MoneyGeek's Take

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit in 2022

Despite having fair credit, you might qualify for a card that lets you earn cash back or rewards. A handful of such cards come with no annual fees as well. However, using a card for its cash back might be worth your while only if you pay your balances off in full each month.

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This article is part of our larger series on Best Cash Back Credit Cards

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A common factor that links most of the top fair credit cash back credit cards is that they don’t offer high cash back earn rates. Cards that offer high reward rates typically require applicants to have good to excellent creditworthiness. Besides, even the best cash back credit cards for fair credit tend to come with annual fees.

While you might stand to earn higher-than-usual cash back through a fair credit cash back credit card, chances are you’ll need to pay a high annual fee. For example, the Credit One Platinum Rewards Visa Card offers 5% cash back on a total of up to $5,000 on purchases in select categories per year, but it comes with an annual fee of $95.

This article is part of our larger series on
Best Cash Back Credit Cards

MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 3 Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Quick Summary

MoneyGeek has narrowed down on the top three fair credit cash back credit cards based on the cash back/rewards you stand to earn and the annual fees you need to pay. We have also taken into account whether any of these cards offer higher cash back across specific categories. You’ll find more recommendations further down the page.


  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

    Best card for earning cash back across categories


    • Fair-GoodRecommended Credit
    • $39Annual Fee
    • 1.5% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1.5xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1.5xRewards Rate on Dining

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Credit One Bank® Platinum X5 Visa®

    Best card for earning cash back across categories


    • Fair-ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $95Annual Fee
    • 1%–10% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Gas
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®

    Best cash back card for those with fair credit


    • Fair-ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $39Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Gas
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

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Methodology

Experts at MoneyGeek monitor credit cards from this segment regularly. They start by filtering out all the cash back cards from our extensive database and then select ones that work well for individuals with fair credit. The next step involves running an in-depth fair credit cash back credit card comparison by paying attention to aspects such as cash back rates, annual fees and interest rates.

Summary of the Best Cash Back Cards for Fair Credit

Most cash back cards for fair credit come with basic features and lack premium benefits. However, you may still find cards that offer benefits such as fraud liability, free access to your credit score each month and no foreign transaction fees. Go through the cards listed in the corresponding table to determine if any suits your needs.

  • Credit Card
    Best For
    Avg. Reward Rate
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
    Best card for earning cash back across categories
    1.5% Cash Back
    $39
  • Chase Freedom® Student credit card
    A solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate
    1% Cash Back
    $0
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back
    up to 1.25% Cash Back
    $0
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
    Best cash back card for those with fair credit
    1% Cash Back
    $39
  • Credit One Bank® NASCAR® American Express® Credit Card
    A good cash back credit card for NASCAR fans with average to excellent credit
    1% Cash Back
    $0–$39*
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum X5 Visa®
    Best card for earning cash back across categories
    1%–10% Cash Back*
    $95
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"Earning cash back from a credit card can be very appealing. However, make sure that you're earning enough from the card to cover the annual fee without spending so much that you're going into debt." -- Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com.

How to Compare Cash Back Credit Cards & Intro Offers

Given that there are multiple fair credit cash back credit cards to choose from, it is important that you compare them across different parameters. This helps you narrow down on an alternative that might work best for you.

1

Cash back rate

While most fair credit cash back cards offer 1% cash back, there are exceptions. For instance, the Platinum Rewards Visa Card from Capital One offers 5% cash back on a combined spending of up to $5,000 across select categories per year. While all other purchases come with 1% cash back, cardholders may earn 10% more cash when they shop through partner retailers. With the QuicksilverOne Card from Capital One, you stand to earn unlimited 1.5% cash back across all categories.

2

Annual fees

This aspect requires your attention because a number of credit cards for fair credit come with annual fees. If you’re a student with fair credit, you get a few no-annual-fee cash back student cards from which to choose. Some of your options include the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One Card, the Chase Freedom® Student credit Card and the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students. Examples of no-annual-fee cash back cards for adults with fair credit include the Petal 1 Card, the Petal 2 Card, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Card and the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card.

3

Interest rates

The APR that applies on purchases requires your attention if you plan to carry forward balances from one billing cycle to the next. This is also the case with the balance transfer APR if you plan to use your new card for transferring a balance from an existing card.

4

Foreign transaction fees

If you plan to use your card outside of the U.S., consider getting a card with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you might end up paying up to 3% of each international transaction as fees. Examples of fair credit cash back credit cards that do away with this fee include the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Card and the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One Card.

5

Security deposit

Unlike secured credit cards that require security deposits, the fair credit cash back cards selected by MoneyGeek come with no such requirements.

6

Access to credit score

Many people with fair credit who are looking for credit cards and are hopeful of building their credit histories will find that regularly viewing their credit reports gives them the means to determine if they’re on the right path. Fortunately, the best cash back credit cards for fair credit report cardholders’ payment histories to one or more credit bureaus. For example, the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® Card gives you free access to your Experian credit score each month. The QuicksilverOne Card from Capital One, on the other hand, offers free alerts when there are changes in your TransUnion or Experian credit reports through the CreditWise platform.

7

Added perks

Not usually the type of cards that are big on added perks, you may still expect basic benefits such as $0 fraud liability, the ability to set up auto payments and getting additional cards for authorized users.

Expert Advice For Finding the Right Card

We asked financial and academic experts a few questions surrounding fair credit cash back cards with the aim that their answers might guide you in the right direction.

Expert Advice

  1. Can someone with fair credit benefit by getting a cash back credit card even if they plan to carry forward balances from one month to the next?
  2. How long might an individual need to use a credit card for fair credit before being able to qualify for a better card?
  3. What can cardholders with fair credit do to maximize their cash back earning potential?
Natasa Christodoulidou, Ph.D.
Natasa Christodoulidou, Ph.D.

Professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills

Frank Wonsok Jee, Ph.D.
Frank Wonsok Jee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in the College of Business at Western Carolina University

Nicholas Robinson
Nicholas Robinson

Director of Accountancy at Eastern Illinois University

Dr. Marc Fusaro
Dr. Marc Fusaro

Associate Professor at Emporia State University

Mitchell Franklin
Mitchell Franklin

Associate Professor of Accounting at the Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College

Michael Omansky
Michael Omansky

Associate Professor, Felician University, School of Business and Information Sciences

Nick Maeder
Nick Maeder

Assistant Professor of Economics, Knauss School of Business, University of San Diego

Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal

Adjunct Instructor in International Business at The University of Arizona

Pradeep Rau
Pradeep Rau

Professor of Marketing at The GW School of Business

Tammy Johnston
Tammy Johnston

Professor of Economics at the University of Louisiana

Ant Ozok, PhD
Ant Ozok, PhD

Professor at the Department of Information Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Further Reading

About the Author


expert-profile

Rajiv Baniwal has been writing about different financial topics for over 15 years. Meticulous in his research, he makes sure he provides accurate and up-to-date information. His areas of expertise include mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, insurance and international money transfers.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings.com and CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek, CardRatings and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.