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Hear from our editors: The best credit cards for fair credit of May 2021

Updated April 30, 2021

This date may not reflect recent changes in individual terms.

Editorial note: Credit Vana receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Written by: Tim Devaney

If you have fair credit, you’ve got some options when it comes to credit cards. Whether you’re interested in a card that offers no annual fee, cash back, the potential for credit line increases or a chance to build credit, we’ll help you figure out which one may be right for you. Here are our picks for the best credit cards for fair credit.

Best for cash back: QuicksilverOne® from Capital One®

Here’s why: QuicksilverOne® from Capital One® features 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

There are no limits to how much you could earn, and you can redeem your cash back as a check, statement credit, to cover a recent purchase or on gift cards.

It’s not every day that you find a credit card for fair credit that offers cash back, but don’t forget about the $39 annual fee. You’ll need to spend $2,600 a year on purchases with the card to cover the cost of the annual fee with your rewards.

For more information, check out our review of the QuicksilverOne® from Capital One®.

Best for rebuilding credit: Destiny™ Mastercard®

Here’s why: The Destiny™ Mastercard® serves people with past credit struggles — even those who have a bankruptcy in their credit histories.

The issuer, First Electronic Bank, reports your card activity to the three major credit bureaus. If you try to pay on time and in full each month and keep your overall balance low, you’ll have a chance to build your credit.

If you qualify for the Destiny™ Mastercard®, you’ll be charged a $75 annual fee the first year, which goes up to $99 in the following years.

Read members’ reviews of the Destiny™ Mastercard® to learn more.

Best for credit line increases: Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Here’s why: The Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit will automatically review your account for credit line increases.

Having access to more credit can be helpful not only in case of an emergency, but also as you’re working on building your credit. A higher credit line can make it easier for you to keep your credit utilization rate low. Your credit utilization rate, or how much of your available credit you’re using, is an important factor in your credit scores.

The Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit is also one of the few cards for fair credit that offers cash back.

You could earn 1% cash back, as a statement credit, on eligible purchases of gas and groceries as well as cellphone, internet, cable and satellite TV services.

But there’s an annual fee — you’ll be charged $75 for the first year, $99 thereafter.

Best for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Here’s why: Discover it® Student Cash Back gives students a chance to earn rewards while learning the best way to use a credit card.

You’ll get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent on purchases in rotating categories each quarter you activate, along with unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Plus, at the end of your first year, Discover will double all the cash back you earned with its Cashback Match.

You could also earn a good grades reward — you’ll get a $20 statement credit each school year (for up to five years) that you maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

It also comes with a $0 annual fee.

Read members’ reviews of the Discover it® Student Cash Back to learn more.

What is fair credit?

Fair credit is average. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. It’s right in the middle.

Where exactly that range falls can depend on the credit-scoring model. For FICO, fair credit scores generally range from the upper 500s to the mid-600s. Fair VantageScore credit scores fall in the low- to mid-600s.

If you’re curious what category your credit scores are in, check out our guide to credit score ranges.

How can I raise my credit scores from 650 to 700?

Raising your credit scores from 650 to 700 could help you move from fair credit to good credit.

With good credit, you could have more options for better credit cards: better rewards programs, more cash back, no annual fee or even lower interest rates.

While there’s no guarantee that any given tactic will improve your scores, some of the best ways to build credit are making on-time payments, paying down your credit card balances and keeping your old cards open.

What are the easiest credit cards to get approved for?

The easiest credit cards to get approved for — like secured cards — are intended for people with poor credit.

But if you have fair credit, you might be able to qualify for unsecured cards that don’t require you to put down a security deposit to get the card.

Unfortunately, these cards might come with an annual fee and a high APR. High interest rates could be costly if you need to carry a balance or are trying to get out of debt.

And if you get a card with an annual fee, it could pose a conundrum. Once you build good enough credit to get a better card, you might be tempted to close your old one. But because it may be one of your oldest cards, keeping it open could benefit your credit by increasing the length of your credit history.

How we picked these cards

To find the best credit cards for fair credit, we narrowed the search to cards that we could confirm are targeted at people with fair or average credit. This information isn’t always publicized by credit card issuers, which can make it difficult to figure out which cards you have a reasonable chance of qualifying for.

Instead of showing you cards for people with bad credit or no credit, we wanted to tell you about the best possible cards that are within striking distance for you.

About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Vana. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.
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†† The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. Credit Vana receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.