Best credit cards for fair credit of November 2022

With responsible use, the right credit card – and yes, there are plenty of excellent options for fair credit scores from our partners – can help you move your average credit score into the excellent range and open up even more options for rewards, perks and features.
Best credit cards of 2022
author Brooklyn Lowery
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.
20+ years
finding the best card for you
1,500+ cards
in our database
5,000+ cardholders
polled about their cards
243 reviews
from our experts
Learn about our methodology  

List of Winners

You obviously want excellent terms for your credit cards, but, unfortunately, your credit score doesn't quite make it into the "excellent" range (yet!). 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 superb 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.

Filters
Filters
X
Clear All

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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, though often those will have higher finance charges.
Rewards
1.5% cash back Earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: It's not a traditional bonus, but once you've established a solid payment history with the bank you can request credit line increases, new features or even check to see if you qualify for an even better offer.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5% 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.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • As far as annual fees go, this one is quite reasonable for the rewards you'll be able to earn with a Fair credit score.
  • Includes some nice features that often come with credit cards, and are nice to have, like travel accident insurance, roadside assistance and an extended warranty protection plan.
  • Capital One will automatically consider you for a higher credit limit in as little as six months.

CONS:

  • There's a AnnualFees annual fee? (That's right. We're listing the annual fee as both a pro and a con.) Sure, it's reasonable (a pro), but there are no-annual-fee options for Fair credit.
  • There's no big and glorious welcome bonus to see here. Actually, there's no welcome bonus at all.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 84.0 86.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.4 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.4 8.9
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 9.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.4 8.9

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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 multiple on-time monthly payments; we'll talk details below. (Petal credit cards are issued by WebBank, Member FDIC).
Rewards
up to 1.5% cash back Earn 1% cash back on your eligible purchases; make six monthly payments on time to increase that to 1.25%; and make 12 monthly payments on time to increase it to 1.5%
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: There's no traditional bonus with this card.

The Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases. You can increase that percentage to 1.25% cash back by making six monthly payments on time and to 1.5% cash back when you make 12 monthly on-time payments.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • It has a higher than normal credit limit, from $300 to $10,000, though it is extremely unlikely many cardholders will qualify close to $10,000. But it's possible.
  • Earning 1% cash back on your eligible purchases is pretty good, but this card encourages paying your bills responsibly by offering you up to 1.5% back after you make 12 monthly payments on time.
  • It has some perks (which is pretty unusual for a credit card aimed at people with no credit), such as free credit score tracking, auto rental collision insurance, theft coverage and roadside dispatch.

CONS:

  • You can't use this card for cash advances, which are expensive, anyway, so honestly, you could and should see this as a plus.
  • The APR is fairly high, which isn't unusual for a card for Fair to no credit history. Just commit to not carrying a balance and this won't be a problem for you.
  • There isn't a big welcome bonus, which is pretty standard for a credit card designed for people with little credit history, but still, that may make you want to look around and see if you can find another credit card that you would prefer more.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 70.3 68.4
Rewards Satisfaction 6.9 6.7
Customer Service 6.9 6.8
Website/App Usability 6.9 6.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 7.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 7.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This card gives students both the chance to build credit and earn cash back rewards for making purchases that align with a student's lifestyle.
Limited Time Offer
$100 Earn $100 after you spend $100 on your card in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: For a limited time, earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months.

The Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart and Target) and earn 1% on all other purchases. In addition, earn 8% cash back on entertainment purchases when you book through the Capital One Entertainment portal; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; and 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • If you're traveling anywhere and lose your card or run out of money or something else goes wrong, you can call travel assistance services. They can get you money, send you a replacement card, talk to you for awhile until you no longer feel homesick...
  • No annual fee, which is always appreciated.
  • Capital One will automatically consider you for a credit line increase in as little as six months.

CONS:

  • The rewards are great, but they're also tiered. That means it will take some thought and planning to ensure you maximize your rewards here.
  • It's a card for students, so if that isn't you, you'll need to keep looking for a card to help you move from the Fair to Good/Excellenet credit arena.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 72.2 Did not survey
Features Satisfaction 7.2 n/a
Customer Service 7.1 n/a
Website/App Usability 7.5 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 6.9 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This card is full of perks. To start, you can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically. And all of this comes with no annual fee as well as a nice intro 0%. APR on purchases for six months (then, RegAPR
Welcome Bonus
Cashback Match Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • If somehow your Social Security number winds up on one of the websites in the Dark Web or other questionable places online, Discover will alert you as part of the included monitoring of your Social Security number. It's the kind of feature that's easy to overlook – until the day it saves you from an identity theft nightmare.
  • You'll be happy to see that there is no annual fee, but there are still decent rewards and even a potentially substantial bonus opportunity.
  • And if you go crazy with your spending and over the card's limit, there is no over limit fee.

CONS:

  • Being Discover, the card isn't as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard, and so that may be frustrating to you occasionally, but Discover it regularly expanding its network, so this really may never be an issue.
  • The cash back bonus opportunity is impressive (and as lucrative as you want it to be), but for impatient cardholders, you might be frustrated that you have to wait a year to get it rather than getting something big in the first few months.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 84.4 82.7
Features Satisfaction 8.4 8.2
Customer Service 8.5 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.3 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Sometimes finding a card for average or fair credit can feel like all you're doing is settling for more fees and fewer services or perks. It almost never means no balance transfer fees AND an impressively low APR offer on balance transfers. This card breaks the mold.
Intro APR Offer
0.99% for 12 months on balance transfers Intro 12 months 0.99% APR on balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then, RegAPR)
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus with this card, but if you need to transfer a balance, this card could certainly make you feel like you're getting a bonus. That's because you can take advantage of an intro 12 months 0.99% APR on balance transfers made within the first 60 days AND there's no balance transfer fee to worry about.

Ongoing APR: RegAPR

The Rewards: You won't earn rewards, but you will have a card that allows you to build/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.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • There aren't many cards for fair credit that also have an excellent intro balance transfer offer. This could very well be a great choice for you if that's the boat you're in.
  • Feel free to travel internationally with this card. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about.
  • The ongoing APR of RegAPR is quite low. Again, a nice feature to have in a card available to those with Fair credit.

CONS:

  • This is not a credit card you get for the rewards (because there are none) but rather one you get to use responsibly and build your credit.
  • There isn't an exciting welcome bonus either.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: One of the toughest things to get a handle on when it comes to credit cards is how interest can compound and quickly turn a manageable molehill of a balance into an impossible mountain of debt. This card helps cardholders avoid that scenario with a payment schedule of regular fixed payments.
Welcome Bonus
$200 To qualify for the $200 welcome bonus, you must open and fund a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days of your Upgrade Card account opening. The bonus will be applied as a one-time credit to your account and will not otherwise reduce the amount of your regular monthly payments. The bonus credit will be posted to your Upgrade Card as a rewards credit within 1-2 billing periods following the third debit card transaction on your Rewards Checking account. Your Upgrade Card must be in good standing to receive a bonus.
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after opening a Rewards Checking account and making three debit card transactions in the first 60 days of card account opening. (Note: To qualify for the $200 welcome bonus, you must open and fund a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days of your Upgrade Card account opening. The bonus will be applied as a one-time credit to your account and will not otherwise reduce the amount of your regular monthly payments. The bonus credit will be posted to your Upgrade Card as a rewards credit within 1-2 billing periods following the third debit card transaction on your Rewards Checking account. Your Upgrade Card must be in good standing to receive a bonus.)

The Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases when you make your payments.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • There's the possibility of a very low APR for cardholders with excellent credit. If your credit history is mediocre to terrible, though, you'll likely have a higher APR, but still enjoy the regular payments feature of this card.
  • This card gives you access to a line of credit instead of a traditional credit card credit limit. That's what enables the system of fixed regular payments rather than differing payments based on your spending each month.
  • Because this is a line of credit, you can transfer money directly to a bank account for withdrawal and not incur a cash advance fee.

CONS:

  • There's no way to get cash from an ATM as with a traditional cash advance. You'll need to transfer the money to your bank account and then take a withdrawal if that's what you choose to do. The good news is that you won't incur cash advance fees as you would with a traditional card.
  • The rewards are nice, but not stellar. Shop around if you're looking primarily for a rewards card.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.1 80.1
Features Satisfaction 8.1 8.0
Customer Service 8.1 8.0
Website/App Usability 8.1 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 7.7

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: A strong cash rewards setup and no foreign transaction fees for people with Fair credit.
Welcome Bonus
$100 Earn $100 cash back after you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn $100 cash back once spending $2,000 within 90 days of opening an account. Plus, you can save with a low 1.99% intro APR on purchases for 6 months from account opening; after that, regular RegAPR APR applies. Plus

The Rewards: Earn 1.75% cash back on your purchases with direct deposit at Navy Federal; otherwise, earn 1.5% cash back on your purchases.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Pay no foreign transaction, balance transfer, cash advance or annual fees.
  • The perks are really nice, like the cell phone insurance, which ranges from $250 to $600 worth of insurance for up to three phones. You do, of course, have to pay for your phone service with this credit card.

CONS:

  • Well, if you get excited about getting this card, and you then realize you need to be a member of the Navy Federal Credit Union, you will be disappointed and consider this membership rule a strike against the card.
  • As with any flat-rate rewards card, if maximizing rewards earning is your priority, you'll do better with a tiered or rotating categories card (probably alongside a flat-rate rewards card).
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 82.6 90.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.9
Customer Service 8.4 9.1
Website/App Usability 8.4 9.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 9.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 9.0 9.0

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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.
Welcome Bonus
Dollar-for-dollar match The issuer will match all the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder, dollar-for-dollar
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

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.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • A secured card with this lucrative of a bonus opportunity is rare.
  • There's no credit check or U.S. credit history required; furthermore, there's no Social Security number required for non-U.S. citizens.
  • The variable APR is decent for a secured credit card. Sure, we've seen lower APRs on credit cards in general, but we've also seen much higher.

CONS:

  • You probably wouldn't want to travel far (internationally) with this card. There is a foreign transaction fee to think about.
  • To qualify for this card, you first need a CardName. It's that account that will ultimately fund your secured credit card line of credit.

Read our full CardName.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

No matching cards found
Compare:
Compare Cards
Delete All
FAQ

It depends on which credit score model you're referring to. FICO credit scores are popular with many lenders, and the company says a score between 580-669 is considered fair. There are also scores available from VantageScore, a newer company that uses a slightly different scoring model. VantageScore credit scores of 601-660 are considered fair, according to the credit reporting company Experian. You can learn more about the differences between FICO and VantageScore here.

The average credit score in the United States falls into the good category, according to Equifax, another credit scoring company. It says the average score in 2021 is 698 using the VantageScore 3.0 model. Meanwhile, the average FICO score in 2020 was 710, Experian says.

Yes, several credit card companies offer cards to those with fair credit. While you may not be able to get some of the most popular rewards or travel cards, there are many options from which to choose.

If your score is on the lower end, you may need to get a secured credit card. A secured card requires a deposit that is often equal to your initial credit line. While that may seem unappealing, a secured credit card can be a useful tool to raise your credit score and open the door to better cards in the future.

However, many people with fair credit scores can be approved for unsecured cards which do not require a deposit. Some of these cards are designed with students in mind while others have benefits that anyone might find valuable.

There are even some rewards credit cards available to those with average or fair credit. For instance, the CardName offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases and the CardName provides 1% cash back on eligible purchases at the time of card activation as well as the opportunity to increase that to 1.5% cash back with 12 on-time payments.

Credit cards for those with fair credit can come with annual fees or high interest rates though, so just be aware of this. While it's best to pay off what you charge each month, if you think you'll be carrying a balance, you might want to consider an intro 0% APR card instead.

There are several different reasons why you may have fair credit. Maybe you went through a period in which you missed payments or perhaps you don't have much credit history from which to build a score. Either way, a credit card can help - but only if you are smart about its use.

A significant part of your credit score is making debt payments on time, and by opening a new credit card account, you can establish a pattern of timely payments. This can help boost your score regardless of whether it is low because you lack a credit history or previously missed payments.

For those with maxed out credit cards, adding a new card can improve your credit utilization ratio too. This refers to how much of your available credit you have used. Ideally, you should keep balances below 30% of your total available credit. If you are above that amount, opening a new account can help reduce the percentage - but only if you don't carry a balance on the new card.

In order to see a benefit from your new card, you need to use it responsibly. That means charging only what you can pay off and making payments on time each month.

The CardName is one of the best credit cards for fair credit. CardRatings experts rank this card at the top not only because it’s designed for those with fair or average credit scores, but also because it comes with a rewards program of a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on all of your purchases. Plus, you could qualify for a credit limit increase in as little as six months. This card, however, has an annual fee of AnnualFees, which is at the higher end of annual fees on credit cards for people with fair credit.

If you want to avoid paying an annual fee and have a fair credit score, the best credit card for you might be the CardName. You won’t earn any rewards or extra bonuses with this card, but you also won’t pay an annual fee.

While a credit card can help boost your credit score in the long run, your score might take a hit initially. Credit card applications require a "hard inquiry" for a lender to review your credit report. These inquiries can drop your credit score by a few points, depending on the scoring model used.

What's more, be aware that a number of hard inquiries in a short period of time on your credit report can be a red flag for some issuers and may result in a denial. Rather than submit applications for a number of cards, be selective and apply only to those cards that meet your needs and fit your credit profile.

If you have fair credit, there are a couple factors that will be especially important to you. Consider the following before applying:

  • Secured vs. Unsecured Cards: Some credit cards for fair credit are secured. That means you must pay a security deposit, and your credit limit will only be as much as the deposit. While that may not sound ideal, it's easier to gain approval for a secured card than an unsecured card.
  • APR: Cards for those with fair credit often have high APRs so look for the lowest rate possible if you think you'll carry a balance. Of course, if you pay off your balance each month, you won't have to worry as much about the interest rate.
  • Rewards: At one time, rewards were reserved only for those with good or excellent credit. Now, even those with fair credit can find cards that offer rewards. Some, like the CardName, offer cash back that is comparable with what you'll find on cards for those with higher credit scores.

You want to avoid cards with high fees or interest, particularly if you're trying to get back on your feet financially. Carrying a balance on a high interest credit card can make it very hard to get out of debt.

Also, pay attention to annual fees. Many of the best credit cards for fair credit don't charge an annual fee, but some do. Make sure the fee is worth any benefits or rewards you receive.

Once your approved for a card, avoid doing the following:

  • Charging more than you can afford
  • Making late payments

Both of these things can make it difficult to get out of debt and can have a negative impact on your credit score.

FICO uses five categories of information to create its standard credit scores. Here's a look at each factor and the percentage by which it is weighted within a score:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Amounts owed: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • Mix of credit types: 10%
  • New credit accounts: 10%

VantageScore doesn't provide percentages for its model but says VantageScore 4.0 scores are influenced by the following:

  • Extremely influential: Total credit usage, balance and available credit
  • Highly influential: Credit mix and experience
  • Moderately influential: Payment history
  • Less influential: Age of credit history
  • Less influential: New accounts

Since length of credit history is a factor in calculating credit scores, it's best to keep accounts open if you can. This is especially true if a credit card is the oldest account on your report.

The one exception might be if the card charges an annual fee. In that case, see if your account can be downgraded to one without an annual fee. Some card issuers may also waive the fee for a year if you mention you are thinking about closing the account.

It can. Remember that each application results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, and each inquiry can drop your score by about five points, according to Experian.

Fortunately, the drop is temporary. Your credit score should bounce back after a few months, assuming you have no further inquiries or negative information reported to the credit bureaus.

To raise your credit score, focus first on revolving debt such as credit card balances or other lines of credit. Reducing the amount of debt you owe, compared to your available credit limits, will help increase your credit score. You don't get that same benefit with auto loans or mortgages, which have fixed pay-off periods.

While paying off the card with the highest interest rate first could save the most money in the long run, focus on cards with the highest balances if your credit score if your primary concern.

Yes. There is no benefit to carrying a balance on a credit card. It doesn't help your credit score and will likely hurt your score if your balance exceeds 30% of your available credit. Plus, credit card interest rates are often high, which means you could add a significant amount to your debt by carrying a balance.

Here at CardRatings.com

maxed out credit cards

, we believe credit cards are powerful financial tools that provide not only convenience but also valuable perks and rewards. However, it's crucial to use them wisely to maximize their benefits and avoid paying high interest charges.


Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2021 to conduct surveys among 1,524 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2021-Aug. 31, 2021 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted. "Current Scores" reflect scores from the most recent survey; "Past Scores (avg.)" are the scores averaged over each prior year the card has been surveyed. "Past Scores" indicates a card has only been surveyed in one prior year.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

top