Credit Cards for Fair Credit

If your credit score is between 580 and 669, you may be limited as to what credit cards you’ll get approved for. There are some options out there, but it’s important to know that not all cards for those with fair credit are created equal. We’ve compiled the best credit cards of 2019 for fair credit from our partners to help you find the credit card that suits your needs. Just because your credit score needs some work doesn’t mean you have to work hard to find the right credit card for 2019. Bankrate's team of personal finance experts knows that credit cards are a great tool and, when used appropriately, can improve your credit score. A better credit score means more options and improved rates across your finances.

Best credit cards for fair/average credit

Best for building credit

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
26.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flat-rate cash back

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$39
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
26.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for low variable APR

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Rewards Rate:
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
19.74% -25.74% Variable

Card Details

  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for bankruptcy forgiveness

Genesis FS Card Services Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Genesis FS Card Services's secure website

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
See Terms
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
24.90% (Fixed)

Card Details

  • 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!
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for fraud protection

Genesis FS Card Services Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Genesis FS Card Services's secure website

Milestone® Gold Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
See Terms
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
24.90% (Fixed)

Card Details

  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for rebuilding credit

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Bad to Fair (300 - 670)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Rewards Rate:
Receive 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
19.74% -25.74% Variable

Card Details

  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best secured card with rewards

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Secured

Rewards Rate:
2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Welcome Offer:
We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR:
24.49% Variable

Card Details

  • 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 of at least $200 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
  • Intro Offer: 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.

Best for flexible payment date

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Receive 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
19.74% -25.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Qualified applicants will receive a card with a competitive APR and no annual fee along with 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, terms apply
  • View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Access your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
  • Show off your personality by selecting from a variety of card designs, a fee may apply
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for no deposit required

Genesis FS Card Services Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Genesis FS Card Services's secure website

Milestone® Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
See Terms
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
24.90% (Fixed)

Card Details

  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for no penalty apr

Avant Image

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 - 740)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Avant's secure website

Avant Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$29
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
25.49%

Card Details

  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.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.


Author: Barry Bridges | bbridges@bankrate.com


In this article:

Best credit cards for fair credit

Card Name Bankrate Score Best for
Capital One Platinum Credit Card 3.9 / 5 Building credit
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card 4.1 / 5 Flat-rate cash back
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards N/A Low variable APR
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® 2.6 / 5 Bankruptcy forgiveness
Milestone® Gold Mastercard® 2.7 / 5 Fraud protection
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit N / A Rebuilding credit
Discover it® Secured 4.8 / 5 Secured card with rewards
Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards Credit Card N / A Flexible payment date
Milestone® Mastercard® N / A No deposit required
Avant Credit Card N / A No penalty APR

Review criteria

As someone with fair or average credit, you’re focused on maximum value and potential to build your credit score. Our expert recommendations have those bases covered. Bankrate also looks at other features that make a credit card useful and versatile. The Bankrate score pays close attention to:

Introductory APR Cards that offer 0% introductory APR (Annual Percentage Rate) on purchases and balance transfers can help you save money on interest.

Annual fee With the focus on affordability, the cards on our list charge no annual fee or an annual fee in the $29-$99 range.

Credit-building Our top recommendations include cards that increase your credit line if you make the required number of on-time payments.

Rewards Some of the cards on our list even offer rewards programs, like a cash-back percentage on purchases made with the card.

You don’t have to settle for an average credit card if you have an average credit score. Bankrate’s review system can help you find a card that’s anything but ordinary.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

If your goal is to own an unsecured card in 2019, but your credit isn’t up to snuff, this card may fit the bill. As long as you pay your bill in full every month and can avoid the stiff APR fees, this card can help you boost your overall credit standing.

Pros:

  • If you make five on-time payments in a row, Capital One may grant you access to a higher credit limit, which can help improve your score.
  • The card comes with Mastercard platinum benefits which include travel and auto protection.
  • If you make a late payment, it won’t affect your APR.

Cons:

  • You don’t earn any rewards with this card.
  • The variable APR rate (26.99%) on purchases and balance transfers is fairly high.

For more details, read Bankrate’s review of the Capital One Platinum Credit Card.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Anyone with just so-so credit longing for a rewards card in 2019 will likely approve of what the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is offering. With an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back rewards structure, this is one of the only cards available to those with fair credit to offer meaningful rewards. Keep in mind that there’s a $39 annual fee with this card so you would have to spend over $7,800 a year to make this card’s earnings greater than that of a no-annual-fee card with 1 percent rewards.

Pros:

  • You can get access to a higher credit limit after making five consecutive on-time payments.
  • There are no rotating categories to sign up for or keep track of, earning rewards is automatic.
  • Your cash-back earnings can be redeemed at any time and in any amount.

Cons:

  • There’s a $39 annual fee.
  • There isn’t a sign-up bonus with this card.
  • If you do carry a balance, the variable APR rate (26.99% variable) is fairly high.

For more details, read Bankrate’s review of the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards


What is considered “average” credit?

When your credit score is considered fair, it means that’s it’s neither great nor terrible. When a reference is made to your credit score, it’s typically referring to your FICO score, a three-digit number that ranges from 300 to 850 using a scoring model developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. If your score is between 580 and 669, you land in the range labeled fair.

The three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion assign everyone a credit score based on a combination of factors that make up your financial history. These factors include:

  • Your payment history. This will show if you make your payments on time or often you may have missed or skipped payments.
  • How much of your available credit limit you’re using. This is called your debt-to-available-credit ratio and generally, it’s better for your score if you’re using no more than 30% of the maximum amount you have the ability to charge on your cards.
  • Length of credit history. If you just opened your first credit card a month ago, your credit score won’t be as strong as someone who opened their account ten years and has built up a solid history of paying their bills on time.
  • Credit inquiries. Every time you open a new line of credit—whether it’s with a credit card or another type of loan like a mortgage or car lease, your score gets dinged. Opening up too many cards in a short period of time can be a red flag to lenders that you might be borrowing more than you can afford.
  • The types of credit you have. Loans come in two flavors: revolving—like with a credit card where you can carry a balance of different sizes from month to month, and installment—like with a car payment which is typically a fixed amount every month.

The difference between good credit and fair credit

The reason for pursuing good credit is a worthy goal is that the most favorable lending terms are given to those with the best credit. This means that if your credit is just fair, you’ll likely pay higher interest rates on your credit card, mortgage, car loans and any other type of loan that carries finance charges.

For example, if you have a fair credit score of 660 and you apply for a credit card with a variable annual percentage range of 15 percent to 24 percent, you may be approved for the card at an interest rate of 22 percent. But someone with a good credit score of 700 may get approved for that same card but only pay 18 percent APR. Better credit can save you money.

For example, if you owe $10,000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 22 percent, and you don’t touch that debt for a year, you’ll accrue $2,200 in interest. But, someone who owes that same amount but only has an APR of 18 percent will owe $1,800—a $400 difference.

When it comes to longer-term loans, like that on a mortgage, getting a better interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Things to consider before you apply

You can still qualify for a good credit card even if you have fair credit. Use the card as a means to improve your credit standing and eventually qualify for better interest rates by paying your bills in full and on time and not using too much of your available credit. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you choose which card to apply for in 2019:

  1. Know where you stand. Check your credit score before applying to see where you stand. Using a tool like ours will let you check your score for free. It’s important to know what you can qualify for so you don’t get rejected by applying for something that requires better credit than you have. Every time you apply for a new line of credit, it can cause your score to dip so you don’t want to get turned down for a card and have it negatively affect your score.
  2. Review your spending patterns. You may think that getting a credit card that offers rewards is a smart move. But, if you typically carry a balance, and that card comes with a steep APR, you may be better off with a card without rewards that has lower finance charges. The value of any rewards earned on a credit card will almost always be outweighed by the cost of double-digit interest fees on a balance.
  3. Stay under 30 percent of your total available credit. If you’re aiming to improve your overall score in 2019, you should always aim to stay at 30 percent or less of your total available credit on the card. For example, if you have a $10,000 credit limit, it’s best to keep your monthly balance at or below $3,000.
  4. Consider a secured card. If you don’t qualify for the card you want, or you’re at the low end of what’s considered fair credit, you may want to try a secured card. Although they require a security deposit equal to the credit limit you’re seeking, if you choose one that reports to all three credit bureaus, it can be a great way to improve your score in 2019 and help keep your spending in check, as the limits on secured cards are typically lower than unsecured. If possible, choose a secured card that lets you “graduate” to an unsecured card after demonstrating good financial behavior.

How to improve your credit score

If your credit is just fair, your goal for 2019 should be to improve your overall credit standing. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you work towards your goals.

Do:

  • Pay your bills in full and on time. Any missed or late payments will hurt your score.
  • Choose a card that aligns with your spending patterns.
  • Keep your balances low and aim to stay under that 30 percent mark.
  • Check your credit report thoroughly and often to make sure there aren’t any errors that could be affecting your score.

Don’t:

  • Rack up a lot of new charges just because you have a new line of credit.
  • Apply for too many new cards or ones that require better credit than you have as this can also lower your score.
  • Close a credit card you’ve held for a long time as this can negatively affect your score. If there’s an annual fee that you don’t want to pay any more, ask the issuer if you can product change to another card without a fee.

Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

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

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.