The 7 Best Credit Cards for Fair or Average Credit of 2022


Whether you’re trying to build credit or earn rewards, getting a credit card if you have fair credit may prove to be a bit difficult.

All hope’s not lost though. Your chances of being approved are pretty good, though you may not get as many options as you want if you’re looking for better benefits and lower rates.

Choosing the best card means figuring out what your goals are, and finding one that can help you continue to build your credit. Here, we’ve rounded up the best credit cards for fair credit to help you get started on your research. Some of them are even good if you have bad credit or are just starting to build credit.

The Best Credit Cards For Fair Credit

  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best for no annual fee
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for Cash Back
  • Discover it Student Cash Back: Best for Students
  • Credit One Bank Wander Card: Best for Travel
  • OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: Best Secured Credit Card
  • Petal 1 Visa Credit Card: Best for Broad Approval Criteria
  • Deserve MasterCard: Best for International Students

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Best for No Annual Fee

Key Features

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Increased credit line within six months
  • No rewards program

This is a simple no-frills credit card that’s best suited for those who want to build their credit or want a low cost option. Though the APR can be higher than some of the ones on our list, it may be fine if you don’t intend on carrying a balance, or make small purchases on the card. Plus, if you make on-time payments for a consecutive six months, you may be considered for a higher credit line.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

APR

28.49% variable

Signup bonus

None

Credit requirements

Fair to good credit (580 to 740)

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Best for Cashback

Key Features

  • Good credit builder
  • Rewards don’t expire
  • Free credit monitoring

Yes, you’ll have to pay an annual fee, but it may be worth it if you spend enough to earn back the fee. You can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and an unlimited 5% cash back on rental cards and hotels if you book through Capital One Travel. Other perks include a free credit score monitoring tool and being considered for a credit limit in as little as six months.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Annual fee

$39

APR

28.49% variable

Signup bonus

None

Credit requirements

Fair to good credit (580 to 740)

Best for Students

Discover it Student Cash Back

Key Features

  • Rewards while earning credit
  • Good for newbies
  • Credit score tool

Discover offers many good offerings for students, and this one offers high rewards potential with no annual fee. Cardholders can earn up to 5% in cash back rewards for rotating categories (you’ll get a list to choose from) up to the first $1,500, and 1% cash back for all other purchases. You’ll also get insight into your FICO score, and the signup bonus is pretty nice if you ask us.

Discover it Student Cash Back

Annual fee

$0

APR

15.99% – 24.99% variable

Signup bonus

Automatically matches your cashback in your first year

Credit requirements

None/fair credit

Credit One Bank Wander Card

Best for Travel

Key Features

  • Generous reward program
  • Prequalify without hard credit report
  • No balance transfer

Yes, the annual fee is fairly high, but it might be worth it if you’re serious about earning points for travel. Plus, the signup bonus equates to $100 worth of rewards, and there are opportunities to earn a lot of points. You can earn 10 points per dollar on eligible car rentals and hotels booked through Credit One Bank’s travel site, five points on eligible dining, travel and gas, and one point on all other purchases.

Credit One Bank Wander Card

Annual fee

$95

APR

26.24% variable

Signup bonus

10,000 bonus points once cardholder spends $1,000 within the first 90 days

Credit requirements

Fair to good credit (580 to 740)

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

Best Secured Credit Card

Key Features

  • Good credit builder
  • No credit check required
  • Credit limit up to $3,000

A secured credit card may be your best bet if you have no credit history or aren’t approved for other types of cards. While you do have to pay a $35 annual fee and a refundable cash deposit that serves as your credit limit, it offers you an opportunity to build credit. Plus, if you’re responsible with your card, OpenSky may upgrade you to an unsecured credit card (and you’ll get your deposit back) in as little as six months.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

Annual fee

$35

APR

19.64% variable

Signup bonus

None

Credit requirements

None

Petal 1 Visa Credit Card

Best for Broad Approval Criteria

Key Features

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Reports to three major credit bureaus
  • $300 to $5,000 credit limits

The Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card can help customers with lower credit scores or no credit scores get a solid card. It’s issued by WebBank, and doesn’t rely solely on credit scores for approval. Petal looks at income, expenses, savings and debts in the approval process. It is likely the customer will start with a lower credit limit but that can be raised in six months if payments are made on time. This card also comes with rewards of up to 10% cashback at select merchants. In addition, it offers management and budgeting tools through an app that can be used with an iPhone or Android

Petal 1 Visa Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

APR

22.99% – 32.49%

Signup bonus

None

Credit requirements

Limited or bad credit

Deserve EDU MasterCard

Best for International Students

Key Features

  • No Social Security number required
  • Free Amazon Prime Student for a year
  • Free cell phone protection coverage

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students makes a compelling case for first-time borrowers. It’s hard for college students to overlook the free Amazon Prime Student and free cell phone protection coverage, but don’t let such gimmicks be the sole reason you apply for a card. Instead, we like this card because it’s easier for international students to apply; no Social Security number needed. If you’re an American student with fair credit or no credit, there are better credit cards available to you — with lower APRs, the option for balance transfers and better cash back rewards. But if you’re an in

Deserve EDU MasterCard

Annual fees

$0

APR

20.99%

Signup bonus

None, though there is a $30 refer-a-friend program

Credit requirements

Fair credit (580 or higher) or new to credit

What is Considered Fair Credit?

Sometimes referred to as average credit, fair credit is considered better than bad credit, but not good credit. While different credit scoring models may differ, to be considered fair credit, your score usually falls around 630 to 689, based on scales that go from 300 to 850.

The FICO score, a common scoring model, considers fair credit to fall between 580 and 669.

Credit scores show potential creditors your creditworthiness, or level of risk that are based on various factors such as your length of credit history and amount of on-time payments. Fair credit means that you’ve exhibited some responsible credit behavior but may still be riskier — for example, lenders may feel you may not always make on-time payments.

How to Choose a Credit Card With Average Credit

When it comes to choosing a credit card if you have fair or average credit, it’s a good idea to figure out which cards offer your best chances of approval.

You’ll have a better chance of being approved if you apply for a card that is made for consumers who have fair credit. You can start off by checking what your credit score is, and do your research by looking for credit cards for that range.

Once you’ve come up with a list of credit cards, you’ll want to think about some of the features that are important to you when it comes to helping you reach your financial goals.

Some of these can include:

  • Low fees: While it may make sense to pay an annual fee if you’ll get a chance to earn rewards, it makes the most sense only if you earn enough to offset the costs. That, or there are enough benefits such as different financial tools to make it worth it. Otherwise, you may be better off choosing a card with no annual fee.
  • Credit score monitoring: Some credit cards offer free credit score tools, where you can keep track of where you stand. Some might even show you how you can improve your and other features like budgeting tools.
  • Credit reporting: For most, a main priority in getting a credit card is to help them build their credit. While most credit cards will report your credit activity to at least one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — some report to all three. Ideally, you’ll pick a card that reports to all three.
  • Upgrade opportunities: At some point, you’ll most likely have built up your score enough that you’ll be considered to have good or excellent credit. In this case, more options will open up for you, such as credit cards with better rewards, benefits and terms. When looking for a credit card, see if the issuer offers you opportunities to upgrade your card or is open to having you requesting a different credit card with them while keeping the same account.
  • Rates: It may not be a big deal if you intend on paying off your entire balance each month, but for those who aren’t, having a lower APR is the best way to avoid paying a lot in interest charges. While credit cards with fair credit don’t always offer the best rates, some are lower than others.
  • Rewards: There are credit cards that offer rewards for those with fair credit, but your options may be more limited. Keep in mind that if you carry a balance on your card or don’t earn a certain amount, it could negate your rewards earnings.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Improving your credit score opens up more opportunities for you, such as lower rates and better benefits and terms.

Here are a few ways you can build your score:

  • Check your credit report: Mistakes happen, and an error on your credit report, especially a negative remark, could have an effect on your score. Check your credit report — you can get them for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com— to see if there are any errors or omissions. If so, contact the right people to get it fixed.
  • Pay your bills on time: Payment history is one of the most important factors when calculating your credit score. Even one late or missed payment could negatively affect it. You can help to ensure you’re making on-time payments by setting up autopay or reminders before your bills are due.
  • Don’t close credit accounts: Your length of credit history will also affect your score — the longer it is, the more of a positive effect it’ll have. If you have a credit card you’ve had for years, for example, and don’t really use it anymore, consider keeping it open by making small purchases on it occasionally.
  • Keep your spending to a minimum: Credit utilization compares how much credit you’re using versus your credit limit. The higher this ratio is, the riskier you appear as a borrower (you may be stretched too thin and are relying on credit). As in, it could have a negative impact on your score. Ideally, you should only use up to 30% of your credit limit.
  • Avoid applying for too much credit at once: Every time you submit an application for credit, it results in a hard inquiry which will temporarily impact your score. While it’s not a big deal when submitting one application, submitting multiple ones could result in more dings to your score.

Alternatives to a Credit Card

Whether you need to wait to build your score up, or aren’t interested in any of the credit cards on offer, you can consider the following alternatives to credit cards:

  • Personal loans: If you know exactly how much you need and what you’re using it for, a personal loan can be a great option. There are many available options for those with fair credit and may offer lower interest rates compared to credit cards. Plus, many lenders report your loan activity to the credit bureaus so it can potentially help build your score.
  • Debit cards: Those looking for rewards will be happy to know that many banks offer cash back rewards on qualifying purchases with their debit card. Though not as great as what you could earn with credit cards, they’re comparable to the ones offered to those with fair credit.
  • Credit card alternatives: There are some credit cards out there that act more like a personal line of credit and with no credit check. All you need to do is to link your checking account to the card and you can borrow up to a certain limit, which is typically based on your spending activity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Credit Cards for Average Credit

You may have average credit or even no credit and need a credit card and it’s likely you have questions about cards in general. We’ve rounded up answers to some questions most commonly asked.

Which Credit Cards Should I Apply for If I Have Fair Credit?

The good news is that if you have fair credit, you’re eligible for a decent number of credit cards geared for people with fair credit. As for which card you should apply for, it’s hard to say because a good fit for you will depend on factors like whether you want to earn rewards, prefer no fees, or other perks. Also, if you travel a lot look for cards that offer rewards. If you are just starting to build credit, a secured credit card is the way to go. 

What is the Minimum Credit Score Required to Get a Credit Card?

There technically is no minimum credit score to get a credit card. However, the lower your credit score, the less likely you’ll be approved or have more options available to you. There are some credit cards that don’t check your credit score, such as secured credit cards. 

With these, you’ll most likely be required to put down collateral which acts as your line of credit. 

How to Get a Credit Card with Fair Credit?

Your best route to getting a credit card when you have fair credit is to look for a credit card that offers a high chance of approval for those with fair credit. It’s wise to consider cards that look at other criteria besides credit score for approval such as income, savings and debt. Do some digging to make sure you like the features and benefits offered before submitting an application. 

Contributor Sarah Li-Cain is a personal finance writer based in Jacksonville, Florida, specializing in real estate, insurance, banking, loans and credit. She is the host of the Buzzsprout and Beyond the Dollar podcasts. Writer Timothy Moore contributed to this report.




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