The credit score you need for popular rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture

1 week ago 24

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  • It's good to know the credit score you'll need to get approved for a credit card before you apply.
  • Popular credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card generally require a minimum credit score in the high 600s.
  • Credit score guidelines vary by card, but the issuer will always make the final approval decision.
  • Read Insider's guide to the best rewards credit cards.

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If you have your eye on valuable travel rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express , you might be wondering whether your credit score is sufficient for an approval.

It's a good question — after all, the most popular credit cards are aimed at those with a robust credit history.

Not all rewards credit cards require a high credit score, however. Every card issuer has its own underwriting criteria, which aren't based strictly on credit score. Other factors can include employment, income, and any existing relationship with the bank.

We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

What credit card issuers look at in your application

No bank publicizes its underwriting criteria (in fact, banks consider this a trade secret). But because consumers freely report their experiences applying for credit cards via online forums such as myFICO, you can find hundreds of anecdotal data points.

Underwriting criteria for the banks can change at any time, and general criteria may not apply to your specific situation. For example, it's not unusual for banks to tighten lending requirements in a slowing economy, or to have more stringent lending criteria for people working in historically volatile industries. Remember that the bank is ultimately making a calculation about how risky of a borrower you are.

How to determine what credit score you'll need to open a credit card

You won't find one definitive answer as to the exact credit score you need to open a given credit card — athough some issuers will at least provide a credit range that offers the best chance for approval. Here are the five credit score categories, according to FICO:

  • Poor: 300-579
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Good: 670-739
  • Very good: 740-799
  • Excellent: 800-850

If you have a limited credit history, you might need to start smaller with a secured credit card or an option aimed at those new to credit.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Regular APR

16.24% - 23.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

Regular APR

16.24% - 23.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

More Information

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 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.
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.

Credit score of successful applicants, as reported on Credit Karma: Mid 600s to 850

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is widely considered the greatest starter travel credit card. It comes with excellent travel insurance benefits and a higher sign-up bonus: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a minimum $5,000 credit line. Although a credit score of 700 or above is typical for successful applicants, even college students with limited credit history and income from a part-time job have been approved for this card.

You must fall under the strict Chase 5/24 requirements to obtain this card — meaning you can't have opened more than five new credit card accounts in the last 24 months (excluding certain small business cards). Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review here.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Regular APR

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

Regular APR

17.24% - 24.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

More Information

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority PassTM Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Credit score of successful applicants, as reported on Credit Karma: High 600s to 850

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a Visa Infinite card with a credit line minimum of $10,000. Its bonus is currently 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

To have the best shot at an approval, you'll need an excellent credit score (typically above 720) to qualify for this card, and possibly higher income than cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You also abide by the Chase 5/24 rule.

If you're concerned that you may not be approved for this card, you can apply with a Chase banker in-branch who can work to understand your personal financial situation and advocate for you with underwriting.

Alternately, you can apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (which is easier to get) and ask to upgrade after the first year. If you have other Chase credit cards, you can reallocate your credit lines to your Sapphire Preferred for the $10,000 minimum credit line you need.

Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve review here.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Regular APR

16.24% - 24.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

Regular APR

16.24% - 24.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

More Information

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase-or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees

Credit score of successful applicants, as reported on Credit Karma: High 600s to 850

Capital One makes its underwriting criteria clearer than most issuers, with detailed information on credit quality required to open its cards. "Credit quality" is stipulated because the bank isn't looking just at your credit score. It concentrates on how you've used your credit.

Capital One says you'll need excellent credit to be approved for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card is offering 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

To Capital One, "excellent" credit means:

  • You've never declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan
  • You haven't been more than 60 days late on any credit card, medical bill, or loan in the last year
  • You've had a loan or credit card for three years or more with a credit limit above $5,000

Since Capital One spells its requirements out clearly, don't apply unless you meet them. Read our Capital One Venture review here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

Pros

  • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
  • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber

Cons

  • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
  • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
Read Our Review Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

More Information

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 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 earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: 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 you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover 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.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Credit score of successful applicants, as reported on Credit Karma: High 600s to 850

The Platinum Card® from American Express is perhaps the most premium mainstream card on the market. Its annual fee is a whopping The Platinum Card® from American Express(See Rates), signaling that it's not a card for those just starting out in the world of credit. It offers 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership.

While cardmembers have been anecdotally approved for this card with credit scores under 700, realize that this card is a long shot without excellent credit. Additionally, if your score is in the 600s, you may want to prove to yourself that you can handle credit responsibly before opening a pricey card like the Amex Platinum. Read our Amex Platinum review here.

Bottom line

It's possible to be approved for some of the best cards in the credit card world with a credit score in the high 600s. However, we don't recommend that you dive into rewards credit cards until your score is at least 700. This will give you the best shot of being approved — so you won't waste hard credit inquiries (which temporarily lower your credit score) on unsuccessful attempts.

Once you've got a credit score above 700, check out our guide to the best rewards credit cards to see which one best fits your lifestyle.

Caroline Lupini

Freelance reporter

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