Card?

FT Contributor
A woman holding a tablet that displays a credit score screen in one hand while holding a rewards card in the other.

A rewards card is a credit card that provides the cardholder with a rewards program. This program allows you to make purchases with credit and earn rewards at the same time. When you use a rewards card to make a purchase, you earn cash back, travel rewards, or points, depending on the type of card you enroll for. There are also rewards cards for specific retailers, as well as those that offer gas rewards.

Like applying for any kind of credit card, to get accepted for a rewards card you need a decent credit score, as well as favorable credit history. In addition to helping you get accepted for the card, your credit score will determine the terms of the line of credit the company gives you.

Prior to applying for a credit card, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of your credit score. Note that some credit card companies are transparent about the credit score required to apply for their rewards cards, but others may not be.

Generally, credit scores range from 300 to 850. To check your credit score, you can request a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

If you’re interested in a rewards card but unsure whether you will qualify for one, this guide will help you understand the credit score you need to get a rewards credit card.

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Excellent Credit: 750+

You have excellent credit if your score is 750 or above. When it comes to applying for a credit card, a high credit score typically provides you with the largest variety of choices. Most often, the best credit cards and rewards cards are available to those with excellent credit.

Premium rewards cards typically come with rewards such as a significant sign-up bonus and no interest charged on purchases for an introductory period of time. If you have an excellent credit score with no serious delinquencies in payments and a low balance, this demonstrates to the credit card company that you are a responsible consumer. You may even be able to negotiate for better rewards.

Some of the most popular rewards cards for people who have excellent credit are:

Good Credit: 700-749

A good credit score is generally between 700 and 749. This score is still favorable among many credit card providers and can still give you access to plenty of credit rewards cards and premium cards. Often, these cards have higher rewards payouts, but higher annual fees as well.

Even if you don’t have a significant amount of credit history or experience with different types of credit, those with good credit may still obtain a rewards card as long as your credit history is clean.

Some of the most popular rewards cards for people who have good credit are:

Average Credit: 601-699

Those who have an average credit score generally fall between 601 and 699. If you have an average credit score, this is where a majority of the limitations kick in. While you might still have access to certain rewards cards, you’re typically more limited in your choice.

If you have late or missed payments in the past or hold a high balance on your current credit card(s), your credit score might fall into this average range. Similarly, past delinquencies involving other debts can cause your credit score to become average. To combat this score, pay off the balance on your credit card in full and set up automatic payments to ensure you’re never late or miss a payment.

Popular rewards cards for those with average credit include:

  1. Capital One Platinum Credit Card.
  2. Petal Visa credit card.

Poor or Rebuilding Credit: 600 and Below

If you have a poor credit score below 600 or you’re working on rebuilding your credit, you are severely limited in the rewards cards that are available to you. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get approval for a rewards card, but the opportunities and cards available to you are far more limited.

It’s extremely important to raise your credit score so that you can obtain more favorable rewards cards but also pay less on interest. To get started on rebuilding your credit score, pay your credit card bills in full and on time and avoid carrying a balance.

These are some of the most popular rewards cards for those with poor credit:

  1. Discover it Secured.
  2. OpenSky Secured Visa.

Other Factors That Influence Eligibility

There are other factors that may limit the opportunities you have in terms of rewards cards. Other factors that influence your eligibility for a credit card include:

  • Income.
  • Current amount of debt.
  • The number of credit cards already open.

When applying for any type of credit card, it’s important to read the fine print. This is where you’ll find valuable information like whether the rewards are taxed or the reasons the company might deny you a card. For instance, some cards will deny consumers because they open too many new credit cards within a certain period of time, which looks like credit card churning.

Reading the fine print will ensure you receive a favorable response from the credit card company.

It’s also important to note that you can lose your credit card rewards if you do not use them in a timely manner. Also, caveats depend on the credit card provider, so pay attention to the fine print in terms of how the rewards need to be used.

To most consumers, a rewards card can be worth the benefits. By carefully spending and paying off your balance on time, you’ll be able to earn more rewards and maintain a favorable credit score.

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