5 Best Credit Cards for People With Excellent Credit

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If you have excellent credit (your credit score is around the 720-850 range), the chances are you already know it. You always pay your bills on time, and you are very unlikely to carry a balance on your credit cards. In return for your responsible nature, you are deluged with offers for more credit cards. Overwhelmed and disillusioned with all of these choices, many of you are content to remain loyal to whichever card you had been using for years. It’s easy, comfortable, and hassle free to use the same card in perpetuity. But by doing so, are you betraying the sound principals of financial management that earned you your excellent credit score? (See also: Surprising Things That Can Kill Your Credit)

Snap Out of It!

Those with excellent credit are likely to be using their cards simply as a method of payment, and they may be earning some additional rewards. Nevertheless, this practice is akin to storing money in a bank for safekeeping, without concern to the returns being accrued on your investment. The reality is that like savings, credit card spending should also produce a competitive return. Although saving is always a preferable activity to spending, those with excellent credit are leaving money on the table by not attempting to maximize the returns on their credit cards.

The Ways to Earn High Returns on Spending

The best way to compare credit card rewards is through the percentage of value earned per dollar spent. For example, 1% cash back is the bare minimum that you should expect from any reward card. If you are earning that amount or less, it is as unwise as closing on a mortgage with a higher APR that what is available. The two most common ways to earn credit card rewards are in the form of cash back or loyalty points such as frequent flier miles. If you are earning points or miles, you should assign a value to them in order to assure you are receiving the returns you deserve. The more value you earn per dollar spent, the better you are doing. Finally, there are a few cardholders who do have excellent credit, but may carry a balance from time to time. These people should always carry a credit card with the lowest APR on the market.

The Best Cards for People With Excellent Credit

Each of the cards on this list are only offered to those with excellent credit, but they offer very high rates of cash back or points. The exception here is the Simmons First card, which as the card with the lowest interest rate on the market, is a great choice for those who carry a balance. There is no one card that is perfect for everyone, but each has its unique advantages that appeal to different types of cardholders.

Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card

At the top end of cash back rewards cards are those rare products that earn 2% cash back on all purchases, all the time. Fidelity offers several versions of its American Express card that do just that. In this case, the cash back is returned to the Fidelity account of your choice, such as a Fidelity IRA, Fidelity-Managed 529 Account, Brokerage Account, or Cash Management Account. There is no annual fee for this card and only a 1% foreign transaction fee.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One offers this card to applicants with an excellent or good credit rating. By using this card, customers can earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus, you can enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel. There's no limit to the miles you can earn, and miles don't expire. There is a $59 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and like all of their cards, there are never any foreign transaction fees. And with the 100% free Capital One® Credit Tracker, you can see your monthly credit score at any time and get automatic alerts.

Click here to apply for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase has been making an all-out effort to court those with excellent credit histories, and the Sapphire Preferred has quickly become their flagship product. Chase offers a single Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent on most purchase, with double points for spending on travel and restaurants. Triple points are earned for spending on travel through their Ultimate Rewards site, and all points earned are eligible for a 7% bonus at year’s end. Once earned, points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.25 cents each towards travel, or one cent each towards other experience and merchandise awards. Finally, Ultimate Rewards points can be instantly transferred to points or miles in the program's several different airlines and hotels. In fact, you can even transfer points to other people’s accounts, a feat impossible with most other programs. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, but there are never any foreign transaction fees. Finally, this card is made of some type of plastic and metal sandwich giving it a heavy, solid feel that always draws comments when I use it.

Simmons First Visa Platinum

Not everyone with great credit is in a position to pay all of their credit card balances in full each month. Cardholders with near-perfect credit who occasionally carry a balance should do so on the card with the lowest standard interest rate on the market. The Simmons First Visa Platinum offers an APR equal to the Prime Rate plus 4%, the lowest rate that I am aware of. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a foreign transaction fee of 2%.

Click here to apply for the Simmons First Visa Platinum

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Here is the card for those who understand and appreciate the value of hotel points and airline miles. The Starpoints earned by this card can be redeemed for any available standard room at any Starwood Hotel, including Sheratons and Westins. These points are extremely valuable because there are no blackout dates or capacity restrictions in the program. Alternatively, your Starpoints can be exchanged for miles in the programs of nearly 30 different carriers around the world. Since each of those carriers can have dozens of partners, the award options are nearly limitless (up to 150 different airlines will be available). Redeem your points for miles, and use those miles for premium class international travel, and it is easy to see returns of 5% or higher on each dollar spent. There is a $65 annual fee for this card that is waived for the first year, and American Express does charge a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

  • Earn up to 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Earn 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase on the Card and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.
  • Redeem Starpoints for free nights at over 1,100 hotels & resorts in nearly 100 countries and for free flights on over 150 airlines with SPG Flights - all with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • Starpoints stay active as long as you continue to spend on your Card.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65.
  • Terms and Restrictions apply.

If you have excellent credit and you are not getting at least 2 cents in value for each dollar spent, or the lowest interest rate on the market, you need take a serious look at the cards on this list. As a smart consumer with excellent credit, you should always be receiving the highest return on not just your savings, but on your spending as well.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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16 discussions

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Guest's picture

The "extra" 1% or so is quickly offset by the annual fees. It's not worth it!

Guest's picture

Depends on the math.

I spend about $1200 a month on a 1% card. The $140 or so worth of points I earn a year is $40 more than my annual fee, and I also get 6000 points with my annual fee. Tack that on to the 50,000 points I received for sign up, and I get a great deal.

Of course, carrying no balance is key!

Guest's picture
David M

I just got the Sapphinire card a month ago - I'm making good progress towards the $3,000 expenditure to get 50,0000 bonus points.

I will cancel the card when the $95 fee is charged next year.

I love that you can exchange the points for many differnet programs - I just do not love it enough to pay them $95 to do that.

Guest's picture

I'm surprised you didn't mention the Sallie Mae 2% rewards visa. It's similar to the Fidelity Amex, but being a Visa, it is accepted at more places.

Will Chen's picture

Thanks for the suggestion. I don't have any investment accounts with Sallie Mae, but they do handle my student loans. Do they have any special programs credit cards related to student loans?

Jason Steele's picture

Sallie Mae is a good card, but it has some flaws. Cash back is only at a rate of 1.3% if you redeem less than 25,000 points at once. So you only get your 2% cash back after spending at least $12,500. I think most people will earn less by redeeming fewer points at once. It's also a points based card, so the points could be devalued overnight at their discretion. Finally it also has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Guest's picture
Sarah V

I just signed up for the Sapphire Card, thanks for letting me known about the no foreign transaction fees. I am in the midst of planning my summer trip and this is one more thing to check off of my list!

Guest's picture

I've been offered a few cards that will give me 1% back on everything plus a one-time bonus of $100 or $50 if I charge $500 in the first three months. I was going to give it a try, but this was after christmas and I had no plans to charge much. We use a cash envelope system and are on a pretty tight budget. Anybody get these to work out in their favor?

Guest's picture

Nice list Jason. I roll with the Venture card and apart from the statement credits, the one cent per mile gift card options are really good compared to Ultimate Rewards, especially when used for Itunes giftcards, which cost 2,500 miles for $25 with Capital One but 3,000 points for $25 with Ultimate Rewards.

Guest's picture

I've got an Amazon Visa that I really like. 3% back on Amazon purchases. 2% on food and gas (which includes purchases at Super Target, which I guess is classified as a grocery store), 1% on everything else. No annual fee.

The rewards are only good on Amazon, but I shop there for tons of stuff, especially for gifts, anyway, so that's not a hindrance for me.

It does have the standard 3% international transaction fee, but I travel internationally very rarely.

Guest's picture

I have the same card and love it. You don't have to spend the rewards at amazon, cash back is an option too.

Guest's picture

Is there a good mastercard option? I already have a Visa Platinum Plus Rewards card from BofA that I got in 2006 that I LOVE. That's the kind of card I want...0% APR too. I only have the one Visa card, a FICO score in the upper 700s, and I do pay my balance of in full every month.

Any suggestions?

Guest's picture

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Guest's picture
Freddie G

The Chase Sapphire card is what I use personally. Sometimes they are harder to get, but they have excellent limits and terms for consumers wanting credit cards. I'd take a look into them given your in the market for a new card.

Guest's picture
Kathy Cooper

I had a Capital One credit card for many years with a 1% cash back reward. When I closed that account out, I received a check for $320. I got to thinking that there must be a card with better rewards, so I went looking online and found my current card, a Capital One Cash Rewards card with 1%back on everythng, $100 bonus after spending $500 and a 50% cash rewards bonus at payout ( not including the $100 bonus). So if I have a total in rewards of $200, I would actually receive a check for $250. There are no categories to choose from and no annual fee. The only real requirement is you must have excellent credit. Some months I use my card a lot and some months I don't, but I know it will pay off at pay out time. I know there are cards that pay 2% on groceries and 3% on gas or whatever, but being a widow, I don't spend a lot of money on either one of those categories, so my Capital One Cash Rewards card is the best one for me.

Guest's picture

Remember that when you cancel a credit card, your FICO score takes a tremendous drop......something to keep in mind.......low scores yield higher rates on loans and many other transactions.