Best Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit

A fair credit score (580 to 669) might not get you a top-rated credit card, but you still have a lot of solid options to choose from. We've chosen the best credit cards for fair credit and average credit available from our partners to help you find the one that suits your needs.

Best Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit in 2020

Need more information?

Skip down to read our expert advice on cards for fair credit.

Best for fraud protection

Genesis FS Card Services 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 Genesis FS Card Services's secure website

Milestone® Gold Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$35-$99
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 no annual fee

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
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set.
  • 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 build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
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
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • 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 interest and low cost

Upgrade 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 Upgrade's secure website

Upgrade 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:
6.99% - 29.99%

Card Details

  • Combine the flexibility of a card with the low cost and predictability of a loan from $500-$20,000.
  • $0 fees - $0 annual fee, $0 activation fees, $0 maintenance fees
  • No touch payments with contactless technology built in
  • See if you qualify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Use wherever Visa is accepted. (cannot be used at an ATM)
  • Great for large purchases with predictable payments you can budget for
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud liability
  • Access to a virtual card while you wait for your card to arrive in the mail

Best for bankruptcy forgiveness

Genesis FS Card Services 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 Genesis FS Card Services's secure website

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0-$99
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 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® Unsecured 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:
17.99% to 23.99% 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 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:
$39
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
25.99% (variable)

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. Cash Advance Fee 3%, Min: $10
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Some of the offers on this page may have expired.

This page includes information about Discover products that are not currently available on Bankrate and may be out of date.


Author: Barry Bridges | bbridges@bankrate.com


Credit cards for consumers with fair or average credit

With a fair credit score, you might have trouble qualifying for top-rated rewards credit cards and the most competitive interest rates. The good news is that many credit card issuers offer cards specifically designed for people who don’t have outstanding credit scores.

Used correctly, a credit card for fair credit could help you build up your score and improve your chances at getting better cards, lower interest rates and more. A better credit score could even make it easier to qualify for car loans, mortgages and other types of credit.

Compare our top cards for fair/average credit

Card Name Bankrate Score Best for
Milestone® Gold Mastercard® 2.7 / 5 Fraud protection
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card 3.9 / 5 No annual fee
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card  4.1 / 5 Flat-rate cash back
Upgrade® Card N / A Low interest and low fees
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® 2.6 / 5 Bankruptcy forgiveness
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit 3.4 / 5 Rebuilding credit
Avant Credit Card N / A No penalty APR
Discover it® Secured (not currently available) 4.8 / 5 Secured card with rewards

What does it mean to have fair or average credit?

When you have a fair credit score, it means that your credit is one level below good but one level above bad or very poor. Credit score typically refers 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 considered fair.

FICO score ranges

300-579     Very Poor
580-669     Fair
670-739     Good
740-799     Very Good
800-850     Exceptional

Source: Experian

How your credit score is calculated

The three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — assign credit scores based on a combination of factors including:

Your payment history

This record indicates how often you make your payments on time vs. how often you may have missed or skipped payments. In the eyes of credit card issuers and other lenders, paying on time helps establish you as a reliable person to do business with.

How much of your available credit you’re using

The term credit utilization ratio sounds complicated, but it’s simply a percentage that measures how much credit you’re currently using in relation to how much credit you have available to you. As a general rule, experts recommend using no more than 30 percent of your available credit.

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’s had a credit card for several years and has built up a solid history of paying their bills on time.

New credit

Applications for new lines of credit account for a small part of your credit scores. Just remember that any application involving a hard credit check can put a small, temporary dent in your credit score. Applying for multiple cards in a short period of time might even give potential lenders the impression that you’re trying to borrow more than you can afford to repay.

The types of credit you have

Part of your credit score is determined by your credit mix, which can include credit cards, car loans, student loans and mortgages. Credit mix counts for just 10 percent, so you’ll want to avoid aggressively opening new lines of credit just to expand it.

Five ways you can try to improve your credit score

If your credit is just fair, your goal should be to improve your overall credit standing. Here are some good credit habits to keep in mind as you work toward raising your credit score.

  1. Pay your bills in full and on time. Any missed or late payments will hurt your score. If you do have unpaid balances from time to time, keep them as low as possible.
  2. Try to keep your credit utilization under 30 percent. (In other words, don’t use more than 30 percent of the total credit available to you).
  3. Look for pre-qualified offers on credit cards, loans and other types of credit. A pre-qualification check won’t affect your credit score the same way a hard inquiry will.
  4. Check your credit report and be prepared to correct errors. Incorrect information on your credit report — even something as simple as a misspelling of your name — could be keeping your credit score lower than it should be. Check your report and find out how to dispute errors.
  5. Be careful about canceling older credit accounts. A credit card that you’ve had for a long time adds to your length of credit history. Even if you don’t want to use the old card anymore, you could always make sure it has a zero balance and then put it in a drawer.

Don’t expect your credit score to go from fair to good overnight. In fact, it could take months to see it improve significantly. Think of it as a long-term project that will pay off in the long run.

Why a higher credit score matters

The reason why pursuing good credit is a worthy goal is that the people with good credit tend to get more opportunities and better offers.

Having a higher credit score typically makes you a more attractive candidate for a credit card, car loan, mortgage or other type of credit account. If your credit is just average or fair, you’ll likely pay higher interest rates even if you’re approved.

For example, if you have a fair credit score of 660 and you apply for a credit card with a variable APR range of 15% – 24%, 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 pay only 18% APR.

Better credit can save you money. 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.

Four things to consider before you apply

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you shop around for a credit card.

  1. Know your credit score. It’s important to have a general idea of which cards you might qualify for. Some cards might require a good credit score or even higher, so applying for a card out of your credit range could turn out to be unsuccessful.
  2. See if the card has a recommended credit score. The card issuer might specify a credit range that’s most likely to be approved. Look for the recommendation in the card’s marketing details.
  3. Look for lower APR. Annual Percentage Rate (APR) represents the total cost, including interest, charged by credit card issuers and other lenders. If you typically carry a balance on your credit card, APR will come into play. The lower the APR, the less you might have to pay for an unpaid balance.
  4. Get a sense of the fees. With every card you’re interested in, check the annual fee, late fee, penalty APR and other charges. A card that’s less expensive to own could provide more value.

Frequently asked questions about fair credit and credit scores

Is it easy to get approved for a card with fair credit?

Your credit score gives lenders a general idea of how likely you are to pay what you owe. Although it’s easier with a higher credit score, consumers who have fair credit can and do receive approval for credit cards.

What kind of card can you get with fair credit?

While many credit cards for fair credit fall into the no-frills category, some offer features such as cash back rewards and other benefits. On the other hand, you’ll probably have trouble qualifying for a zero-interest intro offer on a balance transfer credit card with a credit score below 670.

What is the minimum credit score for a credit card?

The lowest possible credit score is 300, which few people actually have. It’s possible to qualify for a card with a credit score score in the 300s, even if you have no credit history. People with fair credit can generally expect a minimum required credit score of 580, about 120 points below the national average.

What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

A credit score can be compared to a snapshot that captures the overall state of your credit at a given point in time. A credit report provides a more comprehensive look at your overall credit history from the beginning to the present.

How long does it take to receive a new credit card?

In general, getting a card could take anywhere from several days to a few weeks. The time it takes to check your credit, process the application and send the card through the mail all have an effect on the process. A lot depends on the issuer, even though some offer quick access by sharing your card number and account number with you before the physical card arrives.

How we evaluate credit cards for fair credit

As someone with fair credit, you should focus on maximum value and potential to build your credit score. While Bankrate uses a 5-point scoring system to rate a card’s overall quality, cards in the fair credit category receive particular attention in the areas of:

APR

An affordable APR could save you money if you ever have to carry an unpaid balance from one month to another.

Annual fee

Continuing the focus on affordability, our top-rated cards for fair credit often charge no annual fee or have 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.

Pre-qualification

Many of the cards on our list offer pre-qualification, which means you can get an idea of how likely you are to get approval without a hard credit inquiry that takes a small bite out of your credit score.

More information on credit cards and credit scores

If you’re looking for options with fair credit or ways to build your credit score, check out some Bankrate resources:


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously 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.