If you have fair credit, you have access to a wide range of credit cards, including many rewards cards. And finding the right card can help you continue to build your credit history and improve your score. Here are our top credit cards for fair credit.
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Updated: April 20, 2018
Fair credit may not be the best of credit, but there’s hope. With the average VantageScore at 675, that’s right in the middle of what the scoring model deems fair or what is sometimes called average. With fair credit, you can build your score, earn some rewards and develop good financial habits.
We researched and analyzed over 160 credit cards designed for people in the fair credit range and evaluated them against several different criteria: rates and fees, rewards, customer service, ability to improve credit lines, and more. Below are our top picks and several tips to help you decide and improve your credit for the future. Here, we look at:
Not sure what to expect? We’ll share how to build credit and how to maximize your fair credit card.
Credit cards analyzed: 161
Criteria used: Credit needed, tools to track credit score, ability to improve credit line, rewards rate, rewards categories, sign-up bonuses, redemption options, promotional 0% APR periods, annual fee, other rates and fees, extra features and benefits, customer service, ease of application
The two major credit scores in the United States are provided by FICO and VantageScore. FICO is the creator of the first, and still most-widely used score. Both scores range from 300 to 850. Each defines “fair” credit slightly differently.
According to FICO, credit scores are based on the following factors:
As you can see, the most important things you can do to improve your credit are making payments on time and making payments in full.
To view your current credit score for free and without impacting your score, click here.
Simply put: No. In the FICO score, it is a below-average score. Since credit offers are based on creditworthiness, people with fair credit get below-average offers.
But if you have fair credit, all hope is not lost. While lenders typically prefer credit scores to fall in the good to excellent range, people with fair credit scores are still considered viable applicants for many loans. Additionally, with some work, persistence and responsible credit usage, you can improve your credit score.
Common ways that consumers improve their credit ratings are by contacting the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and asking them to remove reporting errors, paying down credit card balances and paying off accounts that have been placed in collections. Another tactic is to ask for an increased credit limit on your credit cards. For people who carry credit card balances, an increased credit limit lowers the credit-to-debt ratio, a key factor in credit scoring.
Although, credit scores can be improved in a few weeks, most improvements take months and some take years. It may take time, but paying on time, every time, and keeping credit balances low will slowly, steadily improve your credit.
By increasing your credit score, you will have access to better financial opportunities, such as lower interest rates and better credit card offers. To see what credit card offers are available to you, check out our CardMatch tool or review or list of fair credit cards and cards for those with no credit history.
If you want to improve your credit score, but can’t wait the seven years it typically takes for negative information to naturally fall off your credit, here are a few active steps you can take:
The length of time it takes to improve your credit depends on the details of your financial situation. Along your credit behavior, your starting score is a major factor.
For example, if you have no credit history, it will take a minimum of six months to establish a credit score. Credit score formulas require an active credit account to be present for at least six months before a score is generated.
If you are repairing damaged credit, however, it can take much longer to up your score. A person who only qualifies for a secured card, for example, can generally improve to fair credit within 12 to 18 months – with responsible card usage, of course.
While some people need to repair minor infractions, others have major issues to recover from. According to VantageScore, here are the approximate lengths of time it takes to repair credit based on your actions:
|Action||Avg. Recovery Time||Credit Score Impact|
|Applying for Credit||3 months||Minor|
|Closing an Account||3 months||Minor|
|Maxing Out a Credit Card||3 months||Moderate|
|Missing Payment / Default||18 months||Significant|
If you want to improve your score quickly, here are a few steps you can follow:
Regularly check your score for mistakes, such as payments marked late that you paid on time or negative information that’s too old to report. Credit bureaus are required to respond to credit disputes within 30 business days.
CreditCards.com offers a free copy of your credit report.
Because credit card issuers usually report to the bureaus each month, it shouldn’t take long for your score to reflect a lower balance.
Payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score. If you are behind on any bills, you should call the creditor and arrange to pay the past due amounts. After making your payments, you can request that the creditor rescind any reported delinquencies so they that will no longer show up on your credit report. While this may be the slowest step, it is essential to improving your credit score.
Individuals with fair credit can still qualify for mortgages, car loans and some credit cards with a sufficient income. For example, many mortgages require a minimum credit score of 620. But keep in mind that with a fair credit score, you will more than likely pay a higher interest rate than if you had good or excellent credit.
If you have fair credit and want to apply for a credit card, here are a few things to consider:
Once you have your card in hand, be sure to practice responsible card management. Pay your bill on time and in full each month and do not charge more than you need to.
In 2018, the regular annual percentage rate (APR) for fair credit ranges from 13.24 percent to 25.24 percent. These rates are variable, which means that the lender may choose to increase or decrease them. Changes in rates are based on the Federal Reserve’s current federal fund rates.
If you have fair credit, you will typically pay higher interest rates on loans than if you had good to excellent credit. The amount of interest, though, depends on the type of loan and the amount you are borrowing. For example:
When applying for a fair or average credit card, it is important to keep the goal of improving your credit in mind. Here are a few tips on how to properly use a fair credit card:
|Best For:||Credit Card||Annual Fee|
|No Annual Fee||Capital One® Platinum Credit Card||None|
|Cash Back Variety||Discover it® Cashback Match™||None|
|Flat-Rate Rewards||Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card||$39|
|0% Intro APR||Chase Slate®||None|
|1% Cash Back||Credit One® Platinum Visa® Cash Back Rewards Credit Card||None|
|Fraud Coverage||Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®||$0 - $99|
|Pre-Qualification Available||Milestone® Gold Mastercard®||$35 - $99|
|Veterans||American Veterans USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card||None|
|Rebuilding Credit||Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit||$0 - $99|
|Donating Rewards||Disabled American Veterans USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card||None|
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