Got a credit score (aka FICO score) between 600 and 640? Though your score has room for improvement, you could nonetheless qualify for the following cards that offer great benefits.

If your credit score is between 600-649, there’s good news and bad news. Let’s get the Unfortunately, your score is considered fair to poor, which means you may not be approved for many prime credit cards reserved for those with stronger scores.

But let’s look on the bright side: Quite a few cards are still available to you, some of which are fairly lucrative. We’ve curated a list of the best credit cards available to people in your credit score range. Responsibly using these cards can help you earn cash back and rewards, avoid foreign transaction fees, and gradually build up your credit score so that you’ll qualify for the upper-echelon cards in the near future.

⁺Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for.

Best credit cards if your FICO score is 600 to 649 overview

Credit cardBest for
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit CardEveryday cash back rewards for fair credit
Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit CardFee-free credit building
Capital One Platinum Credit CardRebuilding credit
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardThe lower end of fair credit
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit CardThose with little to no credit
Indigo® Mastercard® Credit CardPeople who have a recent bankruptcy
Milestone Mastercard®All credit types — bad credit, and even no credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

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In A Nutshell

If you don’t have the excellent credit needed to score some of the bonuses other Capital One credit cards offer, consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. It’s a terrific card for average credit and you can still earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with a modest $39 annual fee.

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Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

  • No foreign transaction fees and a modest $39 annual fee.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or limits to how much you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account. It's that simple
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
Annual Fee
$39
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , N/A

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Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

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In A Nutshell

The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is a great no-annual-fee card with a solid rewards system for people with limited or no credit. It reports to all three major credit card bureaus and you can score a higher credit limit between $300- $5,000 — just make sure to use your card responsibly.  The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.

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Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • No credit history required, making it perfect for beginners.

  • No annual fee, and no over-limit or foreign transaction fees, either.

  • 2% – 10% cash back at select merchants.

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Variable APRs range from 22.24% - 31.74%
  • $300 - $5,000 credit limits
  • Earn a credit limit increase in as little as 6 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we'll create your Cash Score instead.
  • 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants
  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.
  • Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal card members.
  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments.
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
22.24% - 31.74% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A ,
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A ,

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Capital One Platinum Credit Card

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In A Nutshell

Finding an unsecured credit card with average credit can be difficult, but the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is happy to have your business. You won’t find many perks to owning this credit card, but it’s a great first card for young people looking to build a strong credit history and there’s no annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Only average / fair / limited credit is required for approval

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , N/A

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Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

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In A Nutshell

If you are worried that you will not get approved for a conventional credit card or have been rejected in the past, the Capital One Platinum Secured is an excellent option. It’s rare to find one that doesn’t charge an annual fee and Capital One will automatically review your credit limit in as little as six months.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line.

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months with no additional deposit needed.

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking to access your account from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , N/A

Apply Now >>

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

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In A Nutshell

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a secured credit card that doesn’t require a credit check to apply. Whether you have poor credit or no credit at all, OpenSky is an opportunity to improve your credit history.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • No credit check needed to get approved for this card.

  • Choose your own security deposit between $200 – $3,000 and that becomes your credit line.

  • Your on-time payments will be reported to all three credit bureaus, so you can start building credit responsibly.

  • The annual fee is just $35, and OpenSky® does not charge any application, servicing, or processing fees.

  • No credit check to apply and find out instantly if you are approved
  • OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit with an 85% average approval rate for the past 5 years
  • Get considered for a credit line increase after 6 months, with no additional deposit required
  • You could be eligible for the OpenSky Gold Unsecured Card after as few as 6 months
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly, unlike a prepaid or debit card
  • View your FICO® Score through your OpenSky account, an easy way to stay on top of your credit
  • Nearly half of OpenSky cardholders who make on-time payments improve their FICO score 30+ points in the first 3 months
  • Your refundable* deposit, as low as $200, becomes your OpenSky Visa credit limit
  • Easy application, apply in less than 5 minutes right from your mobile device
  • Offer flexible payment due dates which allow you to choose any available due date that fits your payment schedule
  • *View the cardholder agreement
Annual Fee
$35
Regular APR
18.89% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A ,
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A ,

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Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card

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In A Nutshell

The Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card offers consumers with poor credit the opportunity to use a credit card for everyday spending. Pre-qualification is quick and easy and if you have the credit profile needed, you might be able to secure a credit card with no annual fee. ($0 – $99 annual fee).

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • $0 – $99 annual fee

  • Easy pre-qualification process

  • Previous bankruptcy is OK

  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Online servicing available 24/7 at no additional cost
  • Unsecured credit card, no security deposit required
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Regular APR
24.9%
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A ,

Apply Now >>

Milestone Mastercard®

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In A Nutshell

If you have lousy credit and are looking for a way to build it back; the Milestone Mastercard® is a strong option. There’s a quick pre-qualification process with no impact to your credit score, modest interest rate and an annual fee of $35 – $99.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • $35 – $99 annual fee

  • Easy pre-qualification process

  • Previous bankruptcy is OK

  • Instant pre-qualification is available for those who qualify
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Access your account online or from your mobile device 24/7
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Annual Fee
$35 - $99*
Regular APR
24.9%
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A ,

Apply Now >>

In-depth analysis of our top credit cards for people with credit scores between 600 and 649

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card – Best for everyday cashback rewards for fair credit

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $39.
  • APR: 26.99% (Variable).
  • Rewards?: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Why the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a good option for those with fair credit

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is an unsecured credit card, complete with cash rewards. You will earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, every day — there are no rotating spending categories.

Your credit line can be increased after just six on-time monthly payments. The card also comes with $0 fraud liability, and an annual fee of just $39.

How to use the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

If improving your credit score wasn’t enough, you’ll be eligible for a higher credit limit after making your first six monthly payments on time. That will help increase your credit score in two ways:

  • On-time payments will give you a good credit reference.
  • The increased credit limit can improve your credit utilization ratio.

Why you might not want to consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The increasing credit line might tempt you to also increase your expenditures and debt levels. If you want to improve your credit score, getting deeper into debt is the last thing you need.

Take this card only if you are able to pay off the balance each month.

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card – Best for fee-free credit rebuilding

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • APR: 22.24% - 31.74% Variable.
  • Rewards: 2% to 10% cash back on purchases at select merchants.

Why the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is a good option for those with fair credit

The Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card accepts applicants with limited or no credit, and they consider your banking and savings history in addition to your score, so they can get a well-rounded picture of your finances. If approved, Petal reports on-time payments to all three credit bureaus, making this card a great way to get started building your credit score.

With the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card, you get some of the perks you’d find in a card that requires a higher score. Not only is there no annual fee, but you also will enjoy cash back rewards between 2% and 10% at select merchants.

How to use the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card

All you’ll have to do to start improving your credit is pay your bill on time each month. Once you’ve qualified for the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card, you’ll be given access to an app that will help you track down the current cash back offers available to you. Make purchases at those merchants and you’ll earn cash back, which will be given as a statement credit.

Petal’s app can also help you manage your monthly payments and track your spending, so it’s a handy tool to have at your disposal. 

Why you might not want to consider the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card

The 22.24% - 31.74% Variable APR is low for a credit card designed for those with fair credit. But the rate is variable, and there can be a big difference between the higher and lower end of that spectrum.

You may also want to look into a Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card after you’ve built credit, since the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card pays 1% to 1.5% cash back on all purchases in addition to 2% to 10% at select merchants. 

See card details/apply.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card – Best for rebuilding credit

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • APR: 26.99% (Variable).
  • Rewards?: 1% cash back on eligible purchases.

Why the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a good option for those with fair credit

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a true credit card for people with fair or limited credit and it’s unsecured as well. Cardholders will be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months. There is no annual fee.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card also offers 1% cash back on eligible purchases, $0 fraud liability, and auto rental collision damage waiver benefits.

How to use the Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Like all credit cards for fair credit, your primary objective is to improve your credit score by making your payments on time.

You’ll also want to avoid running up your balance and hurting your credit utilization ratio. The potential credit line increases in as little as six months after credit limit review which will help with that ratio – as long as you don’t use the extra credit.

Why you might not want to consider the Capital One Platinum Credit Card

The cash back rewards in combination with potential credit line increases may cause you to borrow more than you can afford to repay. Be careful with this combination. 

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One Platinum Credit Card review.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card – Best for the lower end of fair credit

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • APR: 26.99% (Variable).
  • Credit line: $200.
  • Rewards?: N/A.

Why the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a good option for those with fair credit

As a secured card, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is especially good for lower credit scores. It also offers security deposit requirements that may be lower than your credit limit. For example, based on your credit worthiness, your deposit may be $49, $99, or $200 on a credit line of $200.

There is no annual fee. Your credit limit may be increased after credit line review in as little as six months, with no increase in the security deposit requirement.

How to use the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Make your security deposit, be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months, and your credit limit will increase. Capital One reports to all three major credit repositories. On-time payments will improve your payment history, while the increased credit limit will improve your credit utilization ratio.

Why you might not want to consider the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

If your credit is at the lower end of fair, and you need to rebuild it, this is an excellent card to work with. But if it’s possible, you may be better off with an unsecured credit card, which will allow you to avoid the deposit.

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card – Best for no credit check

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $35.
  • Regular APR: 18.89% (Variable).
  • Intro APR: N/A.

Why the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a good option for those with fair credit

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a good credit card option for those with fair credit because they don’t check your credit report, so your credit score isn’t a factor in your application. You’ll also receive an instant decision on your application.

As a secured credit card, your security deposit is your credit line. You can choose your own credit line, with a deposit as low as $200 if that suits you, or as high as $3,000. Plus, the annual fee is just $35, which is less than some other credit card brands.

How to use the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

To get started, you’ll need to set your credit limit by placing your security deposit with OpenSky. You’ll make purchases with your card, and your on-time minimum payments will help your credit score improve.

Consider using the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card to pay your everyday bills, such as your cell phone bill.

With on-time payments, you could be eligible for a credit line increase after six months.

Why you might not want to use the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

If you have a hard time paying your balance off in full every month, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card might not be right for you. Carrying a balance will bring interest charges, and those extra costs could affect your budget.

Plus, if you don’t pay your minimum payments on time, you won’t be helping your credit score, and isn’t that the point?

See details/apply.

Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card- Best credit card for people who have a recent bankruptcy

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0 - $99.
  • APR: 24.9%.
  • Credit line: $300.
  • Rewards?: N/A.

Why the Indigo® Mastercard® is a good option for those with fair credit

It’s possible to have a bankruptcy in your past, and have a credit score between 600 and 649. That can happen if you had good credit for the past couple of years, but a bankruptcy just before that. If so, Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card is an excellent choice.

You’ll start with a $300 credit line, and the annual fee can be as high as $99. But it’s an unsecured line, so you won’t need to provide a security deposit.

How to use the Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card

Make your minimum payments on time each month, and you’ll begin to develop a good credit reference with each of the three major credit bureaus.

Even better, pay off your balance in full each month to avoid accruing interest charges.

Why you might not want to consider the Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card

This is another credit card with a steep annual fee. Depending on your credit, it can be zero, $59, or $75 the first year, and $99 thereafter.

See details/apply or read our full Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card Review.

Milestone Mastercard® – Best credit card for all credit types

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $35 to $99.
  • APR: 24.9%.
  • Credit line: $300 or more.
  • Rewards?: N/A.

Why the Milestone Mastercard® is a good option for those with fair credit

The Milestone Mastercard® is an unsecured credit card, with a minimum $300 credit line, and no security deposit required. It’s an excellent card if your credit score is in the low 600s, and you need to rebuild.

They report to all three credit bureaus, so your good payment history can move you up to the next credit score bracket — and the better offers that come with it.

How to use the Milestone Mastercard®

As is the case with all credit cards for people with fair credit, it’s critical to make your monthly payments on time. You should also make every effort to pay your balance in full each month.

Why you might not want to consider the Milestone Mastercard®

The annual fee is high for a potentially low credit limit. Depending on your credit profile, the annual fee will be either $35, $59, or $75 in the first year, and $99 thereafter. That’ll take a serious chunk out of a $300 credit limit.

See card details/apply or read our full Milestone Mastercard® review.

Summary of the best credit cards if your FICO score is between 600 to 649 (Fair Credit)

In the table below, we summarized the main information for each of the credit cards we presented as the best cards if your FICO Score is between 600 and 649:

Card/CategoryInitial credit limitAnnual feeAPR rangeSecured/Unsecured?FeaturesReports to all 3 major credit bureaus
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit CardNot specified$3926.99% (Variable)UnsecuredCash back, $0 fraud liabilityYes
Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card$500-$5,000$022.24% - 31.74% VariableUnsecuredCash back, reports to all three credit bureausYes
Capital One Platinum Credit CardNot specified$026.99% (Variable)Unsecured$0 fraud liabilityYes
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card$200$026.99% (Variable)Secured, requires a deposit of $49, $99, or $200N/AYes
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card $200 - $3,000$3518.89% (Variable)SecuredNo credit check or bank account required to open an accountYes
Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card$300$0 - $9924.9%UnsecuredN/AYes
Milestone Mastercard®$300 or more$35 to $9924.9%UnsecuredN/AYes

How we came up with this list

We started by isolating the cards known to be available to those in the 600 to 649 credit score range. From there, we pared the list down based on the following criteria:

  • Does the card issuer report to all three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — giving you an opportunity to raise your credit score with all three?
  • Are we featuring a mix of secured and unsecured credit cards? Secured cards may be necessary for those at the lower end of the fair credit score range, but not everyone is comfortable making a security deposit, and some at the upper end of this credit score range may qualify for an unsecured card.
  • Credit limits should be high enough to be usable, but not so high as to put you deep in debt.
  • Annual fees should be nonexistent or at least low (maximum under $100).
  • Does the card offer the ability to increase your credit line after a period of responsible card use and consistently repaid balances?
  • Does the card offer any extra features typically associated with cards for higher credit scores, like rewards or cash back?

What is fair credit?

Fair credit is a general term used to describe a span of credit scores from 580 to 669. That’s a very broad range, but it’s based on figures reported by major credit bureaus.

But that’s just the starting point. What’s considered a ‘fair’ credit score can vary by industry and sometimes even by lender.

For example, mortgage lenders generally will not make a loan to someone whose credit score is below 620. For all intents and purposes then, a credit score of 605 is considered poor for mortgage applicants.

A bank or credit union that makes auto loans may set the minimum credit score at 650, below which they won’t extend credit. From their standpoint, a credit score below 650 is considered poor.

This is why you don’t want to spend too much time in the fair credit score range. The best way to get out is by taking new, small credit lines, then making your payments on time every month. It will enable your good payment history to gradually overcome your bad payment history.

How to maximize a credit card for fair credit

The best way to use a credit card for fair credit is to make a small amount of monthly purchases and repay your charges in full each month.

The interest rates (APRs) on these cards may be higher than on credit cards designed for consumers with good credit, so you’ll want to avoid using them to pay off purchases over time.

As your credit improves, you’ll be better qualified to apply for a card with a lower interest rate or more lucrative rewards in the future.

The most important features of credit cards if your FICO score is between 600 and 649

If your FICO Score is between 600 and 649, shopping for a credit card is different than it would be if your score was, say, over 700. You’ll be less concerned with factors like cash rewards, travel benefits, and 0% introductory APRs. Your needs will be more basic, and will focus on a combination of the cost and usability of the card.

The main purpose of getting a credit card in this credit score range is to use it as a tool to improve or rebuild your credit score. Only then will you be eligible for the more generous credit card offers.

Here are the factors that are most important:

Annual Percentage Rate – APR

You may have noticed that many credit cards come with wide interest rate spreads, like 14.99% to 24.99%. With a credit score between 600 and 649, you’re much more likely to be offered an interest rate on the higher end of a given range.

This is a primary reason why we recommend throughout this guide that you keep your credit card balance to an absolute minimum. It’s possible to use a credit card to increase your credit score and to do so at a very low cost. But if you carry a balance, the interest cost will be substantial.

Annual fee

The annual fee should be carefully assessed with any credit card you apply for, even if you have perfect credit. But it matters even more when you’re in the fair credit range. That’s because benefits offered by credit cards for fair credit are relatively minimal, so their combined value is unlikely to compensate or make up for a high annual fee.

That doesn’t mean cards with annual fees should be ignored completely. If you’re unable to get a credit card with no annual fee, a card with a relatively low annual fee is the next best option. It can still help you to either rebuild or improve your credit score, and if you use the card responsibly your score should eventually improve enough that you can cancel the card and switch to an unsecured card with no annual fee, or a card offering a benefits package that substantially outweighs its annual fee cost.

Additional card benefits

The fair credit range is where you start getting more generous credit card features. This could include $0 fraud liability for unauthorized charges, collision damage waiver on rental cars, free credit scores, and other perks.

On our list, we included several credit cards that provide cash back rewards.

All of these benefits are better to have than not. But they should never be the primary reason for getting a credit card when you have fair credit. In fact, certain benefits can even be detriments when misused. For example, cash back rewards could encourage you to spend more money than you can comfortably afford to repay.

Secured vs. unsecured

In the fair credit range there are more unsecured credit cards available than in the below 599 score range. But if you’re on the low end of the range, like a credit score in the low 600s, unsecured cards may not be available to you. In that case, secured cards will be a necessary option.

Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of both card types.

Secured cards

Secured credit cards usually tie your credit limit to the amount of security you put up for the card. A $300 credit limit will typically require a $300 deposit. There are some cases where the deposit will be less than the credit limit, like the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card. If your credit qualifies, the security deposit will be as low as $49 for a $200 credit limit.

In many ways, secured credit cards work just like unsecured credit cards. You can use them to make purchases, and you must make monthly minimum payments against your card balance as required by the card issuer. Your card payments (or lack thereof) will be reported to the major credit bureaus, and will either improve or reduce your credit score. You’ll also be charged interest by the card issuer on any unpaid balances.

The major disadvantage to a secured card is that your credit limit is tied to the amount of security you can put up. If you have no cash at all, you’ll be unable to qualify.

But there are several advantages to having a secured card:

  • You’ll have a credit card available in situations where they may be required over cash or some other payment method.
  • They will enable you to improve your credit score.
  • Because they’re secured, they may come with either a very low annual fee or no annual fee at all.
  • Most will automatically increase your credit limit after a few months of favorable payment history.
  • Many secured card issuers will convert your account to unsecured once you develop a favorable payment history.

Unsecured cards

Unsecured cards are the typical format for credit cards. Unsecured cards for people with fair credit are typified by very low credit limits — often just a few hundred dollars.

The main advantage they have over secured cards is that you don’t have to put up a security deposit. They’re perfect for the person who needs to improve their credit score, but doesn’t have any cash to pledge for collateral.

The table below summarizes the difference between secured and unsecured credit cards:

 Secured cardsUnsecured cards
Make purchases on creditYesYes
Report to all 3 credit bureausYesYes
Annual feeUsually very low (≤$35) Can be as high as $500+
Interest rateUsually 18%-30%Usually 15%-25%
Automatic credit line increasesYesOn some only
Convert to unsecuredGenerally, yes N/A

Read more: Secured credit cards vs. unsecured credit cards

Tips to improve your credit

This is especially important when you’re in the fair credit range, for at least two reasons:

  • If you’re at the bottom of the fair credit range, you’ll want to move toward the top, and;
  • Your goal should be to move above the fair credit range.

Here are tips to help you do just that.

Get your free credit score and monitor it from now on

This will enable you to keep a finger on the pulse of your credit. Some free credit score services even provide simulators that will show you how you can improve your credit score, and by how much. You should take full advantage of these services.

Dispute any errors

If there is any information contained in your credit report that’s not accurate, you have an opportunity to fix it. Contact the creditor, report the error, and provide written documentation proving it’s wrong.

Get written notification from the creditor acknowledging the error. Also request the creditor report corrected information to all three credit bureaus. If they don’t, you’ll have to send the notification from the creditor acknowledging the error to all three credit bureaus yourself.

Allow at least 30 days after the successful dispute before applying for a credit product and pulling your credit score again.

Pay ALL your bills on-time from now on

A late payment here, a collection there, may seem fairly harmless at the time — especially if you’re in a cash crunch. But those are the stuff of fair and poor credit, and you need to avoid them at all costs.

One advantage you have with bad credit is that it becomes less important as time goes on. The sooner you begin paying your bills on time, the older the derogatory information will become, and the higher your credit score will be. So start paying all your bills on time all the time, now.

Don’t forget landlords and utility companies either. They will report to the credit bureaus if you have unpaid balances.

Pay off any past due balances

If you have any charge-offs or collections, pay them off as soon as possible. The same is true for judgments and tax liens. Paying them off won’t remove them from your credit report. But a paid delinquency is always better than an open one. Your credit score should begin to rise soon after these delinquencies are paid.

Go slow applying for new credit 

We’ve already touched on this factor, but it’s worth reminding you that lenders don’t like seeing applicants applying for multiple lines credit. It could be an indication you’re having budget problems, and looking to solve them by obtaining additional credit. You should apply for no more than one or two new lines of credit per year.

Use an app to boost your score

Experian offers a service called Experian Boost that can improve your score by about a dozen or so points. You’ll sign up and connect your bank account to get credit for on-time payments for expenses like your phone and electric bills.

You can learn more about this free app by reading our complete Experian Boost review.

Payment alternatives for people with credit scores between 600 and 649

Using a credit card, whether secured or unsecured, is a great way to improve your credit score. But there are other means of payment available to you as well.

Debit card

As a sheer transaction method, debit cards function in a very similar way to credit cards — they can be used to make purchases in a store, online, etc. The main difference is that when you make a purchase with a debit card the money for the purchase is taken out of your checking account; you aren’t borrowing money from the card issuer, so you don’t accrue a balance and don’t need to make monthly repayments.

This inherent difference has both positive and negative effects. Here are two examples:

A debit card doesn’t help you build credit

Since there are no monthly repayments, there’s no payment history to be reported to the credit bureaus. Debit cards may enable you to spend like credit cards, but they’ll do absolutely nothing to improve your credit score.

A debit card CAN help you manage your finances

Debit cards might even be better than credit cards in this regard. Since you can’t spend any more money than you have in the checking account behind the card, you’re forced to stay within budget. And since there are no monthly payments, there are no interest charges. That helps to improve cash flow.

Successful use of a debit card can also help to prepare you for responsible use of a credit card. If managing your spending has been a problem in the past, a debit card can help by forcing/training you to live within your financial limits.

Read more: The 5 biggest debit card dangers

Prepaid cards

Prepaid cards have grown more popular in recent years, not only for people who are unable to be approved for credit cards, but also as a secure way of making online purchases. It may be worth having a prepaid card even if you already have a debit card and a credit card.

How do prepaid cards work?

Credit cards work on credit limits, while debit cards are connected to a bank account. Prepaid cards are just what the name implies — you have to pay a certain amount of money on the card in advance in order to use it.

When it comes to spending, prepaid cards work just like debit cards and credit cards. You can even “recharge” them by adding more money to them.

They work well for online purchases, because you don’t risk providing account information to an unknown online vendor. That eliminates the possibility of identity theft.

The limits of prepaid cards

If you’re looking to rebuild your credit or improve your credit score, prepaid cards will be of no value to you. Much like debit cards, since there’s no monthly payment, there’s no payment history to report to the credit bureaus.

The other problem is fees. You might have to pay a fee to purchase the card, and then each time you recharge it. They can be expensive to use if you have to pay $5 every time you put $100 on the card.

Read more: Prepaid vs. secured cards: What’s the difference?

Store charge cards

Many people who have difficulty getting traditional credit cards opt instead for store cards. But can they help if you’re looking to improve your credit score?

How store cards work

Store cards are issued by individual merchants. You may have a credit card issued by Sears, JCPenney, Macy’s, or other retailers, but they’re not credit cards in the usual sense. They can only be used to charge purchases through that merchant. You will not be able to use the card to make other purchases, like groceries and gas.

Are store cards a good idea?

Because they’re credit cards, your payment history with store cards is reported to credit bureaus. If you make your payments on time, and keep your balance low, having one or two can help improve your credit score.

But they do have a few negatives:

  • As noted earlier, they can only be used with the issuing merchant.
  • They usually charge very high interest rates.
  • Store cards are established to encourage you to spend money with the merchant. If you have bad credit, going deeper into debt is the last thing you need to do.

Also, be aware that store credit card facilities are back office operations. Their sole purpose for existing is to provide credit for customers to purchase the merchant’s products and services. As a result, store card operations may be somewhat chaotic, raising the possibility of misapplied payments and negative credit ratings. They are not the best cards to rebuild or improve your credit.

The advantages and disadvantages of debit, prepaid, and store cards

 Debit cardsPrepaid cardsStore cards
Require credit approval?LimitedNoYes
Report to credit bureaus?NoNoYes
Will improve your credit score?NoNoPossibly
Purchases subject to interest charges?NoNo Yes

FAQs on Best Credit Cards if Your FICO Score is Between 600 and 649

Generally speaking, no. First, many credit cards in this credit score range don’t offer balance transfers. Second, the credit limit may be too low to make a balance transfer worth doing. And third, your primary mission should be to pay off other debts, to lower your total amount owed. Balance transfers are usually about moving a loan from one credit line to another.
All things being equal, you should prefer a card that offers cash back rewards. It will lower the cost of having the card, maybe even offsetting a very high annual fee. But rewards should never be the primary reason for selecting a card. You might be better off selecting a card with no cash back rewards, and no annual fee. The main purpose of a credit card with a fair credit rating is to rebuild your credit. Everything else is just a bonus.
Absolutely not. Once again, we get back to credit utilization. Every credit line you cancel increases your credit utilization ratio by default. The better strategy is to keep the fair credit card, but not use it.
That really depends on what your credit score is, and the factors causing it to be low. If high credit utilization is causing the problem, your credit score will improve as soon as you get your debts paid down. But if you have a history of delinquencies, it can take a year or more. Delinquencies get better with age, but they don’t disappear – at least not for seven years.
In the fair credit range, you never want to look as if you’re looking for credit wherever you can find it. It’s best to wait at least six months, and preferably a year, before adding new credit cards. Too much new credit will hurt your credit score, and limit credit card offers.

Compare more recommended credit cards

Is your credit score not between 600 and 649? Find more top credit cards for your credit score (FICO score) range:

Note: According to our research, these credit cards offer the best chance of approval for applicants with credit scores of 600–649. This does not mean guaranteed approval, however, as creditors consider factors other than a FICO score.

About the author

David Weliver
Total Articles: 296
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.