The 5 Best Credit Cards for People With Fair/Average Credit
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It can be difficult to rebuild your credit after a financial setback — or just to develop a credit history from almost nothing. You can use a credit card to do it, but you may not qualify for one with great perks and terms if you don't have excellent credit. If you have a bad credit score, you might want to look into secured cards. However, if you have a fair/average score (around the 630-689 range) you can get a regular credit card — complete with cash back or rewards — that doesn't require such a high credit score to qualify.
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the rare credit cards available to those with average scores that also features a generous cash back program. You get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day — no need to sign up for rotating categories, and the cash back doesn't expire. Easy, right? After making your first 5 monthly payments on time, you gain access to a higher credit line. Need help monitoring your credit score? Capital One® Credit Tracker gives you 100% free access to your monthly credit score and credit tips. There is a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until April 2016; after that, a 22.9% variable APR applies. There is a $39 annual fee.
Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard®
If you need to rebuild your credit score, the Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® can help! This card sends monthly reports to all three major credit bureaus, and active cardmembers receive complimentary FICO Scores — just opt in for online access from your Barclaycard account. As for rewards, you earn 2x cash back for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, and utilities, plus 1x cash back for every dollar on all other purchases. Cash back rewards are earned as points, which can be redeemed for rewards like statement credits and gift cards. The APR is 24.99% variable and there is no annual fee.
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
Like the Classic Platinum card mentioned above, Capital One® Platinum Credit Card allows you to manage your credit card the way you want to, with 24/7 account access by phone, mobile app, or online. You also get to choose the due date that works for you, in the method that you prefer: check, online, or in person at a local branch. This card also comes with a free Credit Tracker to help you monitor your monthly credit score. Plus, you can get a higher credit line after you make your first 5 monthly payments on time. The APR is 24.9% and there is no annual fee.
Discover it® Chrome for Students - Double Cash Back your first year
One big reason for having a credit score in the fair/average credit score range is simply a lack of credit history — which is the case for many (if not most) students. That's where credit cards specifically aimed at students can help. Discover it® Chrome for Students offers 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent at restaurants and gas stations each quarter (no need to sign up for it), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. As an exclusive offer for new cardmembers, double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year — automatically. Cashback can be redeemed for any amount at any time, and they never expire. If you accidentally forget to pay your credit card bill (finals week?), there's no late fee on your first late payment, and your APR won't go up because of late payments…but you probably don't want to make a habit of it. You can get free text alerts with this card so you know when a payment is coming up, and a free app helps you keep an eye on your account. If you need to freeze your account quickly, the new Freeze ItSM on/off switch allows you to do so in seconds via Discover's website or mobile app. This card also comes with free FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statement, online, and by mobile app. There is no annual fee.
Even if you're in the fair/average range, you still have access to credit cards that offer decent cash back or rewards and reasonable terms. Just make sure to use them responsibly, and you'll be able to qualify for cards with even better terms and rewards in no time! (See also: How to Improve Your Credit Score)
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.