Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit – 2016

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Editor's Best Card Picks

Apr 12, 2016 | Updated Sep 27, 2016

The cards on this page have been chosen from the widest possible selection of cards that we could find when the page was last updated on September 27, 2016. Although Credit Card Insider does receive compensation from some card issuers as advertisers, this does not in any way influence our choice of cards or the order that cards appear on the page. We have attempted to determine the best cards in this category, regardless of our advertising relationship with the issuers.

Learn more about how we rate credit and charge cards.

If you have fair credit – a FICO® Credit Score of about 660–699 – you won’t be eligible for the very best credit cards on the market, but you can still get a good card with solid rewards.

Your options are a bit more limited, but take a look at these three reward cards that provide points or cash back for every purchase you make. As long as you use them and other cards responsibly (along with good financial habits in general) you’ll eventually qualify for even more rewarding cards.

If you’re not sure if you’ll be approved for a credit card or not, you can check to see if you’re prequalified for any cards before applying.

Here are three of the best credit cards for fair credit:

  • One card with rotating 5% cash back categories
  • One card that offers 2 points per dollar on gas, groceries, and utilities
  • One card that provides 1.5% cash back for every purchase
Learn more about improving your credit in our Definitive Guide to Building Credit with Credit Cards, or take a look at more credit cards for fair credit.

Best for Spending in Rotating Categories

Discover it®

You may be surprised that the Discover it is available to people with only fair credit, but many people have reported being approved for this card with a FICO score of less than 700. That doesn’t mean that you’ll always be approved, because there are several other factors involved as well.

Wondering if your credit score is good enough for a particular card? Take a look at this reddit page, where the community keeps track of credit scores and approvals.

You’ll get:

  • 5% cash back in a variety of categories that change throughout the year
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Double your cash back at the end of your first year
  • Free access to your FICO Credit Score at any time
  • No annual fee
Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Gas Stations & Ground Transportation
April – June Restaurants & Movies
July – September Home Improvement Stores, Department
Stores, and Amazon.com
October – December Amazon.com & More

This is probably one of the best offers you’ll find in your credit range, especially when you consider the fact that Discover will double the cash back you earn after a year.

So you’ll eventually be earning 10% back on those category purchases, and 2% back on every other purchase (this makes it an excellent choice for everyday spending as well). This is actually one of the best reward card deals on the market today, even for people with great credit.

You’ll also be able to check your credit score whenever you want, a great feature if you’re working to improve your credit.

Discover it®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 11.24% – 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more - up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”

Best for Gas, Groceries, and Utilities

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®

Gas, groceries, and utilities are three purchases that most of us make pretty frequently. This card gives you a decent reward for all of them.

You’ll get:

  • 2 points per dollar on gas, groceries, and utilities
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Free access to your FICO Credit Score
  • No annual fee

This is a pretty basic card, with straightforward rewards. Like the card above, you’ll be able to check your FICO score for free whenever you’d like so you can easily track your progress.

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®
Apply Now

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 25.24%* Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 2X points on gas, utility and grocery store (excluding Target® and Walmart®) purchases and 1X points on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Points don't expire as long as account is open, active and in good standing
  • Redeem points for deposits to a U.S. checking or savings account, statement credits or gift cards, starting at 1,000 points for $10
  • No limit on the number of points you can earn or redeem
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score lets you keep an eye on your credit and get alerts when we learn that your score has changed
  • Use your card with confidence, $0 Fraud Liability protection means you're not responsible for unauthorized charges you report to us
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad

Best for General Spending

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is a bit different from the ones above, offering the same reward for every purchase you make, no matter what you’re buying.

You’ll get:

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make
  • A $39 annual fee
  • Free access to your VantageScore® and the CreditWise credit tracker/simulator
  • Access to a higher credit limit after making the first 5 monthly payments on time

You can use this card anywhere for the 1.5% cash back, without needing to worry about spending categories. The $39 annual fee isn’t much to worry about for the chance to rebuild your credit, so this shouldn’t be a big reason to avoid this card.

You’ll also be able to check your VantageScore whenever you’d like, but keep in mind that this isn’t the more popular FICO Credit Score (learn more about credit scores and the difference between them here). These are different scores, but it should still give you a pretty good idea of how your credit is doing.

A great feature of this card is the promise of a credit limit increase after the first 5 on-time payments. Many cards will automatically increase your credit limit at certain intervals, but it’s largely unknown when this is might happen. So it’s nice to see this is as a stated feature of this card.

If you’re worried about being approved for the cards above, check out the Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®. This card is designed for people with fair credit, and you can check to see if you’re prequalified before you apply.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 0% intro APR for 9 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen

Applying For A Credit Card for Fair Credit

Want to apply for these cards or learn more? Just click the name below.

Discover it®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 11.24% – 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more - up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®
Apply Now

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 25.24%* Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 2X points on gas, utility and grocery store (excluding Target® and Walmart®) purchases and 1X points on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Points don't expire as long as account is open, active and in good standing
  • Redeem points for deposits to a U.S. checking or savings account, statement credits or gift cards, starting at 1,000 points for $10
  • No limit on the number of points you can earn or redeem
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score lets you keep an eye on your credit and get alerts when we learn that your score has changed
  • Use your card with confidence, $0 Fraud Liability protection means you're not responsible for unauthorized charges you report to us
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 0% intro APR for 9 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
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