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Top Credit Cards for Excellent Credit

Top Credit Cards for Excellent Credit
Jason Steele

Jason Steele

Updated October 15, 2021
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Excellent (or as it’s sometimes called, exceptional) credit is a valuable thing to have--especially when you’re shopping for a credit card. The exact cutoff can vary, but credit bureau Experian defines excellent credit as a FICO® score between 800 and 850. Among the benefits of having a credit score in this range is that you may be more likely to have access to credit cards that offer you good deals and special benefits. With a very high credit score, you also  have a lot of credit card options to choose from, and it’s up to you to pick the features and benefits that are most important to you in a credit card. When choosing the top credit cards for excellent credit, we looked at the value of the rewards and/or benefits that come with the card, the earning structure for cash or points, and any new account bonus offered. We also considered the annual fee, although several of the top credit cards in this category do have annual fees.

How We Chose the Top Credit Cards for Excellent Credit

To find the top credit cards for excellent credit, we first divided the market into the following seven categories: 
  • Top flat-rate cash-back cards for excellent credit
  • Top cash-back cards with bonus categories
  • Top premium travel cards for rewards
  • Top premium travel cards for benefits
  • Top cash-back small business cards
  • Small business cards for travel benefits
  • Top cards for interest-free financing
Then we looked at more than a dozen major credit card issuers and credit unions to find the top cards in each of these categories. We included only cards that anyone can apply for, leaving out products offered by credit unions that not everyone can join.Next, for each category, we looked at the most relevant factors. For example, premium travel cards for rewards should offer good opportunities to earn points and redeem them for travel, while premium travel cards for benefits should offer extra travel perks like status. While credit card terms may change from time to time, the following rankings reflect information that was accurate in October 2021. Recommended: Credit Card Terminology, Explained

Top Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card for Excellent Credit

If you have excellent credit but don’t travel much, a cash-back credit card can provide great value. Some cash-back cards are better for bonus categories, while others have solid flat-rate earning structures. If you don’t want to deal with keeping track of bonuses, a flat-rate cash-back card may be for you. To find the top flat-rate cash-back credit cards, we looked at options that offer a straightforward earning structure without an annual fee.

If You Want a Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card for Excellent Credit: Wells Fargo Active Cash

The Wells Fargo Active Cash card offers a very strong cash-back rate of return on all purchases, a new account bonus, and a few valuable benefits. With this card, new applicants can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on new purchases within the first three months of opening the account. This card earns a straightforward 2% cash back on all purchases with no rewards category limitations or quarterly activations required. New cardholders can also get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months after account opening on both new purchases and on qualifying balance transfers made within 120 days of account opening. After the introductory period, the variable APR will be between 14.00% and 24.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. The card also comes with up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your Wells Fargo Active Cash card. There’s no annual fee for this card.

Pros:

  • No annual fee.
  • Simple, 2% cash back on all purchases. 
  • Cell phone protection for damage or theft.

Cons:

  • No bonus categories for earning cash back.
  • The new cardholder bonus is not the highest on the market.
  • Not as many cardholder benefits as some cards. 

Top Cash-Back Cards with Bonuses for Excellent Credit

If you want a cash-back card that earns a little more on select purchases that you make frequently, then you might check out cash-back cards with bonuses. Cards with bonus categories provide better cash-back rates, but they may require category activation or have a maximum bonus earning amount. To find the top cash-back credit cards with bonuses for excellent credit, we looked at options that offer earning rates beyond the normal amounts, plus added benefits.

If You Want a Cash-Back Card with Bonuses for Excellent Credit: American Express Blue Cash Preferred

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card offers great bonus categories for cash back. This card earns 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 6% on U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases), and 3% on U.S. gas stations and transit. On all other purchases, you can earn back 1%. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.New cardholders can earn $150 back after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Plus, they can also earn 20% cash back on Amazon.com purchases within the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back. Although it’s wise to avoid carrying a balance on premium credit cards, this card does come with a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first twelve months. Car rental loss and damage insurance is an added benefit. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, which is waived for the first year.

Pros

  • It’s a good card for Amazon users.
  • Purchases from U.S. supermarkets and select streaming services earn an impressive 6% back.
  • It offers 0% introductory APR for the first twelve months.

Cons

  • U.S. supermarket earning is capped at $6,000 per year, which can be easily reached by families who spend a lot on groceries.
  • No bonuses are offered for other popular categories like dining.
  • There are few travel or premium benefits with this card.

Top Premium Travel Cards for Rewards

Premium travel rewards cards can have great appeal and value for people who travel frequently. To find the top premium travel rewards cards, we looked at cards that offer good earning and redeeming options for travel.

If You Want a Premium Travel Card for Rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers premium travel rewards and benefits. New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. The card earns 5x on flights purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 10x on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 10x on Chase Dining, 3x on restaurants and delivery services, 3x on travel, 10x on Lyft rides through March 2022, and 1x on everything else. Points are earned in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and can be redeemed for travel reservations booked through Chase or transferred to airline or hotel partners, such as United MileagePlus, British Airways, Marriott, Hyatt, and others. When you redeem points for travel through reservations booked through Chase, your points are worth 50% more, making the 60,000 points worth at least $900 in travel. The card also comes with a $300 automatic annual travel credit that can be used for travel purchases, as well as gas stations or grocery store purchases through 2021. You also receive a $60 credit for DoorDash good during the remainder of 2021 and a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. A Priority Pass Select membership for participating airport lounges, travel insurance, and purchase protection policies are just some of the other premium travel-related benefits. There is a $550 annual fee for this card.

Pros:

  • Strong bonus rewards are provided on travel and dining purchases.
  • Points are flexible and can be redeemed for a variety of travel-related expenses.
  • The $300 annual travel credit is easy to use and it can bring the net cost of annual fee down to $250.

Cons:

  • The annual fee is quite high.
  • Some of the credits and flexibilities to the card aren’t being offered after 2021.
  • You don’t get any elite status offers with this card.

Top Premium Travel Cards for Benefits

Some frequent travelers are more interested in the benefits than in the earning and redeeming of travel points. If you travel frequently or like to travel in luxury, a premium travel benefits card could provide you with a great deal of value. To find the top premium travel benefits cards, we looked at cards that offered many unique travel benefits that cardholders could take advantage of.

If You Want a Premium Travel Card for Benefits: American Express Platinum

The American Express Platinum card is one of the top premium travel cards due to its strong benefits and compelling rewards program. New cardholders can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases within the first six months after opening the account. The card earns 5X on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com. During the first six months of card ownership, cardholders can also earn 10X on eligible purchases at participating restaurants worldwide and at Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined purchases). The card earns 1X on all other purchases. Membership Rewards points can be transferred to hotel or airline partners, including Delta, JetBlue, Emirates, Air Canada, Hilton, Marriott, and more.The Platinum Card also comes with many monthly and yearly statement credits, including $200 back yearly in statement credits on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings, up to $300 back yearly on an Equinox gym membership, $20 monthly statement credits for participating digital entertainment partners like The New York Times, $15 monthly statement credits (and $20 in December) for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., up to $200 in annual airline incidental fees such as checked bags and $100 in annual statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue. Plus, get a $179 yearly statement credit for a CLEAR® membership and up to a $100 statement credit once every four years for Global Entry or every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck. The card also includes a Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge membership and access to American Express Centurion Clubs. It offers complimentary Gold status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. Gold status members can get things like space-available room upgrades and bonus points on stays. Other benefits include free shipping with ShopRunner, purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, baggage insurance coverage, car rental loss and damage insurance, and travel accident insurance. Due to all of these benefits, there is a high annual fee of $695 for this card.

Pros:

  • The card provides gold status with Marriott and Hilton.
  • There are many statement credits to offset the annual fee.
  • Valuable point transfer options for travel are included.

Cons:

  • There’s a high annual fee. 
  • The card offers relatively few bonus rewards opportunities.
  • There are many statement credits to keep track of.

Top Cash-Back Small Business Cards

Small businesses without travel expenses may want to get cash back on their purchases. Since small businesses typically have greater expenses than an individual, they need a card that doesn't have a cap on earning but still offers a solid earning structure.

If You Want a Cash-Back Small Business Card: Capital One Spark Cash Plus

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus has an easy cash-back earning structure for a small business card. Cardholders earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. Plus, new cardholders can earn up to $1,000 in the first six months. This is broken down into two segments: $500 after spending $5,000 in the first three months, and $500 once the cardholder spends $50,000 in the first six months. In addition, businesses can earn an annual $200 cash bonus every year that they spend $200,000 or more. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card. This card has a $150 annual fee.

Pros:

  • Cash-back earning is unlimited and easy.
  • There are no bonus categories to worry about.
  • The new cardholder bonus is broken into two segments, so even if you can’t meet the minimum spend, you can still earn some of it.

Cons:

  • There’s an annual fee for this card.
  • Annual cash bonus spending criteria are high.
  • There are few other perks or benefits.

Top Small Business Cards for Travel Rewards

There are many small businesses for which travel is a major expense. For small businesses with employees who travel frequently one way to offset some of that cost could be a small business travel rewards card. To find the top small business travel rewards cards, we looked for cards with flexible point transfers so that small businesses can choose the best option for each business trip.

If You Want a Small Business Card for Travel Rewards: Chase Ink Business Preferred

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card offers small business owners Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for travel rewards. New applicants can earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 within three months of account opening. The card earns 3x points on up to $150,000 spent each year in combined purchases of shipping, online advertising, travel, internet, cable, and phone services. On all other purchases, cardholders earn 1x points. Points are earned in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and can be redeemed for travel reservations booked through Chase or transferred to airline or hotel partners, such as United MileagePlus, British Airways, Marriott, Hyatt, and others. The card also comes with added protections, such as cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation, and interruption insurance. There is a $95 annual fee for this card.

Pros:

  • Points can be transferred to many airline and hotel partners.
  • There’s a very valuable welcome bonus.
  • Purchase and extended warranty protections can come in handy for large purchases.

Cons:

  • There’s a $95 annual fee for this card.
  • The bonus categories are specific to certain types of small businesses, and not all may have these expenses.
  • The card offers no bonus points on categories related to travel.

Top Small Business Cards for Travel Benefits

Small businesses that require employees to travel frequently, that sponsor client travel, or that have top executives who are used to traveling in a certain class can get great value out of a small business card with excellent travel benefits. To find the top cards, we looked for travel benefits that go beyond the basic offerings.

If You Want a Small Business Card for Travel Benefits: American Express Business Platinum

The Business Platinum card from American Express is a premium small business card for travel benefits. New cardholders can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards bonus points after spending $15,000 within the first three months after account opening. Cardholders earn 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1x points on all other eligible purchases. Earn 1.5X points on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more, up to 1 million additional points per calendar year.Membership Rewards points can be transferred to hotel or airline partners, such as Delta, Hilton, Marriott, and British Airways. Membership Rewards points can also be redeemed for travel expenses through the Membership Rewards Pay with Points program. If you use Pay with Points for all or part of an eligible fare, you get 35% of those points back (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year). This card comes with several monthly and yearly statement credits. For example, you can receive a yearly $179 CLEAR credit as well as a $100 credit towards an application for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® (worth $85) every four years. Global Entry even includes TSA Pre✔ at no additional charge, making this an easy decision between the two. This card also comes with a $200 annual Dell Technologies statement credit, split into half between January and June and half between July and December. Additionally, the card comes with a yearly $200 airline fee credit for one qualifying airline for incidental fees such as checked bags or in-flight refreshments. Cardholders also get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status, which can get you extras like space-available room upgrades and bonus points on stays. If you purchase a round-trip airline ticket entirely with your card, you may also be eligible for covered trip cancellation insurance and trip delay insurance for delays more than six hours. Other card benefits include airline business lounge access, Fine Hotels + Resorts benefits, and discounts on premium private jet programs. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card. With all of these benefits, there is a $595 annual fee for this card.

Pros:

  • The card comes with complimentary hotel loyalty status for two major hotel brands.
  • You can get great earnings on flight and hotel purchases.
  • Points can be transferred to a variety of hotel and airline partners.

Cons:

  • The annual fee is high.
  • Some of the perks are more suited to luxury travelers.
  • There are many statement credits to keep track of.

Top Cards for Interest-Free Financing

If you have excellent credit, then you probably don’t carry a balance on your cards. However, you may have an upcoming large purchase where interest-free financing could be useful. 

If You Want a Card for Interest-Free Financing: US Bank Visa Platinum

The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum is a great card for interest-free financing. It offers a full 20 months of 0% APR financing on new purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period, the variable APR is between 14.49% and 24.49%. There are no benefits and no annual fee for this card

Pros:

  • The card offers 20 months of 0% APR financing on new purchases and balance transfers.
  • There's no annual fee.
  • It’s a straightforward card

Cons:

  • There are no benefits
  • No rewards are offered on this card. 
  • There’s no new account bonus.

The Takeaway

With excellent credit, you have a lot more options for top credit cards. By deciding which benefits or features are most important to you, you can leverage your excellent credit to enjoy one of the top cards on the market. Want to see more available credit cards? Lantern by SoFi can help. Fill out one simple form to see credit card offers from multiple lenders in our network. 
Photo credit: iStock/AsiaVision
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.SOLC0921191

About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

Jason Steele has been writing about credit cards and award travel since 2008. One of the nation's leading experts in this field, he has contributed to dozens of personal finance and travel outlets and has been widely quoted in the mainstream media.
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