A credit score in the “fair” range (580-669) is below the American average. You’ll still qualify for many credit cards. The best credit cards for fair credit may not access top-tier rates or offers, but they offer decent perks, including rewards, and come in various forms like travel, student, and cards with no annual fee.
These cards typically have relatively high interest rates. If you manage your card well you won’t have to pay any interest, and you’ll build better credit at the same time!
|Annual Fee||Regular APR||Rewards||Credit Score|
|Capital One Platinum Credit Card||$0||29.99% (Variable)||No||580+|
|Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card||$0||17.74% – 31.74% (Variable)||Yes||630+|
|Avant Credit Card||$0-$59||29.74%-34.74% (Variable)||No||580+|
|Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®||$0||17.99% – 29.49% (Variable)||Yes||580+|
|Discover it® Student chrome||$0||17.74% – 26.74% (Variable)||Yes||640+|
|Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®||$0||14.99% – 29.99% (Variable)||Yes||580+|
6 Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit
When looking for the best credit cards for fair credit, we took the following things into account:
- Is there an annual fee?
- Is there a fee for international spending?
- What other fees does the card have?
- What is the APR (Annual Percentage Rate)?
- Does the card offer rewards?
- Does the card have a signup bonus?
- Does the card have any other perks?
Here are our top picks for the best credit cards for fair credit:
- Capital One Platinum Card – Best No-Fee Card
- Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card – No Fee Plus Rewards
- Avant Credit Card – No Penalty APR
- Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® – Best for Walmart Shoppers
- Discover it® Student chrome – Best for Students
- Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® – The Most Innovative Deal
BEST NO-FEE CARD
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Card is a simple, basic credit card with no annual fee and no international transaction fee. The minimum credit score is 580, so it’s accessible with fair credit. That figure was not provided by Capital One and is not a preapproval offer. You can check for pre-approval with no hard credit inquiry on the website.
You’ll have fraud coverage and unlimited access to your credit score. You may be considered for a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months. There are no rewards: this is a basic card.
👎 The downside: There’s a high 29.99% variable APR. Only use this card if you are sure that you’ll be paying off the balance in full every month.
NO FEE PLUS REWARDS
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
17.74% – 31.74% (Variable)
The Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card (issued WebBank) has no annual fee and a variable APR of 17.74% – 31.74%. There are no international fees, making this a great travel card. You’ll also get free access to an app that helps with budgeting and with financial decisions.
🎁 Rewards: You get 1% cash back on purchases and 2% to 10% cash back at selected merchants.
👎 The downside: The minimum credit score is 630, so you’ll need to be in the upper half of the “fair” range to qualify. Petal will qualify applicants with no credit score on the basis of bank account information.
NO PENALTY APR
Avant Credit Card
The Avant Credit Card has a minimum credit score of 580, placing it squarely in the fair credit score bracket. You can miss a payment without triggering a penalty APR, a plus for the absent-minded or those on a shoestring budget. You may pay a late fee. The regular APR is 29.74%-34.74%, depending on your credit.
👎 The downside: You may pay an annual fee, varying with where you applied. See the issuer’s website for details.
BEST FOR WALMART SHOPPERS
Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®
17.99% or 29.49% (Variable)
The Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard is a great deal if you shop at Walmart regularly and a decent deal even if you don’t. The minimum credit score is 580. There is no annual fee or international transaction fee, and the APR is 17.99% or 29.49%.
🎁 Rewards: The real story here is the rewards.
- 5% cash back for online purchases at Walmart.com.
- 2% cash back at Walmart stores, restaurants, and on travel.
- 1% cash back on other purchases.
- Earn 5% cash back in Walmart stores for the first 12 months after approval when you use your Capital One Walmart Rewards® Card with Walmart Pay.
The rewards do not expire.
👎 The downside: The APR is on the steep side. Pay your balance in full on or before the due date!
BEST FOR STUDENTS
Discover it® Student chrome
17.74% – 26.74% (Variable)
The Discover It Student Chrome card is a solid offer for college students. There’s no annual fee or international transaction fee. There’s a 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months. The regular APR is from 17.74% to 26.74%. Even applicants without a credit score may qualify.
🎁 Rewards: You get 2% cash back on gas and restaurant spending, up to $1000 per quarter. There’s 1% unlimited cash back on other purchases. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year!
👎 The downside: The 2% cashback reward comes with a low spending limit, only $1000 per quarter.
THE MOST INNOVATIVE DEAL
Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
14.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
The Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Rewards is a different kind of credit card. The basics are not unusual. There’s no annual fee, activation fee, or maintenance fee. The APR ranges from 14.99% to 29.99%.
The feature that makes this card different is that any balance carried beyond the due date is converted to a fixed-rate installment loan. You’ll pay in equal monthly installments, which makes budgeting easier. You can also request a personal loan through your card, with funds sent straight to your bank.
🎁 Rewards: You’ll get 1.5% unlimited cash back when you make a payment.
$200 bonus after opening a Rewards Checking account and making 3 debit card transactions.
👎 The downside: The minimum credit score is 580, so if you’re at the lower end of “fair” you may not qualify. Interest rates may be high.
Watch Those APRs
If we look at the details of these cards, one thing becomes clear: interest rates are high. They are the highest of all if you’re at the lower end of the credit score range for that card.
☝️ When a card issuer cites a range of APRs you can be sure that people at or near the minimum score for that card will be paying the rate at the high end of the range.
Revolving credit – predominantly credit cards – gets very expensive with a low credit score. Look at the data:
Fortunately, you don’t have to pay those high-interest rates. If you pay each bill in full on or before the due date, you will pay no interest at all. When your card carries an APR over 20%, compounded daily, that’s a very good thing.
Use Your Credit Card Wisely
A credit card can be a convenience or a catastrophe. It can help you build credit or help you destroy it. To keep your outcomes positive, remember these points.
Your credit card for fair credit will affect your score in two main ways.
- Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score. Making payments on time is the single most important thing you can do to boost your credit.
- Credit utilization makes up around 30% of your score. Your credit utilization rate is the percentage of your credit limit that you actually use. If your credit limit is $1000 and your balance is $300 your credit utilization rate is 30%. Keeping your balance below 30% of your limit will help your credit and keeping it lower will help your credit more.
Here’s what you need to do to make your card an asset instead of a liability.
- Use your card. An active card does more for your credit than a dormant one.
- Pay every bill on time. Late or missed payments kill credit. On-time payments build credit.
- Pay every bill in full. If you pay in full before the due date, you won’t pay interest. That’s a free loan from the card company! If you carry a balance you will pay high interest, compounded daily.
- Never make the minimum payment. Minimum payments are a one-way street into the credit card debt trap. Even if you can’t pay the whole balance, pay as much above the minimum as you can.
- Keep your balance low. Remember your credit utilization and keep track of it.
Using a credit card wisely takes discipline, but that discipline will build your credit and prevent you from accumulating high-interest debt.
Build on That Start
Once you’ve established good habits with your credit card, consider an installment loan. Many banks and credit unions offer credit-builder loans, or you can apply with an online lender like Self. These loans are designed for people with poor credit. They put an installment loan on your record, which improves your credit mix, and if you make your payments on time you’ll be boosting your score.
Knowledge is the key to building better credit. Start by learning how your credit score is calculated. Get your credit reports: they will give you better awareness of your own financial situation. If you have trouble understanding them, look at this guide to how to read a credit report. Many credit reports contain errors. You’ll want to watch out for them and dispute any problems that you find.
There’s no need to hire a person or company to improve your credit. You can do anything they can do. If anyone tells you that they can remove legitimate items from your credit report, give you a new credit identity, or fix your credit issues, you may be looking at one of many debt relief or credit repair scams.
It takes time and effort to rebuild damaged credit. It’s worth it to make the effort. You won’t just be raising your credit score, you’ll also be taking control of your financial life!