Credit scores and histories play a tremendous role in determining what, if any, credit card perks are available to cardholders. Those who fall on the lowest rungs of the credit scale will typically find that merely getting a credit card is the perk, while those with good and excellent scores are faced with the somewhat daunting, high-end problem of having to ascertain which perks they can benefit from and which ones return little value.
Credit Card Perks: Poor, Bad and Miserable Credit
Credit card perks for those with credit scores that fit into the poor (580 to 619), bad (500-579) and miserable (below 500) categories have poor, bad and miserable options. This is not only confined to perks, but to the overall lack of credit cards available.
Presently, no major credit card company offers a rewards card for credit scores in this range, and the ones that do offer credit cards to this demographic charge onerous interest rates and substantial annual fees.
Consequently, consumers with credit scores of 619 and below should consider a reasonable annual fee ($49 or less) and an interest rate below 25% to be as good as perks get.
Credit Card Perks: Fair/Average Credit
A credit score in the 620-679 range provides a few more options, but that isn’t saying much. Very few credit card companies offer products to consumers in this category and, like cards for those with the lowest scores, most carry some type of annual fee and inflated interest rate.
Two exceptions to the broadly perk-less options available to consumers with average credit are the Capital One Cash Rewards and Barclays Rewards MasterCard. Capital One’s average credit rewards entry provides 1% cash back on all purchases, but carries a $39 annual fee. Barclay’s offering provides rewards points and does lack an annual fee. However, it carries an interest rate of 24.99% — nearly 10 full percentage points above the national average.
Despite the drawbacks of these cards, the rates and fees they charge aren’t dissimilar from what other companies presently levy on cards to consumers with average credit that lack any type of perks.
Credit Card Perks: Good and Excellent Credit
A consumer with a credit score above 680 is considered to have good credit, while one with a score of 720 or higher qualifies as excellent. Ninety-nine percent of all credit card perks are focused on consumers in this credit score range.
Consequently, the primary issue confronting consumers in search of credit card perks with good to excellent credit scores is narrowing down options to isolate cards that offer the best value.
Best Credit Card Perks
The first step in winnowing down options is deciding which type of reward offering is best. The primary options include:
- Cash Back Perks
- Proprietary Reward Points
- Airline and Hotel Branded Rewards
- General Travel Reward Miles/Points
Once a determination has been made regarding rewards type, high credit score consumers will generally find that cards matching their rewards interest have varying layers of extra value added perks. These non-reward perks are available on all American Express cards as well as on high end Visa Signature and World MasterCard products.
While the list of extra perks available is somewhat extensive, a few notable benefits available on high end rewards cards include:
- Enhanced auto rental insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- 24/7 personal concierge access
Ultimately, credit card perks are best viewed as a reward for consumers who have built up good credit scores as, unlike with just about anything else, money can’t buy these features. Thus, those who have good credit should actively take advantage of the perks available to them while those with less than pristine credit should focus on improving their credit scores so they too can enjoy the benefits available to consumers with good credit scores.
Jeffrey Weber is Editor-in-Chief of Smart Balance Transfers, a website designed to help consumers research and compare 0% APR balance transfer offers.