9 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for Fair Credit

9 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for Fair Credit

credit card advice

Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Updated: May 24, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Imagine you are renting a storage unit for $50 a month. One day you find another company that will rent you a similar storage unit for $30 a month. Since it’s obviously a better deal, you move the contents from the pricier storage unit to the less expensive one — and save $20 each month.

Now, replace “storage unit” with “credit card,” and you have the essence of a credit card balance transfer. The idea is to move your balance from a card with a higher interest rate to one with a lower interest rate, thus reducing your interest charges.

Unfortunately, when you have fair credit, it isn’t always easy to find a cheaper storage unit (metaphorically), as the most valuable balance transfer credit card offers tend to be reserved for those with the best credit. However, your fair credit may still give you a few options.

Intro APR | Low Ongoing APR | Consolidation Loans

Best “Introductory APR” Credit Cards for Fair Credit

The crème de la crème of credit card balance transfers, cards with introductory APR offers can be a great way to obtain a much lower interest rate, at least for a time. Intro-APR deals provide a temporary low APR (or even 0% APR, depending on the offer) for a set period of time, typically at least six months.

Even better, introductory offers typically don’t use deferred financing, meaning you won’t be charged back interest if you can’t pay off your entire balance transfer before your terms expire. Our introductory offers from Discover include several Discover it® card options, all of which come with no annual fee.

Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair
Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Fair
Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
3.7

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It’s a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.99% Variable
$0
Please refer to issuer's website

While intro-APR offers can net you a lot of savings, especially if your current interest rate is particularly high, most of these offers don’t include any kind of deal on the balance transfer fee. Generally 3% to 5% of the transferred balance, the balance transfer fee can be steep if you have a lot of debt to move.

Additionally, remember that introductory deals are introductory, so they won’t last forever. Once your introductory period has ended, your remaining balance will be charged the default balance transfer APR. You can find the default APR for your particular card in your cardholder agreement.

Best “Low Ongoing APR” Credit Cards for Fair Credit

In some cases, an introductory APR deal may not be an option, or it may not provide enough time to pay off your whole balance. Either way, another solid balance transfer solution is to choose a credit card with a low default APR. These cards always have a lower APR than their competition, so you won’t have to worry about time running out on your rate.

Since your interest rate is based on your credit profile, of course, the difficult part can be simply finding a card with a low ongoing APR that will accept fair-credit applicants. One way around this is to go for a secured credit card with an initial deposit that mitigates the issuer’s risk. The expert-rated options on our list have ongoing APRs as low as 9.99%.

First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★
2.9

OVERALL RATING

2.9/5.0
  • Fund your new MasterCard® secured credit card with your tax refund today!
  • Our card reports monthly to all three major bureaus and approval is based upon a fully-refundable security deposit.
  • We can approve you at any credit score, no minimum required.
  • No processing or application fees required.
  • Full-featured Platinum MasterCard, accepted for car rentals, hotels, and millions of other locations worldwide.
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 - $2,000 Submitted with Application
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
10.24% (Variable)
$49
Bad / No Credit
First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★
2.7

OVERALL RATING

2.7/5.0
  • Fund your new MasterCard® secured credit card with your tax refund today!
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards are Accepted!
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 - $2,000 Submitted with Application
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.24% (Variable)
$39
Bad Credit
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★
2.3

OVERALL RATING

2.3/5.0
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.14% (variable)
$35
No credit check

Although some consumers are hesitant to pursue a secured credit card due to the required deposit, the benefits can often outweigh the immediate inconvenience. For one thing, your credit limit is directly tied to your deposit size (typically equal to 90% to 100% of your deposit), and you can usually increase your deposit — and, thus, your credit limit — at any time.

Furthermore, unlike some unsecured credit card fees, your secured credit card deposit will be returned to you when you close your account (provided your account is in good standing). Not only that, but since the deposit resides in a locked savings account while your credit card is open, you’ll often earn a modest interest rate on your deposit, to boot.

Best Credit Card “Consolidation Loans” for Fair Credit

At the end of the day, you may not qualify for a credit card with a lower APR than you’re currently paying. Or, worse, you qualify for the card, but the credit limit you’re offered falls short of what you need to transfer. In this case, your best option may not be a balance transfer at all but, instead, a consolidation loan.

Ideally, a good consolidation loan not only puts all of your debt in one place, but it does so for a much lower rate than you’re currently being charged. Loans are structured to minimize risk, so they tend to have lower average APRs than revolving credit lines. This means your fair credit will likely score a lower rate on a loan than most credit cards offer. Our top loan providers are online lending networks that can provide multiple quotes at once.

  • Loan amounts range from $2,000 to $35,000
  • Flexible credit requirements
  • Online lending network with partners in 50 states
  • Loan can be used for anything
  • Fast online approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours
Overall Rating
★★★★★
5.0
  • Loan amounts range from $500 to $5,000
  • Experienced provider established in 1998
  • Compare quotes from a network of lenders
  • Flexible credit requirements
  • Easy online application & 5-minute approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours
Overall Rating
★★★★★
5.0
  • Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $35,000
  • Flexible credit requirements
  • Loans can be used for anything
  • Five minute application
  • Funding possible in as few as 24 hours
  • Large lending network with multiple partners
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.8

When considering a consolidation loan, always look at each factor of the loan, not solely the monthly payment or APR. For instance, the length of your loan can dramatically impact the cost of your loan, both by influencing your monthly payment and the total amount of interest you pay. Longer loans may provide smaller monthly payments but will usually cost more interest overall.

For example, consider a hypothetical borrower, Jameson, who takes out a loan for $5,000 with a 15% APR. If Jameson takes five years to repay his loan, his monthly payment will be $119, and he’ll repay a total of $7,137, including $2,137 in interest fees. If Jameson repays his loan in three years, on the other hand, his monthly payment will be $173, and he’ll repay $6,239, including only $1,239 in interest charges.

Improve Your Credit for More Balance Transfer Options

When it comes to finding the best options, having fair credit is a lot like comparison shopping in a small town — your options are limited. Just as there are only so many storage rental businesses in a small town, only so many balance-transfer-worthy credit cards are avilable on the market.

But while the only way to open up your storage unit options is to drive to the next town, you can improve your credit options simply by using your credit responsibly. Positive credit use, including paying all of your bills as agreed upon and on time, being judicious when opening new credit accounts,  and maintaining low balances can typically improve your credit score in just a few months, opening you to many new credit possibilities.