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Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit of February 2019

Jan. 31, 2019
NerdWallet's Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit, 2016
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Credit cards for fair or average credit are aimed at those in the 630-689 FICO score range. They lack the huge sign-up bonuses you would get with a card requiring excellent credit, but they may still offer rewards like cash back.

These cards can help you if you’re just starting out with credit or are working to get back on track. A hallmark of cards for fair credit is high interest rates. That’s important to keep in mind as you work to build a positive credit history, especially if you carry a balance.

Best for flat-rate cash back

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    689
    Average
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with average credit
    • High rewards rate
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • High APR

    Annual Fees

    $39

    APR

    • APR: 26.96% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.96%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
    • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
    • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
    • 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

Why we like it

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers those with average credit a chance to both earn rewards and, potentially, gain access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.

Pros and cons

Pros: The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a solid ongoing rewards rate with no need to keep track of bonus categories. You simply earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Cons: The card charges a $39 annual fee. You would need to spend $2,600 per year on the card to make that back. And unlike some other cash-back cards, it doesn’t allow you to boost your rewards earnings with bonus categories.

» MORE: Full review of the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for flexibility

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    689
    Average
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with average credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • No rewards
    • High APR

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 26.96% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.96%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Pay no annual fee
    • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
    • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
    • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
    • 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 strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use

Why we like it

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is an ideal choice for those with average credit who don’t carry a balance, don’t want to pay for carrying a card and appreciate an incentive for responsible behavior. It also travels well.

Pros and cons

Pros: The card’s annual fee is $0. If you make your first five monthly payments on time, Capital One may give you access to a higher credit line. You can choose your own due date, which lets you schedule payment for the time of the month that best suits your cash flow. If you do make a late payment, the card doesn’t impose a penalty APR. The card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Cons: There are no rewards. Plus, the ongoing APR is on the high end at 26.96% Variable APR. That’s not an issue if you pay in full every month, but look elsewhere if you expect to carry debt from month to month.

» MORE: Full review of the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Best for small business

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    689
    Average
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with average credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • High APR

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 25.24% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: 31.65%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Enjoy no annual fee
    • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
    • Build business credit with responsible use
    • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Enjoy business benefits including Year-End Summaries, employee cards at no extra cost and experienced small business customer service

Why we like it

Business owners with fair or average credit don’t have tons of options. The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is a good start, especially if you’re looking for a card that can reward you for business-related purchases.

Pros and cons

Pros: Business credit cards typically come with higher credit lines than personal credit cards, giving your business access to more capital. There’s no foreign transaction fee with this card, in case you travel internationally for your business. You’ll earn 1% cash back on every purchase and receive business benefits, including year-end summaries and free employee cards. The annual fee is $0.

Cons: Unlike some other top business credit cards, this card doesn’t offer any bonus categories. The high 25.24% Variable APR could also be costly for your business if you carry a balance.

» MORE: Full review of the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Best for students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Apply Now on Deserve's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    850
    Average - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • High APR

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • Purchase: 20.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • No SSN required for International students.
    • Available to students (enrollment verification is required).
    • Amazon Prime Student on us (get reimbursed for subscription fees up to a lifetime total of $59).
    • 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
    • Credit limits up to $5,000.
    • $0 annual fee & no foreign transaction fees.
    • No security deposit or co-signer required.
    • Helps students build credit history and gain financial independence.
    • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted.
    • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Roadside Assistance, Travel Assistance Services, Price Protection, Extended Warranty and ID Theft Protection.
    • Complimentary cellphone insurance up to $600.

Why we like it

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students doesn’t require a Social Security number in the application for international students, making it a contender for a broader audience of students looking to build credit. No foreign transaction fee means this card can travel well abroad, too.

Pros and cons

Pros: Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Mastercards are widely accepted around the world. This card includes complimentary cellphone insurance up to $600. The annual fee is $0.

Cons: There is no introductory APR period, sign-up bonus or chance for elevated rewards in bonus categories.

» MORE: Full review of the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Best for bonus rewards, 0% APR on purchases

ABOC Platinum Rewards Card

ABOC Platinum Rewards Card

Apply Now on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    850
    Average - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Intro APR period on Purchases
    • No Annual Fee
    • Qualify with average credit or better

    Cons

    • Has foreign transaction fees
    • Fee of 3% of each balance transfer (minimum $5)

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening.

    Intro APR

    • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on Purchase and Balance Transfers
  • Additional Information
    • 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 15.15% - 25.15%, based on your creditworthiness
    • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
    • Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
    • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
    • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
    • No Annual Fee
    • Select Your Rewards Your Way

Why we like it

Earn 5 points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined spending in categories that change each quarter, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Additionally, the 0% intro APR period on the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card can help those who need to finance a major purchase.

Pros and cons

Pros: The ABOC Platinum Rewards Card offers a relatively rare benefit among cards for average credit: elevated rewards to actually write home about, for an annual fee of $0. The card also offers 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR. Plus, you’ll be eligible for a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening.

Cons: While rotating-bonus-category cards can help you amass rewards quickly, they require more work than typical flat-rate cash-back cards. You’ll have to remember to keep track of the categories each quarter. This card also charges a foreign transaction fee, so it’s not ideal for use internationally.

» MORE: Full review of the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to win in multiple categories.