What Is a Fair Credit Score?

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Last updated on August 24th, 2023

According to data from the major credit bureaus, over a third of Americans have subprime credit, with 17% of those having a fair credit score. But what is a “fair” credit score? And does having average credit mean you can’t get a decent credit card?

Average Credit Scores in FICO and VantageScore

According to Experian, a “fair” credit score is any FICO Score between 580 and 669. The FICO scoring method is the preferred credit score model of most lenders. Approximately 90% of banks use FICO to judge an applicant’s creditworthiness, with the other 10% using VantageScore.

VantageScore is a scoring model created by the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). This model defines a “fair” or average credit score as one between 601 and 660.

What Does Fair Credit Mean?

What does having “fair credit” mean? According to lenders, most people with a credit score in the 600s are “subprime” borrowers. Banks view subprime borrowers as a bigger credit risk than people with an excellent score. Because of this larger risk, people with average credit can expect higher interest rates, lower credit limits, and an inability to qualify for the best credit cards.

Average credit scores aren’t all bad news, however. A 600+ credit score means an applicant won’t have to rely on secured credit cards. Instead, they can get unsecured cards that require no deposit. This can free up personal finances for other things, like bills, paying down debt, and additional costs.

Average credit also means individuals might be just a year (or less) away from reaching a good credit score. Displaying financial responsibility can boost credit scores quickly, and fresh-start unsecured cards are a great way to accomplish this goal. By making on-time payments, paying statement balances in full, and avoiding other pitfalls, credit scores can rise by as much as 50 points in a matter of months.

What Are the Best Credit Cards for Average Credit?

There is a wide selection of credit cards for average credit. These include some popular names, like Credit One Bank and their Credit One Bank Platinum Visa.

However, Credit One isn’t the only bank offering credit cards for subprime credit. Several smaller banks also cater to those with fair credit, with cards like the Total Visa, Reflex Platinum Mastercard, and First Access Solid Black Visa being popular options.

Two cards worth highlighting are the Milestone® Gold Mastercard® and the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®. Both cards offer an unsecured line of credit and are ideal for those with a fair or bad credit. Both cards feature a fixed-rate APR and monthly reports to the major credit bureaus – making them ideal for building credit.

For more information on repairing credit and recommendations on the best credit cards for credit repair, visit our comprehensive guides to bad credit and fair credit on our “credit needed” category pages.

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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