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Best Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit in June 2024

Updated April 17, 2024

The listings that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which Bankrate receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Here's an explanation for

Credit cards for people with a fair or average credit score can help you build a positive credit history, which plays an important role in your personal finances. With the right card and responsible use, you can grow your credit score and qualify for credit cards and loans with better terms and lower interest rates, which can save you a lot of money.

Not everyone will qualify for the best credit cards for fair credit, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for cards that offer nothing but high fees. Many credit cards for fair credit charge no annual fees and come with credit-building features like free credit score and credit monitoring. Some even offer low interest rates, high credit limits or cash back on your spending.

To help, we’ve chosen the best credit cards for fair or average credit available from our partners. We also have the information you need to help you find the right credit card for you and tips to help you grow your credit score.

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Best for no annual fee

Bankrate score

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

29.99% (Variable)

Best for students

Bankrate score

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
5.0
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Intro offer

Info

Cashback Match

Rewards Rate

Info

1% - 5%

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Best for high credit limit

Bankrate score

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
2.5
Info
Recommended credit score: 300 - 670
Info
Apply now Lock
on Milestone Mastercard's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

See terms*

Regular APR

See terms*

Best for flat-rate cash back

Bankrate score

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Rewards Rate

Info

1.5% - 5%

Annual fee

$39

Regular APR

29.99% (Variable)

Best for travel

Bankrate score

Rating: 3.2 stars out of 5
3.2
Info
Recommended credit score: 580 - 740
Info
Apply now Lock
on Credit One Bank's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Rewards Rate

Info

1X - 10X

Annual fee

$95

Regular APR

29.74% Variable

Best for long-term financing

Bankrate score

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2
Info
Recommended credit score: 580 - 740
Info
Apply now Lock
on Upgrade's secure site

Intro offer

Info

$200

Rewards Rate

Info

1.5%

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 29.99% APR

Best for no penalty APR

Bankrate score

Rating: 2.7 stars out of 5
2.7
Info
Recommended credit score: 580 - 740
Info
Apply now Lock
on Avant's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

$59

Regular APR

35.99% Variable

Best for no credit check

Bankrate score

Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5
3.1
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Capital Bank's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

$35

Regular APR

25.64% (variable)

* The information about the (card name) has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Compare Bankrate's best cards for fair credit

Card name Best for Annual fee Bankrate review score

No annual fee

$0

4.2 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Students

$0

5.0 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

High credit limit

See terms*

2.5 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Milestone Mastercard's secure site

Flat-rate cash back

$39

4.0 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Travel

$95

3.2 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Credit One Bank's secure site

Long-term financing

$0

4.2 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Upgrade's secure site

No penalty APR

$59

2.7 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Avant's secure site

No credit check

$35

3.1 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Capital Bank's secure site

*You’ll receive a Mastercard Guide-to-Benefits with the program terms and conditions with your card. Fraud protection is provided by Mastercard Zero Liability Protection.

What is fair or average credit?

When you have fair or average credit, your FICO® Score sits somewhere between 580 and 669. This score is far better than someone with bad credit or anyone who is credit invisible, but lenders may still consider you a subprime borrower. That means your credit report suggests you're at a higher risk of defaulting on a credit card compared to someone with good or excellent credit. When you’re a subprime borrower, it costs more to borrow money. Lenders typically offer you loans and credit cards with higher interest rates to help offset the risk.

Why your credit score matters

Your credit score doesn’t just impact how much interest you pay on loans. It plays a much bigger role:

  • Renting an apartment: When you rent an apartment or condo, your landlord may run a credit check to determine how likely you are to be a good tenant. The same factors that impact your credit score the most (your repayment history and the amount of debt you carry) could affect your application.
  • Buying a home: With a lower credit score, you may not qualify for a conventional mortgage. This factor can make it harder to buy the home you want, as many sellers prefer conventional loans over government-backed loans.
  • Insurance costs: In most states, insurance companies use your credit history to help determine how much you pay for insurance. A good credit score could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars when buying auto or homeowners insurance.
  • Utilities and phone plans: Utility companies and phone carriers also run credit checks to determine how well you manage your finances. A lower score could mean having to put down a deposit for service or phone plans.
  • Credit limits: Not all credit cards for fair credit have high limits. Depending on your credit score, you could end up with a credit limit as low as $200 to $300, making it difficult to build credit, especially if you use too much of your available credit.

Fair Credit Cards Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    A chance to work on your credit: Fair credit cards often come with features that can help you track (and potentially boost) your credit score, like higher credit limits and free access to your score.

  • Checkmark

    Access to unsecured cards: Several unsecured cards are available with fair credit, and even if you start with a secured card, you may be eligible to upgrade to an unsecured card with better perks and benefits after demonstrating responsible card usage.

  • Checkmark

    Lower fees: Plenty of cards available with fair credit either charge no annual fee or carry a relatively low fee. That’s saying a lot considering how pricey cards can be if you have bad credit (especially unsecured cards).

Cons

  • High APR: Though someone with fair credit is seen as a lower lending risk than someone with bad credit, credit cards available with fair credit still tend to carry interest rates. And the lower your score is, the more likely it is that you’ll be assigned a high interest rate.

  • Limited perks: Most of these cards carry only a handful of noteworthy perks, offering only basic card protections and credit score monitoring.

  • Low (or no) rewards: Most cards available with fair credit lack a rewards program or only offer a basic 1 percent flat rate.

Tips on choosing the best credit card when you have fair credit

To find the best credit card for fair credit, consider several factors, including your spending habits, goals and your approval odds. To help you shop for your next card, here are the steps for choosing a credit card.

Do you need a secured card?

A secured card can be a handy financial tool if you’re starting your credit journey but aren’t ready for an unsecured card (or would rather avoid the annual fees typically required on unsecured credit-building cards).

Secured credit cards can be especially helpful since many charge no annual fee and give you a chance to set your own credit limit. Since secured cards usually use your deposit as the basis for your credit limit, they give you more control as you work on keeping credit utilization low (a key credit scoring factor). 

That said, if you’re confident in your ability to use a credit card, an unsecured credit card could be a better choice. Unsecured cards don’t require an upfront deposit, which may be preferable if you’d rather not tie up money for months as you build credit. And while your starting credit limit might be lower than it would be with a secured card, many unsecured credit cards offer a chance at a higher credit line after a few months of positive payment history.

What people say about credit cards for fair credit

When looking for a credit card with fair credit, it’s best to get advice from others who have already gone through the process and can recommend specific strategies or even specific cards.

Redditors from the r/CRedit community recommended that those who have credit scores in the 600 range look at cards from Discover and Capital One, specifically the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. Many users cited these cards’ rewards as a key draw.

Other users suggested anyone in the military or who has a family member that served in the military consider cards from Navy Federal Credit Union.

No matter what card you decide on, many of the users suggest trying to prequalify for the card through the issuer first to get a sense of your odds of approval without adding a hard pull to your credit report. Another method of avoiding a hard pull is to get preapproved through tools like Bankrate’s CardMatch, which lets you see which cards you’ll most likely get approved for based on your credit history.

*The quotes and citations included on this page have been verified by our editorial team and are accurate as of the posting date. Be sure to check the issuer's website/terms and conditions for all up to date content. Outlinked content may contain views and opinions that do not reflect the views and opinions of Bankrate.

Expert advice for people with fair credit

Having fair credit offers many advantages, like the chance to qualify for an unsecured card and more rewarding options. While you should work to maintain fair credit, the good habits you create can lead to a higher score over time.

  • Debt

    Pay your bills on time and avoid debt

    Missing a credit card payment can hurt your score and might stay on your credit report for up to seven years. The later a payment, the worse it is for your credit score.

    Plus, not paying your balance in full can lead to credit card debt, especially if you have a high APR. Paying the balance on your card in full each month is a key way to work toward a higher score.

  • Document

    Check your credit report

    Incorrect information on your credit report — even something as simple as a misspelling of your name — could keep your credit score lower than it should be. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months, so check your report for any discrepancies and find out how to dispute errors. Your report is also a great way to keep track of your progress as you build credit.

  • Clock Wait

    Wait before opening new accounts

    Opening too many new accounts at once can actually hurt your score because it can look suspicious or like you're in financial trouble. In fact, some issuers have rules that prevent applicants from opening up too many cards in a certain amount of time, such as Chase's 5/24 rule. Once you’ve applied and an issuer approves you for a credit card for fair credit, use it responsibly for a while to demonstrate your ability to handle new credit. Overall, be patient and wait between credit card applications to benefit your score.

  • Credit Card Time

    Consider keeping older credit accounts open

    A credit card that you’ve had for a long time adds to your length of credit history, a significant contributor to your credit score. If you outgrow your credit card for fair credit, don’t close it right away. If it doesn’t have maintenance fees, keep the account open and active to boost your score.

Our data: How having good credit can increase your chances of approval

While having good credit doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the credit card you apply for, a better score helps, according to Bankrate's proprietary data.

We looked at our data and analyzed the approval rates of Bankrate users who applied for a credit card on our website in 2023. What we found was that Bankrate users with good credit were more than twice as likely to get approved for a credit card than users with fair credit — around 20 percent versus 44 percent.

And that likelihood increased even more for Bankrate users with excellent credit. About 75 percent of users with excellent credit in 2023 who applied for a card through Bankrate got approval.

This data shows the importance of working toward and maintaining good credit. While fair credit may not stop you from getting the card you have your eye on, having better credit may increase your chances.

More information on credit cards for fair credit

In the news: Roughly 1 in 7 Americans’ top financial regret is taking on too much credit card debt

In a Bankrate study, 15 percent of U.S. adults say their biggest financial regret is taking on too much credit card debt. Read more about the results in the full Bankrate survey or hear from our experts on Bankrate's tips and tricks for paying down credit card debt


Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

How we assess the best cards for fair or average credit

Document
50+
Cards rated
Search
500+
Data points
Debt
250+
Fees tracked
Credit Card Reviews
40+
Perks evaluated

When evaluating the best cards for [students / building credit], we consider a mix of factors, including how cards score in our proprietary card rating system and whether cards offer features that make it easy to build credit history while minimizing costs.

We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for [students / people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score] and rated each based on its cost, APR, credit-building features and more to determine whether it belonged in this month’s roundup.

Here are some of the key factors that we considered: 

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for fair credit