Credit Cards
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Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

Advertiser Disclosure

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the card offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

What Are The Best Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit of 2018?

Having an average or fair FICO score (670–699) doesn't mean you can't get your hands on some amazing credit cards. If your score has climbed to the upper 600s, you can get your first taste of credit cards with rewards rates of 1.5% to 2%. Our guide will help people with average credit find the best credit cards that suit their lifestyle and goals. In order to cater to different types of consumer needs, we have divided our top picks into the following categories.

The Best Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit in 2018 Are...

The cards listed here are among the best in their respective categories. In our analysis, we tried to select credit cards that fulfill each role for a broad range of spending profiles. If you are looking for a more personalized list of credit cards, jump to our tool below.

Best For Cash Back: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card

If you have an average credit score and want cash-back rewards, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card is the way to go. There's no sign-up bonus, but you'll get a strong 1.5% cash-back rate on all purchases. We strongly recommend you only get this card if you plan to charge at least $7,800 per year. If you spend less than that, it doesn't make sense to pay this card's $39 annual fee. Normally, a bonus would offset this cost for at least several years. However, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card doesn't offer one.

If you're actively working on improving your credit score, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card also comes with some great features. First, you can monitor your credit score with Capital One's CreditWise program. This way you can see how your spending and credit behavior influence your score. Secondly, Capital One may give you a higher credit line after you make five monthly payments on time. This can improve your credit utilization—a major factor in your credit score. Do not confuse this credit card with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. The two have similar names, however, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is intended for people with excellent credit.

Highlights

Best For Travel: Discover it® Miles

The Discover it® Miles is one of the best "no-annual-fee" credit cards. It awards 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend. That translates to a 1.5% rewards rate anywhere you shop. This kind of setup is ideal for most consumers who don't want to think about optimizing their rewards. Instead, this card simply gives you an above-average rate anywhere you shop. In lieu of a traditional bonus, the Discover it® Miles doubles all the rewards earned by new cardmembers at the end of their first cardmember year. That effectively gives this card a 3% rewards rate on all purchases during that time. What makes this card especially useful for travel is the lack of foreign transaction fees. When you use your card outside the U.S., most would charge you around 3% of every transaction. The Discover it® Miles waives that charge, which means you can use it anywhere you go.

Highlights

Best For Airline Miles: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card

Despite their high value, some co-branded airline credit cards—such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card—are within the reach of consumers with average credit scores. This card, in particular, also made our overall list of best airline miles credit cards. If you get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card, this card will be a top-tier choice to keep in your wallet, even as time goes on and your credit score improves. The bonuses help make the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card a great choice. Cardmembers who spend at least $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening will receive 50,000 Premier Rewards miles. Plus, on your account anniversary, you will receive another 3,000 bonus miles. By our calculations, this bonus is worth approximately $66—which takes care of a majority of the card's annual fee.

Highlights

  • Get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Get 3,000 bonus miles every account anniversary.
  • Points earned through this card help you qualify for Southwest Airline's Companion Pass.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card Review

Best For Students: Discover it® for Students

Many people with a thin credit profile tend to turn to student credit cards as an option. One of our favorites in this category is the Discover it® for Students. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter when they activate set bonus categories. These categories include gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Period

5% Cash-Back Category
January–March 2018Gas stations and wholesale clubs
April–June 2018Grocery stores
July–September 2018Restaurants
October–December 2018Amazon.com and wholesale clubs

For new cardmembers, Discover will also double all the cash back you earn during your first year—uncapped. This means that in the first year, the Discover it® for Students will essentially earn you at least a 2% rewards rate on all spending.

Highlights

  • Get $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years.
  • New cardmembers get their cash back doubled at the end of their first year.
  • Free credit tracking capabilities to monitor your credit score.
  • Discover it® for Students Review

Best for Balance Transfers: Chase Slate®

If you're dealing with credit card debt that seems out of control, it may be worthwhile to get a balance transfer credit card like the Chase Slate®. This card gives users a 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 billing cycles. If you transfer a balance to the card within 60 days of account opening, the balance transfer fee (usually 3%) will be waived. This makes the Chase Slate® one of the best balance transfer credit cards around. For example, if you have a balance of $7,700 on a card with an APR of 15%, and you can only afford to make monthly payments of $500, it will take you 17 months to pay off that debt. If, however, you move that balance to the Chase Slate®, you could pay back the debt a month faster and save $775 in interest charges.

Highlights

  • No balance transfer fee on balances transferred within 60 days of account opening.
  • Get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles.
  • Chase Slate® Review

Best For Business: Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

If you're a business owner with an average FICO credit score, the pool of available credit cards is limited. Fortunately, the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is a good option for people who fit this profile. You'll get a modest 1% cash back on all purchases, but as your credit score improves, you may upgrade this card to one of its more lucrative counterparts. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business or Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business can double the rewards rate you'll have on the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business. The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business comes with some added features that can help manage your business's finances. You can add employee cards at no extra cost. And for budgeting and accounting purposes, you can download purchase records to software programs such as Quicken, QuickBooks or Excel. Capital One will also send quarterly and year-end spending reports that can help you plan your budget or organize expenses for tax time.

Highlights

  • Issue employee cards at no additional cost.
  • Access purchase and spending data to help with accounting.
  • Get 1% cash back on all purchases.

Strategy: What to Do When You Have Average or Fair Credit?

Most individuals with a FICO score below 700 are likely in the middle of their credit building journey. While getting one of the above credit cards will surely earn the best value for the time being, you'll want to continue to build your credit history in order to get even better credit cards and maximize your savings. There are many ways to earn a good or excellent credit score, but the most important one is making on-time payments. Pay your credit card bills in full and on time every month, and your FICO score is bound to climb. One way to help remind you to make the payment is to set up alerts or reminders on your cell phone or through your email.

Once you have that step down, you can look at all the different factors that affect your credit score. Try to identify the bottlenecks that are preventing you from hitting those 700s. If you're taking all the right steps, the best thing you can do now is to wait. You may have heard that building credit is a marathon, not a sprint—and it's true. Be patient, and eventually your score will rise.

Comparison Tool

If you are still left unsure as to which credit card is best for your individual needs, you can use our interactive tool below. By inputting your spending, we will calculate which of these credit cards will yield you the highest net rewards.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card
$69 3.92%
$901
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in first 3 months of opening your account
$1,346
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.017 = $583
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.017 = $850
3,000 x $0.017 = $51
Less Annual Fees -$138
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,346

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $69
APR 17.24% - 24.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that 3.18%
$500
Receive 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months
$1,091
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 68,640 x $0.01 = $686
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.01 = $500
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,091

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
APR 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn unlimited 10x miles on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Discover it® for Students
$0 1.50%
$171
Discover gives a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. (New cardmembers only)
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.24% - 23.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.24% - 23.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Chase Freedom®
$0 1.44%
$150
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
$493
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 493

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 16.24% - 24.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.24-24.99%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Citi® ThankYou® Preferred Credit Card for College Students
No Annual Fee 1.23%
$25
Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou points after you spend $500 within the first 3 months
$423
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.01 = $398
Bonuses
2,500 x $0.01 = $25
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 423

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 13.99%, 18.99% or 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 2 ThankYou points per dollar on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Earn 1 ThankYou point per dollar on other purchases
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Credit Card
$39 1.27%
$0
$437
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 515 x $1 = $515
Less Annual Fees -$78
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 437

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $39
APR 24.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Use your QuicksilverOne card and get 50% back as a statement credit on your monthly Spotify Premium subscription, now through April 2018
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Chase Slate®
$0 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 16.24% - 24.99% Variable

Card Details

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • See monthly updates to your FICO® Score and the reasons behind your score for free
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 14.24% or 23.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Balance transfer either $5 or 3% of the amt of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Auto rental insurance
  • Citi Identity Theft Solutions
  • $0 fraud liability if card is stolen
  • Rental car insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Purchase protection
BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students
Image of BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 10.99% - 20.99% Variable

Card Details

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.