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Credit cards for fair credit

Earn cash back, make balance transfers and save money on interest.

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Having a fair credit score won’t stop you from getting a good credit card, though your options may not be as varied or exciting as they might be if you had a good or excellent score. That said, you’ll still have access to a better variety of credit cards with lower fees and rewards options than you would if you had poor credit.

The better cards for fair credit are still either secured cards or unsecured with a small annual fee. If you improve your credit score, you can eventually graduate to an unsecured card or a card with no annual fee.

Compare credit cards for fair credit

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See issuer's website
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Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
17.99% to 23.99% variable
$0 to $99
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Official NASCAR® Credit Card from Credit One Bank®
Up to 1% cash back on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back at the NASCAR Shop
17.99% to 23.99% variable
$0 to $99
Get up to 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop.
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
1% cash back on all purchases on eligible purchases
17.99% to 23.99% variable
$0 to $99
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Deserve® Edu Card
1% cash back on all purchases
18.74% variable
$0
Designed for college students to build credit history and earn rewards.
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How is a credit score determined?

Creditors use the FICO score with a range from 300 to 850 to determine your creditworthiness. Here are the five factors that are taken into account:

  • Payment history
  • Debt-to-credit utilization
  • Length of credit history
  • Credit mix
  • New credit

What is considered fair credit?

Fair credit ranges between 580 and 669 FICO. This is the middle ground between poor and good credit score, meaning you can get slightly better credit cards than poor credit, but you still need to work hard and improve your score if you want to get the best credit cards.

Types of credit cards for fair credit

While fair credit doesn’t offer the same number of options as good or excellent credit, you can still find some cards that reward you for good spending habits or for spending on certain categories, such as gas. With fair credit, you can apply for:

Unsecured cards for fair credit

Card issuers often provide secured cards for bad and fair credit with the goal to help you build your credit score and eventually graduate to an unsecured card. However, with fair credit, you get access to unsecured cards from the start, albeit not as good as if you had a higher credit score.

There are three unsecured cards for fair credit that stand out from the competition:

Average line of credit you’ll get with credit cards for fair credit

Unsecured cards for fair credit offer a minimum credit line between $300 and $500. This is what most cardholders will start with.

Minimum credit limit
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card$300
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®$300
AvantCard$300
Milestone® Gold Mastercard®$300
Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card$500
Surge Mastercard® Credit Card$500
Upgrade Card$500

How to use a credit card for fair credit

Credit cards for fair credit are often used as a stepping stone to a better card. But to get there, you must first improve your credit score. Here’s how to use your card to build credit:

  • Make sure your card reports to the credit bureaus. This is important. If it doesn’t report to the three major credit bureaus, building your credit may be impossible.
  • Pay on time. Always pay your balance before it’s due. This will show future creditors that you can manage your payments.
  • Don’t use your entire credit line. This is a tough one, especially if you only own only one card with a $300 credit limit. In this situation, try to charge recurring subscriptions with this card, such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. This should be enough to show you are using your card but you’re not spending your entire credit limit.
  • Monitor your credit score. Some of these cards give you access to your credit score. Uses it to track your progress or to catch inaccuracies.

When will my score improve?

It usually takes a few months to see your credit score improve. To be on the safe side, give it six months to a year. But you have to use your card responsibly to see the improvement.

Bottom line

Fair credit is a step up from bad credit and provides access to slightly better credit cards. But if you want to improve your credit and get the best available credit cards, get a card with minimal fees and use your card responsibly.

Before you apply for a card, make sure you compare your credit card options to make the right choice for you.

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