Credit Cards for Fair/Average 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.

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:

Milestone® Mastercard®

Milestone® 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.
at Genesis FS Card Services's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$35-$99 (varies by credit level)
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
23.90% fixed

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Highlights

  • Card designs to fit your personality at no extra charge
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Our application is quick and easy with instant pre-qualification available
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Unsecured credit card, no deposit required
  • Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$35-$99 (varies by credit level)
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
23.90% (Fixed)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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Credit One Bank® Offer Finder Tool

Credit One Bank® Offer Finder Tool
See Terms
at Credit One Bank's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
See Terms
Balance Transfer Intro APR
See Terms
Regular APR
See Terms

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Highlights

  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Rewards post to your account automatically each month
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • Free online monthly credit score tracking included
  • Flexible payment date to assist you in making your payments on time

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
See Terms
Intro Purchase APR
See Terms
Regular APR
See Terms
Intro Balance Transfers APR
See Terms

View All Card Details

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Credit One Bank® NASCAR® Visa® Credit Card

Credit One Bank® NASCAR® Visa® 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.
at Credit One Bank's Secure Site

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
19.99% - 25.99% variable

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Highlights

  • Qualified applicants will receive exclusive benefits such as 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, no annual fee, and a competitive APR. Terms apply.
  • Get double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore. Terms Apply.
  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score. It's fast, easy, and secure.
  • Zero Fraud Liability ensures that your account is protected against unauthorized charges.
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities.
  • Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary. Terms apply.
  • CreditOneBank.com and the Credit One Bank mobile app makes it easy to access and manage all your account information and make payments whether you're at home or on-the-go.
  • Always know what's happening with your account with custom email and text alerts to remind you about your payment due date, notify you when a payment posts, or warn you if your available credit runs low.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
19.99% - 25.99% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

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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: December 1, 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.


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
1% Cash BackCredit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards$0
Fraud ProtectionIndigo® Platinum Mastercard®$0 - $99
Credit Bureau ReportingCredit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit$0 - $99
Secured Cash Back CardDiscover it® Secured$0
Starting OutFingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank$0
Easy Pre-QualificationMilestone® Gold Mastercard®$35 - $99
Growing Credit LineCredit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®$0 - $99
No Deposit RequiredAvant Credit Card$29

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?

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.

FICO score ranges

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

VantageScore ranges

Best ForCard
300-549Very poor
550-649Poor
650-699Fair
700-749Good
750-850Excellent

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 June 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.

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.

4. Keep paying on time

Pay all of your bills on time, even your library charges, and pay down any debt you have. 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. Use CreditCards.com’s CardMatch tool to get prequalified for an offer that suits you. 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.

New lines of credit are typically lower than all lines, with super prime new accounts at $10,428, prime at $5,704 and subprime at $2,608. These figures are from the American Bankers Association's Q2 2018 Credit Card Monitor. While credit lines have increased slightly for consumers with super prime credit, they have decreased slightly for consumers with prime and subprime credit, whether new accounts or all accounts. Here are the figures for lines of credit for all credit cards.

Credit card lines of credit by credit band

  •  $11,656
  • Super prime
  •  $7,448
  • Prime
  •  $3,693
  • Subprime

Source: ABA Q2 2018 Credit Card Monitor

Typical interest rate for fair credit

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:

  • Mortgage rates are usually 0.5 to 0.75 percentage points higher for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.
  • Auto loans are typically 4 to 7 percentage points higher.
  • Credit card interest rates are often 5 to 7 percentage points higher.
  • Unsecured personal loans can be about 7 percentage points higher.

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 to properly use a fair 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. By keeping your card balance low, you keep your utilization ratio low, which is your balance by your available credit.
  • 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 percent 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 a 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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