Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. It affects your ability to qualify for new lines of credit and the interest rates you’ll get on mortgages and auto loans. According to Experian — one of the three major credit bureaus — the average credit score in the U.S. is 704. While a credit score in that range is good, having that score still means you don’t have the excellent credit needed to qualify for the most lucrative credit card offers.
If you have an average credit score, don’t worry, though — there are still very good credit cards available for those with average credit. Continue reading to learn more about your options as well as how to boost your credit score.
How to choose the best credit card if you have average credit
Checking your credit at least once a year is a good idea. If you have average credit and are shopping for a new credit card, it’s important to consider the following factors:
- APR: The interest rate or APRs (annual percentage rate) on cards for users with average credit tend to be higher than other credit cards. That means if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, you could end up paying hundreds more in interest fees than the amount you originally charged.
- Rewards: Not all credit cards for average users offer rewards, but some do. If you spend a lot of money in certain categories, like on gas or groceries, look for a card that allows you to earn cash back or points for those purchases.
- Credit monitoring: Many credit card companies will allow you to monitor your credit report and view your credit score for free. This perk is great for those with average credit, as it can help you improve your score.
- Credit-line increases: Increasing your credit limit can give you more spending power and boost your credit score. Some cards offer automatic credit-limit increases if you make a certain amount of payments on time, helping you improve your credit profile.
There’s no one perfect card for everyone, so review the options below carefully. When evaluating the different credit cards, consider your spending habits and financial goals to determine which is best for you.
The 5 best personal credit cards if you have average credit
If you have average credit and are looking for a new credit card, here are five of the best options available now:
|Card||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Special benefits|
|Capital One Platinum Credit Card||N/A||$0||Get access to a higher credit line after making your first five payments on time|
|Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa||1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery, mobile phone service, internet service, and cable and satellite TV service purchases||$0 to $99||View your Experian credit score online|
|Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card||unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase||$39||Get access to a higher credit line after making your first five payments on time|
|Discover it Secured||2% cash back on purchases at restaurants and gas stations (up to $1,000 quarterly), and 1% cash back on all other purchases||$0||View your FICO credit score for free on your monthly statements or online|
|Discover it Student Cash Back||5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases||$0||Get a $20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years|
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
With no annual fee, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a good option for those who have average credit and want easy access to a higher credit limit. It’s a basic card without special perks like cashback rewards or introductory APR offers, but you can get an increased credit limit after making your first five payments on time.
As a cardholder, you’ll also be able to monitor your credit report and credit score for free with CreditWise, a service offered by Capital One.
The Capital One Platinum does have a high APR for all purchases, so be careful using the card. You can avoid paying costly interest charges by paying off your balance in full each month.
Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa
With the Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa, you’ll earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases, which could include gas, groceries, mobile phone service, and internet service. Your rewards are posted automatically to your account each month. As a cardholder, you can also view your Experian credit score online for free. To do so, you must create an account at www.CreditOneBank.com.
This card does have an annual fee that ranges from $0 to $99, and it’s deducted automatically from your credit limit. For example, if you have a $300 limit and a $75 annual fee, when your one-year anniversary rolls around, your limit would drop to $225. Depending on your financial status and budget, that may or may not be an issue for you. Despite that, the card does offer some good rewards and can help you rebuild your credit.
While it may be helpful for boosting your credit, the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa does have a high APR, so that’s another reason to pay off your balance in full each month.
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card has a small annual fee, but you can easily offset it with the value of this card’s potential rewards. For a card designed for those with average credit, the QuicksilverOne’s rewards program is robust. You’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. To put that in perspective, if you use your card to pay for $10,000 worth of purchases a year, you’ll get $150 in cashback rewards.
You’ll also qualify for a higher credit limit if you make your first five payments on time. And you can access your credit report and credit score for free with CreditWise.
Like the above credit cards, the QuicksilverOne Credit Card does have a higher-than-average APR on new purchases, so avoid carrying a balance if you can.
Discover it Secured
A secured credit card can be an excellent choice for those with less-than-stellar credit. With this approach, you put down a security deposit on a card, and the amount of that deposit serves as your credit limit. The amount you owe is “secured” by the amount you’ve deposited.
Most secured cards don’t offer rewards or benefits, but the Discover it Secured is different. You’ll earn 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants and gas stations (up to $1,000 quarterly), and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
You’ll also get a bonus after your first year as a cardmember. At the end of the year, Discover will match all of the cash back you earned. That means if you earned $150 in cashback rewards, Discover will automatically double it to $300.
Discover also allows you to view your FICO credit score for free on your monthly statements or anytime online. The card does have a high APR, though, so make sure you pay off your statement balance each month.
Discover it Student Cash Back
If you’re a college student, you likely have a very limited credit history. While that can be a problem, there are some benefits: You can qualify for student credit cards like the Discover it Student Cash Back.
This card has no annual fee, but you can earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. As an added benefit, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year.
In addition, you’ll get a $20 statement credit for each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years. You can also view your FICO credit score for free on your monthly statements or online.
The card is unique in that it offers a 0% APR on new purchases for 6 months after account opening, giving you time to pay for big expenses like textbooks or dorm furniture without worrying about interest charges. After the introductory offer expires, your APR will vary, depending on your creditworthiness.
The 2 best business credit cards if you have average credit
If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur with average credit, finding a credit card can be difficult. If you’re in need of a business credit card, consider these two options:
Capital One Spark Classic for Business
The Capital One Spark Classic for Business is a good, basic business rewards card. While having no annual fee to pay, you’ll earn 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase for your business.
You’ll also be eligible for free employee cards, and there are no foreign transaction fees, making the Spark Classic for Business a good choice if you travel for work. The card also comes with perks like travel and emergency assistance services, primary auto rental damage waiver coverage, purchase security, and extended warranty protection.
Since it’s a store card, you may find it easier to qualify for the Staples Business Credit Card than traditional credit cards. It can only be used at Staples stores and Staples.com, but you can earn rewards on your business purchases. And if you make all your payments on time, your business’ credit profile will improve as you use the card.
The Staples Business Credit Card allows you to earn 5% cash back on every Staples purchase you make. If you spend at last $150 or more within your first 45 days of opening an account, you’ll get a $50 discount. And you’ll get free next-day delivery on orders over $49.99.
Like most store cards, the Staples Business Credit Card does have a very high APR, so make sure you pay off your statement in full each month.
Why we chose these cards (methodology)
We looked at dozens of cards that accept users with just “average” credit scores and evaluated them based on their fees, rewards programs, credit-monitoring services, access to higher credit lines, and other benefits. We selected the above cards based on their unique benefits and features, as well as their ability to help you improve your credit profile.
The bottom line on the best credit cards for average credit
If you have an average credit score, don’t get discouraged. There are great credit card offers out there that will allow you to build good credit habits and even enjoy rewards and other benefits.
Once you apply for a card and are approved, pay all of your bills on time and limit your spending. Over time, your new card will help you improve your credit and qualify for other lines of credit.