Credit Cards for Fair Credit: Having a fair score; it most times indicates that you aren’t the most desirable borrowers from the perspective of lending and credit companies. When you have fair credit, you may not be able to qualify for the best credit cards.
One of the easiest methods for building your credit score is by signing up for a credit card that’s available. Then using it responsibly for a year or so before trying to upgrade. Some of these cards won’t have much to offer in terms of rewards, and others may have perks such as cash back.
Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit
Best for Credit of 650 or Higher: Discover it Cash Back
APR: 0% for 14 months; 14.24% – 25.24%after that
Rewards: 5% back on quarterly bonus categories; 1% back on everything else
Sign-Up Bonus: Double your cash back at the end of your first year
The Discover it Cash Back card is a cash rewards credit card that offers a generous 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories, including restaurants and PayPal, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. You’ll earn 1% back on all other purchases, and Discover’s Cashback Match feature doubles all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Rewards can be redeemed in any amount and at any time, and cash back never expires.
The card also comes with a 0% APR period of 14 months, so you can finance a large purchase or pay down a balance you’ve transferred from another card.
APRs & Fees
No annual fee
0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers
After the intro APR period 14.24% to 25.24% variable APR
3% balance transfer fee before September 10, 2019; 5% after that
$0 penalty for your first late payment, then $39
If your credit score is at least 650, the Discover it is a solid cash back credit card.
Best for Balance Transfers: Chase Slate
Annual Fee: $0
APR:0% for 15 months; 17.24% – 25.99%after that
Sign-Up Bonus:0% balance transfer rate for 15 months
The Chase Slate credit card is a good option for someone who wants to make a balance transfer or build their credit. The card features a 0% intro APR for the 15 months your account is open. This means you could transfer a high-interest debt to the card for absolutely no fees and pay it down interest-free.
However, the card doesn’t offer any cash back rewards.
APRs & Fees
No annual fee
0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from account opening
After the introductory APR period, a variable APR of 17.24% to 25.99%
Balance transfer fee of $5 or 5%
Late payment fee of $39
The Chase Slate is a good card for fair credit and for someone interested in a lengthy introductory APR period and a 0% balance transfer fee. It doesn’t offer any perks or rewards, however, so the card is really only good for paying down debt and building credit.
QuicksilverOne from Capital One
Annual Fee: $39
APR: 26.99% (variable)
Rewards:1.5% cash back on all purchases
Sign-Up Bonus: None
The QuicksilverOne card is tailored specifically for people with average credit, but the card still features a solid rewards rate: unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, at all times.
Rewards don’t expire for the life of the account and can be redeemed at any time and in any amount. Cardholders can redeem for cash, or they can use their rewards like cash back to cover a purchase on their card.
Plus, cardholders can get access to a higher credit line with the Credit Steps program from Capital One if they make their first five payments on time, and they’ll get free access to changes in their credit score through Capital One’s CreditWise mobile app.
APRs & Fees
$39 annual fee
No introductory APR, just a standard variable APR of 26.99%
$0 balance transfer fee
Up to $39 for a late payment fee
For a cardholder who’s okay with a low annual fee, the QuicksilverOne card can be a good option for fair credit. It includes unlimited rewards that will make up for the annual fee after just $2,600, and you’ll profit after that. However, there isn’t an introductory APR, and the purchase rate APR is relatively high.
Credit One Bank Platinum Visa
Annual Fee: $0 – $99
APR: 19.74% – 25.74% (variable)
Rewards:1% cash back on all purchases
Sign-Up Bonus: None
The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa is geared toward people with fair credit or no credit at all. The credit card offers introductory credit lines between $300and $3,000 based on your creditworthiness.
The card also features 1% cash back on all eligible purchases and flexible payment dates so cardholders can choose what works for them.
APRs & Fees
The annual fee ranges from $0 – $99 a year.
No introductory APR
APR ranges from 19.74% to 25.74% based on creditworthiness
Some accounts are billed the Annual Fee into 12 divided portions, and some accounts will pay annually.
Up to $39 for a late payment
$1 or 3% foreign transaction fees
The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa can often lead to approval for credit scores on the lower side of the fair credit range, and there is still a cash back component.
Even so, the annual fee is high, and there are no guarantees of how much of a fee you’ll pay. A $0 – $99 annual fee, could be a lot for a card with limited perks and relatively low spending limits.
What Is a Fair Credit Score?
Fair credit, sometimes called “average” credit, is a step up from bad credit but a notch below good credit. It typically means your credit scores fall somewhere between 630 to 689, on a range of 300 to 850.
FICO credit score range
How Can I Improve My Credit Score?
There are five main factors that play a role in credit scores. These are:
Payment History: This accounts for about 35% of a person’s total credit score, making it the most important factor. FICO scores not only look at on-time payments but missed payments and how often those occur. Payment history includes both revolving loans, which is what credit cards are considered, and installment loans like car loans or mortgages.
Credit Utilization: This is a measure of how much of your available credit is in use. This makes up around 30% of your total credit score. If you regularly max out credit cards, even while making payments, it can significantly impact your credit score in a negative way.
Length of Credit History: One of the reasons people with limited credit profiles tend to have a hard time being approved for the most attractive credit cards is their short credit history.
New Credit: Some people think they can improve their credit score by opening multiple cards simultaneously, but in reality, this can lower your credit score. It can be a red flag to lenders that someone is having financial difficulties if they’re trying to gain access to a lot of credit all at once. Instead, it’s good to slowly open a few credit accounts over several years and keep them in good standing.
Credit Mix: Credit mix makes up around 10% of a person’s total score, and ideally lenders want to see a combination of installment and revolving credit.
Other Tips for Improving Credit
Monitor your credit score.
Always look out for errors.
Pay your balance in full.
What If My Credit Card Application Was Denied?
If your card application was denied, the credit card company will send you a letter explaining why. This can give you specific areas to target as you work on improving your credit. It will also give you an opportunity to evaluate your credit report and make sure there aren’t any errors.
If the primary reason your application was denied is that your score was too low, you should spend a few months trying to improve your score before applying for anything else.
Choose the fair credit card that works for you.
If you have fair or average credit, there are some good card options available that you may qualify for.