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What is a fair credit score?

A score in the range of 580 to 669 can still get you a credit card, but you may not get the most favorable terms


A “fair” credit score can help you qualify for a credit card, but you may be subject to a high interest rate. Learn more about what credit score range is considered “fair,” what cards you can qualify for and how you can increase your score.

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Having a really high credit score is greatly beneficial when you want to apply for a new credit product, insurance or utilities or rent an apartment.

Many consumers worry that having a fair credit score will make it impossible for them to qualify for the best credit cards or loans. If you have a fair credit score, you can still use that credit score to qualify, but you may encounter less desirable interest rates and loan amounts.

Keep reading for insight into what it means to have a fair credit score, how you can improve your credit and what types of credit cards you can qualify for.

What does a fair credit score mean?

According to FICO, a “fair” credit score is in the 580 to 669 range. A score in that range may qualify you for a credit card or a loan, but you’ll likely be subject to a high interest rate. And you may not be eligible for credit cards with the best rewards, perks or promotional APRs.

Credit score ranges

Lenders define “good” credit differently, so you may not know until you apply whether you’ll be approved for a credit product or get the best rate. However, you can get a good general idea of your credit from your credit score. The two biggest creators of credit scores are FICO and VantageScore. Here’s how they break it down.

Credit ratingScore rangeCredit ratingScore range
Very good740-799Good700-749
Very poor300-579Very poor300-549

How can I improve my credit?

It’s always a good idea to work toward improving your credit score. Here are some steps you can take to give your score a boost.

  • Make on-time payments. Make it a habit to pay your bills on time every single month. When you make payments 30 days past your due date on a credit card or other account, those late payments are reported to the three main credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and can cause your credit score to drop by 100 points or more.
  • Decrease your credit utilization ratio. How much of your available credit you’re using is represented by your credit utilization ratio. The lower this ratio is, the more your credit score benefits. One of the easiest and fastest ways to improve your credit score is to pay off any credit card balances. When you do this, you quickly improve your credit utilization ratio.
  • Become an authorized user. If you’re struggling to qualify for a credit card because of a low credit score, you can become an authorized user on an account owned by someone you trust, such as a parent, spouse or close friend. Your credit score will benefit if the account is managed responsibly. The primary cardholder is responsible for making payments on the account, so be sure to work out how you’ll pay back any charges you’re responsible for.
  • Apply for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are designed for those who are building their credit. They can often be obtained with little or no credit, and some issuers let you “graduate” to an unsecured credit card after you demonstrate responsible credit use. But be aware that you must provide an upfront deposit that will serve as your credit limit. Also, some secured cards have more fees than a typical unsecured card from a major issuer.
  • Limit credit inquiries. Be careful not to apply for too many credit cards at once. When you apply for a card, the issuer will pull your credit report — known as a hard inquiry — to assess your creditworthiness. Hard inquiries typically ding your score by about five points, though the effect is temporary. However, a lot of credit inquiries in a short amount of time will add up, and they may send a message to prospective lenders that you’re a risky borrower.

Credit cards for fair credit

If you have a fair credit score, it’s still possible to qualify for a credit card. Using that card responsibly can help you improve your credit score. Following are some credit cards that allow you to qualify with a fair credit score — all of which only require a credit score of 580 to 740 (fair to good).

You can learn more about each of these cards here.

Bottom line

The higher your credit score is, the better rates and terms you’ll qualify for when you apply for credit cards. Having a higher credit score can also come in handy when buying insurance or searching for an apartment.

However, a fair credit score can still put you on the path to achieving your financial and personal goals while you work on improving it.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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