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Credit Scores Needed For The Best Mile Credit Cards (Fresh Data)

Credit Scores Needed For The Best Mile Credit Cards (Fresh Data)

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Jul 25, 2018, 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.

Free travel from credit cards and the best offers aren’t just for people with perfect credit.

In fact, fresh numbers from July 2016 and October 2015 from CreditKarma.com show that many lucrative rewards cards don’t require a perfect credit score.

The data is below and shows how the most popular mile and travel credit cards compare on credit scores of actual cardholders who are registered with CreditKarma. 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 of CreditKarma members approved for the product


 AverageTypical Low
American Express
Amex EveryDay Credit Card676630
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card709674
American Express¨ Premier Rewards Gold Card729658
Gold Delta SkyMiles¨ Credit Card from American Express675624
Starwood Preferred Guest¨ Credit Card from American Express743657
The Platinum Card¨ from American Express716643
Bank of America
BankAmericard Travel Rewards750687
British Airways Visa Signature¨ Card747727
Chase Freedom¨683633
Chase Sapphire Preferred¨ Card736646
Marriott Rewards Premier721638
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier670607
United MileagePlus Explorer Card714633
Capital One / Citi
Capital One¨ VentureSM Rewards Credit Card738664
Citi Double Cash Card729653
Citi ThankYou¨ Preferred Rewards Card740673
Citi ThankYou Premier796745
Citi¨ Platinum Select¨ / AAdvantage¨ Visa Signature Card716633
Discover Miles733601

What’s surprising about this data isn’t the average score. It’s high, just above 700, which represents Good to Excellent credit. We expected that since these cards are 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. Many factors go into a credit card decision beyond your credit score from one source.

But what stands out is at the lower end of things.

You may not need a 700+ credit score to qualify for the best mile credit cards, with some like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offering wider acceptance than just perfect scores as issuers try to make rewards more accessible. In fact, scores well below 700 have been approved for many cards. There are lots constantly changing factors that go into qualification beyond your score, like your income and relationship with a bank, so don’t use the numbers above as a sure signal you’ll get approved.  But it’s clear not everyone approved for a mile credit card has a perfect credit history.

So what if you’re just getting started?

If your credit score is below 700 and you’re looking to get into the miles and points game with credit cards, keep a few things in mind.

Make sure you can pay off your mile credit card in full each month – the miles aren’t worth the interest charges that will hit you if you don’t.

Consider checking pre-screened offers. These will present offers based on a review of your credit profile, with a soft pull of your credit, which can help you narrow down your choices to cards that are actively trying to target you. Seeing a card there is no guarantee of approval, but it can help you narrow down your choices.

Consider an airline-branded credit card. It’s not clear why, but the cards of the major airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest, and United tend to have some of the lowest typical scores approved, including typical low scores around 600. That means if you have just Good or Fair credit you may have a better shot at getting approved for one of those instead of a card that isn’t affiliated with an airline.

Watch your credit report. Credit card issuers can pull any of the 3 major credit bureaus, and often switch things up regularly, though reports on CreditBoards.com show the most reports from these bureaus for each issuer:

Other than that, you shouldn’t be afraid of rejection. If you have the income to pay your credit card bill off each month, and a solid recent credit history, you could be eligible to start racking up bigger rewards.

Disclaimer: This article may contain links to MagnifyMoney, which is a subsidiary of LendingTree, the parent company of CompareCards.

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