If you’re looking to apply for a new travel rewards card, you’ve got plenty to choose from. You can narrow your search down to credit cards that offer the best rewards, the most valuable sign-up bonuses, and handy travel benefits, but you’ll probably still end up with a short list that’s hard to choose from. Plus, you will want to know the credit score needed to be approved for each travel credit card. 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.
In this article, we’ll break down the average credit score needed to be approved for some of the top travel rewards credit cards on the market, with fair credit being 649-699, good credit 700-749, and excellent credit being anything above 750.
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, along with some of their key features and the recommended score needed to receive each:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Card
With an effective 2% rewards rate, some nice travel benefits, and the option to use your miles to either book travel through Capital One or as a statement credit toward travel purchases made in the last 90 days, the Venture card is firmly situated as a straightforward, midrange travel rewards card. It 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.
- Bank of America Travel Rewards
Like the Venture Card, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card earns a flat reward rate (of 1.5%) and lets you redeem your rewards as a statement credit toward travel purchases—although with a much larger window: travel purchases made in the last 12 months are eligible for a statement credit. This card also comes with the perk of having no annual fee and offering extra points on each purchase for cardholders who are customers of Merill Lynch, Merill Edge, or who hold a personal checking or savings account with Bank of America.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred & Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase is a bit pickier about who they’ll approve for their rewards cards—especially the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. Overall, the recommended minimum score to apply for either of these cards is 700, with the Reserve generally going to applicants with excellent credit. 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 credit cards in the last 2 years have been approved. If you aren’t approved for one of these cards but have a credit score over 700, you can always call a Chase representative to find out what impeded your approval.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest card is another straightforward rewards card, with a $0 introductory annual fee ($95 per year after that), 2x Starpoints on eligible purchases at SPG and Marriott Rewards properties, and 1x Starpoints on all other purchases. You can redeem Starpoints toward flights, hotel stays, and resort stays at over 1,300 properties and over 150 airlines, with no blackout dates. This isn’t the most flexible rewards card on this list, but it could be for you if you value booking hotel stays on points and have a credit score in the high 600s or low 700s, as a minimum.
For Travelers with Good-Excellent Credit: 700-850
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card & Platinum Card
The Premier Rewards Gold Card and Platinum Card from American Express offer extra points for airfare purchased directly from airlines (3x and 5x, respectively). The Premier Gold card awards 2x points for purchases at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets, while the Platinum awards 5x points for eligible airfare purchases. Both award 1x points on all other purchases. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, these cards let you transfer your rewards to airline and hotel partners, giving you the potential to maximize their value on your upcoming trip. You’ll need good or excellent credit to be approved for either of these cards: 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.
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
With 2x miles on all purchases, a 5% redemption bonus, and an $89 annual fee (waived for the first year), the Arrival Plus is among the most competitive, flexible travel rewards cards out there. It doesn’t quite carry the perks and travel credits that the AMEX Platinum offers, but you will likely need a credit score of at least 700 to be approved.
The Bottom Line: Credit Score Needed for Travel Credit Cards
While the numbers in this article are a good jumping-off point for narrowing down your travel rewards card search, keep in mind that there are always exceptions! Don’t be discouraged from applying 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: your credit history, the number of cards that you currently carry, and the number of cards you’ve applied for recently can all impact your application.
If all else fails, you can always apply for a card with a bank that you already have a relationship with, or apply for an everyday rewards card while you boost your credit score.
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