The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card, and the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students are among the best credit cards for average credit or fair credit.
When your credit falls into the fair or average credit score range, finding good credit cards that don't charge expensive fees can be challenging. To make it easier for you, we compiled a list of credit cards for fair or average credit that we recommend. based on their fees, rewards, and benefits.
- The best credit cards for fair or average credit for June 2023
- Comparison of the best credit cards for fair or average credit
- What is a fair credit score?
- What is the difference between a bad and a fair credit score?
- How a credit card can help you improve your credit score
- How to choose the best credit card if you have average credit
- Best credit cards for fair or average credit: bottom line
The best credit cards for fair or average credit for June 2023
- Best for cashback rewards: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best no-fee card option: Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card2
- Best for students: Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
- Best secured card: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
- Best for retail benefits: Credit One Bank American Express Card
Comparison of the best credit cards for fair or average credit
|Card name||Best for||Why it’s special|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Cashback rewards||Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase; plus 5% unlimited cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel|
|Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card||No fees||$0 annual fee, no late payment fee, and no foreign transaction fees|
|Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students||Students||Earn 1% cash back on all purchases and get cell phone protection|
|Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card||Small security deposit||Security deposit as low as $49|
|Credit One Bank American Express Card||Retail benefits||Retail protection if your items are damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase|
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for cashback rewards
If you have fair credit, it can be difficult to find a rewards card that allows you to earn cash back or travel points. Most cards designed for people with fair credit don’t have rewards programs or extra benefits. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the few exceptions.
Although it does have an annual fee of $39, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase; plus 5% unlimited cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
You can also redeem your rewards in a variety of ways, including statement credits, gift cards, or a paper check. Plus, you’ll be automatically considered for a credit limit increase in as few as six months, which can improve your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit that you’re using), which then could improve your credit score.
The card also has other benefits, including $0 fraud liability, auto rental collision damage waiver protection, travel insurance, and extended warranty coverage1 .
Learn more in our Capital One QuicksilverOne review.
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card: Best no-fee option
Many credit cards for people with fair credit have costly fees. You can end up paying hundreds of dollars each year just to use the card, which makes them expensive additions to your wallet.
The Petal 2 Visa Card2 is different. The Petal 2 Visa Card is issued by WebBank, Member FDIC, and has no fees at all. You don’t have to worry about annual fees, foreign transaction fees, or even late payment fees. You can also qualify for the card even if you don’t have an established credit history, and you’ll start earning 1% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases right away.
Over time, you can even boost your cashback rewards rate. You can move up to earning 1.25% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases after 6 on-time payments, and 1.5% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases after 12 on-time payments.
The Petal 2 Visa also has a mobile app you can use to manage your account, set a monthly budget, and track your credit score. The app is available on iOS and Android on the App Store and Google Play Store.
Learn more about this card at our Petal 2 Visa Card review.
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for students
The Deserve Edu Mastercard is an excellent option for college students who want to start building their credit history, earn rewards, and enjoy a few extra benefits that sometimes only the best credit cards for students provide.
The Deserve Edu Mastercard has a $0 annual fee, and you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases. As a cardholder, you can get a free Amazon Prime Student membership for one year. Plus, you get complimentary cell phone protection, a perk typically associated with credit cards that have annual fees.
The card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, so it can be used without incurring additional costs if you’re traveling internationally or studying abroad.
Learn more about this card at our Deserve Edu Mastercard review.
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: Best secured card
If you want to build your credit and don’t have a solid credit history, secured credit cards — which require you to put down a sum of money as a security deposit — can be a helpful option. The previous cards we’ve mentioned on this list are unsecured cards, meaning you do not have to put a deposit down to open these accounts.
The Capital One Platinum Secured has a $0 annual fee, and you can put down a security deposit as low as $49. The minimum credit line you’ll be given if your application is approved is $200. You can be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months. All of this makes this card a good option if you’re working on rebuilding or building credit.
And, unlike most secured cards, the Capital One Platinum Secured also offers other benefits, such as auto rental collision damage waiver protection, travel accident insurance, and extended warranty protection1 .
Learn more in our Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review.
Credit One Bank American Express Card: Best for retail benefits
Although the Credit One Bank American Express Card has a $39 annual fee, it’s a useful card if you’re looking for a rewards card. This card offers 1% cash back on every purchase and some retail benefits:
- Retail protection: If eligible items are stolen or damaged within 90 days of their purchase, your card’s coverage will pay for the item’s repair or replacement, up to a maximum of $1,000 per item.
- Extended warranty protection: Extended warranty protection extends the manufacturer’s warranty on eligible items by up to one additional year.
- Return protection: If you attempt to return an undamaged item to a retailer and it didn’t accept it, return protection will reimburse you for covered items.
You’ll also get $150,000 in travel accident insurance when you book your travel with your Credit One Bank American Express card. And, as a cardmember, you can take advantage of Amex Offers and purchase tickets before the general public to major events, such as games and concerts.
What is a fair credit score?
There are different credit scoring models, so your credit score depends on which model a lender or credit card issuer uses when they do a hard credit check. In that way, you actually have more than one credit score.
The FICO score is the most commonly used model. For FICO, a fair credit score ranges between 580 and 669. Approximately 17% of Americans fall within this range. VantageScore is another scoring model. With VantageScore, the fair credit range is between 601 and 660. Just 13% of Americans have a fair VantageScore.
If your credit score is fair, you are generally considered to be a subprime borrower, and you may struggle to get approved for certain loans or credit cards, or you may pay high interest rates compared to borrowers with higher credit scores. However, it's also important to remember that credit scores are guidelines and don't guarantee approval for specific cards.
Both the FICO and VantageScore models use information pulled from your Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion credit reports to determine your score. But although they consider the same data, the two scoring models weigh information differently. Factors that may be dragging down your credit scores include missed monthly payments, high credit utilization, and the length of your credit history.
What is the difference between a bad and a fair credit score?
Fair and average credit are terms that are often used interchangeably, but the difference between having fair credit and poor credit is dramatic.
According to FICO scoring, fair credit is a score between 580 and 669. Very poor or bad credit is a score between 300 and 579. If your credit profile is rated as being in the very poor or bad range, you likely won’t qualify for a loan or credit card at all, or you may have to pay fees or deposits.
How a credit card can help you improve your credit score
If you have fair credit, using a credit card can raise your credit score. The responsible use of a credit card can actually help you get a better credit score in the following ways:
- Established payment history: Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. As you make your credit card payments, the credit card company reports your activity to the three major credit bureaus. If you make on-time payments and never miss a due date, then your responsible habits can increase your credit score.
- Improved credit utilization: When you’re approved for a new credit card, you get access to a new credit line. That means the overall credit available to you is now higher. Your credit utilization is how much of that credit you are using, and it determines 30% of your credit score. So if you keep your credit card balance low, having a credit card open can improve your credit score.
- Credit mix: Creditors like to see that you can manage different forms of credit, which is why your credit mix makes up 10% of your credit score. If you don’t currently have a credit card, adding one can boost your credit even more.
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 about to start the application process for a new credit card, it’s important to consider the following factors before applying for the card and placing a hard inquiry on your file:
- APR: The annual percentage rate (APR) on cards for people with average credit tends to be higher than for people with good or excellent credit. That means if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, you could end up being on the hook for high interest charges due to your balance transfer or purchase APR. Some cards may offer a lower intro APR for a specific amount of time after account opening, but you’ll want to make sure your balance is paid off by then or potentially face high interest charges based on your variable APR.
- Rewards: Not all credit cards for average credit offer a welcome offer, a sign-up bonus, or 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 get free credit score updates. 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.
What is the easiest card to get with fair credit?
The easiest credit cards to get with fair credit typically include student credit cards, secured credit cards, and certain cards with annual fees. These types of cards, like the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, could be an ideal solution if you want to build your credit score while still getting valuable card benefits.
Which credit cards can you get with fair credit?
Here are some credit cards that typically require a fair credit score to qualify:
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card
- Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
- Deserve Edu Mastercard
- Capital One Platinum Secured
- Credit One Bank American Express Card
- Discover it® Student Chrome
- Capital One Platinum Credit Card
What are the best ways to build credit?
If you want perfect credit, you have a variety of ways to get there. Here are some of the best ways to build credit:
- Responsibly use credit cards
- Take out a credit-builder loan
- Make on-time payments for other types of loans
- Pay all your monthly bills on time
- Use a service like Experian Boost™
- Become an authorized user on a credit card
- Keep your credit utilization low
- Have a long credit history
- Consider reporting rent payments to credit bureaus
Best credit cards for fair or average credit: bottom line
If your credit falls within the fair to average credit score range, you may feel like you’re excluded from the top credit card offers. But there are several useful options available for consumers with less-than-perfect credit, including reward cards and balance transfer cards. By exploring your options, you can compare credit cards for fair credit, find the right card for your needs, and learn how to improve your credit score over time.
If you put some time into improving your creditworthiness, then you may be able to move from a secured to an unsecured credit card, be given a higher credit limit, or even improve your credit enough to qualify for an auto loan or home loan in the future. No matter your personal finance goals, putting the effort into building a positive credit history could literally pay off.
To choose the best credit cards for fair credit, we looked at 15 top credit cards designed for consumers with fair or average credit scores. When deciding what cards to include, we looked at the cards’ fees, rewards, and benefits. Cards with high annual fees, monthly maintenance fees, and setup fees were eliminated, and priority was given to cards that combined low fees with strong reward programs.
Great Starter Card for Those With No Credit
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
Reports to all three major credit bureaus
Unlimited 1% cash back on eligible purchases; after 6 on-time payments, earn 1.25% cash back; after 12 on-time payments, earn 1.5% cash back