Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit in 2024
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Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit in 2024

There are a couple of cards that provide cash back rewards for fair credit. Here are The Smart Investor top cards for fair credit
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

Fair credit is a credit score range that falls in the 580 to 669 range on a FICO score, or 601 to 660 on a VantageScore model. This credit range is below average for most American consumers, and it tells lenders that a borrower is more likely to default on their obligations. Therefore, most borrowers in this credit score range may miss out on most credit card offers since they are considered subprime.

A fair credit score is a few points lower than a good credit score, but these two credit score groups vary considerably in terms of the borrowing opportunities available and the terms of the loan. Borrowers with good credit are considered to be less likely to default on a loan, and can therefore get approved for a credit card and get a better APR than a borrower with fair credit.

Credit cards are some of the best credit-building tools that can help you add more points to your credit score. In addition, there are a couple of cards that provide cash back and other rewards also for fair credit.

Here are The Smart Investor select's picks of top credit cards for fair credit:

Card
Rewards
Bonus
Annual Fee
Best For

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

1.5% – 5% Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
N/A
$39
Cash Back

discover-it-student-cash-back_5mNPw7i

1-5% 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases
Match Bonus Match Bonus for the first 12 months
$0
Students

chime card

None
None
N/A
Beginners

Petal 2 Visa card Review

1.5% – 10% Earn 2% – 10% cash back at select local and national merchants. Up to 1.5% on everyday purchases
None
$0
Limited Credit Score

Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Card

1-5% 5% cash back at Walmart.com (including pickup and delivery), 2% cash back in Walmart stores and gas stations, at restaurants and on travel plus 1% cash back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted
5% 5% cash back for the first 12 months when you use your card with Walmart Pay for in-store purchases, upon approval
$0
Online Shopping

Upgrade_CashRewards card

1.5% 1.5% cash back on payments
$200
$0
Build Credit

What Should I Look For if I Have Fair Credit?

When comparing credit cards for fair or average credit, here are things you should consider:

  • Credit card fees – If you have fair credit, you should pick the least expensive card. Compare the various cards you are interested in to know the annual fee, annual percentage rate, penalty fees, and other charges that add up to the overall cost of owning a card.
  • Annual fees – Paying an annual fee makes sense if the card earns enough rewards to pay off the annual fee. For a fair credit, you should go for a low or no-annual-fee credit card to keep fees on the lower side.
  • Free credit score check – As you build your credit, it is important to track your progress using free credit score tools. Most credit card companies allow users to monitor their credit scores using inbuilt free credit score tools.
  • Low APR – The APR is the total cost of borrowing from a lender, and it includes the interest rate and other fees. Lender charge an APR on credit card balance. With fair credit, go for a low-APR credit card to keep costs to the minimum.
  • Introductory offer – Some credit cards for fair credit have a 0% introductory offer for 6 to 15 months. Getting a card with this feature can help you save money in interests incurred on balance transfers and large purchases.
  • Reports to credit bureaus – When comparing credit cards for fair credit, consider cards that report to at least one or all the three credit bureaus. This ensures that your account activity is recorded on your credit report so that your on-time payments and other good credit habits are considered when calculating your credit score.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Reward Details

1.5% – 5% Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)

Current Offer

N/A

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$39

0% Intro

None

APR

30.74% (Variable)

The Capital One Quicksilverone Cash Rewards card earns Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply), without requiring category activations while it's one of the few cash back credit cards that require a fair credit. However, make sure to pay on time since the variable APR is quite high.

QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards card charges  an annual fee of $39 and can be a good choice if you are looking for a credit card for fair credit to earn cashback rewards across all purchase categories at a low annual cost. 

  • APR: 30.74% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $39
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Plan: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
  • Sign Up bonus: None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • 1.5% Cash Back
  • Build Your Credit
  • No Rewards Limits
  • No Transfer Fees
  • No-Cost Fraud Liability
  • Annual Fee
  • Redemption Limits
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • High APR

Is there a limit to cash back rewards?

There is no sort of limit in place as to how many rewards you are able to get when using the Capital One QuicksilverOne Card to make purchases.

Can I get car rental insurance with QuicksilverOne Card? how?

Yes, if you decline the insurance from the car rental company and pay for the entire rental with your Capital One QuicksilverOne Card you will be able to get coverage.

Does card QuicksilverOne Card travel rewards points expire?

Once you keep your account open, the rewards that you earn through making purchases with the Capital One QuicksilverOne Card will not expire.

What are QuicksilverOne Card income requirements?

There are no income requirements that you will need to meet when you are applying to get your hands on a Capital One QuicksilverOne Card.

What is the initial credit limit?

You will get at least $300 in credit limit straight away with the QuicksilverOne Card. Higher limits are possible and will depend on your personal financial situation.

How do I redeem cash back on QuicksilverOne Card?

You can redeem the rewards that you earn when using the QuicksilverOne Card for cash, a statement credit, or gift cards from certain retailers.

How hard is it to get QuicksilverOne Card?

You often need to have a credit score of at least 620 in order to get the Capital One QuicksilverOne Card. The rest of the requirements are quite straightforward.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

discover-it-student-cash-back_5mNPw7i

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Reward Details

1-5% 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases

Current Offer

Match Bonus Match Bonus for the first 12 months

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

6 months on purchases

APR

18.24% – 27.24% Variable

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card designed for students alone with fair credit score. It is one of the best products for those in higher institutions in the US. It is ideal for clients starting their credit journey and wish to earn cashback rewards. The rewards plan includes 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases.

There is a match bonus on all cash backs after your first year, as well as o% intro APR for 6 months on purchases. The card is widely accepted across the US, and it offers a series of benefits, including good grade rewards for students with a gpa of 3.0 and higher. 

  • APR: 18.24% – 27.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: %5
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Rewards Plan: 5% cash back on activated rotating category purchases (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: Match Bonus for the first 12 months
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 6 months on purchases
  • Introductory Rates
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • No Annual Fee
  • Limited Use outside the US
  • No International Students
  • Activate Bonus Categories Every Quarter
  • Is there a limit to cash back rewards? Bonus categories capped at $1,500 in total relevant purchases per quarter.
  • Can I get car rental insurance with Discover it Student Cash Back? how? No
  • What is the initial credit limit? It is often $500
  • How do I redeem cash back? The rewards can be redeemed at any time for the likes of electronic deposits, statements credits, charitable donations or to pay at certain retailers like Aamzon.com.
  • What purchases don't earn cash back? All purchases earn cashback
  • How hard is it to get Discover it Student Cash Back Card? Not hard, no credit/fair score needed.
  • How to maximize rewards? Activate and maximize the bonus categories each quarter..
  • Does Discover ask for proof of income? No 
  • Can I get pre-approved ? Yes

Chime® Credit Builder

chime card

Chime® Credit Builder

Reward details

None

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

N/A

APR

N/A

Building credit after a credit blunder or establishing credit for the first time can be difficult. To qualify for most cards, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to manage credit, which can be a catch.The Chime Credit Builder card was created to address this issue. It is intended to be used in conjunction with a Chime Spending Account.

You can fund your Credit Builder card with funds from your account. You can then use your card at any retailer or store that accepts Visa. Chime will notify Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian about your card activity. There is also the option to enable the Safe Credit Building feature. This automatically pays your card's balance on time.

The main limitation of the card is that your card limit is determined by the balance in your account. So, if you have $300 in your account and spend $150 on your Chime Credit Builder Card, your limit will be $150 for the next month until you add more funds to your account.

  • Rewards Plan: None
  • APR: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
  • Sign Up bonus:None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate:N/A
  • No Minimum Deposit
  • No Fees
  • No Credit Check
  • Auto Payment Option Available
  • You Need a Chime Spending Account
  • Need Funds to Set Your Credit Limit
  • Card Limit Can Vary
  • No Credit Utilization Score
  • No Option to Upgrade to Another Card

What are the Card Income Requirements?

Chime does not have any income requirements for the Credit Builder credit card. You will need to open a Chime Spending account, but this does not require a credit check. This means that you will not need to prove your income to access the Chime banking services.

Does the Card Ask for Proof of Income?

This is not necessary for Chime, but to determine your credit limit, Upgrade may require that you provide proof of income.

Can I Get Pre Approved?

The only pre approval you need for the Chime card is to open up a Chime Spending account, but this does not require a credit check. It is not possible to open a Chime card account without having a Spending account.

What is the Initial Card Credit Limit?

Your initial Chime credit limit will be determined by how much you transfer to your Credit Builder account. You can transfer as little or as much as you like and then use the card as you would a prepaid debit card.

What are the top reasons not to get it?

The top reason not to get the Chime card is that you don’t want to open a Spending account. The Chime card is an integrated product, which requires transfers from a Chime Spending account. So, if you are happy with your current checking account and simply want a credit card, this is not the right choice for you.

Does the card report payments to all credit bureaus?

Chime does report payment activity to all the credit bureaus, which helps to build or rebuild your credit.

Petal 2 Visa

Reward Details

1.5% – 10% Earn 2% – 10% cash back at select local and national merchants. Up to 1.5% on everyday purchases

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

None

APR

18.24% – 32.24% Variable

Petal 2 Visa Credit Card offers you the benefits of a rewards card, no fees attached and great for those who have fair-average credit score. This card does not charge annual fees, maintenances fees, foreign transaction fees, over limit fees, late payment fees or any kind of fee. It is a great choice for people who want to build their credit up without forgoing rewards. These rewards are offered as cash backs which will increase depending on your level of financial responsibility.

While using this card does not attract any direct fees, users who have a habit of defaulting in monthly payments will not get the best value out of this card. Considering that the upper limit of the APR is high, poor account management may have you paying considerably higher than you would expect to.

  • APR: 18.24% – 32.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Rewards Plan: Earn 2% – 10% cash back at select local and national merchants. Up to 1.5% on everyday purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • No Fees
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • Reports to all Three Major Credit Bureaus
  • No Deposit Required
  • No Balance Transfer or Cash Advance
  • No Intro APR
  • Quite High APR

How long should I use the card to increase my credit score?

There is no set amount of time to increase your credit score, as this will depend on your circumstances. However, a good rule of thumb is three to six months. After this time, you should be able to see an increase in your FICO score.

Can I add an authorized user?

No, the petal 2 card issuer permits adding another user to your account.

How long does it take to get approval?

Petal has a similar time frame for its application approval. You’ll get an email decision quite quickly and should receive your new card within 10 days.

How is the card customer service availability?

The Petal customer support hours are 8 am to 10 pm EST Monday to Friday and 9 am to 6 pm on Saturdays.

Do the cards report payments to all credit bureaus?

Yes, Petal reports its account activity to all three of the credit bureaus. 

Does the card ask for proof of income?

Petal does typically verify your bank account and need confirmation of some key expenses. So, you may need to have proof of income to support your application. 

 

Capital One Walmart

Reward Details

1-5% 5% cash back at Walmart.com (including pickup and delivery), 2% cash back in Walmart stores and gas stations, at restaurants and on travel plus 1% cash back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted

Current Offer

5% 5% cash back for the first 12 months when you use your card with Walmart Pay for in-store purchases, upon approval

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

N/A

APR

17.99% – 28.99% (Variable)

Capital One Walmart Credit Card  is one of the credit cards on the market that is a store card that allows borrowers who do not have perfect credit to apply and be approved. The Walmart Credit Card earns 5% cash back at Walmart.com (including pickup and delivery), 2% cash back in Walmart stores and gas stations, at restaurants and on travel plus 1% cash back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted.

The card sign up bonus includes 5% cash back for the first 12 months when you use your card with Walmart Pay for in-store purchases, upon approval. The card has no annual fee and the fact that average credit is also accepted, it can be good for those who have fair credit and want to build or rebuild their credit.

  • APR: 17.99% – 28.99% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Unknown
  • Rewards Plan: 5% cash back at Walmart.com (including pickup and delivery), 2% cash back in Walmart stores and gas stations, at restaurants and on travel plus 1% cash back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted
  • Sign Up bonus: 5% cash back for the first 12 months when you use your card with Walmart Pay for in-store purchases, upon approval
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: N/A
  • High Cash Back on Walmart
  • No Annual Fee
  • Sign Up Bonus
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • High APR

Does Walmart limit the amount of rewards I can get?

There are no rewards limits on the Capital One Walmart Rewards card, so you don’t need to worry about monitoring how much you’re spending in each category.

What are the top reasons not to get the Walmart card?

The top reason not to get the Capital One Walmart Rewards is if you prefer to shop in store. The card prioritizes Walmart.com purchases. If this doesn’t apply to you, you may find other reward cards offering a high percentage on groceries will be better suited to your spending habits.

How much should I spend to cover the card fees?

The Walmart card doesn't charge an annual fee, so you don’t need to worry about spending a certain amount to cover the costs. In this case, unlike other store cards, you won't need any membership plan to enjoy benefits.

What’s the initial credit limit?

The initial credit limit for the Capital One Walmart Rewards card is $150, but it is more common to be offered a higher credit limit, depending on your credit.

What are the card income requirements?

You can qualify for the Capital One Walmart Rewards card with average to excellent credit, so this could be a little easier. However, the card issuers may require you to verify your income, so it could be a good idea to have a couple of pay slips on hand to support your application.

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Upgrade_CashRewards card

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Reward Details

1.5% 1.5% cash back on payments

Current Offer

$200

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

N/A

APR

14.99% – 29.99%

The Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards is a good pick if you are looking for a no-annual-fee credit card with a flat-rate cashback reward while having a fair-average score. A particularly attractive feature of the Upgrade Visa Card in relation to similar credit cards is the complete absence of fees, transactional or otherwise, on the card.

It offers 1.5% cash back on payments, but you should be aware that the cash backs on all your purchases with this card are only given when you make payments, not before. This is the only reward you get; so if you want intro rates or welcome bonuses, consider other alternatives.

Unlike conventional credit cards which charge you daily interest for carrying a balance, this card practically gives you a personal line of credit ($500 – $25,000 or more). This will be split into equal installments which you pay every month. You may use your credit line on purchases online, at retail stores, or even transfer the funds from your card to your personal bank account at no extra cost.

  • APR: 14.99% – 29.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Up to 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Up to 3%
  • Rewards Plan: 1.5% cash back on payments
  • Sign Up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you open & fund a Rewards Checking Plus account & make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days. If you previously opened a checking account through Upgrade or do not do so as part of this process, you are not eligible. Payout made within 60 days of meeting the conditions.
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: N/A
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back
  • No Fees
  • Reports to Three Major Credit Bureaus
  • No Deposit Required
  • No Grace Period
  • Inflexible Payments
  • No Signup Bonus
  • Limited Availability

What are the Upgrade Card Income Requirements?

Upgrade does run a credit check for its credit cards, so your income-to-debt ratio will be a deciding factor. However, you can obtain pre-approval for the cards, so you can confirm that you have sufficient income to qualify for the minimum credit limit.

Does the Card Ask for Proof of Income?

Upgrade will use your application information to determine pre approval, but to confirm your application, you may need to provide copies of paystubs or other proof of income.

What are the top reasons not to get the Upgrade card?

The top reason for not getting an Upgrade card is that you don’t want the card company to run your credit. If you already know you have a bad score or no credit history, a hard credit pull could have detrimental effects.

Can I add an authorized user?

Upgrade doesn't allow second users on their credit cards, so it is not possible to add an authorized user on these accounts.

How is Upgrade customer service availability?

If you want to speak to the Upgrade customer service team, there is a toll free number open Monday to Friday, 6 am to 6 pm and 6 am to 5 pm on weekends (Pacific Time). Alternatively, you can email the support team, but you’ll need to wait for a response

How to Use Credit Cards to Build Your Credit?

Credit cards are some of the best credit-building tools that can help you add more points to your credit score.

Here are ways you can use your credit card to build credit:

Making bill payments on time can help prove that you are responsible with debt and that you can be trusted to make loan payments on time. You can set up automatic minimum bill payments to ensure you make timely payments. One or more late payments can cause a dip in your credit score.

Applicants with little or no credit record are less likely to be approved for most credit cards. If lenders are unwilling to approve your credit card application, you can start by getting a secured credit card.

These credit cards require cardholders to put down a deposit, which also acts as a credit limit. Making payments on time and keeping the card open for a long time can help you establish a long credit history, and improve your credit scores. 

What Is a Secured Card and How Does It Work
(Photo by Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock)

You should maintain a low credit utilization ratio, which compares the combined credit card balances and the credit line available. Keep a credit utilization ratio of below 30% by paying off a majority of the balances or not owing any credit card debt.

This chart created with Experian data shows that those with an average to good credit score have an average credit utilization ratio of the optimum 33%. This ratio drops significantly for those with very good and excellent scores.

At the other end of the scale, the chart shows that those with poor credit scores typically have a very high credit utilization ratio, with an average of 73%. This will be a massive factor in lending decisions for those in this group.

 

Credit scoring companies consider the age of your credit accounts when calculating credit scores. Keeping the credit card open for long can age your credit and boost your credit scores.

You can give your credit scores a boost by becoming an authorized user in a friend’s credit card. The user privilege must be at the same level as the account owner to benefit from their credit reputation. The credit card account activity will appear on your credit report by virtual of being an authorized user.

How Long Does it Take to Build Good Credit?

If you are building credit from scratch, it takes at least 6 months of on-time payments for your file to become thick enough to calculate your credit score. Depending on your credit history, FICO assigns users a credit score of at least 300 to 850.

For new users, the credit score can be in the poor to fair credit score range, and it will take another 6 to 12 months to accumulate enough history to move to the next credit score category.

However, getting a good to excellent credit score takes years of good credit habits such as on-time bill payments, keeping a low credit utilization ratio, and only taking new credit cards when need arises.

If your fair credit score is in the upper limits, you can move to the good credit score range in 3 to 6 months. Maintaining good credit habits and fixing errors on your credit report can help you accumulate more points to push you into the good credit score category.

For example, if the credit report contains old debts that were paid but remain open or active debts that you did take, you can dispute these entries with the credit bureau and have the transactions removed.

how long to improve score
The unfortunate truth is you’re not going to get changes overnight, but it's possible to increase your score in 3-6 months

How Do You Pick the Best Fair Credit Card For Your Specific Needs?

When comparing credit cards, it is important to find the best credit card that matches your specific needs. Consider the following factors:

1. Determine Your Card Goals

When comparing credit card offers, pick the credit card with the features that matter most to you. If you are looking for a credit card for building credit, find a card with the lowest cost such as a low APR and no annual fee. Also, find credit cards that submit monthly credit card activity to the three credit bureaus to help you build credit.

2. Check Credit Limit

Know the size of the credit line that the issuer is willing to give you. A higher credit limit allows you to use the card for making purchases without worrying that you will exhaust the limit and affect your credit score.

This chart created with Experian data, highlights the significant increase in the average credit card limits in the last decade. Credit card limits have consistently increased with an overall increase in the recent 10 years.

 

3. Understand Fees and Penalties

If your credit score is below average, you want a credit card with the lowest or at least reasonable fees. Common credit card fees include interest charges, late payment fees, over-limit fees, and transaction fees on balance transfers and cash advances. If you want a balance transfer credit card, find credit cards with 0% APR for an introductory period, and low transfer fees.

What's The Best Credit Card Company?

The JD Power Study 2020 ranked American Express as the best credit card company based on a customer satisfaction survey conducted from September 2019 to June 2020. A majority of American Express customers were satisfied with the company’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

American Express scored highest among National Issuers with a score of 838, followed by Discover at 837 and Bank of America at 812. In the regional bank issuer’s category, Regions Bank topped the list with 816, followed by BB&T and PNC, each with a score of 815.

The JD Power study received responses from 29,106 credit card customers, and it measured customer satisfaction based on 6 key factors such as interaction, communication, rewards, credit card terms, benefits and services, and key moments.

Overall, the JD Power study showed there was a decline in customer satisfaction since the pandemic started, with customers being more unsatisfied with credit card terms and communication. The decline in customer satisfaction was unique to the credit card industry, with other financial services such as retail banking and primary mortgages recording an improvement in customer satisfaction.

In this chart compiled using Consumer Financial Protection Bureau data, we can see that Capital One had 11.8 complaints per billion dollars charged. This is followed by CitiBank at 10.55. At the other end of the scale, Amex appears to have the fewest complaints at just 1.59 complaints per billion dollars.

 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Cards For Average Credit

Credit cards offer convenience and quick access to cash to pay for emergencies and large purchases. However, credit cards can be dangerous when used irresponsibly. In spite of cards for fair credit are limited in terms of rewards, there are a couple of important benefits they can provide for cardholders :

Pros
Cons
Quick Access to Cash
Fall Into Debt
Build Credit
High-Interest Costs
Earn Rewards
Negative Impact on Credit Scores
Finance Large Purchases
Intimidating Fine Print
Protections

Credit cards give you a major purchasing power both locally and abroad.

You can use your card to pay for airfare, rideshare, hotel stays, roof replacement, groceries, and fuel, and these cards are accepted almost everywhere. It also saves you the need to carry large bundles of cash.

Credit cards for fair credit are an invaluable tool for establishing a solid credit history and credit score.

Keeping your credit card open for a long time and making on-time payments can help you build a good credit score and increase your odds of getting a mortgage, personal loan, or even a job.

Some credit cards for fair credit allow users to earn points, miles, or cashback on their purchases.

These rewards can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, statement credit, transfers to travel partners, and other redemption options.

If you want to make a large purchase but you don’t have enough money to pay for it all at once, you can use a credit card to pay the purchase now and pay for it over time at a small interest.

If your card gets lost or stolen, the credit card issuer offers $0 liability protection to protect you from unauthorized credit card transactions. 

The issuer is responsible for any losses incurred.

Using credit cards to pay for purchases puts you at risk of overspending beyond the allowed limit. If you don’t pay the outstanding balance, the balance will keep growing every month until you don’t have control over the debts.

Your credit score can influence not only your credit card rate, but also your available credit limit. This chart using Experian data shows the average credit card debt by credit score. It shows that those with an average to good credit score have the highest amount of credit card debt.

 

Credit cards charge high-interest costs on the outstanding balance each month. However, if you pay the balances for each month, you won’t have to deal with high interest rates.

Any irresponsible credit habits such as late payments, high account balances, and new credit card applications can easily damage your credit scores.

When these records appear on your credit report, lenders will reject your credit card application, or offer punitive interest rates and loan terms.

The credit card’s fine print is written in an industry jargon that may be difficult to interpret for the average credit card user. 

The information may be confusing to understand, and it may deter some users from signing up for a card, while others may sign up without knowing everything about the credit card.

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OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Reports to 3 Main Bureaus
No Credit Check

avant card

No Security Deposit
Pre-Qualification

Indigo card

Pre-Approval
Reports to 3 Main Bureaus

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The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation. 

How We Picked The Best Cards For Fair Credit: Methodology

To identify the best credit cards for individuals with fair credit, our team conducted thorough research on offerings from various issuers, focusing on major banks and financial institutions. We rated these cards based on four key categories tailored for consumers with fair credit:

  • Credit Card Rewards and Fees (40%): We evaluate the rewards program, including cash back percentage or points earned per dollar spent, bonus categories for accelerated rewards, and redemption options. Additionally, we assess fees such as annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and late payment penalties. Cards with reasonable fees and rewards structures that cater to individuals with fair credit score higher in this category.

  • Features Including Credit Building (30%): This category assesses features designed to help individuals build or improve their credit. We consider factors such as the availability of credit-building tools, reporting to major credit bureaus, and options for credit limit increases. Cards that offer opportunities for credit improvement and responsible credit management score higher in this category.

  • Customer Experience (20%): We examine the ease of application, customer service quality, and online account management tools. Cards with straightforward application processes, responsive customer support, and user-friendly mobile apps or online portals tailored for individuals with fair credit receive higher ratings, ensuring a positive experience for cardholders.

  • Issuer Reputation (10%): We scrutinize each issuer's reputation, considering customer feedback, financial stability, and regulatory standing. Issuers with positive reviews from cardholders and a history of providing suitable products and customer service to individuals with fair credit score higher in this category.

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

hilton honors card

Rewards Plan:
3X – 7X 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery) U.S.supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and 3x points for each dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership

Marriot bonvoy bevy card art

Rewards Plan:
2x – 6x 6X points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2X points), 2X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
85,000 points 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers From Our Partners

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

hilton honors card

Rewards Plan:
3X – 7X 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at U.S. restaurants (including takeout and delivery) U.S.supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and 3x points for each dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership

Marriot bonvoy bevy card art

Rewards Plan:
2x – 6x 6X points on purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year, then 2X points), 2X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
85,000 points 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Credit Card Reviews Methodology

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.