Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit

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Credit cards for fair credit include a variety of options including cards that offer rewards like cash back and bonus points. Finding the right card can help you continue to build your credit history and improve your credit score. Here are our best credit cards for fair credit.

Credit cards for fair credit include a variety of options including cards that offer rewards like cash back and bonus points. Finding the right card can help you continue to build your credit history and improve your credit score. Here are our best credit cards for fair credit.

Summary

Best credit cards for fair/average credit:

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Fair to Good Credit Recommended (580-740) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now at Capital One's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$39
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.96% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$39
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.96% (Variable)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

See Rates & Fees

No Credit History
Apply Now at Discover's Secure Site

See Rates & Fees

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR
15.24% - 24.24% variable

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Highlights

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 6 months
Regular APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
10.99% for 6 months

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Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards
Fair to Good Credit Recommended (580-740) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now at Credit One Bank's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.24% - 26.24% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, no annual fee, and a competitive APR are just a few of the benefits qualified applicants will enjoy, terms apply
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Managing your account is easy with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Pick a card that fits your style. Multiple card designs are available, a fee may apply
  • Monitor your credit with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
  • Do your part to help the environment with the option to go paperless

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.24% - 26.24% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

See Rates & Fees

No Credit History
Apply Now at Discover's Secure Site

See Rates & Fees

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR
25.24% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
25.24% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
10.99% for 6 months

View All Card Details

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Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®
No Credit History
Apply Now at Citi's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.74%* (Variable)

Show Less

Highlights

  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.74%* (Variable)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

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Avant Credit Card

Avant Credit Card
Fair to Good Credit Recommended (580-740) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now at Avant's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$29
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.24% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • No deposit required
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • No penalty APR
  • No hidden fees
  • We may periodically review your account for credit line increases
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Help strengthen your credit history with responsible use
  • Zero fraud liability for unauthorized charges
  • Conveniently pay your card through our online portal, 24/7
  • Get MasterCard ID Theft Protection by MasterCard
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00
  • All states except Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$29
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
26.24%
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
Bad to Fair Credit Recommended (300-670) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now at Credit One Bank's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.24% - 26.24% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Track your progress with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Stay in-the-know with customizable account alerts via email and text
  • Receive 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.24% - 26.24% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®
Fair to Good Credit Recommended (580-740) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now at Genesis FS Card Services's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
See Terms
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.90% fixed

Show Less

Highlights

  • Pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Free online account access (mobile friendly)
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
See Terms
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.90% (Fixed)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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Milestone® Gold Mastercard®

Milestone® Gold Mastercard®
Fair to Good Credit Recommended (580-740) ? CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now at Genesis FS Card Services's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
See Terms
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.90% fixed

Show Less

Highlights

  • Quick pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Choose your custom card design - Free
  • Free online account access
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
  • Previous bankruptcy OK

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
See Terms
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.90% (Fixed)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More


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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.


Getting Smarter on Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Updated: June 7, 2019

Fair credit may not be the best of credit, but there’s hope. And you're not alone: 61% of consumers have fair credit or better with VantageScore, and 38% have fair. 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.


best credit cards for fair credit

Best credit cards for fair credit

Best For:Average Credit CardAnnual Fee
No Annual FeeCapital One® Platinum Credit Card$0
Flat-Rate RewardsCapital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card$39
College StudentsDiscover it® Student Cash Back$0
Everyday SpendingCredit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards$0 - $99
Cash backDiscover it® Secured$0
Tracking Credit ScoreCiti® Secured Mastercard®$0
No Deposit RequiredAvant Credit Card$29
Credit Bureau ReportingCredit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit$0 - $99
Fraud ProtectionIndigo® Platinum Mastercard®$0 - $99
Easy Pre-QualificationMilestone® Gold Mastercard®$35 - $99

Research methodology

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

What is fair/average credit?

Fair credit and average credit are largely synonymous, and refer to the FICO credit scores between 580 and 669. Alternatively, fair/average credit can refer to VantageScore between 601 and 660. FICO and VantageScore are the two major credit scores in the United States. FICO was the creator of the first credit score, and is still the most widely used score today. Both scores range from 300 to 850.

FICO score ranges

RangeCategory
300-579Very poor
580-669Fair
670-739Good
740-799Very good
800-850Exceptional

VantageScore ranges

RangeCategory
300-499Very poor
500-600Poor
601-660Fair
661-780Good
781-850Excellent

What impacts your credit score?

You may be surprised to learn that your marital status and age don't impact your credit score, and you're not alone if you thought that. VantageScore and the Consumer Federation of America found in a poll they commissioned in 2018 that about two-fifths of consumers wrongly believe that marital status and age affect their scores, and the misunderstanding is even higher with other events.

Consumers wrongly believe these events affect credit score...

As you can see, there are a number of events that don't affect your score. But what does? It's actually late payments, bankruptcies and high balances on credit cards that impact your score, we've found. According to FICO, credit scores are based on the following factors, along with the percentage of importance to your score:

Payment history: 35 percent – If you make a payment 30 days past the due date or later, it will most likely appear on your credit report. The later the payment, the worse the impact on your credit score.

Amounts owed: 30 percent – The less available credit you are using, the higher your credit score will be.

Length of credit history: 15 percent – This refers to the average account age of your accounts and the age of your newest account, which gets younger each time you open a new account.

New credit: 10 percent – Each time you apply for a new credit card or loan, a hard inquiry will hit your credit.

Credit mix: 10 percent – Having several types of loans – such as a car loan, a mortgage and a credit card – can help your credit.

As this shows, 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, check out our app.

Is a fair credit score good?

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 some time before you qualify for the very best credit card offers, but there are plenty of good options for fair credit in the meantime.

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 our list of fair credit cards and cards for those with no credit history.

What do I do if I'm rejected for a credit card?

If your hopes of landing a credit card of your dreams have been dashed, we can help. By taking the right steps, you can recover and get the card you want and need.

1. Get the explanation from the issuer

Issuers are required to explain to you why you were rejected. You might find out online, by phone or by mail – no matter which way, read the issuer's feedback, then rectify the situation.

2. Check your credit score and credit reports

In general, it's a good idea to check your credit reports several times a year. You can check them for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you've been rejected by a card issuer, make a point of checking your credit files to make sure there are no errors or omissions.

3. Look at a credit-builder loan with your credit union

If your credit files are too weak for even a basic secured card, talk to your local credit union about getting a credit-builder loan. These loans are designed for improving your credit rather than getting money for a home improvement or car.

Catch up on your bills

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 will no longer show up on your credit report. While this may be the slowest step, it is essential to improving your credit score. Finally, your more recent activity weighs more heavily, so those on-time payments are priceless.

5. Don't close accounts

If you already have cards, don't close them. Instead pay them down and keep using them. Why? Because your payment history remains on your credit files for several years, good or bad, so you aren't protecting your credit just by closing the account. In fact, the available credit on your cards helps your file, as does continuing to pay on time.

6. Wait several months

Wait several months before applying for a card again. Too many card applications too close together can mean desperation to a lender. Also, this gives your score a chance to improve.

7. Apply for a card you are reasonably sure you will get

In this case, don't reach for the stars. Instead, choose a card to apply for that you are pretty sure you can get. If you are unable to qualify for an unsecured card, try a secured card to help build your credit.

Typical lines of credit

You may have dreams of getting a nice fat credit line with that new credit card, but if your credit isn't its best, you might be unpleasantly surprised.

The averages for new lines of credit are typically lower than all lines, with super prime (VantageScore's excellent range) new accounts at $10,319, prime (good) at $5,736 and subprime (poor) at $2,701. These figures are from the American Bankers Association's Q4 2018 Credit Card Monitor. While the averages for credit lines for all credit cards have basically remained unchanged for super prime credit since the previous quarter, they have increased somewhat for consumers with prime and subprime credit. Here are the figures for lines of credit for all credit cards.

Card lines of credit by credit band...

  • $11,732
  • Super prime
  • $7,608
  • Prime
  • $3,830
  • Sub prime

Source: ABA Q4 2018 Credit Card Monitor

Typical interest rate for fair credit

If you have fair credit, you will typically pay higher interest rates on your credit card debt than if you have good to excellent credit, although you may find that the interest rate at the higher end of your card's scale is actually lower than that of cards that require good to excellent credit.

In a May survey of 20 cards in the fair credit category, we found that the average low interest rate was 22.83%, while the average higher rate was 25.48%. When we looked at our 10 leading cards that require good to excellent credit, we found the average low interest rate to be considerably lower, at 15.94%, although the high average was actually higher at 26.04%.

Bottom line, the average for fair is 24.15%, while the average for good to excellent is 20.99%. The national average is currently 17.72%.

How fast can credit improve?

The length of time it takes to improve your credit depends on the details of your financial situation. Along with 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:

ActionAvg. Recovery TimeCredit Score Impact
Applying for Credit3 monthsMinor
Closing an Account3 monthsMinor
Maxing Out a Credit Card3 monthsModerate
Missing Payment / Default18 monthsSignificant
Bankruptcy6+ yearsSignificant

Tips for improving your credit score

If you want to improve your score quickly, here are a few steps you can follow:

Report errors on your credit reports

Regularly check your credit files for mistakes, such as payments marked late that you paid on time or negative information that's too old to report. Notify the credit bureaus of any errors you find, no matter how small, because even a little one can be a sign that you're a victim of fraud. Credit bureaus are required to respond to credit disputes within 30 business days.

Don't apply for multiple products

Resist the urge to apply for several credit cards at once. Each application, whether you get the card or not, dings your credit a little, about 5-15 points each. Instead, choose a card that you are reasonably sure you qualify for and apply.

Pay on time

This is the single most important credit-building habit you can have. With every on-time payment, you are building your credit that much more quickly.

Pay down on your debt

The second most important part of credit building is maintaining low balances, or a low utilization ratio. You want your ratio, which is how much you owe by how much you have available, to be as close to 0% as possible. Already knee-deep in card debt? Pay down cards with the highest utilization first.

Because credit card issuers usually report to the bureaus each month, it shouldn't take long for your score to reflect a lower balance.

Do not exceed your credit limit

People with fair credit tend to have cards with low credit limits. To keep your balances low and avoid increasing your credit utilization ratio, making small, multiple payments throughout the month.

Pay off past-due bills

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.

How consumers with fair credit should use a credit card

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:

  • Use your card to build credit. The most important aspect of using a card that requires fair or average credit is that you can build your credit with it, which will grant you access to better lending products.
  • Keep your utilization ratio low. People with fair credit tend to have cards with low credit limits. To keep your balances low and avoid increasing your credit utilization ratio, making small, multiple payments throughout the month.
  • Look for a card without an annual fee. By taking out a card with no annual fee, you minimize the costs incurred with card membership.
  • Practice with rewards. Cards for fair or average cards will sometimes have rewards, such as 1% back on all purchases. This is a good way to practice for getting a rewards card down the road. Make sure you don’t carry a balance, because interest charges will negate your rewards.
  • Don’t close your old card. Once your credit score has risen to the point that you can apply for a better card, don’t close or stop using your card for fair credit. By continuing to use it, as least for small charges, you keep the account active, continuing to build credit with it, and you increase your available credit.

Robin Ratcliff is the managing editor for reviews on CreditCards.com. Before CreditCards.com, she worked as an analyst and editor, and still brings that same analytical rigor to her card recommendations today. You can reach Robin at robin.ratcliff@creditcards.com. Tracy Brackman is a credit card news editor at CreditCards.com, writing breaking news stories on card updates and new card launches. You can reach Tracy at editors@creditcards.com.


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