Credit Cards for Fair Credit of December 2023

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Our team of experts uses a methodology to identify the credit cards most likely to fit your needs. We examine annual percentage rates, annual fees, issuer satisfaction ratings and other factors to determine what cards come out ahead.

 

Even though you might have room to improve your credit score, you can still qualify for credit cards with solid rewards and perks.

Benefits

  • The card will most likely charge no annual fee or only a nominal one.
  • It may include a cash back rewards program.
  • Many cards automatically consider borrowers for a higher credit limit after six months.
  • It may charge no foreign transaction fee.
  • The card most likely provide fraud coverage.

Drawbacks

  • Those with fair credit will most likely pay higher interest charges if they carry a balance.
  • Cards that require good or excellent credit usually offer better perks.
  • It will likely have a lower credit limit.

The best way to establish fair credit is to start building or rebuilding your credit history. You do that by taking actions that get reported to the three major credit bureaus, such as:

Take out a credit-builder loan or open a secured credit card. Banks and card issuers might be reluctant to do business with you if you have a low credit score or no score at all. In that case, you can open a secured credit card (where your security deposit acts as your credit limit) or a credit-builder loan (where you make payments and receive the loan balance at the end of the term). These are low-risk products, so financial institutions will lend to borrowers with lower credit scores.

Pay your bills on time. The most important thing to do, no matter your situation, is to pay your bills on time. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score.

If you have no credit score at all, it will take at least six months to get one. FICO requires six months of credit history (documenting things like payments) before it issues a score.

If you are working on raising your score after an adverse event, the length of time depends on a bunch of different factors, like how severe the transgression was and how high your score was to begin with. The higher the score, the further the fall and the longer the time to bounce back.

It is possible to be instantly approved for a credit card for fair credit. You can also check whether you’re likely to be approved for a card, without harming your credit. With a preapproval, the card issuer only asks for your basic information (typically name, address, date of birth and Social Security number) and does a soft credit check.

A large number of credit card issuers offer preapproval, and the process is fast. Best of all, a soft credit check won’t affect your credit score, so you can check preapproval status with multiple issuers.

Before applying for a credit card, it’s best to consider a number of factors.

  • APR: If you plan to carry a balance, choose a card with the lowest possible APR.
  • Annual fee: If the card charges an annual fee, decide whether the cost is worth it.
  • Credit limit: Check the card’s minimum credit limit, but keep in mind that most cards may reevaluate your credit limit as soon as six months after opening.
  • Rewards: If you’re considering cards that offer rewards, evaluate how they line up with your spending habits.
  • Sign-up bonus: Does the card offer a sign-up bonus, and if so, can you spend enough to earn it without going over your budget?

 

How Can You Use Your Credit Card for Fair Credit to Build Credit?

 

Using your credit card for fair credit responsibly is the best way to build credit. What is responsible usage? Paying your bill on time and keeping the amount you spend on your card within certain limits. Your credit utilization rate measures the percentage of your credit limit that you use. Credit experts recommend using below 30% of your limit to get the best scores.

 

Payment history and amounts owed are the two categories that matter most when it comes to calculating your credit score. Paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low will do the most to build credit.

 

“Over time, a history of responsible borrowing and positive credit health can help consumers in the fair credit tier,” says Heather Battison, former vice president at TransUnion, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. As a result, you may be able to “secure more favorable interest rates and loan terms and access subsequent credit down the line.”

Can You Get a High Credit Limit on Credit Cards If You Have Fair Credit?

High-credit-limit cards usually require good to excellent credit. That said, the best credit cards for fair credit will raise your credit limit automatically after typically six months of regular payments. Before you apply for a credit card, check how frequently the issuer will raise your credit limit and what the process involves. Some issuers also disclose the credit limit maximum for the card. It’s always good to ask questions before applying.

Comparative assessments and other editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

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