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Four years ago I wrote a post that became one of the most popular things I ever published, looking at data on what credit scores were being approved for various credit cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (60,000 bonus points after $4,000 un purchases within 3 months, $95 annual fee) on average was getting approvals with a 736 credit score, although it was typical at the low end to see approvals with a 646 score.`
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (Earn up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open. Offer expired.) on average was getting approvals with a 670 score, although it was typical at the low end to see approvals with a 607 score.
The Platinum Card® from American Express (access to the most airport lounges plus Marriott and Hilton elite status) on average was getting approvals with a 716 score, although it was typical at the low end to see approvals with a 643 score.
Citi® Double Cash Card (no annual fee, 2% back on purchases) on average was getting approvals with a 729 score, although it was typical at the low end to see approvals with a 643 score.
These scores represented a snapshot of data at the time. One of the things that I’ve found useful is anecdotal feedback from readers. You might expect that people either (1) wouldn’t share their rejections, and so feedback would be biased towards approvals, or (2) would be more likely to email and complain when they aren’t approved for a card. Nonetheless I receive a lot of reader email and discuss these issues frequently and have formed some general impressions.
On the whole Citibank approvals seem easiest among the large banks offering rewards cards. I always used to think that American Express charge cards offered comparatively easy approvals — a credit card should be paid off each month but allows you to revolve, a charge card is supposed to be paid off each month, and since American Express charge cards like the American Express® Gold Card (4x on restaurants and the first $25,000 spend each year at US supermarkets, 3x on airfare) and the The Platinum Card® from American Express weren’t lending you money that made for easier approvals.
Anecdotally though American Express has seemed super generous with approvals for their Delta cards in particular. American Express and Delta re-upped their co-brand deal through 2029 and Delta is projecting a doubling in revenue from the deal, which would appear to require aggressive cardmember growth.
It’s been striking the readers that have shared rejections for the Sapphire Reserve card despite strong income and credit scores. It’s a Visa Infinite and appears to have extremely tight approval requirements. That’s why the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be the path to getting a Sapphire Reserve (it has a stronger initial bonus right now than Sapphire Reserve in any case). Get Sapphire Preferred, wait a year, and then ask Chase to product change.
What cards have you been most surprised to be approved or declined for?