The Best Credit Cards for Fair or Average Credit of February 2022

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.

Regular APR

26.99% Variable

Credit Score

Average, Fair and Limited

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Automatically be considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
    • No annual fee
    Cons
    • No extra benefits and no rewards
    • Pay no annual fee
    • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
    • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
    • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
    • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you’re all set
    • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee – and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
    • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
    • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this

    Read Our Review
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    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.

    Regular APR

    26.99% Variable

    Credit Score

    Average, Fair and Limited

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No bonus categories to keep track of; you earn 1.5% back on everything
    Cons
    • Other cards offer higher cash-back rates
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
    • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
    • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
    • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
    • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
    • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn’t expire for the life of the account
    • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
    • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

    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.

    Regular APR

    12.99% – 21.99% Variable

    Featured Reward

    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

    Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases

    Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Earns 5% cash back at Grocery Stores and Fitness Club & Gym Memberships on up to $1,500 in purchases after enrollment from January 1 to March 31, 2022, then 1% (excludes Walmart and Target purchases)
    • Discover matches your cash back after the first year
    Cons
    • Not the most rewarding cash-back card for non-bonus purchases
    • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
    • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
    • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
    • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
    • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends’ recommendations.
    • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
    • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
    • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
    • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% – 21.99% applies.
    • Click “Apply Now” to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

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    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

    Regular APR

    12.99% – 26.99% variable APR

    Credit Score

    Excellent, Good, Limited History, No History, Limited, No Credit

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No fees
    • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, and 1.5% cash back after 12 on-time monthly payments
    • Helps you build or repair credit
    Cons

    • No fees whatsoever. No late fee, foreign transaction fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee, fee
    • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments
    • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away
    • 2% – 10% cash back at select merchants
    • $300 – $10,000 credit limits
    • Variable APRs range from 12.99% – 26.99%
    • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we’ll create your Cash Score instead
    • See if you’re pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score
    • Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal Card members
    • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
    • No deposits required
    • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC

    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


    money management

    habits.

    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.

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Travel and purchase protection
    Cons
    • Some other business cards offer better rewards
    • No welcome bonus
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your business
    • Free employee cards
    • Pick your own monthly due date. Your business has the control to pay when you want
    • Get an itemized report of your spending to simplify budgeting and tax time

    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. 

    Featured credit cards from our partners

    Featured Reward

    60,000 points

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    3 free nights (each valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases and 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    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)

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

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