2018's Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Below are our staff picks for 2018's best credit cards for applicants with a "fair credit" or average credit rating. Compare choices with 0% intro APR, cash back, and more:

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Review Breakdown: Fair Credit Cards

Ready to choose a credit card? Our experts have compiled the following summary table to give you a quick glance at all of the best credit cards for fair credit and average credit. If you see a card you like, simply click on the card name to visit the issuer's official site for online approval.

Here are 2018's best credit cards for fair credit:

Credit Cards Fair Average Credit
Rank Card Name Feature Annual Fee Expert Rating
1 Capital One® Platinum Credit Card Fair Credit $0 ★★★★★ 4.9
2 Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Fair Credit $39 ★★★★★ 4.8
3 Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit Fair Credit $0 - $99 ★★★★★ 4.7
4 Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards Fair Credit $0 - $99 ★★★★★ 4.7
5 Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Free Credit Score Tracking Fair Credit $0 - $99 ★★★★★ 4.5
6 Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Fair Credit $0 ★★★★★ 4.5
7 Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business Fair Credit $0 ★★★★★ 4.5
8 Discover it® chrome for Students Fair Credit $0 ★★★★ 4.4
9 Discover it® for Students Fair Credit $0 ★★★★ 4.4
10 Fingerhut Credit Account Fair Credit $0 ★★★★ 4.3
11 Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® Fair Credit $0 - $99 ★★★★ 4.3
12 Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit Fair Credit $0 - $99 ★★★★ 4.3
13 Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards Fair Credit $0 - $99 ★★★★ 4.3
14 Milestone® Mastercard® with Free Choice of Card Image Fair Credit $35 - $99* ★★★ 3.0

7 Tips for Improving Fair or Average Credit

Mike Randall
Finance Expert
7 Tips for Improving Fair or Average Credit
CardRates.com Guide: Fair / Average Credit

Is your credit looking a little tattered and tarnished lately? Want to polish it up and make it shine like new again? There’s no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about having temporarily neglected your credit score – life happens. With a little focus and discipline, your fair or average credit can be back up where it belongs.

Improving your credit score depends a lot on where it is currently and how much improvement you’re looking for. A fair or average credit score is somewhere around the 630 to 700 range in the FICO scoring system. This list of 7 tips is a good place to get started.

1. Get a copy of your credit report

Review these reports carefully for errors and file a dispute over anything that does not belong to you. Believe it or not, nearly one-third of all credit reports contain errors that contribute to a lower score. If yours does, this is an easy way to get an immediate bump up.

2. Lower your credit utilization rate

Another thing that can be holding your score down is your credit utilization, or the amount you owe compared to your total available credit. If this ratio is too high, it will negatively impact your credit score. If yours is high, there are two ways to go about lowering it. You can obviously pay down the amount you owe (if you have the resources to do that) or you can try calling your card companies and asking for a credit limit increase.

3. Pay off balances

If you have lots of balances on different cards, this can also be hurting your score. Try choosing the lowest balances and paying them off first. By reducing the number of active debt accounts, your score should improve quickly. Just don’t close those unused cards — they’re helping your score by keeping your available credit limit higher.

4. Don’t cancel your old credit cards

One of the metrics used in calculating your credit score is the length of time you’ve had the credit line open. If you no longer use the card, simply keep the cards in a desk drawer or your files. This will help to keep your debt to available credit ratio higher.

5. Diversify your credit

The types of credit you have also impacts your score. If credit cards are the only type of credit on your report, try opening a small installment-type loan. Believe it or not, doing this can actually improve your score.

6. Don’t apply for a lot of new credit at once

If you’re thinking this might be a way to improve your credit utilization, think again. Each new credit line triggers a hard inquiry of your credit report, and too many of these will negatively affect your score.

7. Pay your bills on time

Paying your bills on time every month is perhaps the best way to improve your credit score. Be diligent in paying your bills including your utilities, cable, phone, and so on. Late payments on any of these might be submitted to the reporting agencies and appear on your credit report.

Improving your fair or average credit score won’t happen overnight, but with a little work and discipline, it will happen. The benefits of having a good or even excellent credit score are worth the effort it takes to get there. Once your score is back where you want it, it’s easier to maintain over the long term.

Photo source: bp.blogspot.com

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Mike Randall

* Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. See the credit card issuer's website for specific terms and conditions of each card.