If you’ve hit a few bumps in the road when it comes to your credit history, you’re not alone. It’s pretty common to miss a payment or two, or make other credit-related mistakes. The good news is that no matter what your credit history, there is a credit card you can be approved for. We’ve previously covered the best cards for excellent credit. Fortunately, many of the cards available to those with just “average” or “good” credit (generally considered to be a credit score above 670) have virtually the same great features offered to people with perfect credit, but are targeted towards people who might have a ding or three on their credit reports. Even people with the worst credit scores can get a secured credit card that works and looks the same as an unsecured card to help rebuild their credit.
If you have a credit score to the left of perfect, you still have plenty of great card choices. We’ve taken a careful look at all the major credit cards out there, examining the features, fees and fine print and found the best 7 cards for anyone without perfect credit.
Rebuilding Credit (credit score below 600)
Best Card for Rebuilding Your Credit: Discover it Secured Card
If your credit is more towards the “bad credit” side of the credit score scale (often considered below 600), this card can help. Designed for those who may not qualify for other credit cards due to past or current credit issues, Discover it Secured Card can assist you in rebuilding your credit. It’s a secured credit card, or one that requires a security deposit of your funds into an account in order to ‘secure’ the card. The minimum deposit for this card is $200, and the minimum credit line is $200, but it can go as high as $2,500. The best part of this card is that you’ll earn cashback rewards on your purchases – 2% back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. On top of the great cashback rewards, this card also includes a free monthly TransUnion FICO credit score and regularly reports to each of the 3 major credit bureaus, which can help you improve your credit. You just need to do your part by using your card responsibly and making regular and timely card payments.
Best Card for Average Credit (credit score 670 or above)
Best Cash Back Rewards for Average Credit: Discover it Cashback Match
If you’re in the market for a rewards card with no annual fee and have just “average” or “good” credit (a credit score above 670), or even “excellent” credit, you have the chance to be approved for Discover it Cashback Match. You’ll earn 5% back in categories that rotate quarterly (on up to the quarterly maximum, then 1% back), and 1% back on all other purchases. You do need to sign up to receive the 5% back each quarter, but Discover offers automated email reminders to help keep you on track. And on top of the great rewards, at the end of your first year Discover will match your cashback rewards — so if you earn $300 in your first year, Discover will double it to $600! From January through March of 2017, you’ll earn 5% back at gas stations, ground transportation (including Lyft and Uber) and wholesale clubs (including Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco online), which means you’ll get 10% back on these purchases after your rewards are doubled! From April through June of 2017 the 5% categories are wholesale clubs (for a second quarter!) and home improvement stores. Plus there is a 14-month 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers, and you’ll also be able to see your FICO Score for free each month which is another nice way to keep a close eye on your credit and help raise that score.
Best Cards for Good Credit (credit score around the 700s)
Best Balance Transfer Card for Good Credit: Chase Slate
Anyone suffering from overspending, or just looking for a smart way to make a large (or small) purchase and pay no interest for awhile should take a close look at this card. With a 0% intro APR on both balance transfers and purchases, Chase Slate is a good solution for saving money on interest fees you’re probably already paying. You can consolidate your balances from higher interest rate cards onto this one a save some serious money. Plus, you don’t have to pay any balance transfer fees if you move all your balances within the first 60 days. Not paying a balance transfer fee is a big win, as these fees generally range around 3% of the transfer amount. 3% of a large balance can really add up, and the fact that you don’t need to pay anything to get your balances onto this card is terrific. Another bonus is that there is no annual fee to worry about. This is the top-rated balance transfer card we review, and the fact that it’s available to someone with good (rather than excellent) credit makes it even better.
Best Cash Back Rewards for Good Credit: Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom starts off with a generous $100 bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months. Plus there’s another $25 bonus once you add your first authorized card user and make a purchase in the first 3 months. If you earn both bonuses for a total of $125, you’ll get a whopping 25% cash back on the first $500 you spend, the biggest bonus for the smallest spend we’ve seen. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on everyday spending and 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in purchases) in categories that rotate quarterly. You do need to remember to sign up for the extra 5% cash back each quarter, which isn’t optimal but Chase Freedom provides a free reminder service that will email or text you (just remember to sign up for in your online account). And the card features a 15-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, convenient if you want to consolidate balances or just make a purchase you don’t have to pay interest on until late in 2016 (Note that here is a 5% balance transfer fee, which is a little higher than the typical fee).
Best Travel Card for Good Credit: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you’re a road warrior, like to travel or just want to travel, the Capital One Venture Rewards card is a smart card to have in your arsenal. With a 40,000 miles intro bonus (equal to $400 in travel!) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, you get some amazing rewards right out of the gate, even compared to cards only for those with perfect credit. And you’ll earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend on all purchases (equivalent to 2% cash back to spend on travel), not just certain purchases or things you need to sign up for in advance. It’s easy to use all those miles you earn too; just book your travel with the card and then redeem your miles for a statement credit against the travel cost. This simple redemption process gives you all the flexibility you need when you go to use your miles – you can travel however, whenever and whatever you want without blackout dates. Plus you can earn unlimited miles and they don’t expire. The Venture card also makes international travel slightly less expensive, as it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. Foreign transaction fees are charges added onto your statement for purchases you make outside the U.S., usually around 2 -3% of each purchases, so this can add up to some serious savings. The card does have an annual fee of $59, but it’s waived the first year. If you’re interested in a travel card with similar rewards but no annual fee, take a look at the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
Best Business Card for Good Credit: Capital One Spark Cash for Business
Those looking for a business card with strong cash back rewards should check out Capital One Spark Cash for Business. It starts off with a bang, offering a $500 bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months. This is followed up with an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. Adding free employee cards to your account card be an easy way to help accrue more rewards on your account, particularly if your employees travel often for business or make large purchases for your office/business. Speaking of travel, there are no foreign transaction fees so if you use your card internationally you won’t be hit by surprise fees. There is a $59 annual fee, but it is waived the first year.
Best Card for Students (limited credit or credit score of 670+)
Discover it for Students
If you’re a student in the market for a card with no annual fee that offers great cash back rewards, look no further. Discover it for Students was specifically designed with college students in mind and is available to enrolled students who typically have a limited credit history or “fair” credit. Not only that, but the cash back rewards you’ll earn are the same as those offered to those with excellent credit! You’ll get 5% back in categories that rotate quarterly (up to the quarterly maximum, then 1% back) and 1% back on all other purchases. You do need to activate your 5% back each quarter, but this is quick and easy to do and Discover provides convenient emails to help remind you. And as a huge bonus, you’ll get DOUBLE your cash back at the end of your first year! So if you earned $200, Discover will automatically double it to $400 total – a pretty sweet deal. Plus, you’ll earn another $20 each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.