Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Updated: June 13, 2024

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Cash back credit cards are a practical choice for those looking to get tangible rewards from their everyday spending. These cards essentially pay a percentage of the amount spent back to the cardholder, either in the form of statement credits, checks or direct deposits. This feature is particularly appealing for individuals with fair credit, as it allows them to earn rewards while they work on improving their credit scores.

The following are the best cash back credit cards that cater to those in the average credit range. While they may not offer the highest cash back rates compared to cards for higher credit scores, they strike a beneficial balance between rewarding spending and helping cardholders build their credit.

Why You Can Trust Our List

To ensure that we provide our readers with the most accurate and up-to-date information, experts at MoneyGeek collect 57 data points from different sources, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, card issuer websites and our various partners. We rely on our unique in-house ranking methodology to select the best business credit cards, and our model assigns specific percentages to different parameters such as the annual fee, welcome offer, rewards rates, APR, foreign transaction fees and more.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Credit Card logo for Capital One Platinum Credit Card

On Partner's Website


Rewards Rate
This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or point...
APR
29.99% variable
Annual Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
580-740 (Fair to Good)
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Credit Card logo for Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
MoneyGeek Rating
3.5/ of 5

On Partner's Website


Rewards Rate
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental c...
APR
29.99% variable
Annual Fee
29.99% variable
Recommended Credit
580-740 (Fair to Good)
Milestone Mastercard® - $700 Credit Limit

On Partner's Website


Rewards Rate
N/A
APR
See terms*
Annual Fee
$175 the first year; $49 thereafter
Recommended Credit
300 – 670 (Bad to Fair)
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

On Partner's Website


APR
25.64% variable
Min. Security Deposit
$200
Annual Fee
$35
Recommended Credit
(No Credit History)
Citi Double Cash® Card
Credit Card logo for Citi Double Cash® Card
MoneyGeek Rating
4.4/ of 5

Balance Transfer Offer
0% for 18 months on balance transfers
APR
19.24% - 29.24% variable
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each transfer ($5 minimum)
Recommended Credit
670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Credit Card logo for Discover it® Student Cash Back
MoneyGeek Rating
3.6/ of 5

Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at differe...
APR
18.24% - 27.24% variable
Annual Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
(No Credit History)
Discover it® Student Chrome
Credit Card logo for Discover it® Student Chrome
MoneyGeek Rating
3.6/ of 5

Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants ...
APR
18.24% - 27.24% variable
Annual Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
(No Credit History)
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
Credit Card logo for Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
MoneyGeek Rating
1.7/ of 5

Rewards Rate
Receive 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas and g...
APR
29.74% variable
Annual Fee
$39
Recommended Credit
580-740 (Fair to Good)
Credit One Bank® NASCAR® American Express® Credit Card

Rewards Rate
Earn unlimited 1% cash back rewards on all purchas...
APR
29.74% variable
Annual Fee
$0 or $39
Recommended Credit
580 – 740 (Fair to Good)
Avant Credit Card

Annual Fee
$0 to $75
APR
29.24% – 35.99% variable
Recommended Credit
580 – 740 (Fair to Good)
Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

Rewards Rate
Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases
APR
14.99% – 29.99%
Annual Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
580 – 740 (Fair to Good)

What Is Considered Fair or Average Credit

Credit bureaus categorize credit scores into ranges, with fair or average credit usually falling between 580 and 669, according to the FICO score model. This range is considered a midpoint between poor and good credit.

A fair credit score often indicates a credit history with some inconsistencies or a shorter credit history. It's not uncommon for individuals with fair credit to have faced challenges like late payments or overextended credit accounts in the past.

However, this credit range also represents an opportunity for growth and improvement. You can gradually improve your credit score by making informed financial choices, including selecting an appropriate cash back credit card. This is a crucial step towards accessing better financial products and terms in the future.

How to Choose a Credit Card for Fair Credit

Selecting the right credit card when you have fair credit is a crucial financial decision that involves considering various factors that align with your financial habits and goals. Here are key aspects to consider:

    coins2 icon

    Assess Annual Fees

    When choosing a credit card, consider whether it has an annual fee. Cards for fair credit sometimes come with fees, but it's important to weigh if the benefits, like cash back rewards, outweigh this cost. If your spending is moderate, a card with no annual fee might be more cost-effective, even if it offers slightly lower rewards.

    barChart icon

    Understand Interest Rates

    Interest rates are a critical factor, especially for those with fair credit. Cards designed for this demographic often have higher APRs, which can add up if you carry a balance. Look for cards with competitive interest rates or introductory offers like low or zero percent APR for a certain period.

    cashCard icon

    Evaluate Credit Limit

    The credit limit offered can impact your credit utilization ratio, a key factor in your credit score. Some cards for fair credit offer lower limits, which can be quickly maxed out. Choose a card that offers a reasonable credit limit, keeping in mind not to overextend your spending.

    creditCard2 icon

    Consider Reward Structures

    Cash back rewards can vary widely. Some cards offer flat rates on all purchases, while others have higher cash back rates in specific categories like groceries or gas. Choose a card whose rewards structure aligns with your regular spending patterns to maximize benefits.

    creditCard1 icon

    Review Credit Building Features

    Look for cards that offer features to help build your credit, such as free access to credit scores, regular reporting to credit bureaus or tools for credit education. These features are valuable for improving your credit score over time, an essential aspect when you're in the fair credit range.

Pros and Cons of Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash back credit cards for fair credit offer unique advantages and challenges. Weigh these carefully to understand how they align with your financial goals and habits.

Pros

  • Earn rewards on everyday purchases: One of the most significant advantages is the ability to earn cash back on routine spending. This can include groceries, gas and dining, turning everyday purchases into opportunities for rewards.
  • Credit improvement potential: These cards can be a stepping stone in building or rebuilding your credit score. Responsible use, like making timely payments and low credit utilization, positively impacts your credit history.
  • Budget-friendly benefits: Some cash back cards for fair credit come with additional perks like purchase protection, extended warranties and fraud protection, which can add value without straining your budget.

Cons

  • Higher interest rates: Cards designed for fair credit often come with higher APRs, which can lead to significant interest charges if you carry balances month to month, offsetting the benefits of cash back rewards.
  • Limited reward rates and options: Compared to cards for higher credit scores, these cards may offer lower cash back percentages and fewer bonus categories, meaning you might earn less cash back over time.
  • Potential fees: Some cash back cards for fair credit may include annual fees or other charges. Always assess whether the rewards and benefits outweigh these costs to ensure financial efficiency.

How a Credit Card Helps Improve Fair Credit

Using a credit card wisely can be an effective way to improve a fair credit score. Here are some ways in which a credit card can contribute to enhancing your credit profile:

1
Regular reporting to credit bureaus

Credit card issuers report your activity to credit bureaus. Consistent on-time payments and responsible use are reflected in your credit report, contributing to a positive credit history.

2
Building a longer credit history

The length of your credit history affects your credit score. By maintaining a credit card account in good standing over time, you can extend your credit history, which can positively impact your score.

3
Improving credit utilization ratio

Credit utilization, or the ratio of your credit card balance to your credit limit, is a key factor in credit scoring. Keeping your balances low compared to your credit limits can improve your credit utilization ratio, boosting your credit score.

4
Opportunity for credit line increases

With responsible use, you may become eligible for credit line increases. A higher credit limit can further improve your credit utilization ratio, as long as you don’t increase your spending proportionately.

5
Demonstrating creditworthiness

Consistently managing your credit card well shows lenders that you are creditworthy. This can lead to better credit opportunities in the future, such as approval for loans with more favorable terms.

Next Steps

Finding the best cash back credit cards for fair credit can be rewarding and beneficial for your financial growth. These cards not only offer the immediate perk of cash rewards on your purchases but also serve as a tool to enhance your credit score when used responsibly.

As you consider cash back credit card options, remember to align them with your spending habits and financial goals for maximum benefit. Take this opportunity to transform your fair credit into a gateway for better financial opportunities, leveraging the rewards and credit-building potential of the right cash back credit card.

FAQ on Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit

Exploring cash back credit cards when you have fair credit can raise several questions, so we’ve answered some common queries, providing clarity and guidance to help you make informed decisions.

Can I get a cash back credit card with fair credit?
What kind of cash back rewards can I expect with fair credit?
Are there cash back cards for fair credit without annual fees?
How does a cash back credit card improve my fair credit score?
Can I upgrade to a card with better rewards once my credit improves?

About Doug Milnes, CFA


Doug Milnes, CFA headshot

Doug Milnes is a CFA charter holder with over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and the Head of Credit Cards at MoneyGeek. Formerly, he performed valuations for Duff and Phelps and financial planning and analysis for various companies. His analysis has been cited by U.S. News and World Report, The Hill, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and many other outlets.

Milnes holds a master’s degree in data science from Northwestern University. He geeks out on helping people feel on top of their credit card use, from managing debt to optimizing rewards.


*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. Learn more about our editorial policies and expert editorial team.
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.