If you have fair credit, it means your score falls between 580 and 669. While you can get a credit card with a score that falls in that range, it will likely come with high-interest rates and you won’t get many of the perks that people with higher scores enjoy. The good news is that if your score falls on the high end of the range, you’re not that far away from entering the “good” credit score range. And once you do, you can begin looking for credit cards that offer more.
The Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit:
- Best for First Credit Card: Capital One Platinum Credit Card
- Best for No Fees: Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
- Best for Travel Cash Back: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Easy Application: Avant Credit Card
- Best for Walmart Shopping: Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®
- Best for Building Credit: Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card
- Best for Students: Capital One Journey Student Rewards
When looking for a credit card for fair credit, it’s important to do your research and choose the one that will best benefit you. Benzinga searched for the best credit cards for fair credit and you will find them listed below.
1. Best for First Credit Card: Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Your first credit card should be recognized everywhere, so you will always have the confidence that you can use it and enjoy the protection that comes from a well-known card issuer. The Capital One Platinum Credit Card offers this recognition and protection. You can tap to pay with the contactless card almost anywhere and enjoy fraud protection in case you lose your card or someone steals it.
- Capital One offers a powerful mobile app that is easy to use
- You can step up to other Capital One cards if you want in the future
- While this card offers tap to pay and fraud protection, it may not offer many other extras that are worth your while
2. Best for No Fees: Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
If you’re worried about excessive or surprise fees, the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit card might be a good fit for you. The card charges no fees at all, which makes it a stand-out option in this area. You won’t pay an annual fee with the card and if you’re late on a payment or your payment method is returned, you won’t pay a fee for that either.
- There’s also a Petal 1 card, which could help you get started with this brand
- Because there are no fees, you can trim your spending and protect yourself during emergencies
- Not every Petal 2 card will offer the credit limit you need or prefer
3. Best for Travel Cash Back: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
While the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card does charge an annual fee, you can make up for it with the card’s generous unlimited 1.5% cash back. You can apply these rewards to all your travel purchases and much more, and you can even book through Capital One Travel.
- Capital One actually has physical branches where you can seek service
- This is a good card for those who want to use it to buy everything and collect some sort of reward
- Capital One Travel may not have the options you were hoping for
4. Best for Easy Application: Avant Credit Card
Applying for the Avant Credit Card consists of filling out a short online application and it only takes minutes to receive your answer. What’s even better is that when you apply for this credit card, the card issuer does not do a hard pull on your credit report. That means that applying for the card is not only easy, but it will not negatively impact your score.
- Avant makes it easier to both protect and enhance your credit
- There are credit cards and other services you could also get from Avant that will help you centralize your finances
- Avant may be simple to use, but you cannot be sure that you will get exactly the loan offer you need
5. Best for Walmart Shopping: Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®
If you love shopping at Walmart, the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® is a card you should consider. This card offers unlimited 5% cash back on Walmart.com purchase including pick up and delivery. 2% cash back on purchases in stores, Murphy USA, Walmart gas stations, restaurants and travel purchases. There is currently an introductory offer of 5% on purchases in Walmart stores for the first 12 months when you use your Walmart Pay. Because you can purchase groceries at Walmart, this is a great card that allows you to earn cash back for everyday purchases.
- Mastercard offers several other services of which you can take advantage
- If you shop at WalMart often, this is a good way to effectively trim your monthly budget
- Because this card focuses on one retailer, it may not help those who don’t shop there often
6. Best for Building Credit: Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card
If you’re looking to build or rebuild your credit, the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card could be a great choice. When you carry this card, you will have access to your credit score anytime – and the positive changes that come from paying your payment on time every month – as well as educational tools to help build your credit. And the card reports your payments to the three major credit reporting agencies which will help build your credit as you make your on-time payments over time.
- Opportunities to increase your limit are available from time to time
- There are tie-ins with other Mission Lane services that could appeal to you
- Mission Lane is not a mainstream issuer, which means that it may not offer the level of backend support and features that you want
7. Best for Students: Capital One Journey Student Rewards
The Capital One Journey Student Rewards credit card is an excellent card for students or young adults who are trying to build their credit and want the luxury of getting cash back on their purchases. This is a starter card with a high-interest rate, but unlike similar cards, it gives you the option of earning unlimited 1% cash back and 1.25% cash back that month when you make your payment on-time. And when you pay the card on time, the amount of cash back that you can earn increases. This helps build the good habits that are required for a great credit score.
- If students can earn rewards, they can learn better how to manage their money
- This is a good card for parents to give students because it earns rewards and is easy to track
- While this card is pointed at students, its high interest rate might catch students behind debt that is difficult to manage
How to Improve Your Fair Credit Score
When you have a fair credit score, you won’t have access to the best reward credit cards or those that offer lower APRs. That’s why improving your fair credit score is so important. Here are some things you can do to improve your score.
Understand How You Got Here
Sometimes people with a fair credit score have it because they’re just starting on their credit journey and don’t have enough history to justify a higher score. Others with a fair credit score have it because they experienced a financial setback that damaged their credit score. Whatever your reason, it’s important to understand it, so that you can work toward improving it.
Know Your Debt-To-Income Ratio
Your Debt-To-Income (DTI) ratio is a picture of how much debt you have in comparison to your income. Many lenders use this ratio when deciding whether or not to lend money to consumers, and if you want to improve your fair credit score, you should understand your DTI. To get yours, add up all of your monthly bills and then divide that number by your income before taxes. The percentage you get is your DTI. As you pay off your debt, your DTI will improve.
Make Your Payments on Time
When you make your credit card payments, most card issuers report this activity to the three major credit reporting agencies. If you make your payments on time, the activity will boost your credit score. But remember, if you miss a payment or are late, the card issuers will report that too, and it will negatively affect your score. One way to ensure that you always make your payments on time is to set up automatic payments for your bills.
Keep Your Credit Utilization Low
Another thing that contributes to your credit score is how much of your available credit you use. For instance, if you have $3,000 in credit and only use $300 of it that means your credit utilization is only 10%. To improve your fair credit score, try to limit the amount of credit you use to 30% of your total available credit.
What is Considered Fair Credit?
Depending on the credit scoring company, fair credit scores range from 580 to 669. For instance, FICO® rates credit scores between 580 and 669 to be fair. But VantageScore rates scores between 601 and 660 as fair. Ultimately, the credit card issuer will determine whether your score is high enough to qualify for its credit card, but if your score falls within this range, most will consider it a fair credit score.
Lenders consider borrowers that have fair credit scores to be below the national average. But a good credit score begins at 670, so if you’re near the top of the range, it won’t take too much work to move to a better credit score.
How to Choose a Credit Card for Fair Credit
When choosing a credit card for fair credit, you should look for a card that fits your lifestyle and goals. Here are some of the things to look for.
When you’re building your credit, credit cards that don’t have an annual fee or other fees are a bonus. That’s because the cards will allow you to use them to build your credit without having to pay for the privilege. Also, because credit cards for fair credit don’t typically offer a lot of rewards and perks, it makes sense that you shouldn’t have to pay a lot of fees.
Speaking of perks, you won’t get a lot of them with fair credit, but you can find credit cards that offer them. In the list above, we highlight some credit cards for fair credit that offer cash back for things like shopping at Walmart or traveling. And others offer perks that will help you improve your credit score such as access to your credit score, applications that don’t ping your credit score, and reporting to the credit bureaus when you make payments.
Just because people with fair credit can expect to pay higher interest rates on their credit cards, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t shop around for the best rates they can find. Credit cards for people with fair credit differ in the rates they offer, so be sure to check the rates for all the cards you look at and choose the card that offers you the lowest rate when applying for a credit card.
Card Limits for Fair Credit
Credit card limits are the amount of credit that the card issuer extends to you, and you cannot spend more than your limit on your card. For instance, if you have a $1,000 credit limit, that means once you charge that amount, you will not be able to use your card until you pay down the balance.
Credit limits differ for various credit scores, and typically, the lower your credit score, the lower your credit limit. That’s one of the reasons why it’s smart to improve your credit score. But if you have fair credit, you can typically expect a limit between $300 and $5,000 on your credit card. The amount will depend on your circumstances and the decision of the credit card company.
Many credit card issuers will raise the credit card limits of people who make their monthly payments on time, every month. Be sure to speak with your credit card issuer and ask if that’s a possibility if you want more credit in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get a credit card with a 595 score?
Not all credit card issuers will grant an applicant who has a 595 score, but some will. Because this score is on the low end of the fair credit score, it may be difficult to find a card issuer that is willing to take a chance. If you do find one, you should expect to pay higher APRs and you shouldn’t expect to receive any rewards or perks. Alternatively, if you cannot find an unsecured credit card with that score, you may consider building your credit with a secured credit card.
How long does it take to go from fair to good credit?
When you are just starting to build your credit, you will have to have patience and good habits to build your credit score. Most lenders will use your FICO® score when evaluating your credit, and it will take about six months after opening some credit lines and making on-time payments for your score to go up. VantageScore is not used as often, but you can build that score faster by following the same responsible habits.
Can you wipe your credit history?
It’s understandable that someone with fair credit would want to wipe clean their credit history and start over, but it’s not possible. Your credit score is a record of how you’ve conducted your credit and payments, and lenders want to see that activity when making a lending decision. Luckily, you can improve your credit score by following the tips outlined above and ensuring that your credit utilization stays low.