Best credit cards for fair credit of January 2020

Last Updated, January 17, 2020

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Best credit cards for fair credit

You obviously want excellent terms for your credit cards, but, unfortunately, your credit score doesn't quite make it into the "excellent" range. These days, credit scores dictate most offers from reputable lending institutions, with a few tiered categories in which you can fall: excellent, good, fair/average and poor/bad/limited/no credit. If you fall into the fair/average range, don't give up hope on a getting a decent credit card! There are some good options out there and with responsible use you could do some good for your score overall and soon find yourself qualifying for even better offers. Here are CardRatings' picks for the top credit cards for people with fair/average credit from our partners. 




Petal® Visa® Credit Card

Why We Like It: Not only is this cash-back rewards card available to people with fair/average credit, you actually don't have to have any credit history for approval. Plus, it encourages responsible credit card use by offering you a higher rewards rate after making 12 on-time payments.

The Bonus: It's not a traditional bonus, but if you make 12 on-time payments you'll start earning 1.5% cash back on every purchase instead of the standard 1%. Furthermore, you can earn up to 10% cash back when you use your card with select merchants.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on every purchase. You can increase that percentage to 1.5% cash back by making 12 payments on time.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good, LimitedHistory, NoHistory, Limited, NoCredit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: This card is great because there are no categories; you earn cash back with every purchase. If you don't qualify for Capital One's very best offer, the bank's system will suggest one or two similar deals, usually with annual fees or higher finance charges.

The Bonus: Once you've established a solid payment history with the bank you can request bank credit line increases, new features or even check to see if you qualify for an even better offer.

The Annual Fee: $39

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase with no categories, caps or deadlines to consider. Your cash back doesn't expire as long as your account remains open. Read our full Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited


ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

Why We Like It: Not only does this card offer you a solid introductory 0% period (more on that below), it features a lucrative opportunity to rack up rewards as well. These are both features that are often to find in a credit card for fair credit.

The Bonus:  Earn a $150 statement credit after you make $1,200 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Additionally, take advantage of an introductory 12 months of 0% APR on purchases and for 18 months on balance transfers (then, 14.40% - 24.40% Variable).

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: This is a rotating categories rewards card. Cardholders earn five points per $1 spent on the first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate quarterly. Categories in 2019 include everything from dining to travel to home improvement purchases. You also earn one point per $1 on all your other purchases and on purchases in the bonus categories once you reach the quarterly spending cap.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Why We Like It:  The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® gives students both the chance to build credit and to earn cash back rewards for making purchases. So it rewards good behavior and in theory, that should help new cardholders develop lifelong financial habits that can keep them in good stead with lenders. (Just don't carry a balance if you can help it; the card has a 26.74% (Variable) APR on purchases and balance transfers.) Capital One® can help remind you to pay things off, though. With this card, you can set up your account so that you receive text alerts and email reminders to help you keep track of your spending.

The Bonus: Get access to a higher line of credit after making your first five monthly payments on time.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: The cash back rate is 1 percent on all purchases, and it's unlimited. However, when you pay your monthly bill on time, you'll earn 1.25 percent back on all purchases instead.

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Why We Like It:  This card is full of perks. To start, you can earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, and more, up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, automatically. Furthermore, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, AND, there is a six month introductory period of 0% APR on purchases (19.49% Variable after that). And all of this comes with no annual fee.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, and more, up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate

Credit Needed: Fair, New to Credit


Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Why We Like It: Sometimes finding a card for average credit can feel like all you're doing is settling for more fees and fewer services or perks; with this card, there's no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and the opportunity to gain access to a higher credit limit fairly quickly with responsible use.

The Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus with this card, but you can gain access to a higher credit limit after making your first five monthly payments on time – you could consider that a bonus for good behavior of sorts.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: You won't earn rewards, but you will have a card that allows you to rebuild your credit with responsible use and without paying loads of fees or even a security deposit. Use it responsibly and you could find yourself in a position to qualify for a rewards card at some point in not-too-distant future.

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited


NASCAR® Credit Card from Credit One Bank®

Why We Like It:  Being able to pre-qualify without a hard inquiry on your credit report sells us immediately on this card. Plus, you can choose your monthly due date (terms apply) AND earn rewards – rewards cards are a bit hard to come by at this credit-needed level. This is a great card for those looking to boost their credit standing with responsible use.

The Annual Fee:$0 - $99

The Rewards: Earn 1 percent cash back on your eligible purchases and double cash back on purchases at the NASCAR.com superstore.

Credit Needed: Fair


OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Why We Like It:  This card allows you to build or rebuild your credit, but doesn't lock you into a specific refundable security deposit. You can choose what amount to deposit and establish your credit limit from $200-$3,000.

The Annual Fee: $35

The Rewards: The reward is the opportunity to build your credit, but still have some flexibility with your security deposit. Use the card responsibly and you could go a long way toward increasing your credit score into a new tier, opening up a whole new range of credit card offers. Read our full OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card review,

Credit Needed: Fair/Poor/Bad/No Credit


Don't know your credit score? Read this first!

A credit score is a number that credit card issuers use to evaluate you. You'll often see this referred to as your FICO score, though there are other companies that produce credit scores. It considers such factors as your history of paying bills on time, how much available credit and existing debt you have, how long you have maintained various financial accounts and is designed to help a lender evaluate whether you are a risky borrower. Credit card issuers use credit scores to decide whether to approve your application, to set your credit limit and, in many cases, to determine what your APR will be on a card for which you qualify.

CardRatings recommends that you do not apply for credit cards without understanding where your credit scores stands. If you apply for multiple cards and are denied repeatedly, these multiple credit card inquiries can (and likely will) end up lowering your credit, thereby making it even more difficult to qualify for a card. If you don't know your credit score, sign up for a free credit score, credit report card, as well as a personal credit analysis with our preferred partner, Credit Sesame. And if your credit score isn't strong, fret not – there are cards suited for every credit tier. Of course, your credit history, income and housing costs also will play into what you can get.

The majority of Americans today fall in the "fair/average" to "good" range. Though it doesn't seem like it would make a huge difference, cracking the 680 credit score can actually reap a large reward, like lower rates, more offers and better rewards.

So what are some of the top cards for people with 630-689 credit scores? Remember, each lender makes its own definitions for "good" and "fair." For instance, a 680 credit score without a lot of available income probably won't get you far with some of the big issuers. On the other hand, positive cash flow and stability on your credit report can inspire some lenders to take a chance on you even if your score is in the middle range of "fair."

Keep in mind, a credit score of 650 isn't terrible, but it's not exactly considered tops in the class either. That said, some credit card issuers consider 650 good or reasonably decent, and so you should be able to get a credit card without too much difficulty. It won't, however, be a card with a low purchase APR, but you already know that.

A few years ago, your 680 FICO score would have landed you in the "very good" to "excellent" range. In today's post-Great Recession lending market, however, that 680 lands you toward the upper end of "fair/average." Let it slide below 650 and you could find it difficult to qualify for a traditional credit card.

That said, no one knows any of the trade secrets that credit card issuers use when determining who gets a credit card and who doesn't, but keep in mind that FICO scores aren't everything. If you still have trouble getting approved, there may be other things in your credit history that are keeping you from getting a credit card with decent terms.


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