Having fair credit gives you a better chance at securing a credit card than bad credit, but it can prevent you from being approved for the best rewards credit cards

A good credit card is a tool you can use to build up your credit, opening the door to better credit cards and lower interest rates on loans. Fair or average credit still gives you some options when it comes to credit cards, including many that offer rewards and other useful benefits. Below are our picks for the best credit cards for fair credit. Use this guide to find the best card for your situation.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Credit Card for Fair Credit

Credit cards for fair credit come with fewer features and benefits than many top credit cards. Here are some of the factors you should consider when choosing a credit card for fair credit: 

APR: If you don't pay your statement in full by the deadline, you'll face interest charges on your balance. How much you pay is determined by the annual percentage rate (APR). Credit cards typically come with an APR range based on your credit score and other factors. Unfortunately, having fair credit usually means not getting approved for the lowest APR available.

Fees: Paying credit card fees can cut into your budget. They also add up quickly if you're not careful. Many credit cards charge an annual fee for access to the card's features and benefits. Other fees include foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees, and late fees. 

Rewards and bonuses: While fair credit won't unlock access to the best rewards credit cards on the market, there are still plenty of opportunities to earn rewards with less-than-stellar credit. Rewards often come in the form of cash back, points, or miles. Many credit cards offer a sign-up bonus offer for meeting a specified spending goal within a set amount of time. 

Other card benefits: Many credit cards come with other perks beyond earning points and miles. Fair credit can still give you access to cards with travel perks, purchase protection, free credit score access, and more.

The Credit Cards At a Glance

 Best For Annual FeeCredit Welcome Bonus
Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards VisaRewards$95Fair to ExcellentN/A
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®Mastercard Benefits$0-$99Fair to GoodN/A
Avant Credit CardNo Penalty APR$0-$59FairN/A
Capital One Platinum Credit CardNo Annual Fee$0FairN/A
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit CardFlat-Rate Cash Back Rewards$39Fair N/A

Best Credit Cards for Those with Fair Credit

1. Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa: Best for Rewards

The Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa offers a cash back rewards structure similar to cards that require higher credit scores. First, you'll earn 5% cash back on the first $5,000 you spend on eligible gas, grocery, mobile phone service, and internet, cable and satellite TV service purchases each year. After that, you still earn unlimited 1% cash back. There is a $95 annual fee to consider, but it could be worth it for the cash back rewards. Five thousand in eligible purchases would net you $250 in cash back rewards, which is far more than the annual fee. 

You can also earn up to 10% cash back from select retailers through CreditOne's More Rewards program. Customers can view cash back offers by logging into their account. Then, as they use their card at participating retailers, they receive cash back rewards in the form of a statement credit. Retailers are constantly updated and you must have a CreditOne account to view current offers. 

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $95

Regular APR: 23.99%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights

  • 5% cash back on the first $5,000 of eligible purchases annually.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Up to 10% cash back rewards from select retailers. 
  • Zero fraud liability for unauthorized charges.
  • Offers prequalification without impacting your credit score.
  • Free access to Experian credit score.

2. Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®: Best for Mastercard Benefits

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® is a great tool to help you build your credit since it reports payments to all three major credit bureaus. Through responsible use, you can slowly increase your credit score. 

You won't earn any rewards and you could end up paying an annual fee depending on your credit, but like every  Mastercard, Indigo® Platinum comes with access to benefits that include identity theft protection and zero liability protection. Mastercard monitors your information online including your social security number, email addresses, credit cards and bank accounts, user names, and passwords. You'll receive alerts if your information is compromised, and you're 100% protected against unauthorized charges on your account.  

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $0-$99

Regular APR: 24.9%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights

  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus.
  • Offers prequalification without impacting your credit score.
  • Comes with Mastercard benefits including identity theft and zero liability protection.
  • An annual fee between $0 and $99, based on your creditworthiness.

3. Avant Credit Card: Best for No Penalty APR

The Avant Credit Card is a no-frills credit card, but it can help you build your credit through responsible use. The card offers few perks, but it also doesn't charge some of the fees you see with other credit cards, like foreign transaction fees. It also doesn't charge penalty APR for a missed payment. Keep in mind that while your APR won't increase, missed payments can still damage your credit when reported to credit bureaus.  

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $0-$59

Regular APR: 24.99%-29.99%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights

  • No foreign transaction fees. 
  • Offers prequalification without impacting your credit score.
  • Mastercard benefits like identity theft and zero liability protection.
  • An annual fee between $0 and $59 based on your creditworthiness.

4. Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best for No Annual Fee

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a no-fee card for those with fair credit. The card comes with perks like free credit score access and virtual card numbers for added security when shopping online. Virtual card numbers mask your real credit card number so it doesn't end up in the wrong hands. The Platinum Card also comes with no foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent card to use when traveling outside of the U.S. 

Intro Offer: 

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 22.99% 

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights

  • Free access to your Vantage credit score from TransUnion. 
  • Offers prequalification without impacting your credit score.
  • Higher credit line consideration in as little as six months. 
  • Virtual card numbers for online purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees. 
  • $0 annual fee.

5. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back Rewards

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the rare cards for fair credit that earns rewards. Cardholders earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no annual fee. Not only can you earn rewards with the card, but like the Capital One Platinum Credit Card, you can be considered for an  increase in your credit limit after six months of responsible card use. 

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $39

Regular APR: 22.99%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases. 
  • Free access to your Vantage credit score from TransUnion. 
  • Offers prequalification without impacting your credit score.
  • Higher credit line consideration in as little as six months.
  • Virtual card numbers for online purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees. 
  • $39 annual fee.

Want cash back? We list the best cash back credit cards for 2022.

What Is a Fair Credit Score?

The most common credit score models typically range from 300 to 850. Generally, a credit score that falls between 580 and 669 is considered fair or average. Many lenders will still approve financing with this score, but you could see higher interest rates or APRs and be denied access to rewards.

Is it Easy to Get a Credit Card with Fair Credit?

Having fair credit won't keep you from getting approved for a credit card, but it will limit which cards are available. Many of the top rewards credit cards offering the most competitive perks are reserved for individuals with excellent credit. With fair credit, you should still have the ability to get approved for many unsecured credit cards, or credit cards secured through a credit check. Secured credit cards, or cards that are secured with a cash deposit, are typically geared toward those with poor credit or no credit history.

Are there Credit Cards for Fair Credit with Instant Approval?

Credit card instant approval is typically at the discretion of the credit card issuer. You could end up waiting days for a decision, but some cards issuers now offer instant approval. There's no guarantee that you'll receive instant approval on your credit card application, regardless of your credit score.

Always check your credit score before applying for a card to ensure you are in line with the card's requirements.

Like to travel? We have the best travel rewards credit cards for 2022.

Ways to Improve Your Credit

Improving your credit will provide more freedom with credit cards and other financial decisions. One of the fastest ways to increase your credit score is to lower your credit utilization ratio. Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of available credit that you use. Ways to lower your ratio include paying off existing debt, increasing your available credit, and never using more than a third of your available credit. 

A tried and true method for improving credit is to be responsible with your credit cards. Paying at least the minimum balance due each month will help you build up your credit scores, but paying off the full card balance each month will help you avoid annoying interest charges and maximize your scores.

Summary

Improving your credit will open the door to approval for better credit cards, but you don't have to wait until you have excellent credit to earn rewards or access other card perks. There are still plenty of great credit card choices available if you have fair credit. Before applying, research the best cards for fair credit to find the best option for you.

Want more? Check out the best credit cards you can't ignore.

References:

https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/platinum/
https://morerewards.creditonebank.com/portal/edo/home
https://www.creditonebank.com/credit-cards/platinum-rewards-visa
https://www.indigocard.com/faq

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All of the opinions expressed herein are the author's alone, and not those of any bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, lender, insurance company, outside financial institution, or any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post or any other third parties.