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This article was last updated Mar 04, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
If you’re looking for a miles or travel credit card, you may be under the impression that those cards are reserved for people with the highest credit scores.
However, many lucrative mile and travel credit cards don’t require anywhere near a “perfect” credit score to qualify. However, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact credit score requirements of a new card since issuers use different credit bureaus and criteria to determine eligibility.
The data listed below shows the credit scores of actual cardholders of popular mile and travel credit cards, who registered with CreditKarma, a credit score and monitoring website, from October 2015 to July 2016. It contains these pieces of information for each card:
- Average: This is the average score among those approved for the card via CreditKarma.com
- Typical low: This is the 5th percentile (lowest 5%) of VantageScore 3.0 scores provided by TransUnion for CreditKarma members approved for the card
THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL BE APPROVED FOR A PARTICULAR CARD, AND HAS NOT BEEN REVIEWED BY ANY ISSUER. IT IS FOR REFERENCE ONLY.
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express*||676||630|
|The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express*||709||674|
|American Express® Gold Card||729||658|
|Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express||675||624|
|Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (formerly, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express)*||743||657|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||716||643|
|Bank of America|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card||750||687|
|British Airways Visa Signature® Card*||747||727|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*||736||646|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (formerly, Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card)*||721||638|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||670||607|
|United℠ Explorer Card*||714||633|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||738||664|
|Citi Premier℠ Card||796||745|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||716||633|
Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
- Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
- 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR will apply
- If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
See additional details for Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
- Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.
See additional details for Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
One-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Earn unlimited 10x miles on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
- Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
- Named 'The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
See additional details for Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® for every $1 spent on other purchases*
No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- Admirals Club® membership for you and access for guests traveling with you*
- Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
See additional details for Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
*The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, British Airways Visa Signature® Card, Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, United℠ Explorer Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Some of these offers and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or are no longer available.
As expected, the combined average credit score for the cards mentioned above falls in the good-to-excellent range. This isn’t a surprise since these cards are often targeted to the banks’ best customers, and people who travel a lot tend to be a bit more well off than average. Just note that this data is *only* for the population of people who use CreditKarma.com and may be different than your result with a similar credit score.
What stands out is the “typical low” credit scores for many cards. These credit scores found above show that you may not need a 700+ credit score to qualify for the best mile and travel credit cards. Some cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer wider acceptance beyond just “perfect” credit scores as issuers try to make rewards more accessible.
In fact, scores well below 700 have been approved for many of the miles and travel cards listed above. Credit card approval can also depend on your income or relationship with a bank, or even how many other rewards cards you’ve recently applied for.
60,000 bonus points
2X points on travel and dining
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Earn 60,000 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®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
What to know before applying
If your credit score is below 700 and you’re looking to open a miles or travel credit card, keep a few things in mind:
Consider an airline-branded credit card. It’s not clear why, but co-branded airline cards from the major airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest and United, tend to have some of the lowest typical credit scores approved. That means if you have just good or fair credit, you may have a better shot at getting approved for an airline card.
Check out our list of the best airline credit cards.
Consider checking prequalified offers. See if you’re prequalified for a card before you apply. Many major travel rewards card issuers, including Capital One, Discover, Citi and American Express, have pre-qualification tools that allow you to see if you have a good chance of being approved before you fill out an application. Pre-qualification helps you shop around for the best card offers without hurting your credit score. While pre-qualification isn’t a guarantee of approval, it can help you narrow down your choices.
Review your credit report. Before you apply for a credit card, review your credit report from all three bureaus so you can make sure everything that’s on there is correct. Credit card issuers can pull one or all three reports from the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Applicant comments on CreditBoards.com show which credit bureaus the most reports were pulled from for each issuer:
- Amex: Experian
- Bank of America: Experian
- Barclays: TransUnion
- Capital One: Tends to pull all three
- Chase: Experian
- Citi: Experian
- Discover: Mix of the three
Once approved for a card, make sure you pay off your balance on time and in full each month. Any earned miles aren’t worth the interest charges and late fees that you’ll incur if you carry a balance month to month or pay late.
Other than that, you shouldn’t be too afraid of rejection. If you have a steady income, aren’t carrying a lot of other debt and a solid credit history, you could be eligible for that coveted miles or travel card.
Disclaimer: This article may contain links to MagnifyMoney, which is a subsidiary of LendingTree, the parent company of CompareCards.