MoneyGeek's Take

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit in 2021

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

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 Rewards

    Best card for earning cash back across categories


    • Limited–FairCredit Needed
    • $39Annual Fee
    • 1.5% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1.5xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1.5xRewards Rate on Dining

  • Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa

    Best card for earning cash back across categories


    • Fair–ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $95Annual Fee
    • 1%–10% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Gas
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

  • Credit One Bank Platinum Visa

    Best cash back card for those with fair credit


    • Fair–ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0–99*Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Gas
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

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.

Apply for one of the credit cards below on our partner's site CardRatings.com
  • Credit Card
    Best For
    Avg. Reward Rate
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards
    Best card for earning cash back across categories
    1.5% Cash Back
    $39
    Limited–Fair
  • Chase Freedom Student
    A solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate
    1% Cash Back
    $0
    Limited–Fair
  • Capital One Journey Student Rewards
    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back
    1.25% Cash Back*
    $0
    Limited–Fair
  • Credit One Bank Platinum Visa
    Best cash back card for those with fair credit
    1% Cash Back
    $0–99*
    Fair–Excellent
  • NASCAR Credit Card from Credit One Bank
    No data available
    1% Cash Back
    $0–$99*
    Fair
  • Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa
    Best card for earning cash back across categories
    1%–10% Cash Back*
    $95
    Fair–Excellent
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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.

About Our Rankings

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.

Top Rating Criteria for Cash Back Cards

rewards
Average Rewards Rate
goodCredit
Spending Caps
annualFee
Annual Fees

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 Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card, the Chase Freedom Student 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 Rewards Card, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Card and the Capital One Journey Student Rewards 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.

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.