The Best Credit Cards For Fair Credit

Having just fair credit can put you in a tough position. Fair credit isn’t as bad as poor credit, but it doesn’t quite reach the level of good that most credit card issuers need to approve you for their more competitive cards. What’s left are simple cards that may not offer rewards. The goal is to use these simple cards responsibly in order to build your credit over time so that you can qualify for better cards in the future.

Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit

  • Discover it® chrome: Best for earning rewards on gas and dining
  • BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students: Best for Bank of America Customers
  • Discover it® Student Cash Back: Best for students to earn cash back
  • Discover it® Student chrome: Best for students earning cash back with strong customer service
  • Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for earning cash back with fair credit
  • Capital One® Platinum Credit Card: Best for a simple card with fair credit
  • Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®: Best for encouraging responsible student use
  • Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card: Best for balance transfers
  • Deserve Classic Mastercard: Best for building credit without a traditional credit history
  • Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card: Best for Wells Fargo Customers

Best for earning rewards on gas and dining

Discover it® chrome

The Discover it® Chrome Card is a mediocre card with one redeeming feature: the 1-for-1 cash back match, which doubles your rewards at the end of the first year. The high balance transfer fees make the intro APR offer less appealing, and the 2% bonus cash back is limited to the first $1,000 in combined quarterly spending at gas stations and restaurants.

Pros

  • 100% cash back match means 2x rewards at the end of your first year
  • Flexible cash back redemption options
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • High balance transfer fees: 3% intro on balances transferred by March 10, 2020 (up to 5% thereafter)
  • High cash advance fee (Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater)
  • 2% cash back category limited to $1,000 in combined quarterly spending
Discover it® chrome

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REGULAR APR

13.49% – 24.49% Variable

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

Unlimited first year cash back match

CREDIT SCORE

Excellent/Good

Best for Bank of America Customers

BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students

With a 0% intro APR offer and low regular APR, this card passes the test for students who plan to carry a balance.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases or balance transfers

Cons

  • No rewards program
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 3%-5% cash advance fees
  • No welcome bonus
BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students

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REGULAR APR

14.49% – 24.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

None

CREDIT SCORE

Fair

Best for students to earn cash back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Here’s an excellent way for students with average or limited credit scores to gain experience managing credit. No annual fee, no penalty APR, a “good grades” bonus plus up to 5% cashback rewards earn this card an “A” in our book.

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Pros

  • 5% cashback on rotating bonus categories
  • First-year Cashback match
  • Get $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher (up to five years)

Cons

  • 5% bonus cashback rate is limited to $1,500 per quarter in spending
  • Bonus categories must be activated quarterly
  • Low 1% base reward rate
Discover it® Student Cash Back

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REGULAR APR

19.49% Variable

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

Unlimited first year cash back match

CREDIT SCORE

Fair/New to Credit

Best for students earning cash back with strong customer service

Discover it® Student chrome

If you’re a student with weak credit, the Discover it® Chrome Student Card is an excellent starting point on your credit journey. You’ll gain access to a respectable rewards program and reasonable APR, with no pesky annual fee.

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Pros

  • Bonus rewards categories
  • Double your rewards with cashback match at the end of first year
  • Easy to get approved
  • Good grades rewards

Cons

  • Some rewards categories have earnings caps
  • Discover is less widely accepted outside the US
  • Balance transfer intro APR offer is subpar
Discover it® Student chrome

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REGULAR APR

19.49% Variable

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

Unlimited first year cash back match

CREDIT SCORE

Fair/New to Credit

[back to summary]

Best for earning cash back with fair credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Great for those with less-than-stellar credit, this card offers a gateway to building better credit while earning a respectable 1.5% cashback rewards rate. You may also gain a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.

Pros

  • Unlimited 1.5% cashback rewards
  • Requires only average credit for approval
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Rewards don’t expire

Cons

  • High APR
  • No bonus spending categories to boost rewards
  • No welcome offer
  • No intro APR offer
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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REGULAR APR

26.99% (Variable)

ANNUAL FEE

$39

WELCOME BONUS

None

CREDIT SCORE

Average, Fair, Limited

Best for a simple card with fair credit

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

If you’ve got damaged credit, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card offers a no-frills path to get back on your feet. Since there’s no annual fee, this can be a no-cost option if you make your payments on time and don’t carry a balance. Given the shockingly high APR, it’s wise to use the card for everyday expenses and pay the balance in full.

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Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Applicants with fair credit may be approved
  • Increased credit line possible after your first 5 on-time payments

Cons

  • Very high variable APR
  • No rewards program
  • No welcome bonus or intro APR offer
  • 3% cash advance fee (min $10)
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

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REGULAR APR

26.99% (Variable)

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

None

CREDIT SCORE

Average, Fair, Limited

[back to summary]

Best for encouraging responsible student use

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is a way for a student with limited credit to start building a strong credit history.

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Pros

  • Get a credit line increase if you make your first 5 monthly payments on time.
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase automatically (pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • High regular APR
  • Up to $39 late fee
  • No intro APR offer
  • Basic rewards program
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

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REGULAR APR

26.99% (Variable)

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

None

CREDIT SCORE

Average, Fair, Limited

Best for balance transfers

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

An 18-month 0% introductory APR period on both purchases and balance transfers makes the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card an excellent choice to pay down debt or finance a major purchase. There’s no annual fee, but the balance transfer and foreign transaction fees dampen our enthusiasm a bit.

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Pros

  •  0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months
  •  No annual fee
  •  FICO score tracking

Cons

  •  No rewards program or welcome bonus
  •  High balance transfer fee
  •  High regular APR
  •  3% foreign transaction fee
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

REGULAR APR

16.99% – 26.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

None

CREDIT SCORE

Good/Excellent

[back to summary]

Best for building credit without a traditional credit history

Deserve Classic Mastercard

With no signup costs or annual fees, the Deserve Classic Mastercard offers a low-cost path to build your credit history. Given its lack of fees and relaxed approval standards, we can overlook the absence of a rewards program or welcome bonus. Just avoid carrying a balance as this card charges a sky-high APR.

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Pros

  • No credit history or SSN required
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • Credit limit up to $1,500
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • No rewards program
  • No welcome bonus
  • Very high APR
  • No cash advances or balance transfers
Deserve Classic Mastercard

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REGULAR APR

24.74% Variable APR on purchases

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

None

CREDIT SCORE

Bad/Poor

Best for Wells Fargo Customers

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

For students with a limited or imperfect credit history, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card is an excellent opportunity to build solid credit. There’s no annual fee or penalty APR, and it does feature a rewards program.

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Pros

  •  3% cash back in select categories for 6 months
  •  Free credit education resources and tools
  •  No penalty APR
  •  Cell phone insurance plan

Cons

  •  Ongoing cash back rate is only 1%
  •  3% foreign transaction fee
  •  0% intro APR period is only 6 months
  •  High balance transfer fee
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

REGULAR APR

12.65% – 22.65% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

ANNUAL FEE

$0

WELCOME BONUS

3% cash rewards

CREDIT SCORE

Bad/Poor

[“source=forbes”]