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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Fair or Average Credit, Fall 2014

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If you have fair or average credit, you can still get great rewards and perks with your credit card. We’ll break down the best options for someone whose credit score is in the 630 to 639 range, and help you on your way to a higher FICO score.

The NFL Extra Points Credit Card: Best average credit card

Don’t be put off by the name: The NFL credit card is pretty much the best average credit card out there. It has no annual fee, as well as cash-back rewards. You earn 1 point on every dollar you spend, redeemable as a 1% statement credit; you also get 2 points per $1 on NFL and team merchandise, as well as 20% off every purchase at NFLShop.com. Its major drawback is that it doesn’t give bonus rewards, whereas the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard gives 2% rewards on groceries, gas and utilities. However, we’ve seen anecdotally that the NFL card is easier to qualify for if you have fair credit, and its signup bonus is better as well: Earn 10,000 bonus points after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, enough to redeem for a $100 cash back statement credit compared to None - after first purchase. Whether you’re glued to your TV every Sunday or haven’t quite figured out what a touchdown is, the NFL card is a great option for rehabbing your credit.

NFL Extra Points Credit Card
Barclays NFL Extra Points Credit Card
Apply Now

on Barclays's
secure website

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  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, enough to redeem for a $100 cash back statement credit
  • 0% promotional APR for 6 months on ALL ticket purchases from a team ticket office. After that, a variable APR currently 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%, based on your credit worthiness
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on NFL or team purchases - game tickets, in-stadium and at team Pro Shops - and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • 20% off every purchase at NFLShop.com - that's $20 off every $100 you spend
  • Redeem points for VIP NFL experiences, game tickets or 1% cash back statement credits beginning at 2,500 points for a $25 statement credit
  • All 32 team cards are available, customized with your favorite team's colors and logo
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that a variable APR, currently 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness
thumbsupPros
  • Qualify with average credit
  • No annual fee
  • 0% for 15 mos on transfers
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 Earn 10,000 bonus points after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, enough to redeem for a $100 cash back statement credit 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%* Variable 0% on balance transfers for 15 months (must be completed within first 45 days of account opening)

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Average credit meets rewards

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is pretty much the most accessible average credit card – Capital One is known for being generous to those with not-quite-good credit, for a price. For a $39 annual fee, you’ll get rewards and 0% on purchases until August 2015, and then the ongoing APR of 22.9% (V). You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There’s no cap on rewards, either, and cash back is easy: You can get statement credit upon request and for any amount you’d like.

How does the QuicksilverOne compare with the NFL card? Assuming you hold the card for two years, you’d need to spend $17,800 a year to earn more rewards with the Quicksilver than the NFL credit card. If you spend more than $17,800 a year, or around $1,500 a month, you’re better off with the QuickSilverOne; otherwise, the no-fee NFL card is more rewarding.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card
Apply Now

on Capital One's
secure website

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  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards
  • Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time
  • Cash back doesn't expire and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until August 2015; 22.9% variable APR after that
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Get free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker
thumbsupPros
  • Qualify with average credit
  • High rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fee
thumbsdownCons
  • Has annual fee
  • High APR
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$39 Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. 22.9% (V) 0% on purchases until August 2015

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard: 2% on bonus categories

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard for Average Credit offers 2 points per dollar on Net Everyday Purchases, which is Barclays-speak for groceries, gas and utility bills, and 1 point per dollar on everywhere else. There’s no cap on those rewards, and the card has no annual fee, putting it a notch above the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card for many people with average credit.

Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard®
Barclays Rewards MasterCard - Average Credit Credit Card
Apply Now

on Barclays's
secure website

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  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on gas, grocery, and utility purchases and 1 point per $1 everywhere else
  • Use the points you earn like cash to pay for almost any purchases you've made.
  • No redemption fees, no limit on the points you can earn and no complicated set up.
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly providing you the opportunity to rebuild your credit score
  • Complimentary FICO® Credit Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.
thumbsupPros
  • Qualify with average credit
  • No annual fee
thumbsdownCons
  • High APR
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 None - after first purchase Min APR: 24.99% Purchase: None
Transfer: None