Best Credit Cards for People with Fair Credit

This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

If you have fair (a.k.a. average) credit, finding the right credit card can be a challenge. There just aren't a lot of cards with good terms out there. Once you cross over into "good credit" territory, though, you'll find that the number of cards with good terms increases quite a bit. But since we can't time travel and boost credit scores quickly, let's focus on a few of the best credit cards for fair credit.

Options for People with Fair Credit

For those of you currently in fair credit territory, there is some good news. There are two card issuers – Barclays and Capital One – that have decent offerings in this category. And Chase is even dipping its toe in the fair credit waters with a balance transfer credit card.

Here are four credit cards that you should consider if you have fair credit. Note, however, that the APRs are all on the high side. This is expected for this credit score range. Don't let it get you down. Just vow to pay your bill in full by the due date and the rate won't matter. Do this every month and you won't have to pay interest on your purchases.

The first two cards listed are rewards credit cards. Yes, it's possible to earn rewards while improving your credit. The next two cards are known as "no-frills" or "vanilla" credit cards. As the name implies, there aren't any rewards. But the last card on the list, the Chase Slate card, certainly offers some nice features. No-frills cards are good choices for folks who want to limit the use of their cards and are just focused on improving credit scores.

#1: QuicksilverOne® From Capital One®

One of the best things about cards from Capital One® is that the rewards programs are so easy to understand. With the QuicksilverOne® from Capital One®, you get 1.5 percent cash back on all of your purchases, which is quite good. Your rewards never expire and there's no limit on the amount you can earn.

You can redeem your rewards for cash, charitable donations, gift cards, and more. Capital One makes it easy for you to redeem rewards, too. You can even set up a specified amount so that you automatically get the rewards when you hit the number you've set.

Consumers working on raising their credit scores might get limit increases after making their first five monthly payments on time. This will help lower their credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit used compared to the amount of credit available. So if your limit goes up, your ratio should go down, and that's a good thing.

Okay, let's look at the rates and fees:

  • Purchase APR: You get a zero percent introductory APR through your September 2016 billing statement. After that, you get a variable rate of 22.99 percent.
  • Balance transfers: You get a zero percent introductory APR through your September 2016 billing statement. After that, you get a variable rate of 22.99 percent. There's usually a transfer fee between three and five percent, but Capital One is waiving the fee on this card.
  • APR for cash advances: You get a variable 22.99 percent.
  • Cash Advance transaction fee: The transaction fee is three percent.
  • Annual fee: There's a $39 annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None, which is excellent, especially if you travel overseas frequently. Capital One doesn't charge foreign transaction fees on any of its cards.

#2: Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard

Barlcaycard Rewards MasterCard has an APR of 24.99 percent, and that's pretty high, so don't carry a balance. If you do, it will wipe out most of your rewards. You get two points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, and utility purchases. On all other things, you get one point per dollar spent. The rewards are earned as points, but the conversion is easy. Here's an example: 2,000 points = $20. There's no limit on the rewards you can earn. But note that if your account is inactive for 13 months, you could lose your rewards.

One really good thing about this card is that you get a free FICO score every month, which is a nice benefit to receive.

Now, let's take a look at the numbers:

  • Purchase APR: You get a variable rate of 24.99 percent.
  • Balance transfers: You get a variable rate of 24.99 percent. The transaction fee is three percent.
  • APR for cash advances: You get a variable 25.24 percent.
  • Cash Advance transaction fee: The transaction fee is either $10 or five percent of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Annual fee: There's no annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fees: The transaction fee is three percent.

#3: Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

The Capital One® Platinum credit card is a no-frills credit card. It doesn't have rewards, but it's a solid card and you can use it to rebuild your credit. And as mentioned above with the QuicksilverOne card, you might get a limit increase after you make your first five monthly payments on time, and that's good for your credit utilization ratio and score – as long as you don't start spending more!

Here's a look at the rates and fees:

  • APR: You get a variable rate of 24.9 percent.
  • Balance transfers: You get a variable rate of 24.9 percent. There's no transfer fee.
  • APR for cash advances: You get a variable 24.9 percent.
  • Cash Advance transaction fee: The fee is three percent.
  • Annual fee: There's no annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fees: There are no foreign transaction fees.

#4: Chase Slate

Chase Slate is now being promoted as a card for consumers who have fair-to-excellent credit. For FICO scores, fair credit is 650 - 699. You might need a higher score in the fair credit range to qualify, depending on how spotless (or not spotless!) your credit report looks.

But if you qualify and have credit card debt on a high-APR credit card (or on several cards), this card is a great choice for a balance transfer.

Chase has recently started giving cardholders a free FICO score (based on information from Experian). The score is available online.

Here's a look at the rates and fees:

  • APR: You get a zero percent introductory rate for the first 15 billing cycles. After that, you get a variable rate of 12.99 percent, 17.99 percent, or 22.99 percent. If you have fair credit, expect to get the 22.99 percent rate. Don't carry a balance and this won't be an issue.
  • Balance transfers: You get a zero percent introductory rate for the first 15 billing cycles. After that, your get a variable rate of 12.99 percent, 17.99 percent, or 22.99 percent. There's usually a transfer fee between three and five percent, but the Chase Slate card waives that fee. Note: You must make the transfer within 60 days of opening your account to have the transfer fee waived. After 60 days, the fee is three percent.
  • APR for cash advances: You get a variable 24.99 percent.
  • Overdraft Advance APR: You get a variable 24.99 percent.
  • Cash Advance transaction fee: The fee is five percent.
  • Annual fee: There's no annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fees: The fee is three percent.

How to Find Out if You Have Fair Credit

LendingTree offers a free credit score to help you make smart credit decisions. If you have fair credit and apply for cards that require excellent credit, you'll get turned down. The inquiry is likely to ding your credit score – anywhere from zero to five points. Every time you apply for a credit card, the lender reviews your credit report and this is called a "hard inquiry." So applying for cards within your target range protects your score and also saves you the agony of applying and being denied.

The free score you'll receive from LendingTree is a VantageScore 3.0 and it's based on information from your TransUnion credit file. If your score is between 600 and 659, you have fair credit. If you're looking at a FICO score, though, fair credit is between 650 and 699. Please note the difference so you can more accurately determine your credit range.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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