The best credit cards for fair or average credit of February 2022
If you haven’t had a lot of time to build up your credit score yet, or if you’ve made a few credit mistakes in the past, it’s possible your current score is in the fair or average range.
According to myFICO.com, an average FICO score is any score that falls between 580 to 669 on a 300 to 850 scale. FICO scores below the “fair” range are generally considered “poor,” while scores above that range are considered good, very good, or exceptional depending on how high they are.
Having a fair credit score isn’t the end of the world, but it does mean you have some room for improvement. It also means you probably won’t be able to qualify for the top rewards credit cards and travel credit cards.
Read more: Guide to the best starter credit cards
Before you pick a credit card, we suggest checking your credit report for free with the major credit bureaus or through a credit card that offers free access to your credit score. This will give you a good idea of where you stand and which credit cards you may be able to qualify for.
If your credit score is indeed fair or average, here are some of the top cards to consider.
Average, Fair and Limited
If you’re looking for a basic credit card you can use to build your credit score up, consider the Capital One Platinum Credit Card. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, although you may have to start things off with a fairly low credit limit. Fortunately, Capital One promises to consider increasing your credit limit on this card when you make six months of on-time payments in a row.
Read more: Capital One Platinum credit card review
You won’t earn any rewards with this card and there aren’t a lot of perks. For the most part, you should consider this card if you want a way to build credit and start building positive credit habits without paying an annual fee.
Average, Fair and Limited
If you have average credit but want to start earning cash back on all your purchases, check out the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Read more: Guide to the best Capital One credit cards
This card doesn’t offer an initial sign-up bonus, but you do earn a flat 1.5% back for each dollar you spend. There’s a $39 annual fee as well, but you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees when you use your card for purchases made abroad.
12.99% – 21.99% Variable
Unlimited Cashback Match – Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year with no minimum spending or maximum rewards
0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases
If you’re a student with average credit and you want to build your credit history while earning cash back on all your purchases, consider the Discover it® Student Cash Back. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, yet you can earn rewards for each dollar you spend.
Read more: Discover it Student Cash Back credit card review
For starters, when you enroll, you’ll earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases in Discover’s rotating categories that change every quarter (then 1%). You’ll also earn 1% back on everything else you buy (from January 1 to March 31, 2022, you can earn 5% cash back at Grocery Stores (excluding Walmart and Target) and Fitness Club & Gym Memberships on up to $1,500 in purchases after enrollment, then 1%). For new card members, Discover will match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year.
Other major benefits include a free look at your FICO score. This card also comes with no late payment fee on your first late payment, and no over-the-limit fees.
Read more: Guide to the best credit cards for students
12.99% – 26.99% variable APR
Excellent, Good, Limited History, No History, Limited, No Credit
The Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card is interesting because it’s actually made for people who need help building their credit and want some perks along the way. This card comes with no annual fee, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no other fees (APRs are a 12.99% – 26.99% variable APR). You’ll also get access to a handy mobile app that helps you manage your payments and track your credit progress while you build positive
Read more: Guide to the best cash-back credit cards
On the rewards side of the equation, you’ll earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away. After six on-time monthly payments, cash back increases to 1.25% and after 12 on-time monthly payments, cash back grows to 1.5%. Your credit limit can be as high as $10,000 as well if you qualify, so this card can help you build credit while you keep your utilization low.
Finally, don’t forget that it’s possible to get a credit card for your small business with just “average” credit. The Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business is a good option because it comes with no annual fee and you’ll earn 1% back on everything you buy. You’ll also get free employee cards, which means you can earn rewards and qualify for consumer protections on purchases your employees make.
Read more: Guide to the best small-business credit cards
This card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, and you’ll qualify for cardholder benefits that include travel and emergency assistance services, secondary auto rental coverage, purchase protection against damage or theft, and extended warranties on eligible items that come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
Credit cards for average or fair credit — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When your credit is just “average,” you know you have some work to do. Here are some additional questions and answers that can help you get the most out of your new credit card:
How do you build credit with a credit card?
To build credit with a credit card, you should use your card for regular purchases like gas and groceries, then pay your bill early or on time each month. As you use credit this way, your responsible use will be reported to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, who should be able to use that information to increase your score over time.
Which fees should you be aware of?
Credit cards can come with an array of fees, ranging from annual fees to application fees, foreign transaction fees, late fees, returned payment fees, and over-the-limit fees. We suggest reading over each card’s terms and conditions before you apply so you know which fees you might be required to pay.
How do you know when your credit score has improved?
Credit cards for average credit can help you improve your credit score provided you avoid racking up too much debt and you always pay your credit card bill early or on time. You can monitor your credit score for free with all three major credit bureaus — and because of the pandemic, you can do so once a week through April 2022.
Read more: Identity theft is a major problem, but these 5 credit card protection programs can help keep you safe
Some credit cards for average credit, including the Capital One Platinum Credit Card, give you access to your credit score and credit-building tools just for being a cardholder.
How do you avoid credit card interest?
Credit card interest is charged on your balance if you do not pay your credit card bill in full each month. To avoid interest on your purchases, charge only what you can afford to pay off each month and pay your bill early or on time.
Is earning rewards worth it?
Earning rewards with a credit card is only worth it if you are able to pay your balance in full each month. With credit cards for average credit charging APRs over 20%, earning 1% to 2% back on your purchases won’t leave you ahead.
Read more: The best 0% APR and low-interest credit cards
You should only pursue rewards with a credit card if you are entirely certain you can pay your bill in full each month and avoid debt for the long haul.
How do you apply for a credit card?
There are several different ways to apply for a credit card, including online, by phone, by mail, through the bank’s app, or in person at a branch.
Read more: 5 steps you should take when applying for a credit card
No matter how you apply, you should have an idea of your credit score beforehand to be sure you have a chance of qualifying. In your application, you’ll be asked for personal details like your full name, address, date of birth, Social Security Number, and income.
Good to Excellent
3 free nights (each valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases and 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories
Good to Excellent
1.5% cash back in addition to regular earning on everything you buy up to $20,000 spent in the first year (worth up to $300 cash back)
Good to Excellent