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Best Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit in February 2024

Updated January 30, 2024

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

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2
Info
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site
Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Recommended Credit
Info

N/A

Intro offer

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

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2024 Bankrate Awards Winner
Best for rotating cash back bonus categories

Discover it® Student Cash Back

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

Intro offer

Info

1% - 5%

Rewards Rate

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

Best for fraud protection

Milestone Mastercard® - $700 Credit Limit

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
2.5
Info
Apply now Lock
on The Bank of Missouri's secure site
Bad to Fair (300 – 670)
Info
Recommended Credit

N/A

Intro offer

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

Best for flat-rate cash back

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0
Info
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site
Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Recommended Credit

N/A

Intro offer

Info

1.5% - 5%

Rewards Rate

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

Info
BEST FOR TRAVEL

Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Rating: 3.3 stars out of 5
3.3
Info
Apply now Lock
on Credit One Bank's secure site
Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Recommended Credit
Info

N/A

Intro offer

Info

1X - 10X

Rewards Rate

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

Best for low interest and low cost

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2
Info
Apply now Lock
on Upgrade's secure site
Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Recommended Credit

Intro offer

Info

1.5%

Rewards Rate

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

Best for no penalty APR

Avant Credit Card

Rating: 2.7 stars out of 5
2.7
Info
Apply now Lock
on Avant's secure site
Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Recommended Credit

N/A

Intro offer

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

BEST FOR NO CREDIT CHECK

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

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

N/A

Intro offer

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

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

Rotating cash back bonus categories

$0

5.0 / 5

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

Fraud protection*

See terms*

2.5 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on The Bank of Missouri'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

3.3 / 5

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

Low interest and low cost

$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

A closer look at Bankrate’s top credit cards for fair credit

Image of Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Best for no annual fee

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Many credit cards for fair credit offer instant approval, but this card goes further. It doesn’t charge an annual fee, doesn’t require a security deposit and automatically considers you for a credit line increase in as little as six months. (See Rates & Fees)

People looking for a no-frills credit card that they plan to use on occasion and pay off in full each month to avoid interest charges as they build credit.

Compared to most unsecured credit cards for fair credit, the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card makes it easier to focus on building credit. It doesn’t charge a security deposit or many of the fees found with credit cards. It also has an impressive amount of credit-building features, including an app packed with free credit score access, payment calculator and tools to help you budget and track your spending habits.

Image of Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best for rotating cash back categories

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This is a no-annual-fee credit card that can help students develop good financial habits while earning rewards. It comes with a number of features people new to credit will appreciate. This includes access to credit monitoring tools and late-payment forgiveness the first time you miss making an on-time payment (up to $41 thereafter).

Students who want access to a starter rewards card loaded with an impressive number of features.

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is another solid pick for students. It’s a no-annual-fee card that lets students earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which may be a better fit for people who don’t want to deal with enrolling in or tracking the rotating bonus categories found with Discover cards. (See Rates & Fees)

Image of Milestone Mastercard® - $700 Credit Limit

Milestone Mastercard® - $700 Credit Limit

Best for fraud protection

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If you’ve already picked up good financial habits and just need a credit card to report your on-time payments to the credit bureaus, the Milestone may be a good pick. It’s open to people with fair or bad credit and doesn’t require a security deposit. And like most credit cards, it offers zero liability fraud protection for any unauthorized purchases on a lost or stolen card.

People who can pay their balances in full and don’t mind a credit card with an annual fee and limited features.

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a no-frills credit card for people with fair-to-good credit. Like the Milestone, it comes with $0 fraud liability for unauthorized charges, but it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Since it comes with a high variable APR (30.74 percent) it’s a good idea to try and pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges. (See Rates & Fees) 

Read our full Milestone Mastercard review or jump back to offer details.

Image of Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for flat-rate cash back

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The card’s flat rate of 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases can help offset the card’s $39 annual fee as long as you spend over $2,600 each year. You can also earn unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). These are decent benefits on a card that only requires fair credit, plus you’ll automatically be considered for a credit line increase in as little as six months. (See Rates & Fees)

People who want to earn rewards while building credit and who can pay their balances in full each month to avoid the high variable APR of 30.74 percent.

The Petal 2 card earns up to 1.5 percent cash back on eligible purchases, but only after making 12 on-time payments. It also earns 2 percent to 10 percent cash back at select merchants. The card isn’t as hassle-free as the QuicksilverOne, but cardholders won’t have to worry about an annual fee, late payment, returned payment or foreign transaction fees found with other credit cards.

Image of Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Best for travel

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This card carries some of the highest travel rewards rates you can get on an unsecured card available with fair credit and its rewards program covers an impressive range of travel categories. Along with expected categories like eligible flights and hotels, you’ll earn points on gas and dining, making it a good option for vacations and everyday travel alike.

Credit-builders who want to earn rewards on travel and would rather pay an annual fee than tie up money in a security deposit.

If you’re looking for a lower-cost way to build credit without putting down a deposit or giving up rewards completely, consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne card. You’ll earn a still-impressive 5 percent back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel as well as 1.5 percent back on all other purchases, all for an annual fee of just $39 per year (See Rates & Fees). Plus, after you’ve improved your score with responsible card use, you may be able to upgrade to a more lucrative Capital One rewards card, such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Read our full Credit One Wander Card review or jump back to offer details.

Image of Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Best for low interest and low cost

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It offers an innovative way to improve credit by letting you make purchases like a credit card or send money to your bank account like a personal loan. Users then pay off their balances in equal monthly installments, from 12 to 60 months. That payoff schedule helps users pay off balances faster and with less interest charges and fees than you get with traditional credit cards.

People with fair credit who need help budgeting for and paying down their credit card debt.

If you’d like a traditional credit card with limited fees, the Petal 2 is probably the best alternative. You won’t get charged an annual fee, late payment fee, returned check fee or foreign transaction fees. And you can earn rewards, making it a versatile option for people with fair credit.

Read our full Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa review or jump back to offer details.

Image of Avant Credit Card

Avant Credit Card

Best for no penalty APR

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The fast approval process makes this a good choice for anyone looking for a credit card for fair credit with instant approval. Plus, it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and has no penalty APR. When used responsibly, you can grow your credit score, which can open the door to credit cards for good credit.

People with fair credit who struggle to qualify for credit cards with less fees and lower interest rates.

The Mission Lane Visa is available to users with bad credit and cardholders may qualify for a credit line increase after seven months of on-time payments.

Read our full Avant Credit Card review or jump back to offer details.

Image of OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Best for no credit check

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When you have fair credit, you may struggle to find a card with a low interest rate. If you don’t pay your balance in full every month, the OpenSky Secured card may be a good fit since it has a relatively low variable APR, which could help cut down on interest charges.

Credit-builders who want to work on their credit score while avoiding two of the biggest disadvantages of credit cards: high interest rates and the temptation to overspend.

Credit union cards typically come with even lower interest rates, and if your FICO score is closer to 670, you may qualify for an unsecured one, like the Gold Visa® Card, which currently offers a variable APR of 17.99 percent.

Image of Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card

Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card

Best for up to 1.5 percent cash back

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The Mission Lane Cash Back card can help you build credit through responsible use. Along the way, you can earn cash back for your purchases.

Credit builders who can pay their balances in full and avoid the numerous fees associated with the card.

Not everyone will qualify for the 1.5-percent rate with the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa. But the Capital One QuicksilverOne can be a great option because you’re guaranteed a 1.5 percent flat rate as well as 5 percent back on hotels and rental cars booked in the Capital One Travel portal.

Image of Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card

Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card

Best for entry-level fair credit

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The accessibility. If you’re new to fair credit, it may be difficult to qualify for some of the other cards on this list. Fortunately, the Mission Lane Visa is accessible even to people with bad credit, which increases your odds of approval.

People with no credit history or who have just risen out of bad credit.

Both the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card and Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card look at income, spending and savings to help make their cards more accessible to people with fair credit. And you just need to go through one quick application process to see which card you are most likely to get approved for.

Image of Zolve Azpire Credit Builder Card + Checking Account

Zolve Azpire Credit Builder Card + Checking Account

Best for building credit with no interest

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Its lack of fees. There’s no annual fee, overcharge fee or interest. The Azpire is a blend of a credit card and debit card that can make improving your credit score easier.

People who don’t want a traditional bank account. You have to open an Azpire Deposit Account and move your money from that account to an Azpire Security Deposit Account to fund the card.

The Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card works similarly — you fund a loan account with at least $100 then have access to its credit card. However, the card comes with an interest rate and annual fee, which the Azpire does not.

Image of Indigo® Mastercard®

Indigo® Mastercard®

Best for bankruptcy forgiveness

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Accessibility. This is one of the rare cards for people who have declared bankruptcy in the past.

People who have declared bankruptcy and struggle to get approved for a different credit card can use the Indigo Mastercard to show off good credit habits and work their way up to a card with more features and less fees.

If you’re struggling to get approved for a credit card, you may need more time to build your credit score. The Mission Lane Visa Credit Card can be a good option, but take a look at the best credit cards for bad credit to see if there is a secured or unsecured card that can help get you on your way to better credit.

Read our full Indigo Mastercard review.

*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 you need to know about 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.

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Bankrate Insight

The average credit score in the U.S. was 715 in 2023, just a one-point increase from the previous year, according to Experian data.

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.

Secured vs. unsecured card for fair or average credit

If you have fair or average credit, then you might be deciding between an unsecured or a secured card. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Secured cards require a security deposit, which usually acts as your starting credit limit. Though you may not find many secured cards with a rewards or cash back program, you might be able to put down a large security deposit. If you have a high credit limit and keep a low balance, you can maintain a healthy credit utilization ratio, which makes up 30 percent of your credit score. A low credit utilization ratio can help improve your credit score

A secured credit card might be a better choice if you prefer more say in your credit limit as you build up your credit history.

An unsecured credit card doesn’t require the upfront cost of a security deposit, which can benefit people who don’t have cash available for a deposit. And while your starting credit limit might be lower than with a secured card, many unsecured credit cards offer a chance at a higher credit line after a few months of positive payment history.

You can also find more unsecured cards for fair or average credit that offer cash back or rewards. Some cards may even offer travel rewards. Anyone with fair or average credit who wants a taste of the rewards card experience might choose an unsecured card in their wallet.

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

You have plenty of credit cards to choose from, and not all of them will be a good fit for you. To find the best credit card for fair credit, you must consider several factors, including your spending habits, goals and the type of card you’re likely to qualify for. To help you narrow down your options, here are some questions to ask when choosing a credit card.

  • Credit Fair

    Know your credit score

    It’s necessary to have a general idea of which cards you might qualify for based on your credit score. Check your credit score before you go card shopping, and look for recommended credit scores in each card’s marketing details. You can also look for pre-qualification offers. Online tools like CardMatch™ help you compare pre-qualified offers without hurting your credit score.

  • Credit Card Search

    Lean into secured options

    Depending on your credit score, qualifying for the top unsecured credit cards for fair credit could be difficult. If you can afford to put down a security deposit, a secured credit card with minimal fees and a low interest rate can help you boost your credit score while helping you avoid cards that offer no perks but plenty of fees.

  • Dollar Reload

    Gauge if you’ll carry balances

    If you can pay off your credit card balance in full each month, you can avoid the high interest charges and other fees that lead to credit card debt. But if you tend to carry a balance, make it a priority to find a low-interest credit card. These cards have a lower annual percentage rate (APR), which could help you save money.

  • Credit Card Best

    Look for credit-building tools

    If your main goal is to build credit, check out cards with features that can make it easier to grow your credit score or improve your financial literacy skills. Some credit cards for fair credit offer free access to your credit score and help you monitor your credit. Others come with helpful advice and tips to empower you to make the best financial decisions.

  • Dollar

    Keep track of fees

    Watch out for common credit card fees. You won’t be able to avoid them all, but some credit cards can help you avoid certain costs like annual fees, foreign transaction fees and penalty APRs.

  • Search

    Don’t settle

    Don’t let your credit score limit your choices. Remember that a fair credit score is different from a bad credit score. You’ll still have decent options to consider that offer much more than what you’d get with a card for bad credit like no annual fees and modest intro APR offers. 

Expert advice for people with fair credit

Fair credit can offer 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. A high credit score has many benefits, including access to top-of-the-line rewards credit cards.

Here are some good credit habits to keep and how to use your card for fair credit to earn a good or excellent credit score.

More information on credit cards for fair credit

How we assess the best cards for fair or average credit

Document
50+
Cards rated
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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