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.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit in 2023
The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.
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.
MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 3 Cash Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit
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
- 1.5% Cash BackRewards Rate
- 30.49% VariableAPR
- $39Annual Fee
- Fair–GoodRecommended Credit
- Credit One Bank® Platinum X5 Visa®
- 1%–10% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
- 28.99% VariableAPR
- $95Annual Fee
- Fair–ExcellentRecommended Credit
- Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
- 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
- 28.99% VariableAPR
- $39Annual Fee
- Fair–ExcellentRecommended Credit
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 CardBest ForAvg. Reward RateAnnual FeeCredit Needed
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit CardBest card for earning cash back across categories1.5% Cash Back$39
- Chase Freedom® Student credit cardA solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate1-5% Cash Back$0
- Journey Student Rewards from Capital OneBest student credit card with up to 1.25% cash backup to 1.25% Cash Back$0
- Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®Best cash back card for those with fair credit1% Cash Back$39
- Credit One Bank® NASCAR® American Express® Credit CardA good cash back credit card for NASCAR fans with average to excellent credit1% Cash Back$39
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Unlike secured credit cards that require security deposits, the fair credit cash back cards selected by MoneyGeek come with no such requirements.
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.
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.
About Rajiv Baniwal
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.
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