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If you’re looking to apply for a new travel credit card, you’ve got plenty to choose from. You can narrow your search down to credit card reviews that offer the best rewards, the most valuable credit card sign-up offers, and handy travel benefits. But, you’ll probably still end up with a shortlist 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.
Free Credit Report
Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced that they are offering free weekly credit reports to all U.S. consumers. This will be available until April 20, 2021. 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 700-749, and excellent credit being anything above 750. Here are a few of the best travel credit cards 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.
Learn more: Credit Cards for Good Credit
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With an effective 2% 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.
New cardholders can earn a 100k mile bonus by spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
The information for the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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.
Chase Sapphire Preferred & Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase is a bit pickier about who they’ll approve for their rewards cards—especially the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Overall, the recommended minimum credit score needed to apply for either of these cards is 700, with the Reserve generally going to applicants with excellent credit.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit score needed tends to be a bit, likely because it is a premium credit card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit score is a bit more flexible, which is why it’s also a great travel card for beginners.
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 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. Knowing why is worth it, as you may have other options that you can apply for. Then, you can work your way up to get either of the Sapphire cards, some of the best miles credit cards available.
American Express Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card is another straightforward rewards card that earns 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 annually in purchases, then 1x). It also earns 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Plus, American Express Gold Credit Card cardholders can earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required. Additionally, cardholders get up to $100 in statement credits annually for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
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.
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.
Learn more: Credit Cards for Excellent Credit
Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Cardholders also earn 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. You can also enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection.
Another perk is up to $200 airline fee statement credits annually for incidental fees at one qualifying airline. Cardholders also get up to $200 in Uber savings for rides and eats in the U.S. Plus, get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (enrollment required).
New cardholders can earn 60,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. There is no foreign transaction fee on this metal credit card but there is an annual fee of $550 (See Rates & Fees).
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.
Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards
Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card is a unique one as it earns cash back twice — 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.
The Bottom Line: Credit Score Needed for Travel Credit Cards
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 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. 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.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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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.