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Having a travel rewards credit card in 2023 means you can earn points or miles on more purchases, regardless of your travel plans. During the onset of the pandemic, many banks enhanced card bonuses and revamped their products. They also added new partnerships with top companies, giving more opportunities to make use of their cards. With that in mind, finding the right card for your lifestyle is key.
You can narrow your search down to credit card reviews that offer the best rewards. Or maybe you want a valuable credit card signup offer that can be used to pay for any upcoming travel. Whatever you choose, there’s a good chance you will want to know the credit score needed to be approved for each travel credit card. Here’s where this post can help.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
That number (or range) is virtually impossible to nail down, as each bank looks at different criteria and pulls from different credit reporting bureaus. But, this article will give you a solid guide to applying for the best rewards cards for you.
Free Credit Report
Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced that they are offering credit reports for U.S. consumers. You can check to see if your information is up to date and check for any errors. Plus, if you don’t know your credit score already, this can be a helpful service for you. To see your report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com.
Credit Score Needed for the Best Travel Cards
Let’s break down the average credit score needed to be approved for some of the top travel rewards credit cards on the market. Fair credit usually ranges from 649-699, good credit from 700-749, and excellent credit is anything above 750. Here are a few of the best travel credit card options and what credit score is needed.
For Travelers with Fair-Good Credit: 649-749
If you have good or excellent credit, you’d probably have a shot at being approved for most midrange travel rewards cards. Here are some of the most popular options. You’ll also find some of their key features.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With an effective 2x rewards rate, some nice travel benefits, and the option to redeem your Capital One miles with a transfer partner, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is firmly situated as a straightforward, midrange travel rewards card. The credit score needed will generally require good credit to be approved, but depending on other factors (like your income and relationship with Capital One) you may be approved with a credit score leaning more toward the mid-to-high-600s. Here’s how Capital One describes the ideal applicant:
“I’ve never declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan; I haven’t been more than 60 days late on any credit card, medical bill, or loan in the last year; I’ve had a loan or credit card for 3 years or more with a credit limit above $5,000.”
The Capital One Venture card also comes with a fee credit of up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Earning 2x miles on every $1 spent and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a solid choice for travel.
The annual fee is $95.
However, if you are wanting to earn a few more miles on travel, there’s good news—earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Plus, Venture cardholders will earn 5x miles when booking through the Turo app or on Turo.com (through May 16, 2023).
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel, with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card earns a flat reward rate of 1.5 points for every $1 spent. You can redeem your rewards as a statement credit toward travel purchases including flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees. And if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Reward Member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase, which means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.
This card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. New cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus points if they make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. It’s also one of the best Bank of America cards.
Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase is a bit pickier about who they’ll approve for their rewards cards—especially the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Overall, the recommended minimum credit score needed is 700.
But Chase takes a lot of factors into account, including its unofficial 5/24 rule — in most cases, you won’t be approved if you’ve applied for 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months. At the same time, applicants with a lower credit score (think somewhere in the high 600s) but who have applied for only a couple of credit cards in the last 2 years have been approved.
If you aren’t approved but have a credit score over 700, you can always call a Chase representative to find out what impeded your approval. Knowing why is worth it, as you may have other options that you can apply for.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Rewards
There are several Chase Sapphire reward categories. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns unlimited:
- 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit)
- 3x points on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out)
- 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart®, and wholesale clubs)
- Also 3x points on select streaming services
- 2x points on all other travel purchases
- 1x point per $1 spent on all non-bonus purchases
There is a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit. It comes in the form of a statement credit that will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for hotel accommodation purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program, up to an annual maximum accumulation of $50.
Plus, on each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year. So, if you spend $25,000 on purchases, you’ll get 2,500 bonus points.
There is a $95 annual fee.
American Express Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card is another straightforward rewards card. It earns 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earns 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Plus, earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Another perk is the ability to earn up to $10 in statement credits on a monthly basis when you use your Gold Card to pay at the following dining establishments (enrollment is required):
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Milk Bar
- Shake Shack (only at participating locations)
This perk can save you up to $120 annually.
There are no foreign transaction fees, but there is an annual fee of $250 (See Rates & Fees).
New American Express® Gold Card cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months. Cardholders can choose between Gold or Rose Gold. Terms apply.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Credit Score Needed For Travelers with Good-Excellent Credit: 700-850
The credit score needed for these credit cards tends to range in the higher category. If you have good to excellent credit, you’ll find a variety of perks available.
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, and earns 5x Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Cardholders can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.
Also, get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline. This can be one of the best miles credit cards.
Plus, American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.
Additional The Platinum Card from American Express Benefits
There’s also a digital entertainment credit. Cardholders can get up to $20 in statement credits each month when they pay for eligible purchases with The Platinum Card® from American Express at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
In addition to enjoying TSA PreCheck or Global Entry access, cardholders can also enjoy CLEAR perks. Cardholders can use their Card and get up to $189 back per year on their CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.
Another exciting benefit is the ability for cardholders to enjoy up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when they pay with the Platinum Card®. This amounts to up to $300 annually. Enrollment required.
There is also a $155 Walmart+ credit to enjoy. This covers the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
Get the full details and learn more in our in-depth The Platinum Card from American Express review.
The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) but can be offset with the perks, which are valued at over $1,400.
Welcome Bonus Offer
New The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 on purchases on their new Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, they can apply and select their preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
How hard is it to get the American Express Platinum? The credit score needed should be good or excellent credit, ideally 700 or more. If you have an even higher score and/or an excellent credit history, you might want to consider the AMEX Platinum.
Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card is a unique one as it earns up to 2% cash back — earn unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. It has no annual fee. This makes it a great companion card to use instead of one that only earns 1% cash back. It’s also one of the best Citi credit cards available.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a great option if you want premium benefits, such as a fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Capital One Lounge and worldwide Priority Pass and Capital One lounge access, and up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel.
Cardholders also earn unlimited:
- 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
- 2x miles on all other purchases
Plus, get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on the first anniversary.
Use the miles you earn to cover your travel expenses. This can include flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. You can also transfer your miles to several Capital One travel partners.
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel, with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
The annual fee is $395, but there are no foreign transaction fees.
The Bottom Line
While the numbers in this article are a good jumping-off point, keep in mind that there are always exceptions. The credit score needed may vary. Don’t be discouraged from trying for a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture card if your credit score is somewhere around 670-680.
Banks take a few more factors into account than just your credit score. They look at:
- Your credit history
- The number of cards that you currently carry
- The number of cards you’ve applied for recently
All of these factors can impact your application.
If all else fails, you can apply for a card with a bank you already have a relationship with. Or, apply for an everyday rewards card while you boost your credit score.
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For rates and fees of The American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.