Don’t let fair credit — credit score range of 550 to 640 — stop you from finding a credit card that will best serve your financial setup. (Got better credit? Consider other these credit cards.) Two popular choices are the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard and the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card.
I break down the distinct features of both cards to help you decide the better fair-credit credit card for you:
|Card||Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard||Capital One® Platinum Card|
|Annual fee||$0||$0 intro for first year; $19 after that|
|Rewards||Earn 2x points per dollar on gas, groceries and utilities; earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases||None|
|Special card benefits||None||No balance transfer fees; free Credit Tracker Tool|
|--||Learn more||Learn more|
You might not think that fair-credit credit cards would have annual fees, but many of them do! Although they’re not much, it is just a nuisance that a card would have such a fee to begin with.
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard: $0 annual fee
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card: $19 annual fee
The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard sits pretty as one of the few credit cards for fair credit that do not come with an annual fee. Meanwhile, the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card has a fee. It’s just $19 per year, but you should avoid it if you can.
Annual fee versus no annual fee? We don’t have to debate which one you prefer — the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard easily takes the prize for this category.
You do not want to be carrying a balance when you have a fair-credit credit card. Like any sort of loan, the worse your credit is, the higher your interest rates will be. So, it makes sense that the APRs for these cards are more alarming.
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard: Variable 24.99% APR
Capital One® Platinum Card: 24.9% APR
The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard has a slightly higher APR than the Capital One® Platinum card.
Although the APR on the Capital One® Platinum card is just a tad lower, I’m going to rule this one a tie because the APR difference is rather insignificant.
People who have fair credit are lucky enough to get a credit card in the first place, right? So, you might think that a rewards program is out of the question. But, fortunately, there are cards that offer rewards.
Barclaycard Reward MasterCard: Earn 2x points per dollar on gas, groceries and utilities; earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card: No rewards
Clearly, the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard has the upper hand with a rather enticing rewards program. It offers 2x points on very popular spending categories. In fact, gas, groceries and utilities make up the bulk of the necessary expenses that you’d charge on a credit card. It’s just better when you’re going to earn rewards on those unavoidable purchases. Many rewards credit cards, in general, do not even offer such a generous program. The points can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards and merchandise.
The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card, on the other hand, offers no rewards as it keeps things simple for fair-credit consumers.
Coming into the fight with no rewards program, the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card cannot match up to the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard.
Every credit card that you have in your wallet will have at least a small set of basic benefits that could come in handy in a pinch. Features like $0 fraud liability, extended warranties and roadside assistance are some of the common perks, but it’s the unique benefits that set one card apart from another.
Here are the noteworthy features of each card:
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard: None
Capital One® Platinum Credit Card: No balance transfer fees; free Credit Tracker Tool
The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard doesn’t have any standout perks that makes it more attractive than it already is. Applicants will qualify for a Platinum, World or World Elite MasterCard, depending on their credit. But, since you have fair credit, you’re more likely to qualify for just the Platinum MasterCard, which offers just the basic card benefits.
The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is also a Platinum MasterCard. However, you’re also getting free balance transfers. While it is not suggested to transfer a balance to card that charges 24.9% APR, you can save a little money if you’re transitioning from a secured credit card to this card. We do urge you to pay off that balance as soon as possible though.
Another neat feature from Capital One is the free Credit Tracker tool, which comes with a free monthly TransUnion credit score and a credit score simulator. You can use this tool to monitor the improvement in your credit (so you know when you can move on to a better credit card).
Verdict: Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard
The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard is simply too good for a credit card that is available to people with fair credit. The card benefits of the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card will foster credit improvement, but I feel you can do that using free, third-party credit monitoring tools.
A card with rewards and no annual fee is a rare combination for fair-credit credit cards, so that’s why the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard came out as the overall winner. (It’s also why we selected it as the top pick among the best credit cards for people with fair credit.)
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