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Best credit cards for credit scores between 650-699

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Credit scores (a.k.a. FICO scores) of 650, 660, 670, 680, and 690 fall in the range of average to just above average. The best credit cards are reserved for those with excellent credit. That said, you can still get a good credit card with a credit score in the high 600s.

Our pick for the best credit card for average credit is the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. It offers good approval odds for applicants with average credit and an attractive 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Not your credit range? See the best credit cards for FICO scores between 600 and 650 or credit cards for very good credit (better than 700 credit score) instead.

Overview: Best credit cards for 650-699 credit score

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

We think the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is the best credit card for average credit because of the generous 1.5% cash back and Capital One’s reputation as an accommodating credit card issue for cardmembers with a range of credit scores.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

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  • 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
  • Enjoy up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • 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 Intro APR, Purchases Intro APR, Balance Transfers Regular APR Credit Needed
$39 N/A N/A 30.74% (Variable)
  • Average
  • Fair
  • Limited

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has a very attractive cash rewards offer for consumers with average credit. You can earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and there are no rotating spending categories requiring you to adjust your activity every quarter. The card also comes with $0 fraud liability, free credit score monitoring, and auto rental collision damage waiver. If you start with a low credit limit, you will be eligible for automatic increases after making just six on time monthly payments.

To get the most out of this card, make your payments on time every month, and Capital One will begin reviewing your credit limit after just six months. This will not only provide you with a good credit reference, but the potential for a higher credit limit may improve your credit utilization ratio.

The major drawback of cash back credit cards — ironically — is that they may cause you to spend more money than you otherwise would because you think “Hey, I’m getting cash back on this!” If you know that you might be tempted to overspend with a credit card, consider the Capital One Platinum Card instead. It doesn’t offer rewards, but that may work in your favor if your primary goal is to get a credit card to use responsibly while rebuilding credit.

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

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® Credit Card 

The Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® Card is unique from other credit cards with predictable monthly payment schedule that works like a personal loan.

Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®

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  • $200 bonus after opening a Rewards Checking Plus account and making 3 debit card transactions*
  • Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment
  • Combine the flexibility of a credit card with the predictability of a personal loan
  • No annual fee
  • No touch payments with contactless technology built in
  • See if you qualify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Great for large purchases with predictable payments you can budget for
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud liability
Annual Fee Intro APR Regular APR Credit Needed
$0 N/A 14.99% - 29.99% APR Excellent, Good, Fair, Average

With the Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® Card, you get a personal line of credit between $500 – $25,000 and your monthly payments will be based off a percentage or your balance and your payoff terms (12 – 60 month terms).  New cardholders can earn a $200 bonus after opening a Rewards Checking Plus Account and making three transactions with the card.

The Upgrade Card also comes with a simple mobile app that can help you manage your account, pay your bill, and check your cash back balance, and you’ll earn 1.5% rewards on all purchases when you pay for those purchases.

If you’re interested in strengthening your credit score, the Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® Card can help you with that. Just make sure you pay your bill on time each month and you’ll gradually start to see your score tick upward.

» MORE: See card details/apply or check out our Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card review

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a no-frills credit card for those on the lower end of the average credit score range, who are mostly interested in either rebuilding or improving their credit score. The card doesn’t offer cash back rewards or points. But it does offer $0 fraud liability, and auto rental collision damage waiver benefits.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

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  • 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 Intro APR, Purchases Intro APR, Balance Transfers Regular APR Credit Needed
$0 N/A N/A 30.74% (Variable)
  • Average
  • Fair
  • Limited

This is really a card designed for those with fair credit, but in the credit card universe, even a credit score in the mid-600s could be considered fair. If you’ve been unable to get a credit card elsewhere, this one is an excellent choice. As long as you pay off your balance monthly, it will be a cost-effective way to improve your credit score, particularly since there’s no annual fee.

The only reason you might avoid this card is because you qualify for a card that also includes cash back rewards or points. Otherwise it’s an excellent card to rebuild or improve your credit score.

» MORE: See card details/apply or read our full Capital One Platinum Credit Card review

How we came up with our list of the best cards 650 to 690 credit score

So, you’ve just scrolled through our top picks for credit cards suited for creidit scores between 650 and 690. You might be wondering how we landed on those choices. Let’s explain our process.

Our research process

To make our picks for the best credit cards for average credit, we began by looking at over 200 credit cards issued by major U.S. bank, as well as some from lesser-known banks and credit unions. Because most credit cards require very good or excellent credit for approval, we quickly narrowed the list to a few dozen cards available to applicants with average credit scores.

What we looked for

Here’s a breakdown of our selection criteria:

  1. Interest rates: We started with the basics. A competitive APR can make a significant difference in how much you pay over time.
  2. Rewards and benefits: We’re all about maximizing value. We searched for cards that offer solid rewards, whether it’s cash back, travel perks, or points.
  3. Fees: No one likes hidden costs. We prioritized cards with clear fee structures and, where possible, no annual fees.
  4. User reviews: Real feedback from actual users can be incredibly telling. We took into account the experiences of others to gauge the overall satisfaction of cardholders.
  5. Flexibility: Life can be unpredictable. We appreciate cards that offer some wiggle room, be it in payment options or grace periods.
  6. Customer support: Often overlooked, customer service is an important intangible feature of your credit card. How responsive is the customer support? Are there resources available to educate cardholders? A company’s support can make or break the user experience.

The competition

In addition to our three picks, we looked at a number of other cards that, while great, didn’t make our final cut.

Discover it® Student Card

These included student credit cards, which are marketed to college students who typically don’t yet have lengthy credit histories. We especially like the Discover it® Student Card. Discover has done student cards well for many decades. Their student card pays between 1% and 2% cash back and has no annual fee.

Mission Lane Cash Back Visa Card

You might also consider the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa Card, a no annual fee credit card with up to 1.5% cash back and automatic credit line reviews after 7 months.

Credit cards to avoid

When shopping for a credit card for average credit, be wary of cards that advertise “easy” or “guaranteed” approval. There are cards designed for applicants with bad credit and they are very bad deals. They often come with high annual fees and very low credit lines.

What is ‘average credit’ exactly?

Hey there! Navigating the world of credit can sometimes feel like deciphering a secret code. With terms like “average credit,” “fair credit,” and “excellent credit” floating around, it’s easy to get a bit lost. So, when we mention “average credit” and pinpoint it to scores between 650 and 699, what are we really talking about? Let’s demystify this together.

Credit scores are essentially a reflection of your financial habits. Think of them as grades, but instead of subjects like math or history, you’re being graded on your financial behavior. And just like in school, there are different grades.

Decoding the credit score spectrum

Credit scores usually range from 300 to 850. Based on our research, here’s how we’ve categorized them:

  • Poor Credit: 300-599
  • Fair Credit: 600-649
  • Average Credit: 650-699
  • Good Credit: 700-749
  • Excellent Credit: 750 and above

Now, while we’ve categorized “excellent credit” as scores over 700, it’s worth noting that definitions can vary. Different experts and institutions might have their own classifications. Our breakdown is designed for simplicity and clarity.

Factors influencing your credit score

Your credit score isn’t just a random number. It’s influenced by:

  1. Payment History: Regular, on-time payments can boost your score.
  2. Credit Utilization: This is about how much of your credit you’re using versus what’s available to you. Lower is usually better.
  3. Length of Credit History: Older accounts can be beneficial as they show a longer track record.
  4. Types of Credit: A mix of credit types, like credit cards and loans, can be a positive sign.
  5. Recent Credit Inquiries: Multiple applications for credit in a short span can be a potential red flag.

The significance of ‘average credit’

If you’re in the “average credit” bracket, you’re on a promising path. It suggests a balance of good financial decisions with a few challenges along the way. The great news? There are credit cards specifically designed for this range, helping you further improve your credit standing.

To wrap things up, while the world of credit scores can seem complex, our aim is to simplify and guide. Remember, it’s not just about the score, but understanding and improving your financial health.

How fast can credit improve?

Ah, the age-old question: “How quickly can I boost my credit score?” It’s a bit like asking how long it takes to get in shape. The answer? It depends. Just as our bodies respond differently to exercise and diet, our credit scores react uniquely to financial behaviors. But don’t fret! Let’s break down the factors that influence the speed of credit improvement and some actionable steps to kickstart the process.

The starting point matters

Your current credit score plays a significant role in determining how fast you can see improvements. If you’re starting with a lower score, you might notice quicker jumps with positive financial actions. On the other hand, if you’re already in the “good” or “excellent” range, climbing even higher might take a bit more time.

The nature of the negative marks

If your credit report has some blemishes, the type and age of these negative marks can influence the speed of improvement.

  1. Late Payments: Typically, the impact of a late payment diminishes over time. If you missed a payment recently, it might sting your score more than an older missed payment. But here’s the good news: staying consistent with on-time payments from here on can gradually mend the damage.
  2. Bankruptcies and Foreclosures: These are heavy hitters. They can stay on your credit report for 7-10 years. However, their impact lessens as time goes by, especially if you adopt positive credit habits.
  3. High Credit Utilization: If you’re using a significant chunk of your available credit, it can weigh down your score. The silver lining? This is one of the quicker fixes. By paying down balances, you can see improvements in a matter of months.

Steps to speed up the process

While there’s no magic wand to instantly elevate your credit score, certain actions can accelerate the journey:

  1. Check for Errors: Sometimes, credit reports have mistakes. Maybe it’s a payment marked late when you paid on time or an account that isn’t yours. By regularly reviewing your report and disputing any inaccuracies, you can potentially see quick improvements.
  2. Pay Down Balances: As mentioned earlier, high credit utilization can be a drag on your score. If possible, pay down outstanding balances, aiming to keep your utilization below 30%.
  3. Set Up Payment Reminders: Consistency is key. Setting up reminders or automatic payments can ensure you never miss a due date.
  4. Become an Authorized User: If a family member or friend has a stellar credit history with a particular card, consider asking them to add you as an authorized user. This can give your score a gentle nudge upwards.
  5. Diversify Your Credit Mix: Lenders like to see a mix of credit types, such as credit cards, retail accounts, and installment loans. While you shouldn’t open accounts just for the sake of it, diversifying can be beneficial.

Patience is a virtue

While it’s natural to want quick results, credit improvement is often a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate the small victories along the way. Maybe it’s seeing your score go up a few points or getting approved for a card with better terms. Every step forward is progress.

Tips to improve your (average) credit

Improving your credit score is an important financial goal when you’re in the average credit score range. Moving your credit score to above 700 can bring you a lot of attractive credit offers. But to do that, you’ll have to successfully manage your credit card usage.

Monitor Your Credit Score from Now on

You don’t want to become obsessive about this, but you do need to have a general idea where your credit score is at any time. At a minimum, a serious negative change in your credit score can indicate either an error on your report or even fraudulent activity. Only by knowing what your credit score is on a regular basis will you be able to detect and deal with either situation.

Dispute Any Errors

One of the major purposes for monitoring your credit is to correct errors. If you monitor your credit on a monthly basis, you’ll detect those errors shortly after they happen. That’s important because you’ll have both better recollection of what really happened, as well as documentation. You’ll need both to correct the error.

If you do detect an error, contact the creditor immediately and dispute it. You’ll have to provide written documentation of your case. If the creditor agrees that the entry is an error, have them confirm that in writing. Also, request they report the corrected information to all three credit bureaus. Wait 30 days, then check your credit again.

If the information continues to appear on your credit report, mail a copy of the letter from the creditor to each of the credit bureaus, and request they correct the information.

Pay ALL Your Bills on Time

This should be completely obvious, but it bears repeating. A single late payment could drop your credit score 20 or 30 points. That can drop you from average to fair credit in a matter of weeks. It’s not just about repaying your creditors on time either. If you get behind with a utility company or a landlord, they may report the unpaid balance to the credit bureaus. That will also drop your credit score.

This is why it’s critical to pay all bills on time, all the time.

Pay Off Any Past Due Balances

If your credit report reflects any unpaid balances, pay them off. If you believe the balance to be an error, you’ll have to dispute it and provide written documentation of your claim. If you can’t, it’s best to pay it and be on your way. A paid collection or charge-off is always better for your credit score than an unpaid one.

Go Slow Applying for New Credit

Even once you get a credit card approved, you should let plenty of time pass before applying for another. At least six months is recommended.

How a credit card helps you improve average credit

So, you’ve got a credit score that’s smack dab in the middle of the spectrum. It’s not bad, but it’s not stellar either. You’re in the “average credit” zone. But here’s the exciting part: with the right approach, a credit card can be your trusty sidekick in elevating that fair credit score further. Let’s explore how wielding a credit card wisely can help you climb the credit ladder.

1. Building a payment history

Your payment history is like the backbone of your credit score, making up a significant chunk of it. Every time you make a payment on your credit card, it’s like adding a brick to the foundation of your credit history. Regular, on-time payments signal to lenders that you’re reliable and can manage credit responsibly.

2. Credit utilization management

Credit utilization is a fancy term that refers to the ratio of your credit card balance to your credit limit. For instance, if you have a credit limit of 300, your credit utilization is 30%. Keeping this ratio low (ideally below 30%) can positively impact your score. A credit card allows you to actively manage and optimize this ratio, showcasing your credit management skills.

3. Lengthening your credit history

The age of your credit accounts plays a role in your credit score. By holding onto a credit card over the years and using it responsibly, you can lengthen your credit history. A longer history can be beneficial for your score, especially if it’s filled with positive financial behaviors.

4. Diversifying your credit mix

Lenders love variety. They like to see that you can handle different types of credit, from credit cards to installment loans. By adding a credit card to your credit portfolio, you’re diversifying your credit mix, which can give your score a gentle boost.

5. Opportunities for credit limit increases

As you demonstrate responsible credit card usage, your card issuer might offer you a credit limit increase. This not only gives you more spending power but can also improve your credit utilization ratio, provided your spending habits remain the same.

6. Learning and adapting

Having a credit card is a bit like having a financial mirror. It reflects your spending habits, payment behaviors, and financial discipline. By regularly reviewing your credit card statements and monitoring your credit score, you can learn and adapt. Noticed a spike in unnecessary expenses last month? You can cut back. Saw a dip in your credit score? You can investigate and address the issue.

7. Protection against negative marks

While it’s essential to avoid negative marks like late payments, sometimes life happens. Many credit cards offer features like payment reminders or even grace periods that can act as a safety net, helping you avoid potential blemishes on your credit report.

8. Access to credit education tools

Many credit card issuers offer tools and resources to help cardholders understand and improve their credit. This might include monthly credit score tracking, articles on credit management, or even workshops. By leveraging these tools, you can become more informed and proactive in your credit improvement journey.

In essence, a credit card is more than just a spending tool for those with average credit. It’s a dynamic instrument that, when used with intention and discipline, can catalyze credit growth. It offers a platform to demonstrate financial responsibility, learn from past behaviors, and continuously adapt for a brighter credit future.

So, if you’re in the average credit club and have a credit card in your wallet, remember: you hold the power to shape your credit destiny. Use it wisely, stay informed, and watch as your average credit transforms into something truly exceptional.

How to find the best credit cards if your FICO score is 650 to 699

So, you’ve got a FICO score between 650 and 699 and you’re on the hunt for the best credit card to match. It’s a bit like looking for the perfect pair of shoes in a massive store. Let’s make that search a tad easier, shall we?

Understand your position

First things first, give yourself a pat on the back. A FICO score in this range means you’ve been doing a lot right with your finances. Sure, there might’ve been a hiccup or two, but who hasn’t had those? Knowing your score range is your secret weapon. It helps you zero in on cards that are just right for you, boosting your chances of a thumbs-up when you apply.

Prioritize your needs

Before you dive deep into the world of credit card offers, take a breather. Ask yourself: What do I really want from a card? Are you on the lookout for one that’ll help you build credit? Maybe you’re dreaming of rewards or travel perks? Or is a low-interest rate the golden ticket for you? Pinpointing your needs helps you sift through the options with laser focus.

Research, research, research

Alright, time to put on your detective hat. Research is your best friend here. Here’s a game plan:

  1. Visit bank websites: Many banks roll out the red carpet for you with tools that showcase pre-approved offers based on your score. It’s a great place to start.
  2. Use credit card comparison tools: Picture this: a bunch of credit cards lined up, with all their features on display. Online comparison tools do just that. Pop in your score range and watch the magic happen.
  3. Read reviews: Think of reviews as chats with friends. They spill the beans on what it’s really like to have a card, giving you the inside scoop.

Watch out for fees

Now, while some credit cards dazzle with their rewards and perks, keep an eye out for the sneaky fees. Some might come with annual fees, others might pinch you for balance transfers or when you’re globetrotting. Dive into the details and balance out the perks against any fees.

Consider credit unions

Here’s a pro tip: credit unions can be goldmines for those with average credit. They often outshine traditional banks with lower fees and interest rates. If you’re part of a credit union or can join one, it’s worth taking a peek at their card offers.

Don’t apply all at once

You might feel like a kid in a candy store, wanting to try everything. But when it comes to credit cards, it’s best to play it cool. Applying for a bunch of cards in one go can be a buzzkill for your credit score. Each application is like a footprint on your credit report. So, take it slow and steady.

Remember, it’s a tool

Once you’ve got that shiny new card in your hands, treat it with respect. It’s more than just a piece of plastic; it’s a tool. A tool to pave your way to even better credit. So, use it wisely. Pay on time, keep an eye on your spending, and always, always stay vigilant for any fishy activity.

The most important features of credit cards if your FICO score is between 650 and 699

Shopping for credit cards in the average credit score range is a lot more fun than it is if your score is below average. This is the range when you start to look more selectively for the perks that a card offers, rather than just settling for whatever card you can qualify for. Here are the factors we consider most important in this credit score range:

Annual percentage rate (APR)

In this credit score range, you start to see lower interest rates on credit cards. A card may offer 14.99% to 24.99%.

That said, the best way to avoid interest charges is to ensure that you make a monthly paymentin full before your bill is due.

Annual fee

There are more credit cards available in this credit score range that have either low or no annual fee. Naturally, you want to avoid an annual fee if you can. But if you’re at the lower end of the credit score range, it may be worth it to take a card with the fee, and use the credit line to improve your score. After you do, you’ll be eligible to apply for credit cards with no annual fee.

Introductory offer

Credit card sign-up bonuses may start to pop up occasionally among credit cards for this credit score range. You may see them show up as bonus points or cash rewards for spending X amount within the first three months.

Another popular introductory offer — though not as common in this credit score range — is the 0% introductory offer. A credit card may offer this for the first 12 months or longer after your credit line is approved. It may be available for both balance transfers and purchases.

Credit card rewards

These are the ongoing rewards, like 1-1.5% cash back on standard purchases. Some credit cards may also offer you enhanced cash back rewards or points on eligible purchases in certain spending categories. These categories usually change on a quarterly basis and can apply to gas, groceries, restaurant meals, or other spending categories.

Secured vs. unsecured cards

Credit cards can be either secured or unsecured, though unsecured is by far the most common type. If your FICO score is 650 to 699, you will most likely get unsecured cards. But a brief discussion of secured cards is worthwhile, since it may apply to a few consumers in this credit score range who are unable to get unsecured used cards for fair credit elsewhere.

Secured cards

Secured cards are just what the name implies. The amount of your credit line is typically based on the security deposit you put up. For example, if you make a $300 deposit, you’ll usually have a corresponding $300 credit limit.

Other than the security deposit, secured cards work just like unsecured cards. You run charges and make monthly payments. The payment history is reported to the major credit bureaus, which will impact your credit score. And even though there is a security deposit, you will still be charged interest on outstanding balances.

The best secured credit cards often come with no annual fee or a very low one. Most will eventually increase your credit limit based on your on-time monthly payments. And some will convert your card to unsecured after a certain amount of time.

Unsecured cards

Naturally, no security deposit is required for unsecured cards. But the annual fee may be higher than it is for a secured card. The table below summarizes the difference between a secured credit card and unsecured credit cards:

  Secured cards Unsecured cards
Make purchases on credit Yes Yes
Report to all 3 credit bureaus Yes Yes
Annual fee Usually very low (≤$35) Can be as high as $500+
Interest rate Usually 18%-30% Usually 15%-25%
Automatic credit line increases Yes On some only
Convert to unsecured Generally, yes N/A

Note: All cards on this page that we selected for credit scores between 650 and 699 are unsecured.

How to properly use a credit card for average credit

When you’re in the fair or average credit- score range, one of your main goals with any credit card should be to help you move into the good/excellent range. That will only happen with proper use of your credit card. Good practices include:

Pay off your balance quickly and regularly

In the average credit score range, it’s still very likely you’ll pay the maximum interest rate. If that interest rate is high, for example 24.99%, this will have obvious implications if you carry a balance. The interest rate will make having the card more expensive unless you diligently pay off the card balance in full each month.

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

In order to be able to pay your balance in full each month, you should avoid charging more than you’ll be able to repay the next month. A credit card is not a blank check. No matter what the credit limit is, you need to set your own budget for that card. If the credit limit is $2,000, but you can afford to repay only $400 the following month, then $400 needs to be your credit limit.

Rewards can lower the cost of your credit card

One of the advantages of being in the 650 to 699 credit score range is that some cards offer rewards. If a card pays 1.5% cash back, and you charge an average of $500 per month, you’ll earn $7.50 per month or $90 per year. If you don’t carry a balance — and don’t pay interest — it’ll be like earning an extra $90 per year. What you earn in rewards/cash back will hopefully be enough to cover the annual fee, making the card essentially free to use.

How to make the most of a credit card for average credit

So, you’ve got a credit card tailored for those with average credit. First off, kudos! This card isn’t just a piece of plastic; it’s a golden ticket to a brighter financial future. But, like any tool, it’s all about how you use it. Let’s dive into strategies to squeeze every ounce of benefit from your new card.

1. Embrace the learning curve

Having a credit card is a bit like learning to drive. There’s a lot to take in initially, but with time and practice, it becomes second nature. Spend some quality time with your card’s terms and conditions. Understand the interest rates, fees, and any perks or rewards. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to use the card to your advantage.

2. Set a budget and stick to it

It’s easy to get carried away with a new credit card. The allure of buying now and paying later can be tempting. But remember, every swipe of the card is a loan. Create a realistic budget that factors in your income, expenses, and any existing debts. This will help ensure you spend within your means and can comfortably pay off your balance.

3. Pay in full and on time

This can’t be stressed enough. Paying your balance in full each month means you won’t incur interest charges. It’s like getting an interest-free loan every month! Plus, timely payments are a significant factor in your credit score. Set reminders or automate payments to ensure you never miss a due date.

4. Monitor your credit utilization

Credit utilization is the ratio of your credit card balance to your credit limit. For example, if you have a 300 balance, your utilization is 30%. Aim to keep this ratio below 30%. It not only helps improve your credit score but also shows lenders you’re responsible.

5. Take advantage of rewards and perks

Some average credit cards come with a rewards program, cash back, or other perks. If yours does, make the most of it! Whether it’s earning points for everyday purchases or getting cash back on specific categories, these rewards can add up. Just ensure you’re not spending extra just to earn rewards.

6. Regularly review your account

Make it a habit to check your account regularly. This helps you keep track of your spending, ensures you’re sticking to your budget, and allows you to spot any suspicious activity. Many card providers offer mobile apps, making it easy to monitor your account on the go.

7. Consider credit-building features

Some credit cards for average credit come with features designed to help you build credit. This might include monthly credit score tracking or reports to all three major credit bureaus. If your card offers these, take full advantage!

8. Be cautious with additional offers

Once you have a credit card, you might find yourself inundated with offers for additional cards or increased credit limits. While these can be tempting, it’s essential to proceed with caution. Only take on additional credit if you’re confident you can manage it responsibly.

9. Seek feedback and advice

Don’t be shy about seeking advice on using your credit card effectively. Whether it’s from financial advisors, friends, or online communities, gaining insights from others can be invaluable. They might share tips or strategies you hadn’t considered.

10. Plan for the future

Your average credit card is a stepping stone. As you use it responsibly and build your credit, you’ll open doors to cards with even better terms, lower interest rates, and more perks. Always have an eye on the future, and consider how you can transition to a card that aligns with your improving financial health.

What do I do if I’m rejected for a credit card?

First off, deep breath. Being rejected for a credit card can feel like a personal blow, but it’s more common than you might think. And it’s not the end of the world! In fact, it’s an opportunity to understand, recalibrate, and come back even stronger. Let’s walk through the steps to take after that not-so-fun “application declined” message.

1. Don’t panic and don’t rush into another application

It’s natural to feel a mix of emotions: disappointment, confusion, maybe even a bit of embarrassment. But remember, this isn’t a reflection of your worth. Credit card approvals are based on a myriad of factors, and sometimes, it’s just not the right fit. Resist the urge to immediately apply for another card; multiple applications in a short time can further dent your credit score.

2. Understand the ‘why’

Lenders are required to provide a reason for denying your application. This is usually sent via a letter or email, known as an adverse action notice. The reasons can range from low income, high debt, or a low credit score. Understanding the specific reason can help you address the root of the issue.

3. Request your credit report

If your rejection was due to your credit score, you’re entitled to a free copy of the credit report used in the decision. This is a golden opportunity to comb through your report and understand the factors impacting your score. Look for any errors or discrepancies; sometimes, a simple mistake on the report can lead to a rejection.

4. Work on credit-building

If your bad credit score is the culprit, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Some steps to consider:

  • Pay bills on time: This is a significant factor in your credit score. Set up reminders or automate payments to ensure punctuality.
  • Reduce debt: Work on paying down outstanding balances, especially high-interest ones.
  • Limit new credit inquiries: Each application results in a hard inquiry, which can lower your score. Be selective about applying.
  • Diversify your credit mix: A combination of credit types (like credit cards, retail accounts, and installment loans) can boost your score.

5. Consider alternative options

If you’re facing consistent rejections, it might be time to explore other avenues:

  • Secured credit cards: These cards require a security deposit, which acts as your credit limit. They’re designed for those looking to build or rebuild credit.
  • Credit-builder loans: Offered by some credit unions and banks, these loans are specifically for building credit. You “borrow” a set amount, which is held in a bank account. As you repay the loan, the lender reports your payments to the credit bureaus.
  • Become an authorized user: Ask a family member or friend with good credit if you can be added as an authorized user on their account. You’ll benefit from their positive credit habits.

6. Re-evaluate your financial health

A credit card rejection can be a wake-up call. Take a step back and assess your overall financial health. Create a budget, cut unnecessary expenses, and focus on saving. Sometimes, improving your financial stability can increase your chances of approval in the future.

7. Seek advice

Don’t be shy about seeking guidance. Whether it’s consulting with a financial advisor, joining a credit counseling service, or simply chatting with financially savvy friends, getting an external perspective can offer valuable insights.

8. Reapply when you’re ready

After taking steps to address the reasons for rejection and bolstering your financial health, consider reapplying. But remember, it’s essential to be strategic. Research cards that fit your profile, read reviews, and ensure you meet the eligibility criteria before applying.

Alternative cards for people with credit scores between 650 and 699

Alternative cards are less of an issue in the average credit score range than they are with fair or poor credit scores. But there may nonetheless be circumstances where you will want to have one or more of those alternative cards.

Debit card

A debit card is basically a necessity these days because it gives you direct access to your bank account. It’s also an excellent way to manage your finances. You can’t spend any more than you have in your account, which puts a natural limit on spending. And if nothing else, having a debit card will reduce your dependence on your credit card. That will help to avoid running up your credit card balance.

A debit card doesn’t help you build credit

As valuable as debit cards are, their use is not reported to the credit bureaus. These are strictly financial management tools and not credit builder cards.

A debit card can help you manage your finances

This is probably the most important benefit of having a debit card. If you maintain your budget primarily through your checking account, the account balance will serve as a natural limit on your debit card spending.

Prepaid cards

From a standpoint of having a credit card-like card for fair credit, prepaid cards are usually not necessary if your credit score is at least 650. But they do have a purpose and may be worth considering.

How do prepaid cards work?

Prepaid cards are available everywhere these days. You buy a card by adding a certain amount of money to it. The amount of money you add is your spending limit. You’ll pay a small fee for the purchase of the card. You can then use the prepaid card the same way you would a credit or debit card.

You can add money to a prepaid card on an ongoing basis by recharging it, which will typically require the payment of a small fee each time.

Benefits and limitations of prepaid cards

The two biggest limitations of prepaid cards are:

  • They do nothing to improve your credit score
  • They have to constantly be recharged

But they have one benefit that’s not available with either credit cards or debit cards. When you use a prepaid card, it leaves no record of account information. That virtually eliminates the possibility of identity theft. They’re well-suited to making purchases online, or even in person with vendors you don’t entirely trust. You can make your purchase, and not have to worry about leaving a paper trail behind.

But the absence of a paper trail points to another disadvantage. Prepaid cards lack the type of buyer protection benefits available with debit cards and especially with credit cards.

Store charge cards

If your FICO score is 650 to 699 you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting general credit cards. But if the credit limit on your card is on the low side, you may want to supplement it with a store card.

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?

Store cards can make sense if you do a lot of business with the card’s issuing merchant. But they’re subject to all the limits of general credit cards. For example, you should avoid carrying a balance, as interest rates on store cards can be excessive.

Advantages and disadvantages of debit, prepaid, and store cards

  Debit cards Prepaid cards Store cards
Require credit approval? Limited No Yes
Report to credit bureaus? No No Yes
Will improve your credit score? No No Possibly
Purchases subject to interest charges? No No Yes


Summary of the best credit cards if your FICO score is 650 to 699

In the table below, we summarized the main information for each of the cards we presented as the best cards if your FICO score is between 650 and 699:

Card/category Credit line increases? Sign-on bonus offer Rewards
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Yes, reviewed after six months N/A 1.5% unlimited cash back all purchases
Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® Credit Card N/A $200 bonus after opening a Rewards Checking Plus account and making 3 transactions 1.5% cash back when you pay for your purchases
Capital One Platinum Credit Card Yes, reviewed after six months N/A N/A
For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

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