It can be rough having borderline credit (at or just above the 550 credit score range). Your score is good enough to avoid secured cards that require a backing deposit, yet you have difficulty qualifying for cards that offer you decent rewards along with a reasonable interest rate.
Never fear — there are options available for fair levels of credit that offer rewards and perks that are more indicative of higher credit scores.
- Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard – This card has no annual fee and offers 2X points on gas purchases, utility bills, and most grocery store purchases (excluding grocery items purchased at big box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart). All other purchases earn equivalent (1X) reward points. The annual percentage rate (APR) for purchases is 25.24% variable.
As long as you keep your account "open, active, and in good standing," there are no limits on points and they do not expire. Points can be redeemed as deposits into checking/savings accounts, credits on your statement, or as gift cards, beginning at $10 per 1,000 points. Other perks include free access to your FICO credit score, $0 fraud liability protection, and chip-card technology for increased security.
- Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards MasterCard – Every purchase earns 1.5% cash back, with no categories to monitor. There is a 0% introductory APR on purchases for nine months; after that the APR is 23.24% variable. Rewards have no expiration or limits; they can be redeemed anytime. The annual fee is $39.
Make your first five monthly payments on time, and you will be able to use the Credit Steps program to access a higher credit line. Fraud coverage is included, as well as the ability to pick your due date and set your account to receive personalized e-mail or text message alerts for account/security information.
- Credit One® Rewards Card – Credit One offers a variable APR from 15.65% to 24.15% while retaining 1% cash back on gas and grocery purchases (see terms for details and limitations). Free credit score tracking is available online. Annual fees vary from $0 to $99. Automatic reviews allow for opportunities to increase your credit line.
- Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® – Students can earn 1% cash back on all purchases and increase the cash back to 1.25% simply by paying on time. There are no annual fees, no limit or expiration on rewards points, and no foreign transaction fees. As with other Capital One cards, you can increase your credit line by making the first five monthly payments on time.
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students – Citi offers another good option for students, especially those who use more credit for dining and entertainment. The ThankYou® card offers 2 points per dollar spent on restaurants and entertainment, with 1X points on other purchases. Spend $500 within the first three months and you can earn a special 5X bonus (2,500 points). There are no limits or expiration on points. Redemption options range from gift cards and merchandise to cash.
Before selecting a credit card, take a few moments to prioritize what is important to you in a card based on your shopping and payment habits, the types of rewards that are most important to you, and how those rewards are redeemed. Check the card issuer's website to review the full list of perks as well as the terms and conditions in full. With some research, you will be on the path to gaining rewards that you did not think possible, and perhaps improve your credit in the process.
If you want more credit, check out MoneyTips’ list of credit card offers.
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