Best Cash-Back Credit Cards for Fair Credit

“Credit limbo” is like that strange financial netherworld for people who’ve been diligently taking pains to rebuild their credit, but who don’t quite have an excellent, or even a good, credit score yet. Which, according to, is roughly 740-850 for excellent credit, 680-740 for great credit and 620-680 for good credit.

So you used to be in the doldrums of the 500s and lower, and now you’re in the fair-to-decent range, in the neighborhood of 660 or thereabouts. You’ve been fulfilling your debts, paying your bills in full and checking your score obsessively. But the efforts don’t feel like they’re paying off — you’re still being turned down for low-rate loans and better credit card offers with rewards, points,and, best of all, cash back.

If you’re thinking it’s all for naught and feel like abandoning credit altogether, wait. Below is a list of some great credit cards for fair credit. Take a look and see which ones suit your financial needs best.

Fair Credit, Great Credit Cards

QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Get this card because Samuel L. Jackson said so. But seriously —¬†Capital One is best known for its line of reliable, secured credit cards for people with bad or no credit; but this, its mid-level card, is a fine choice for someone with fair credit. The QuicksilverOne card is a quick way to earn cash back: 1.5% guaranteed with each purchase. Some benefits:

  • Until December 2014, a 0% intro APR (afterwards, a 22.9% variable APR applies)
  • Make five monthly payments on time, qualify for a better card
  • Zero transfer fees

There is a $39 annual fee, but that’s a minor quibble considering all the cash back you can get with this card.

Related: 5 Credit Card Tricks and Hacks That Help You Save Big


Credit One Bank’s Visa Platinum

A choice card for those who like to use their line of credit at the pump, Credit One’s licensed Visa rewards card starts with a $300 balance and gives back 1% on all gas purchases — spend $40 to fill up your tank, get back 40 cents. Other perks include:

  • Though for average credit, this is a “Platinum” card
  • Automatic credit line increase reviews
  • Free online monthly credit score tracking (and bureau reporting)
  • $0 fraud liability

Annual fees for this card can be a bit steep, ranging anywhere from $35 to $99, and interest rates are high, too, from 17.90 to 23.90% APR — but since this is considered a card with Platinum benefits for average credit, those cons can be overlooked.

CapitalOne’s Journey Student Rewards Card

This is a simple cash-back credit card for college students who might have developed some positive credit history. The Journey card offers 1 percent cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. Additionally, cardholders get:

  • 25 percent monthly bonuses on cash back for timely bill payments
  • Access to monthly credit score, with a free online monitoring/tracking tool
  • Free fraud coverage for lost/stolen cards
  • Unlimited cash back, no expiration

Like most cards, interest rates go up according to the situation: 19.8% for purchases and transfers; 24.9% for cash advances; and 29.4% for penalties. Overall, though, if you become a responsible borrower, this card is ideal for building credit.

And that’s what these cards are designed for: interim lines of credit for people who’ve dug out of bad credit and want to start reaping some minor benefits of a great-to-excellent level credit card. Keep at it, and in no time, you’ll qualify for some of the best rewards cards on the market today.

As always, check your credit report often to see where you stand, and work with your bank or credit union to gauge which credit cards might be best for you before applying. (Remember: An average credit score is in the upper 500s to low 600s, so if your credit score is lower, aim for a secured credit card first.)