Some of the most highly-rated credit cards–especially those with excellent rewards–are only available to those with excellent credit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a card with decent rewards even if you have average-to-fair credit. This list of the best credit cards for fair credit is a good place to start.
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What Counts as Fair Credit?
You may be wondering what even counts as a “fair” credit score. That’s definitely a fair question. No pun intended. According to Experian, a fair score is a FICO score around 580 to 669. To fall into this category, you’ll need to have some credit history, at least some of which is good.
You might have a fair score if you make payments on time but have a high debt-to-credit ratio, for instance. Or you might go from a good score to a fair score if you go more than 30 days late on a payment to a creditor. Some people are in the fair score category if they’ve managed their credit well but only have a short credit history.
Not sure what your credit score is? It’s a good idea to check before you apply for a credit card. Knowing your score can help you apply for cards you’re more likely to be approved for. And that keeps you from applying for too many credit cards, which can cause your score to dip more.
Plus, if you actually have a good credit score in the high 600s or low 700s range, you might qualify for credit cards with better rewards systems.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get an approximation of your credit score completely free. Check out our list of these options here.
Best Credit Cards for Credit Score 580 – 669
Many of the credit cards for people with scores 580 – 669 are secured cards, which we’ll talk about in the next section. But here are the four best unsecured credit cards for those still building their credit. Some of them even offer rewards!
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Disclosure – The information regarding the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card was collected independently by DoughRoller and was not reviewed or approved by Capital One.
This card is available to those with average credit. So if you’re on the high end of fair, you may qualify. This is especially true if your credit score is low simply because you have a limited credit history.
This card, like many for those with fair credit, has an annual fee. But at $39, it’s a pretty affordable way to start building credit. It has a high APR of 26.99% (Variable), so you definitely don’t want to carry a balance. (But paying off your balance in full is one of the best ways to build your credit score quickly, anyway!)
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a straight 1.5% cash back rewards system, which keeps things simple. You’ll start with a low credit limit, but you’ll automatically be considered for a higher credit line when you make your first six monthly payments in a row on time.
This card is also one that comes with access to your credit score through the CreditWise from Capital One. Anyone over the age of 18 can enroll in CreditWise (whether you have a Capital One card or not), so it’s a good perk to help you keep an eye out as you build your credit score.
In all, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great stepping stone to a higher-reward credit card. And with 1.5% cash back, it doesn’t take too long to out-earn that $39 annual fee.
Jasper Cash Back Mastercard
Having a limited credit history can make it difficult to get approved for an unsecured credit card, even if you’re someone that has a great job. If you’re employed but are having a hard time getting credit card companies to take you seriously, you may want to consider the Jasper Cash Back Mastercard, issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.
The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard is especially helpful for busy professionals to begin building credit. As long as you have a consistent income, you may be able to qualify for the card without having any credit history whatsoever. And if you’ve relocated to the U.S. for work, you can even apply without a Social Security number. If your application is approved, you’ll need to provide your SSN within 60 days of card activation.
In addition to flexible credit requirements, the Jasper Cash Back Mastercard is low-cost and offers rewards. Cardmembers don’t pay an annual fee or foreign transactions either. With the Jasper Cash Back Mastercard, you can earn up to 6% cash back by referring friends. You are guaranteed a minimum of 1% cash back on almost all everyday purchases as long as your account is in good standing. And, you can boost your cash back rate by 1% for a full year for every friend you bring on board – all the way up to 6% cash back! Cash back is applied automatically to your account every month as a statement credit after three on-time payments, and your cash back maximum will vary based on your credit limit. Review the Jasper Rewards program terms here.
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Disclosure – The information regarding the Capital One Platinum Credit Card was collected independently by DoughRoller and was not reviewed or approved by Capital One.
Here’s another Capital One card option for those with low – average credit, or a limited credit history. The Capital One Platinum Credit Card has a $0 annual fee, which is a great selling point. Like the QuicksilverOne Credit Card, it comes with a 26.99% (Variable) APR, so you’ll definitely want to pay it off in full each month.
The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a straight up credit card with no frills and no rewards. It could be a good fit it you don’t see yourself using a credit card often enough to out-earn the QuicksilverOne credit card’s annual fee. But if you do plan to charge some of your everyday expenses to a credit card, you’ll get more bang for your buck by using a rewards card.
Milestone® Gold Mastercard®
The Milestone® Gold Mastercard® is another no-rewards card that you might qualify for if you have fair credit. It doesn’t offer any rewards, but it comes with a tiered annual fee system. The standard APR is 23.90%, and the annual fee is either $35, $59, or $75 the first year and $99 after that. The lower your credit, the higher your annual fee.
Again, this card doesn’t have any bells and whistles. But it does give you access to an unsecured credit card that you can use as well, a milestone as you’re building your credit.
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
The Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards is an unsecured credit card and it works a little bit differently than most other cards. Your monthly payment will be fixed, and so will the interest rate. You’ll start out with a credit line that can be as high as $20,000 (or as much as $50,000 in select cases). Your monthly payments will be based on a fixed term ranging from 24 to 60 months. That will ensure that you get out of debt on the card in a specific amount of time, rather than carrying a balance forever.
The card is available for fair credit and above, with interest rates ranging from 8.99% to 29.99% APR. And perhaps best of all, there are no fees for this card whatsoever. That means no annual fee, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, late fees, return payment fees, or foreign transaction fees. In fact, the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards doesn’t even have a penalty APR!
More About Secured Credit Cards
A secured credit card–not to be confused with a prepaid card–is a good way to build your credit if you don’t qualify for any of the options listed above. With this type of card, you give the card issuer a deposit. They hold that deposit for you and take money from it if you miss a payment. If you make your payments on time, the deposit just stays in an account for you.
The best secured credit cards will eventually convert to regular credit cards, which give you a higher limit and more flexibility.
You’ll want to look at a few different credit card options in this category.
Overall, applying for a credit card with fair credit means you should do your research. It’s best to only apply for a card if you are fairly sure you qualify. There’s always a chance that you’ll get turned down, of course. That’s not the end of the world, though it will take a few more points off of your credit score.
But armed with this list of the best credit cards for fair credit, you should be able to find one that works for your needs.
Related: Most Exclusive Credit Cards
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The cards listed in this article have been shown to give applicants with fair credit the best opportunity for approval.
Fair credit scores include 580, 581, 582, 583, 584, 585, 586, 587, 588, 589, 590, 591, 592, 593, 594, 595, 596, 597, 598, 599, 600, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609, 610, 611, 612, 613, 614, 615, 616, 617, 618, 619, 620, 621, 622, 623, 624, 625, 626, 627, 628, 629, 630, 631, 632, 633, 634, 635, 636, 637, 638, 639, 640, 641, 642, 643, 644, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 650, 651, 652, 653, 654, 655, 656, 657, 658, 659, 660, 661, 662, 663, 664, 665, 666, 667, 668, 669.
Applicants with these scores are not guaranteed approval as other factors may also affect an applicant’s chance for approval.