Got a credit score (aka FICO score) of 600, 610, 620, 630 or 640? If you don't have any major new issues, the following cards may offer a chance of approval to help you manage your credit wisely.

Got a credit score (aka FICO score) of 600, 610, 620, 630 or 640? There’s good news and bad news. Unfortunately, these credit scores are considered fair to poor, which means you may not be approved for many prime credit cards. If, however, you don’t have any major new issues, the following cards may offer a chance of approval to help you manage your credit wisely and boost your credit score.

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
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back RewardPurchase APR
Capital One® Platinum Credit CardRebuilding credit
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®The lower end of fair credit
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit CardThose with little to no credit
Discover it® SecuredCashback rewards AND building credit
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®People who have a recent bankruptcy
Milestone® Gold 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] [Vantage 3.0] 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 6 months

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

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
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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Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

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In A Nutshell

Designed for consumers with modest credit histories, The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards offers 1% cash rewards on eligible purchases, zero fraud liability and no annual fee. Terms Apply.

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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] [Vantage 3.0] 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% cash back on all eligible purchases

  • No annual fee. Terms Apply

  • No security deposit required; and your credit score is not affected when you pre-qualify

  • See if you Pre-Qualify in less than 60 seconds–without affecting your credit score. It's fast, easy, and secure.
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV. Terms apply.
  • This is a fully functional, unsecured credit card–not a debit card, prepaid card, or secured credit card with deposit requirements.
  • Credit One Bank evaluates every account for credit line increase opportunities. We'll let you know as soon as you're eligible for a higher credit line.
  • Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary so you can track the key factors impacting your credit health. Terms apply.
  • Zero Fraud Liability protects you if your card is ever lost or stolen. Rest easy knowing you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges.
  • Access your account easily from your computer, smartphone, or tablet at CreditOneBank.com or the Credit One Bank Mobile App. You can make payments, see recent transactions, and update your account preferences all at the click of a button.
  • Carry a card that makes you smile by choosing from over 20 unique card designs in Credit One Bank's card gallery. A fee may apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$0 - $99
Regular APR
17.99% to 23.99% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

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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.

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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] [Vantage 3.0] 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

  • Pay no annual fee
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our 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
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
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® Secured Mastercard®

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In A Nutshell

Owning a secured credit card can be a necessary step in bring your credit profile out of the gutter and the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is one of the strongest secured credit cards on the market today. 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.

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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] [Vantage 3.0] 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:

  • Start off with an initial credit line of $200 w/ a minimum deposit of $49, $99 or $200

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our 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

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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.

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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] [Vantage 3.0] 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:

  • There’s 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.

  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
Annual Fee
$35
Regular APR
17.39% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A ,
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A ,

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Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

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In A Nutshell

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® 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).

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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] [Vantage 3.0] 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

  • Pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Free online account access (mobile friendly)
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
Annual Fee
$0-$99
Regular APR
24.90%
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

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Milestone® Gold 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® Gold 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] [Vantage 3.0] 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

  • Quick pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Choose your custom card design - Free
  • Free online account access
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
Annual Fee
$35-$99
Regular APR
24.90%
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , 0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

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. It works much like Discover it Secured, except it’s an unsecured credit card.

How to use the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If improving your credit score weren’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, and
  • The increased credit limit will 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 indebtedness. If you have fair credit, 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.

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards – Best for purchase APR

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0 - $99.
  • APR: 17.99% to 23.99% Variable.
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV. Terms apply.

Why the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards is a good option for those with fair credit

With no security deposit requirement, the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards is already a step ahead of some competitors. You’ll know within 60 seconds of application whether you’re approved.

But the biggest benefit of the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards is that you’ll become eligible for a credit line increase as your credit score improves.

How to use the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Simply use the card and watch your score improve. You’ll enjoy free access to your Experian credit score so you can track your progress.

Why you might not want to consider the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Although the purchase APR is competitive, at 17.99% to 23.99% Variable, it’s variable, so you won’t be able to predict what it will be from one year to the next. Although this is definitely something you can watch.

See card details/apply or read our Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards review.

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. Potential credit line increases are available after just six on-time payments, though it may require payment of a fee. 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 after six months 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® Secured Mastercard® – 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® Secured Mastercard® is a good option for those with fair credit

As a secured card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® 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 six on-time monthly payments, with no increase in the security deposit requirement.

How to use the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Make your security deposit, make all payments on time, 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® Secured Mastercard®

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, to avoid the deposit.

See card details/apply or read our full Capital One® Secured Mastercard review.

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

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $35.
  • Regular APR: 17.39% (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.

As a secured credit card, your security deposit is your credit line, so it’s possible to have fair credit and still qualify for the card. 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.

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.

Discover it® Secured – Best for cash rewards and building credit

Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • APR: See Terms.
  • Credit line: $200 or more.
  • Rewards?: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.

Why Discover it® Secured is a good option for those with fair credit

The Discover it® Secured will tend to be more forgiving of bad credit than unsecured cards. You will start with a minimum credit line of $200, but the exact amount is based on the amount of your security deposit.

The Discover it® Secured also takes top honors for cash back, with 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. That can come to $20 per quarter, or $80 per year. You’ll then earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

If that isn’t enough, they’ll match all cashback earned in the first year. Just as important, this card has no annual fee. Also, your account will be automatically reviewed for a move to unsecured status after eight months of on-time payments.

How to use Discover it® Secured

The combination of generous cash rewards and a low annual fee will enable you to earn money on this card – IF you pay your balance in full each month.

Why you might not want to consider Discover it® Secured

The risk with cashback cards is the very real potential they have to incentivize spending just to get the benefit of the cashback.

If you have fair credit, cash back is nice to have, but keeping your balance low, and making your payments on time each month need to be the primary goal.

See card details/apply or read our full Discover it® Secured review.

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® – Best credit card for people who have a recent bankruptcy

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $0-$99.
  • APR: 24.90%.
  • Credit line: $300.
  • Rewards?: N/A.

Why the Indigo® Platinum 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® Platinum Mastercard® 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® Platinum Mastercard®

Make your 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 each month to avoid any chance of either owing more than you can pay, or risking a late payment.

Why you might not want to consider the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

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. Though if your credit is sufficient, the annual fee may be as low as $59, or even zero.

See card details/apply or read our full Indigo® Platinum review.

Milestone® Gold Mastercard® – Best credit card for all credit types

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Card features:

  • Annual fee: $35 to $99.
  • APR: 24.90%.
  • Credit line: $300 or more.
  • Rewards?: N/A.

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

The Milestone® Gold is an unsecured credit card, with a minimum $300 credit line, and no security deposit required. It’s an excellent card if your credit scores 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® Gold 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® Gold 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® Gold review.

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 considered the features that would make it most valuable to people in that credit score range, based on different credit factors.

Those factors include:

  • The issuer reports to all three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax – giving you an opportunity raise your credit score with all three
  • Secured or unsecured credit cards – secured may be necessary for those at the lower end of the fair credit score range
  • Credit limits must be high enough to be usable, but not so high as to put you deep in debt.
  • Low or no annual fee (maximum under $100)
  • Offering the ability to increase your credit line as your payment history warrants.
  • Card features, like rewards and other benefits, if offered

What is fair credit?

Fair credit is that broad range between average and poor credit. It’s broad because an exact definition of what constitutes fair credit isn’t as specific as we sometimes think. Fair credit is between 580 and 669. That’s a very general range, and primarily according to the major credit bureaus.

But that’s just the starting point. The actual fair credit range will depend on the industry and even a specific lender.

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

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 choose 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 pay 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 rate or higher rewards in the future.

Look for cards that offer lower annual fees or some rewards that can offset an annual fee.

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 APR’s. 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

Do you know how credit cards typically advertise wide interest rate spreads, like 14.99% to 24.99%? With a credit score between 600 and 649, you’re much more likely to pay 24.99%.

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.

The annual fee

The annual fee matters with any credit card you are applying for, even if you have perfect credit. But they matter more when you’re in the fair credit range. That’s because credit limits are much smaller, making annual fees much larger by percentage.

For example, an annual fee of $75 on a $300 credit limit is 25% of the limit. For that reason, you should lean heavily in favor of credit cards with no 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 fee is the next best option. It can still help you to either rebuild or improve your credit score.

Introductory offer

On credit cards with higher credit score requirements, a common feature is a 0% introductory offer on balance transfers or purchases for anywhere from 12 to 21 months. You won’t see these offers with credit cards for fair credit.

The closest we came was the Discover it Secured card that offers a See Terms APR on balance transfers for the first see terms. It’s a nice option to have, but not a primary reason to take a card.

Also missing are upfront bonus rewards, like “3,000 bonus points (worth $300 cash back) if you spend $3,000 or more in the first three months”. That’s just as well; you don’t need to be running up that kind of balance if you have fair credit.

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 then not. But it should never be a primary reason for having a credit card when you have fair credit. In fact, certain benefits can even be a negative. 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 both card types, as well as the benefits and drawbacks.

Secured cards

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

Secured credit cards work just like unsecured credit cards. You can use them the same way, and you will make monthly payments. Those monthly payments will be reported to the major credit bureaus, and affect your credit score. You’ll also be charged interest on any unpaid balances.

The major disadvantage to a secured card is that your credit limit is limited by 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 none at all.
  • Most will automatically increase your credit limit after a few months of favorable payment history.
  • Most secured cards will convert your account to unsecured once you develop a favorable payment history.

You may find a secured credit card will even work better for you than an unsecured one, at least because most have no annual fee.

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.

But a major negative is the annual fee. It can be as high as $99, which is a lot of money to pay on a credit limit that may be no more than $300.

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

 Secured CardsUnsecured Cards
Work like regular credit cardsYesYes
Report to all 3 credit bureausYesYes
Charge annual feeNone, or very low ($35) Yes, can be as high as $99
Interest rateMid-20% rangeMid-20% range
Automatic credit line increasesYesOn some only
Convert to unsecuredGenerally, yes N/A

How to properly use a credit card for fair credit

 It’s important to have credit cards when you have fair credit. Used properly, they’ll help you to improve your credit score. But if used the wrong way, they can lead to lower credit scores.

We recommend the following:

Pay off  your balance quickly and regularly

There are three basic problems with carrying a balance:

  • Balances incur interest, and that raises the cost of having the card.
  • It further reduces an already low credit limit.
  • It increases the chance of you defaulting.

That last point needs more discussion. A major cause of fair or poor credit is a maxed-out credit card. Not only is the monthly payment more difficult to handle, but you’re more likely to default because the card no longer provides the credit it once did. Default, and you can go from fair credit to poor credit in just a few weeks.

Avoid a card with an annual fee – if you can

If a card has a particularly large annual fee, in combination with a low credit limit, it will effectively reduce that credit limit. It will also increase the likelihood you’ll be carrying a balance and making interest payments.

Some of the cards we’ve included on our list do have annual fees, though all are below $100. It’s best to avoid these if you can, but if not, just be aware that it will raise the cost of improving your credit score.

Charge no more than you can easily repay when the bill comes in

You’ve probably heard of this before, but a credit card should never be used as an extension of your paycheck. If you make $3,000 per month, a credit card shouldn’t be used to enable you to spend $3,500. That’s unsustainable, and a major reason for fair and poor credit scores.

Use your credit card as a tool to improve your credit score. Make small charges that you can easily repay when the bill comes due. That will avoid both interest charges and an ever-increasing credit card balance.

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.

When rebuilding fair credit, take time to learn the right way to rebuild credit yourself—know your rights and the signs of a credit repair scam. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

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’ll 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 pulling your credit score again, and making application for a credit card.

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 having 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 now paying all your bills on time all the time.

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. The best thing about Boost is that you’ll start seeing an increase immediately to begin improving your credit score one step at a time.

Alternative cards for people with credit scores between 600 and 649

 You might be tempted to try alternative cards, particularly if you had difficulty getting the types of credit cards you want. Let’s take a look at the alternatives.

Debit card

Debit cards today are almost exactly like credit cards, at least when it comes to spending. The main difference is that you aren’t borrowing money, and you don’t make monthly repayments.

But there are some factors you need to be aware of…

A debit card doesn’t help you build credit

Since there are no monthly payments, 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 bank 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 that’s been a problem in the past, a debit card can help by forcing you to live within spending limits.

Prepaid cards

These have gotten more popular in recent years, not only for people who are unable to get credit cards, but also as a secure way of making online purchases. It may be worth having one 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 will 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.

Store charge cards

Many people who have difficulty getting traditional credit cards do opt 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, store cards do report your payment history to the major 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.
  • You’ll have to be credit qualified, so you’ll be no more likely to be approved than you will for a general credit card.
  • 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 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
Work like credit cards?YesYesLimited to issuing merchant only
Help you manage your finances?YesYesNo
Require security?YesYesNo
Will improve your credit score?NoNoPossibly
Provide buyer protection?LimitedNoNo

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

Is it worth it to do a balance transfer with a credit card for fair credit?

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.

How important are rewards if your credit score is between 600 and 649?

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.

If I get one of these credit cards, then get a better offer from another one, should I cancel this card?

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.

How long will it take to raise my credit score to get better credit card offers?

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.

How long after being approved for one of these cards can I apply for another credit card?

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.

Summary

In the table below, we summarized the main information for each of the seven 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 Card$300 or more$3926.99% (Variable)UnsecuredCashback, $0 fraud liabilityYes
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back RewardsNot specified$0 - $9917.99% to 23.99% VariableUnsecuredCashback, $0 fraud liability, Experian credit scoreYes
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card$300 or more$026.99% (Variable)Unsecured$0 fraud liabilityYes
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®$200$026.99% (Variable)Secured, requires a deposit of $49, $99, or $200N/AYes
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card $200 - $3,000$3517.39% (Variable)SecuredNo credit check or bank account required to open an accountYes
Discover it® Secured$200 or more$0See TermsSecured, matches credit limitCashback, credit alerts, $0 fraud liability, free FICO scoreYes
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®$300$0-$9924.90%UnsecuredN/AYes
Milestone® Gold Mastercard®$300 or more$35 to $9924.90%UnsecuredN/AYes

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, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609, 610, 611, 612, 613, 614, 615, 616, 617, 618, 619, 620, 621, 622, 623, 624, 625, 626, 627, 628, 629, 630, 631, 632, 633, 634, 635, 636, 637, 638, 639, 640, 641, 642, 643, 644, 645, 646, 647, 648, and 649. This does not mean guaranteed approval as credit decisions take into factors other than FICO score.

About the author

Total Articles: 353
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.

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