Best Travel Credit Cards for Fair or Bad Credit [2024]: Build Credit, Earn Rewards

CREDIT CARDS - SECURED CARDS
If your credit is fair or bad, consider cards like the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card or U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card.
Updated April 17, 2024
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If you have fair or bad credit and want a travel credit card, we recommend the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card as it can help you build your credit history.

We also recommend the U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card and Chase Freedom Rise℠ as these credit cards can help you earn valuable cashback rewards.

Let’s explore five of the best travel credit cards for fair or bad credit to see which one makes the most sense for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Travel cards with premium benefits typically require a good or excellent credit score to qualify. But there are some travel credit cards that only require a bad or fair credit score to be eligible.
  • The Capital One Platinum Secured has a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. It also has no rewards program, which means you can’t earn rewards on purchases.
  • The U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured has a $0 annual fee and helps you earn cash back.
  • The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards has a $39 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. You can also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase; plus 5% unlimited cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

5 of the best travel credit cards for fair or bad credit

  1. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  2. U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card
  3. Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
  4. Chase Freedom Rise℠
  5. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Compare the best travel credit cards for fair or bad credit

Credit card Travel benefits Recommended credit Annual fee
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

4.4

No foreign transaction fees Bad, Poor $0
U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card

4.8

Elevated cash back Fair $0
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

4.9

No foreign transaction fees Excellent, Good, Fair $0
Chase Freedom Rise℠

Chase Freedom Rise℠

5.0

Cash back redeemable for travel Fair, Bad $0
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.3

No foreign transaction fees Fair $39

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Pros
  • Has a $0 annual fee
  • Doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a rewards program
  • Requires a security deposit

The Capital One Platinum Secured is a no-stress card that can help you build credit.

Why we like Capital One Platinum Secured

It has a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. This makes it easy to keep in your wallet year after year. Plus, you don’t have to worry about an extra foreign transaction charge if you travel abroad. For frequent travelers, it’s just about essential to have a card with no foreign transaction fees.

What we don’t like about Capital One Platinum Secured

Because it’s a secured credit card, you have to put down a security deposit that acts as your credit line. You choose between a $49, $99, or $200 minimum refundable security deposit.

There’s also no rewards program, which means you don’t earn any cash back, points, or miles on purchases.

Learn more in our Capital One Platinum Secured review.

U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card

Pros
  • Has a $0 annual fee
  • Earns elevated cashback rewards
  • Enables you to choose your payment due date
Cons
  • Requires security deposit

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured is an excellent option if you want to build your credit and earn cash back.

Why we like U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured

It has a $0 annual fee and enables you to choose your payment due date. You can also take advantage of its elevated rewards rates::

  • Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter in two categories you choose and on prepaid air, hotel, and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center; 2% cash back on eligible purchases in your choice of one everyday category (like gas stations and EV charging stations, grocery stores, and restaurants); 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

Cashback potential
Secured credit cards typically don’t offer much earning potential. But the U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured can provide terrific earning value.

What we don’t like about U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured

You have to put down a security deposit of at least $300 as a cardmember.

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Pros
  • Has a $0 annual fee
  • Earns cashback rewards
  • Doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • You won’t know which Petal card (if any) you’ll qualify for until you apply

The Petal 2 Visa makes sense if you want to earn cashback rewards and have at least a fair credit score.

Why we like Petal 2 Visa Credit Card

It has a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. And you can earn 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.

What we don’t like about Petal 2 Visa Credit Card

There are multiple Petal credit cards available, but you can’t apply for them separately. There’s only one Petal application, so you have to apply and then see which Petal card, if any, you qualify for.

Learn more in our Petal Cash Back Visa Cards review.

Chase Freedom Rise℠

Pros
  • Has a $0 annual fee
  • Earns cashback rewards
  • Allows redeeming rewards for travel
Cons
  • Charges 3% foreign transaction fees

The Chase Freedom Rise makes sense if you want to turn your rewards into travel redemptions for your next trip.

Why we like Chase Freedom Rise

It has a $0 annual fee and earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You can also earn a $25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening.

Unlike some of the other cards on this list, the Freedom Rise lets you redeem your cash back for travel. That means you can book flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more with the rewards you earn.

What we don’t like about Chase Freedom Rise

You have to pay 3% foreign transaction fees on applicable purchases. That makes the Freedom Rise a poor card choice for making purchases internationally.

Improve your chances
Having a Chase checking or savings account with a balance of at least $250 will increase your chances of getting approved for Chase Freedom Rise. This could be a unique opportunity to qualify for a rewards card if you’re a beginner to credit cards, have little or no credit history, or are rebuilding credit.

Learn more in our Chase Freedom Rise review.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • Earns cashback rewards
  • Doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • Has a $39 annual fee

The Capital One QuicksilverOne provides excellent and simple earning potential.

Why we like Capital One QuicksilverOne

It doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Additionally, 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.

Considering you typically need a fair credit score to qualify, that’s a terrific rewards rate for such low credit requirements.

What we don’t like about Capital One QuicksilverOne

Cardholders have to pay a $39 annual fee.

Learn more in our Capital One QuicksilverOne review.

How to choose the best travel credit card for fair or bad credit

Use these factors to help you compare credit cards and choose the card that best aligns with your personal finance goals.

1. Eligibility requirements

Many travel cards, including hotel and airline credit cards, require a good or excellent credit score to qualify. These types of cards tend to have great rewards and benefits.

But if you have fair, bad, or poor credit, you can still qualify for cards with travel benefits. For example, there are many cards with less-strict eligibility requirements that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. That could be a huge help if you frequently travel abroad.

If you have an average credit score, check out the best credit cards for fair credit. If your credit is below average, check out the best credit cards for bad credit.

Keep in mind
A good credit score typically starts at 670 on the FICO scoring range. While you won’t find a FICO score on your credit report, you should pay attention to report details from major credit bureaus, including Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, to see if there are any errors. Fixing errors in the information reported by lenders, including late payments and credit utilization, could improve your credit score and overall creditworthiness.

2. Secured vs. unsecured cards

Secured credit cards often have less-strict eligibility requirements, making it easier to get approved if you don’t have good credit. However, they typically require a security deposit and might not provide a large line of credit.

Unsecured credit cards don’t require a security deposit and tend to have higher credit limits. In many cases, you can graduate to an unsecured credit card if you use a secured credit card responsibly. That means regularly using your credit card, even for small purchases, and making monthly payments on or before their due dates.

3. Rewards

Earning rewards with a credit card shouldn’t be a major concern if your main goal is to build your credit history. That’s because any rewards card you can qualify for with a bad or fair credit score likely won’t be as good as cards that have stricter credit requirements. The goal is to qualify for those types of cards once you’ve improved your credit.

But it’s a bonus if you can earn rewards and build your credit history at the same time. So if you’re comparing cards and one has a sign-up bonus or earns travel rewards, that’s likely better than a card with no rewards program.

Keep in mind that travel cards typically earn points or miles that you can use for flights, hotel stays, and other travel-related redemptions.

4. Perks and benefits

Top travel cards have loads of valuable perks and benefits, such as airport lounge access, annual travel credit, and TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry fee reimbursement.

In general, travel cards for fair or bad credit won’t have those types of benefits.

The types of benefits you want to look out for with these cards could include travel redemptions, purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and no foreign transaction fees.

You might also want to keep an eye out for introductory APR offers on purchases or balance transfers. Intro APR offers could help you avoid interest rates for a certain amount of time.

5. Fees

As you compare credit cards, consider whether they have annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

It’s no fun paying an annual fee, but it could be worth it if you get enough value from a card. That value could come in the form of rewards and benefits. Or it could be worth paying an annual fee simply because you want to build your credit history.

Check out the best travel credit cards with no annual fee.

Foreign transaction fees typically tack on a 3% charge for any foreign purchase you make. For example, making a $100 purchase in another country would cost you $103 because of this fee. This can get costly if you frequently travel abroad.

There are many cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, so this is an easily avoidable fee if you take the time to consider your options.

6. Card acceptance

Having a card with foreign transaction fees doesn’t mean your card will be accepted everywhere you go.

Visa and Mastercard credit cards are generally accepted worldwide. These are both credit card companies, but they aren’t credit card issuers. Rather, Visa and Mastercard are card networks that process credit card payments.

Credit card issuers are companies like American Express, Credit One, and Citi. They typically issue a card, but don’t process its payments. However, in the case of American Express, it’s both a card issuer and payments network.

FAQ

Is there a travel credit card for bad credit?

If you have bad credit and want a travel credit card, we recommend:

How do I get access to airport lounges?

You can often buy a day pass or an annual membership, but it typically makes more sense to use a credit card that provides complimentary airport lounge access. We recommend the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® for their airport lounge benefits.

How do I avoid foreign transaction fees?

One of the easiest ways is to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. These cards don’t charge fees for making foreign purchases. That means you can use them in other countries, if accepted, without worrying about an extra charge for a foreign transaction.

Best travel credit cards for fair or bad credit: bottom line

If you have a bad credit score and want a travel credit card, we recommend the Capital One Platinum Secured, U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured, and Chase Freedom Rise. They each have their pros and cons, but the U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured is a solid option for its $0 annual fee and rewards earning potential.

We also like the Capital One QuicksilverOne. It has a $39 annual fee, but it also has no foreign transaction fees and a simple rewards rate.

For more of our top recommendations and credit card offers, check out our list of best travel credit cards.

Methodology

To determine the best travel credit cards for bad credit, we evaluated various credit cards based on several factors, including recommended credit scores, annual fees, and travel-related perks such as rewards rates and welcome offers.

We kept in mind that every traveler has unique needs and travel preferences. Therefore, we compiled a list of credit cards that could offer value to individuals with varying needs. Keep in mind that our list doesn’t follow any certain order and is not meant to be a complete list of all available options. Instead, our recommendations aim to provide a useful starting point for individuals researching travel credit cards that meet their specific preferences and needs.

Great Starter Card for Those With No Credit

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
4.9

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Current Offer

Reports to all three major credit bureaus

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

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

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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