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How to find cards based on your credit score

Your score heavily impacts if you’ll qualify for a card.

Wondering how to pick your next credit card? Start with your credit score.

With this simple information, you may be able to narrow your options right away. Plus, you’ll save yourself from headaches — and unnecessary drops in your credit score — from denied card applications.

Why you should apply for credit cards based on credit score

Your credit score is far more than simply a passing consideration — it’s one of the key indicators whether you’ll qualify for a credit card.

If your credit score isn’t high enough for a credit card, there’s a good chance you’ll be denied. You’ll want to avoid denied card applications for a few reasons in particular:

  • Each time you apply for a card, your credit score is slightly impacted.
    After you submit a credit card application, the provider will check your credit report with a hard inquiry. This “hard pull” will typically cause your credit score to drop by a few points. If you applied for a card and were denied, your credit score may be lower when you’re ready to apply for another card. This might decrease your approval odds again.
  • Lenders can see if you’ve applied for new credit.
    Each time a hard inquiry is added to your credit report, subsequent lenders can see the record. They usually take it as a bad sign if they see you’ve applied for many credit cards. This hints you’re desperate for credit. Ultimately, they may deny your application based on this information.

This is why it’s smart to be selective about the cards you apply for. By aiming only for cards that fit your credit profile, you can increase your odds of approval and protect your credit score.

How do I find my FICO credit score?

There are third-party services that let you check your credit scores once for a fee, or pay an ongoing fee to check your updated scores once a month. These include MyFICO, Experian and GoFreeCredit.

Many banks and credit unions let cardholders check their credit scores for free each month. Most of the time, data is pulled from TransUnion or Experian.

Some of the best ways to find your FICO score are the Discover Scorecard and, which pull data from Experian. You can check your score monthly and you don’t have to be a Discover customer to use the feature.

FICO score ranges

RatingFICO score range
Excellent740 and higher

Compare credit cards based on credit score

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase, every day
15.99% to 23.99% variable
Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Compare up to 4 providers

How to get cards based on your credit score

  1. Find your FICO score through services like Discover Scorecard or MyFICO. Consider getting your score from each bureau, as card issuers pull credit reports from different bureaus for their card decisions.
  2. Pick a credit card type that fits with your FICO score range.
  3. Compare products within that card type. Important comparison factors typically include annual fees, APR, rewards and extra perks.
  4. Submit an application for a card you have high odds of being approved for. If you’re applying with a major card issuer, you may receive an immediate decision.

Types of credit cards to apply for based on credit score

Different types of cards are best for people who fit different credit score ranges. For example, those with poor or fair credit might be better suited for a credit-building card with a low annual fee and that reports your payment history to the three credit bureaus.

Those with good to excellent credit scores are more likely to qualify for some of the best credit cards — including those that offer rewards, such as cashback or travel rewards.

Which credit cards should I apply for if I have poor credit?

If you have poor credit, we recommend you apply for a secured credit card with no credit check. That’s a mouthful, so let’s break it down:

  • To open a secured credit card, you must put down a security deposit that’s typically a minimum of $200. Your deposit will usually be your credit limit.
  • A low credit score isn’t an issue if the provider doesn’t check your credit. Keep in mind the provider may have additional requirements and may charge annual fees and other costs.

If you have poor credit, watch out for unsecured cards

The best unsecured cards generally go to consumers with good to excellent credit. If you find an unsecured card that’s aimed at applicants with poor credit, you may find high interest rates, expensive annual fees, cringe-worthy terms and more.

Our advice: Strongly consider sticking with a secured card until you’ve repaired your credit.

Which credit cards should I apply for if I have fair credit?

With fair credit, you’ll still want to avoid most unsecured cards. For one, you may not qualify for the best ones. Also, the ones you do qualify for may offer poor terms, such as high annual fees or interest rates and even the lack of a grace period on interest.

Instead, consider these options:

  • Secured cards.
    You’ll have more options for secured cards versus someone with poor credit. You don’t have to apply solely for cards with no credit check. Plus, you may qualify for a secured card with rewards, no annual fees or low minimum deposits.
  • Store credit cards.
    Store credit cards are an option that most people miss. However, they can be a good choice because their providers often have more lenient requirements. Just note that, compared to secured cards, there may be fewer store cards that report your payment history to all three credit bureaus.
  • Some unsecured cards.
    There are some providers that offer legitimate products, such as Capital One. Some providers use proprietary methods to evaluate applicants beyond traditional metrics like credit scores and income.

Which credit cards should I apply for if I have good to excellent credit?

With good to excellent credit, you can choose from a wide variety of credit cards. These might include:

  • Rewards cards
    As you spend, you’ll earn cash back, points or miles. Cash back is pretty simple: Typically, you can redeem it as bank deposits or statement credit. Trade points or miles for redemptions such as travel, transfers to airlines and hotels, gift cards, statement credit and more.
  • Balance transfer cards
    If you have existing debt, you may be able to move it to a balance transfer credit card and pay 0% APR on it for a period of time.
  • Low-APR cards
    With strong credit, you may qualify for a lower-than-average interest rate. This is helpful if you typically like carrying a balance on your card.

You won’t automatically qualify for the card you want just because you have a good or excellent credit score. Each provider will evaluate you on a range of criteria, including your annual income and details on your credit report. Be selective and apply only for cards you think you’ll be approved for.

Compare credit cards based on your credit score

Here are a few credit cards we recommend based on your FICO credit score. If you have poor credit, seriously consider a secured card with no credit check. With fair credit, consider one of the better secured cards that might offer low deposits or even rewards.

If you have good to excellent credit, you have many more options — including cards that offer lucrative cash back, points or miles.

Poor (300-579)Fair (580-669)Good to excellent (670-850)
  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
  • Green Dot Platinum Visa® Secured Credit Card
  • Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Deserve® Classic Card
  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Citi® Secured Mastercard®
  • SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card
  • DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Justice Federal Credit Union (JFCU) VISA Classic Secured Card
  • SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
  • nRewards® Secured Credit Card
  • AeroMexico Visa® Secured Card
      • Chase Freedom Unlimited®
      • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
      • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
      • The Platinum Card® from American Express
      • American Express® Gold Card
      • PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Bottom line

Knowing your credit score is essential to finding the right credit card. Armed with this knowledge, you can better gauge your chances of approval.

If you need to build your credit score, consider a secured credit card. You’ll find many great products that will report your payment history to the credit bureaus.

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