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If you have fair or average credit, you may not qualify for the best credit cards; but you don't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel either. There are plenty of cards designed for your credit level, from rewards to balance transfers to business.
By Brendan Harkness
By Brendan Harkness
Fair or average credit typically refers to a FICO Score 8 in the 580–669 range. It’s a step above poor/bad credit.
If you have fair or average credit scores, you’ll have access to a fairly diverse spread of credit cards. In many cases, people with fair credit scores may qualify for cards that seem like they’re for better credit, depending on other factors like income.
Aside from our best picks, store credit cards typically have low approval requirements, meaning people with fair or average credit can often qualify. But there are some reasons why you should be careful when applying for and using store cards, as explained below.
Credit builder loans are another helpful tool for building credit, along with or instead of credit cards. These installment loans require you to pay them back before you can actually use them, creating a record of on-time payments.
If you’re not sure if you’ll be approved for a credit card or not, you can check to see if you’re pre-qualified for any cards from the major credit card issuers before applying. You might find that you’re pre-approved for some cards that you thought were out of reach. Some people with fair credit report having good luck with Discover credit cards, for example, even though they’re generally considered to be made for good credit.
The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Discover it® Student Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Discover it® Secured has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
If your credit is in the fair/average range, you’ll typically have access to a decent variety of cards. We suggest starting your search with the following:
Yes — but what does “instant approval credit card” actually mean? Most credit cards will provide an instant decision when you apply, which means you’ll get a response right away: either approved or denied.
Some cards are marketed as “guaranteed approval credit cards.” These are sub-prime cards designed for people with the lowest credit scores, so they typically have high fees; they also tend to come with poor customer support and slow payment processing, so we recommend avoiding them if possible.
If your credit is in bad shape, see our top card picks for people in your situation:
Terms like “fair credit” are often thrown around without a second thought, and if you’re not versed in the world of credit, it’s easy to assume they’re just vague indicators of one’s creditworthiness.
The fact is that credit score ranges depend in some part on who you ask. They vary between scoring models (FICO, VantageScore, etc.), but even so, these ranges tend to be similar across brands. Knowing where your credit stands can make it a lot easier to pick a credit card that’s right for you.
“Fair or average credit” typically indicates the following score ranges:
We’ve included base FICO and VantageScore credit score ranges below to give you a good idea of what terms like “good credit” and “poor credit” really mean. Just remember that your scores alone will never guarantee approval for a given card — other factors, like your income, are also considered.
|Base FICO Score Ranges|
|Rating||Range||Percentage of People*|
|Rating||Range||Percentage of People*|
*These data are from Experian.
Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.
The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, Discover it® Student Cash Back, Discover it® Secured, Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Discover it® Student chrome, Citi® Secured Mastercard®, Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, Walmart Rewards Mastercard®, and My Best Buy® Visa® have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.