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Best Fair Credit Credit Cards

February 2024

If you have fair credit, your FICO score ranges between 580 and 669. Your overall credit profile is OK. Not great, but it has potential. Find out which are the best credit cards available to people with fair credit.
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If you have fair credit, you can probably qualify for unsecured credit cards with some great perks, such as cash back rewards or no foreign transaction fees. However, you should also expect to pay higher interest rates than someone with good or excellent credit. And you probably won't qualify for the top-tier travel and cashback rewards cards. But if you shop around, there are some hidden gems that are worth considering.
Here is our list of the best credit cards for fair credit based on SuperMoney's algorithms and community feedback.

What is fair vs. average credit?

Fair and average credit are often used as synonymous. However, that is no longer accurate. The average credit score in the United States is just over 700. A fair credit score, on the other hand, is generally defined as a FICO® Score* of 580 to 669. Alternatively, it can also refer to a VantageScore of 601 to 660. FICO and VantageScore are the two major credit scores in the United States. FICO was the creator of the first credit score and is still the most widely used score today. Both scores range from 300 to 850.

Why did my credit score dip below 700?

Some of the main reasons why your credit score went below 700 includes:
  • You made a late payment. If there is just a single late payment on your credit report, it can negatively affect your credit score. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. It can take up to seven years for that late payment to come off your credit report unless it's a mistake. A missed payment can drop your credit score by 100 points or more. An easy way to make you don't miss a payment is to set up autopay for all your bills.
  • Your credit card debt is high. A person's credit utilization ratio determines 30% of their credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is the amount you owe in relation to your actual credit limit. To improve it, "all you have to do" is pay off your balance and your credit score will go up.
  • You have a short credit history. Even though your credit history only equates to 15% of your credit score, that is enough to bring it down. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until your accounts grow in age to improve this metric.
  • You have a large number of credit inquiries. Every time you apply for a loan or credit, it goes on your credit report. This factor affects 10% of your credit score. Credit inquiries can linger on your credit report for two years. So if you aren't sure you'll qualify for a credit card, work with issuers who will do a soft pull on your credit to determine which cards you will qualify for.

Is a fair credit score good?

No, it isn't. In the FICO score, a fair credit score is a below-average score. Since the credit card companies base credit offers on creditworthiness, people with fair credit also get below-average offers. However, while most lenders prefer credit scores to fall in the good to excellent range, they still consider people with fair credit scores to be viable applicants for many loans. Additionally, with some work, persistence, and responsible credit usage, you can improve your credit score.

How fast can I improve my fair credit score?

The length of time it takes to improve your credit score depends on your financial situation. Along with your credit behavior, your starting score is a crucial factor. For example, if you have no credit history, it will take a minimum of six months to establish a credit score.
Credit score formulas typically require an active credit account to be present for at least six months before they can generate a score. However, if you need to repair damaged credit, it can take much longer to raise your score.
If you have a fair credit score, don't worry. With the right steps, you can probably bring it to good within six to 12 months. The most important takeaway is to pay your bills on time and only apply for credit when you need it and can afford to pay it back.

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SuperMoney is the most comprehensive financial services comparison site around. We have published hundreds of personal finance articles and provide detailed reviews on thousands of financial products and services. Our unbiased advice and free comparison tools help consumers make smart financial decisions based on hard data, not marketing gimmicks.

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