Credit scores needed for the best mile credit cards (fresh data)

by on Tue January 20, 2015 • 6 Comments

Credit Scores - Credit Karma

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

In fact, fresh numbers for January 2015 from show that almost half of people with lucrative rewards cards don’t have an ‘Excellent’ credit score.

The data is below, and shows how the most popular mile and travel credit cards compare on credit scores of actual card holders who are registered with CreditKarma. It contains three pieces of information for each card:

  • ‘Average’ – This is the average score among those approved for the card via
  • ‘Typical Low’ = This is the typical lowest credit score among those approved for the card via
  • ‘% below 700′ = This is % of CreditKarma users who carry the card that have a current credit score below 700
AverageTypical Low% with score below 700
American Express
Amex EveryDay Credit Card67060576%
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card697626N/A
American Express¨ Premier Rewards Gold Card71361744%
Blue Cash Preferred¨ Card from American Express72965447%
Blue Sky from American Express711640N/A
Gold Delta SkyMiles¨ Credit Card from American Express69961351%
Starwood Preferred Guest¨ Credit Card from American Express73566214%
The Platinum Card¨ from American Express71664326%
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard743683NA
Priceline Rewardsª Visa¨ Credit Card70262028%
The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard¨730684NA
The US Airways Premier World MasterCard¨72461726%
British Airways Visa Signature¨ Card72464339%
Chase Freedom¨ Visa668611N/A
Chase Sapphire Preferred¨ Card72663731%
Marriott Rewards Premier70462655%
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier68360344%
United MileagePlus Explorer Card70661751%
Capital One / Citi
Capital One¨ VentureSM Rewards Credit Card731660N/A
Citi Double Cash Card71463752%
Citi ThankYou¨ Preferred Rewards Card748656N/A
Citi¨ Platinum Select¨ / AAdvantage¨ Visa Signature Card72362339%
Average - all cards listed71363542%

What’s surprising about this data isn’t the average score. It’s high, about 715, 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 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 don’t need a 700+ credit score to qualify for the best mile credit cards. 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 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, most with typical low scores around 600. That means if you have just Good or Fair credit you might have a better shot at getting approved for one of those instead of a card that isn’t affiliated with an airline.

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.

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6 thoughts on Credit scores needed for the best mile credit cards (fresh data)

  1. Carson park

    I’m wanting to build up non existent credit because I am almost 20 and have no credit history… I find that maybe getting a credit card is going to be the best bet for building up my credit! And I travel frequently, and I typically fly southwest. Any way I can get approved for a southwest card with no credit history?


      @Carson – Hard to say. It’s not impossible, but they probably want some income first.

      You may want to start with a card that’s targeted to students, use that responsibly, and then when you have income to report try for it.

  2. CC

    3 questions if I might:
    1-Why does balance on cards that are in my husbands name also show up as balances on my account?
    his number is 734 and mine 716 – but I have one derogatory remark leading to next question
    2- how do I find out what the derogatory is and how to clear it?
    3- also we have no carryover credit card debit…pay all cards in full each month. However we do charge a lot on our cards so are often very high in the debt to credit ratio…and was even declined on a card a couple of years ago for that reason.
    oh shoot this brings one more question- sorry!
    4- we also have many business credit card in each of our names which don’t appear to be reflected here. Is there such a thing as a business credit score. Wondering how one would check on that as well.

    1. MileCards


      Your husband’s cards probably show up on your report because you are an authorized user on those accounts. Whenever someone is added as an authorized user the info for that account will show up on both reports.

      To see what the derogatory issue on your file is, get a free credit report from the bureau itself. You can get one free full report a year under law. It will list whatever the derogatory item is and you can see how to obtain that report at

      For your high utilization, try pay your cards in full before the statement is produced and not wait for the due date. So if your statement is usually produced around the 24th of the month, try paying off the week prior. That should set your balances lower and make your utilization look better.

      As for your business credit cards. Some will not show on your personal report unless you default on them. Chase and American Express business cards are an example of this. So as long as you’re on time and don’t make any mistakes they will not appear there. Read this article for more detail:

      You can run a credit report for your small business here

  3. Annie S


    I am thinking of applying for a United Explorer card but my credit score is only 700. Do you think I will get approved? It seems like the average is higher than my credit score.

    1. MileCards

      @Annie – It’s hard for us to say – there are so many factors that go into it, but people with lower Credit Karma scores than yours have been approved according to that data.


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