Best Credit Cards For Fair Credit in 2020 | Build Credit Score

Credit card providers often have strict requirements for applicants, and if your credit score is less than perfect, getting approved is not easy. To help you find a solution, we’ve prepared a list of the top credit cards for fair credit and why you should consider them.
We’ll also discuss the methodology behind our choices, and offer you a guide to find the most suitable card for your needs. We’ll also go over the benefits of using them to improve your credit score.

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Best Credit Cards For Fair & Average Credit

1. Avant Credit Card

Personal loans can be used for business

No deposit required

No foreign transaction fees

Best Unsecured Credit Card With Personal Unsecured Loans

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Avant’s credit cards are best if you want a fast and easy alternative to secured cards or build a strong credit history. Avant requires no upfront deposit and no foreign transaction fees, which further sweetens the deal.

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2. CapitalOne Platinum Mastercard®

No annual fees, balance transfer fees, or foreign transaction fees

Suitable for people with limited or fair credit

Access to higher credit in just six months

Best For People With A Credit Score Of As Low As 580

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CapitalOne Platinum Mastercard® is one of the best credit cards for people with fair credit as it offers an unsecured credit card with no annual fees and access to higher credit in just six months. The card doesn’t charge any balance transfer fee. Instead, your transfer gets the same 25.99% variable APR.

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3. CapitalOne QuicksilverOne® Rewards

Access to CreditWise service

Low-maintenance cashback reward system

Higher credit limit after the first five full payments

Best For Poor Or Limited Credit History

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If you’re looking for the best credit cards for fair credit with a cash back reward, CapitalOne’s QuicksilverOne card is for you. It offers a 1.5% cashback reward on all purchases, along with other benefits like auto insurance, and travel accident assistance. You can also access a higher credit limit after five full payments.

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4. Milestone Gold MasterCard

Identity theft protection

Prequalification is easy

No deposit required

Best For Fair Credit With Instant Approval And No Deposit

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Milestone Gold Mastercard is a great option if you’re searching for the best credit cards for fair credit with easy approval. It requires no security deposits, and the credit limit starts at $300. It also caters to customers with poor or fair credit history.

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5. Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Bankruptcy applicants are accepted

Prequalification is available

No security deposit necessary

Best For Consumers With Zero Credit History

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Indigo Platinum Mastercard is perfect for you if you’re looking for the best credit cards for fair credit and you have a history of bankruptcy. The initial process allows you to know your chances for approval. Depending on your creditworthiness, you might also enjoy a 0% annual fee.

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6. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

High credit limit

No hard credit check required

Low APR

Best Secured Credit Card For Fair Credit

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OpenSky Secured Visa credit cards charge a relatively low APR and annual fee compared to other secured credit cards for average or poor credit score. It doesn’t require any credit check upon application and offers a fairly high credit limit depending on your security deposit.

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7. Target Credit Card

Free shipping of purchases

5% discount on every Target and Target.com purchase

Combines with Cartwheel app discounts

Best Store Credit Card For Target Customers

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Target offers credit cards for fair credit among its most loyal shoppers. You can get generous rewards and discounts by using the card on Target and Target.com, as well as Hotels.com and Starbucks. There’s a free-shipping offer, too, along with the choice to upgrade to a MasterCard.

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How we created this list - Our Methodology

We evaluate the following credit cards applying different criteria. We look into the credit card requirements which tell us how easy (or difficult) it is to apply for a card. Generally, credit cards designed for people with fair credit cater to those with poor or fair credit scores. They also often do not require any security deposits.

At the same time, our reviews list down the fees you must watch out for if you plan to apply for a credit card. Providers charge different types of interests, and you must consider these fees if your goal is to improve your credit score.

The most important fees and interests are:

  • Annual percentage rates (APRs)
  • Annual fees
  • Balance transfer fees
  • International transaction fees
  • Returned payment fees
  • Cash advance interest

To further help you find the best credit cards for fair credit in 2020, we also note which credit card providers offer perks, rewards, and bonuses. These might include cash rebates, discounts, insurance, or fraud protection, among others. If they require specific conditions for a higher line of credit, we also point that out.

At a Glance

  • Helps build a good credit score
  • Personal loans can be used for business
  • No deposit required
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No other rewards or benefits
  • High annual percentage rate (APR)
  • Limited hours of customer support

Avant offers the best alternative to secured cards. Its credit cards for poor credit cater well to those who don’t have a credit score yet.

Avant’s credit cards require no security deposits. You don’t need to pay any foreign transaction fee either when using the card outside the US. This feature is unique since many other credit-building cards often require foreign transaction fees.

Avant has been included in the ranking of the best alternative lenders, offering:

  • Personal loans
  • Billing and payment
  • Loan offerings and terms

The company offers up to $35,000 in an unsecured loan. But the credit limit on the cards is relatively low at $300-$1,000. It shares your account and payment history with the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

There are no special rewards or bonuses, however.

Avant offers telephone and email support, available from 7 AM to 10 PM on Mondays to Fridays, and 7 AM to 8 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Overall, you can use Avant’s credit cards to build a good credit score. They offer a low credit limit which you can pay off easily. The company reports to the three major credit bureaus, so there is potential to improve your credit history.

APR 23.99% to 25.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 to $59
Balance Transfer Fee 3% to 5%
Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
Return Payment Fee n/a
Best For Those looking to build a strong credit history

At a Glance

  • Access to higher credit in just six months
  • No annual fees, balance transfer fees, or foreign transaction fees
  • Suitable for people with limited or fair credit
  • No rewards or bonuses
  • High APR
  • Not for low-credit consumers

The CapitalOne Platinum Mastercard® offers some of the best credit cards for fair credit.

You need a Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score of at least 580 to qualify for the card. It takes six months to get considered for higher credit, and there are no annual fees, balance transfer fees, and foreign transaction fees.

You have fraud coverage if you lose your card. And there’s an app where you can access your account.

Contactless checkouts are available. So, if you’re a cardholder, you can check out securely without ever touching a terminal or giving your card to a cashier.

CapitalOne also submits your account and payment records to all three major credit bureaus.

When using this card, make sure you pay your bill in full every month to avoid interest. That’s because its APR is a little bit above average at 25.99% (variable). This, however, is fairly common among credit cards for fair credit and with no annual fee.

Overall, this platinum credit card is best for you if you want a functional unsecured credit card with no annual fee and you don’t mind the lack of rewards or bonuses. It also works for those who want access to higher credit in a relatively short time frame.

APR 25.99% variable
Annual Fee 0%
Balance Transfer Fee 0%
Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
Return Payment Fee $35
Best For Users with limited or fair credit

At a Glance

  • No balance transfer or foreign transaction fees
  • Access to CreditWise service
  • Low-maintenance cashback reward system
  • Higher credit limit after the first five full payments
  • High APR
  • Low initial credit
  • Has an annual fee

CapitalOne’s Quicksilver credit card is perfect if you have an average or limited credit history and want to build it up.

It offers a 1.5% cashback reward on all purchases, and that’s something not many credit cards for average credit score offer.

You can apply for a QuicksilverOne card even if you’ve defaulted on a loan in the past five years. You can also acquire it if you’re a student, a fresh graduate, have a limited credit history, or are just looking for credit cards for average credit score.

Your initial credit line will start at $300. But if your first five payments are on time, you can access a higher credit limit. Other potential benefits include extended warranties on purchases, car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, and cash advance if you lose your card.

You can also use the CreditWise service, which lets you access and monitor your credit score over time. It also alerts you about any changes to your score.

There aren’t any signup bonuses and there’s a $39 annual fee, along with the high APR. Still, QuicksilverOne ranks among the top credit cards for fair credit, thanks to its generous cashback reward and acceptance of consumers with less-than-excellent credit.

APR 26.99% variable
Annual Fee $39
Balance Transfer Fee 0%
Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
Return Payment Fee $35
Best For Average-credit cardholders who want card rewards

At a Glance

  • No deposit required
  • Identity theft protection
  • Prequalification is easy
  • High APR
  • Charges annual fees
  • No rewards or bonuses

If you have a negative or fair credit score and you want the best credit cards for fair credit, Milestone Gold Mastercard is a good option. It is also one of the top options if you’re looking for credit cards for fair credit with instant approval.

Acquiring a secured card with a low credit score is difficult. Milestone Gold makes it easy by not charging a security deposit and accepting applicants with a low FICO score. You then acquire a revolving line of credit starting at $300, though the limit ultimately depends on your creditworthiness.

When building your creditworthiness, credit reports from major bureaus are important. Milestone Gold submits your card activity to those bureaus, so you can get free credit reports from them if you want.

If your card is compromised, Milestone Gold offers identity theft protection. You also benefit from $0 liability for unauthorized transactions.

On the flip side, the company charges a fixed APR of 24.90%, along with a $35 to $99 annual fee, deducted from your initial limit. There’s a 1% foreign transaction fee so the card’s not ideal if you’re traveling. There are no reward programs or bonuses either.

Overall, Milestone Gold Mastercard is among the best credit cards for fair credit with no deposit. It’s very easy to apply even when you have a poor credit history, and you can use it to build your creditworthiness by paying on time.

APR 24.90% fixed
Annual Fee $35-$99
Balance Transfer Fee N/A
Foreign Transaction Fee 1%
Return Payment Fee $40
Best For People with poor credit who want to build their credit history

At a Glance

  • No security deposit necessary
  • Bankruptcy applicants are accepted
  • Prequalification is available
  • High APR
  • Expensive annual fee
  • No rewards or bonuses

If you’re a student with zero credit score, a person with a history of bankruptcy, or someone having trouble getting approved for a credit card, Indigo Platinum is a great choice for you.

Indigo Platinum offers cards for fair credit that allow you to start building a good credit history. Your account activity is reported to major credit bureaus, so it’s best to pay your monthly balance in full when possible to avoid accumulating interest charges.

Application is fast and easy: simply provide information like bank account details, employment records, social security numbers, etc. The pre-approval process lets you know whether you’ll qualify or not. No security deposit is needed.

Other benefits include identity theft services, $0 liability insurance, and 24/7 account access via the internet. No reward programs or bonuses are available. The credit limit is between $250 to $300, but there’s no specific timeline for an account review and for increasing your credit limit.

Depending on your FICO score, you may need to pay a fee of $0, $59, or $75 ($99 after the first year). The APR stands at 24.90%, and there’s a 1% foreign transaction fee.

APR 24.90%
Annual Fee $0 to $99
Balance Transfer Fee N/A
Foreign Transaction Fee 1%
Return Payment Fee $40
Best For People with 600 or lower credit score

 

At a Glance

  • Low annual fee
  • High credit limit
  • No hard credit check required
  • Low APR
  • A high foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards or bonuses

If you want credit cards for fair credit and low APR, OpenSky Secured Visa credit cards are perfect for you.

This secured credit card charges a lower APR than many of the cards on this list — only 17.39% (variable). The annual fee is $35, while each foreign transaction will cost you a 3% fee.

The card requires a $200 to $3,000 security deposit, and the credit limit is equivalent to how much you deposit. This feature puts OpenSky Secured Visa among the credit cards for fair credit with high limit.

No credit check is required during the application process. So, you can apply for the card even if you have virtually zero credit history, which allows you to start building a good credit score.

You also enjoy standard Visa benefits such as $0 fraud liability and auto rental insurance. However, there aren’t any reward programs or bonuses. There’s a $1 minimum interest charge among other interest expenses, and it’s unclear when or how you can get a higher credit limit.

Overall, if you want to build your creditworthiness using a secured card, OpenSky Secured Visa credit cards will suit you. It offers low APR and annual fees, and no credit check is necessary upon application.

APR 17.39% variable
Annual Fee $35
Balance Transfer Fee N/A
Foreign Transaction Fee 3%
Return Payment Fee $25
Best For People with bad or fair credit who want a secured card

At a Glance

  • No annual fee
  • Free shipping of purchases
  • 5% discount on every Target and Target.com purchase
  • Combines with Cartwheel app discounts
  • High APR
  • Cannot be used in other retailers and shops
  • Not suitable for non-Target shoppers

If you’re a loyal customer of Target and Target.com, you might want to consider the Target credit card or REDCard.

As a top credit card for fair credit, REDCard offers generous rewards and discounts. You can enjoy a 5% discount on every purchase on Target and Target.com, automatically applied upon checkout. A MasterCard is available when you upgrade. You also get a 10% discount coupon every year on your card anniversary.

As a cardholder, you don’t have to pay any annual fees. The APR is 22.90%. You can also enjoy free two-day shipping on Target.com. If you book hotels at Hotels.com, you get a 10% discount. Using the Cartwheel app, which lets you filter and save in-store Target coupons, can give you a 5% to 50% discount. This discount combines with the REDCard discount.

More importantly, you can build your credit with the REDCard. Paying off your balance on the REDCard will reflect on your credit utilization ratio and your creditworthiness.

As with other store credit cards for fair credit, the REDCard can only be used for Target and Target.com purchases, with the exemption of Starbucks, where you can get a 5% discount on any in-store purchase.

APR 22.90%
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee N/A
Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
Return Payment Fee $29
Best For Regular customers of Target and Target.com

What Is a Fair Credit Score

A fair credit score generally stands between 580 to 669 FICO credit score. However, different lenders and card issuers often set their own minimum credit score before approving an application.|
You can acquire a credit report by requesting from any of the three major credit bureaus:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

Many credit, loan, and financial institutions have also started providing credit scores to their clients. So, your score with your lender and with the bureau-issued report may appear different.

You can request free credit reports every 12 months from each of the three main bureaus.

How to Choose a Credit Card for Fair Credit

As you now know, different types of credit cards serve different purposes, depending on how you plan to use them. Different credit card providers also exist, all promising to help you improve your credit performance.

So, what should you consider when choosing a credit card?

Reports to One of the Three Major Credit Bureaus

First and foremost, the credit card provider should be reporting to one (or more) of the three major credit bureaus. They calculate your credit score using the reports they receive from your credit providers. This is particularly important if you want to (re)build your credit history.

Charges Low Fees

Whether unsecured or secured, choose a card that charges low fees. You should be familiar with the most common fees associated with credit cards, such as:

  • Annual fees
  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Balance transfer fees
  • Returned payment fees
  • Annual percentage rate (APR)

Some cards have no other fees other than the APR, while others have low APRs but charge other fees. Find a card that charges the lowest possible fees for the maximum amount of benefits.

Rewards and Bonuses

Many providers also offer various perks to encourage you to use their cards more and pay on time. The best credit cards for fair credit score are those that offer perks like travel insurance, discounts in restaurants, and other redeemable rewards and bonuses. These will help you get more value out of using your credit card while also improving your credit score.

Types of Credit Cards

You must know first what type of credit card you need before you choose a provider.

  • Business credit cards — If you’re spending for business purposes and you also want to build your credit score, business credit cards for fair credit are a good option. You can also use these cards to keep your business and personal spending separate.
  • Secured credit cards — Secured credit cards require a security deposit, which typically matches the credit limit on the card. It’s a good option if you want to build a good credit history or fix a damaged one.
  • Prepaid cards — Prepaid cards require you to load money on the card. It uses an automatic withdraw system every time you make a purchase. The spending limit does not renew until you load more money.
  • Digital cards — Digital credit cards create a new credit card number each time you purchase something. And since you can only use the card number once, you need a personal identification number, just like in a debit card, to complete a purchase.

Benefits of Using a Credit Card

The biggest benefit of using credit cards is that they can potentially help you build a stronger credit score. Issuers report your payment history and account activity to national credit bureaus which then use these reports to calculate your credit score. Naturally, you need to pay off your card each month to be able to benefit.

In addition to potentially improving your score, a credit card can also help you:

  • Obtain bonuses — Using a credit card often entitles you to reward programs and bonuses. The better your credit activity, the more rewards, and bonuses you can get, such as travel or gift cards, merchandise, statement credits, and more.
  • Access fraud protection — Credit card processing systems usually offer fraud protection and $0 liability. You don’t have to worry about fraudulent or unauthorized use; just call your credit card company to notify them and you won’t be charged for the transaction.
  • Acquire insurance benefits — Most credit card providers automatically come with benefits like rental car insurance, travel insurance, and product warranties. You can usually claim such benefits on top of your existing insurance coverage.
  • Make cash advances — Using credit cards to improve your credit score lets you make a cash advance when you need it. However, keep in mind that cash advances often entail higher interest rates. Make sure you have a plan on how to pay back.

Best Credit Cards For Fair Credit At A Glance

  • Avant Credit Card — Best unsecured credit card with personal unsecured loans
  • CapitalOne Platinum Mastercard® — Best for people with a credit score of as low as 580
  • CapitalOne QuicksilverOne® Rewards — Best for poor or limited credit history
  • Milestone Gold MasterCard — Best for fair credit with instant approval and no deposit
  • Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® — Best for consumers with zero credit history (students, fresh graduates, etc)
  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card — Best secured credit card for fair credit
  • Target Credit Card — Best store credit card for Target customers

Key Takeouts

Credit cards for fair credit help you build a stronger credit history. Providers offer easy access to secured and unsecured cards, the application process is generally fast and doesn’t require you to have a high credit score. You only need to provide the most basic information such as your name, email, bank account details, employment records, and others.

Most of their repayment terms are also reasonable. Even though APRs seem high, other fees are often little to none. This quality lets you pay your balance in full, which will reflect on your credit activity. And since it’s easy to pay in full consistently, credit bureaus will likely favor you with a good credit score.

Some of them also have useful perks and rewards. Travel credit cards for fair credit, for example, insure you in case of an accident. Others insure your car. Reward programs, introductory offers, fraud protection, and signup bonuses may also be available in some card providers.

If you’re looking to improve your credit score or start building it, the above-mentioned credit cards will help you.

FAQs

What is fair credit?

A fair credit score generally ranges between 580 to 669 FICO credit score. A fair credit score is one of five categories, namely:

  • Very poor
  • Fair
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Exceptional

Credit scores are based on your credit activity and reports. FICO scores and VantageScore are two of the most common scoring bases, but lenders and credit providers often have their own scoring system as well.

What is the minimum credit score for a credit card?

Most credit card providers require very good credit ratings. Most prime and subprime credit cards are available for people with 750 or higher credit scores. Remember, though, that your credit score isn’t the only reason you can get declined for a credit card.

Also, different providers consider different credit card requirements. Many of them have their own credit scoring systems. Card providers for people with fair credits often don’t have a lot of requirements. Some accept even those who have had bankruptcies before or otherwise have poor credit scores.

Can I get a credit card with a 650 credit score?

Yes, you can. A credit score of 650 is fair credit, according to FICO standards. Many credit card providers accommodate applicants with fair credit by offering unsecured credit cards to help them build their creditworthiness. Others also offer rewards and bonuses. You can improve your credit score by paying balances in full and on time because such credit card providers submit your credit activity to major credit bureaus, which in turn calculate your credit score.

What is the best credit card for fair credit?

The best credit card for fair credit overall is Avant credit card, which charges no annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and low balance transfer fees, although it does charge a high annual percentage rate.

Its application process is fast and easy since it doesn’t require any minimum length of credit history, and no security deposit is necessary to open an account. You can access a higher credit limit if you complete six months of full payments.

What are the most common fees I should pay?

The most common fees include the annual percentage rate, annual fees, balance transfer fees, and foreign transaction fees.

The APR is the interest rate you’ll pay for the whole year, taking into account additional charges and interest rates.

Some cards charge annual fees, or fees for simply having the card whether you use it or not, but credit cards for average credit score often don’t charge annual fees.

Balance transfer fees are charged when transferring the balance from one card to another, while foreign transaction fees are incurred when you pay with your card in another country or use another currency. Watch out for these fees when checking out the terms and conditions of credit cards for fair credit.