The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, March 6, 2021

9 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Balance Transfer Credit Cards Fair Credit

credit card advice

Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Updated: April 13, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

When it comes to balance transfer credit cards, fair credit scores aren’t necessarily the most desirable to credit card companies. But there are some options available — read on for our top picks for credit cards that may work well for a fair credit rating.

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 options with varying rewards.

Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit
Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit
Discover it® Secured Credit Card 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.
  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 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.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
22.99% Variable APR
$0
New/Rebuilding

While intro-APR offers can net you a lot of savings, especially if your current interest rate is particularly high, most of these offers will include some type of 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
  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • 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
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99% (V)
$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
  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.99% (V)
$39
Poor/Limited/No Credit
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★
3.2

OVERALL RATING

3.2/5.0
  • 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
17.39% (variable)
$35
Poor

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 $500 to $35,000
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Lending partners in all 50 states
  • Loans can be used for anything
  • Fast online approval
  • Funding in as few as 24 hours
Overall Rating
★★★★
4.4
  • 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
★★★★★
4.6
  • 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.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.