Best Cash-Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit of August 2022

Closeup shot of an unrecognizable businessman using a cellphone while holding a credit card in an office.
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It can be difficult to get a credit card if your credit score isn’t very good. But it can also be difficult to raise your credit score without a credit card. What’s a consumer to do?

If your credit score is only fair — which is generally considered to be between 580 and 669, you probably won’t qualify for a Platinum American Express Card. However, there are some credit cards that will approve you, and some of them even offer cash back on purchases.

Here are the best cash-back credit cards for fair credit.

Cash-Back Credit Cards

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card gives you 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. Your cashback never expires. You can redeem your cash back for a check, a credit to your account, to cover a recent purchase or for a gift card.

You also get other benefits like $0 fraud liability, so if your card is lost or stolen you’re not responsible for fraudulent purchases. You can monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. And you could be considered for a credit line increase in as little as six months.

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Cash back: 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limit. You’ll also get 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Interest rate: APR

Annual fee: $39

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa

The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa is designed to help you build your credit.

You’ll also get zero fraud liability, access to Experian Credit Score to stay on top of your credit score, and the ability to choose a new payment due date if the current one doesn’t work with your budget. Credit One Bank will periodically review your payment activity and increase your credit line when it’s warranted.

Cash back: You get 1% cash back on eligible purchases of gas and groceries, and on monthly internet, cable, satellite TV and mobile phone services.

Interest rate: APR

Annual fee: $75 for the first year, then $99 a year — billed at $8.25 a month

Cash Back Credit Cards for Students

Students may have lower credit ratings simply because they have not yet had time to build credit. If you are a student and you have a fair credit rating, one of these cash-back cards can help you build better credit.

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Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students   

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students lets you choose one category to get 3% cash back in, and you can change that category each month if you want. The categories are online shopping, dining, travel, gas, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings. You also get 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You get these higher cash back amounts on the first $2,500 in purchases in a quarter — after that, you get 1%. And you always get 1% cash back on purchases in any other category.

Cash back: 3% cash back in one category you choose, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% on everything else.

Interest rate: 0% for the first 15 billing cycles, then

Annual fee: $0

Capital One SavorOne Rewards for Students

The Capital One SavorOne Rewards Card for Students is one of the few cards for fair credit that has a sign-up bonus. If you spend $100 on purchases in the first three months, you’ll get a $100 cash bonus.

Cash back: 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, grocery store and some popular streaming services; 1% cash back on everything else.

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Interest rate: APR

Annual fee: $0

Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards require a deposit equal to the amount of your credit line. For example, if you put down a $500 deposit, you’ll get a $500 credit line. Then you use the card as you would any other credit card. The deposit stays on your account with the credit card company until you close the account. If you don’t make your payments as agreed, the credit card company will close your account and use your deposit to cover the balance you owe. Secured cards report your activity to the credit reporting agencies, so your record of on-time payments will help your credit score over time.

Discover it Secured Credit Card

The Discover it Secured Card looks and acts like an unsecured card, so if you can’t get one of those, this is a solid choice. You get 1% cash back on every purchase and 2% cash back on the first $1,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter. At the end of your first year, Discover matches all the cash back you’ve earned that year, dollar for dollar.

As with all secured cards, you put down a deposit equal to your credit line. For example, if you put down $500, your credit line is $500. You can charge up to $500 worth of purchases, and you have to make your payments according to the terms of the card, with at least a minimum payment every month that you have a balance.

Some secured cards retain your deposit for as long as you have the card but Discover will do a monthly review of your account, once you’ve had the card for seven months. If you have made all your payments on time and all of your accounts — not just your Discover Card — have remained in good status, they will refund your deposit and your card will become an unsecured card.

Cash back: 2% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend per quarter at gas stations and restaurants and 1% on everything else. All the cash back you earn in the first year is matched.

Interest rate:

Annual fee: $0

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Rewards

Not many secured cards offer cash back, but the Capital One QuickSilver Secured Rewards Card does. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no limit.

Cash back: 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limit. You’ll also get 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Interest rate: APR

Annual fee: $0

How to Improve Your Credit Score

If your credit score is in the fair range, having the right credit card can help you improve it, but it takes time and effort. The most important thing you can do is to pay all your bills on time. Making on-time payments is the largest single factor that affects your credit score.

Another helpful tactic is to not use all the credit that is available to you. When determining your credit score, one of the factors is your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you are using compared to the amount you have. If you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit and your balance is $500, you are using 50% of the credit available to you. Keeping your credit utilization ratio at 30% or below will boost your score.

You may be tempted to not use your card at all to keep your credit utilization ratio low, but that’s not the best tactic either. Credit card companies and other lenders want to see that you use credit appropriately. So, use your credit card to pay some of your monthly bills, like internet, mobile phone or utilities, and then pay the bill off every month. This will give you a track record of using the card and paying it responsibly.

Having a fair credit score can mean that you’ll pay a higher rate of interest on that car loan or mortgage, so it’s best to try to improve it before making a major purchase or applying for a big loan. Start with one of these credit cards and move forward from there.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Aug. 9, 2022.

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About the Author

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, Equifax.com, and more.
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