Best Airline Credit Card With Fair Credit

When you’re looking for the best airline credit card, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your credit card. With a good credit score, you can get an airline credit card and earn points or miles every time you make a purchase. This can help you travel more often, get better seats on flights or even save money by using the points or miles instead of paying cash.

In this guide, we review the details of Best Airline Credit Card With Fair Credit, credit score needed for airline credit card, airline credit card for fair credit, and united airlines credit card.

The first thing to consider when choosing an airline credit card is what your credit score is. If it’s low, there are still options available to help you get started on your journey toward building up your credit history—but they may not be as lucrative as those with higher scores.

Best Airline Credit Card With Fair Credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for cashback rewards

If you have fair credit, it can be difficult to find a rewards card that allows you to earn cash back or travel points. Most cards designed for people with fair credit don’t have rewards programs or extra benefits. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the few exceptions.

Although it does have an annual fee of $39, you can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. You can also redeem your rewards in a variety of ways, including statement credits, gift cards, or a paper check. Plus, you’ll be automatically considered for a credit limit increase in as few as six months, which can improve your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit that you’re using), which then could improve your credit score.

The card also has other benefits, including $0 fraud liability, auto rental collision damage waiver protection, travel insurance, and extended warranty coverage.

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card: Best no-fee option

Many credit cards for people with fair credit have costly fees. You can end up paying hundreds of dollars each year just to use the card, which makes them expensive additions to your wallet.

The Petal 2 Visa Card 1 is different. The Petal 2 Visa Card is issued by WebBank, Member FDIC, and has no fees at all. You don’t have to worry about annual fees, foreign transaction fees, or even late payment fees. You can also qualify for the card even if you don’t have an established credit history, and you’ll start earning 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases right away.

Over time, you can even boost your cashback rewards rate. You can move up to earning 1.25% unlimited cash back on all purchases after 6 on-time payments, and 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases after 12 on-time payments.

The Petal 2 Visa also has a mobile app you can use to manage your account, set a monthly budget, and track your credit score. The app is available on iOS and Android on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for students

The Deserve Edu Mastercard is an excellent option for college students who want to start building their credit history, earn rewards, and enjoy a few extra benefits that sometimes only the best credit cards for students provide.

The Deserve Edu Mastercard has a $0 annual fee, and you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases. As a cardmember, you can get a free Amazon Prime Student membership for one year. Plus, you get complimentary cell phone protection, a perk typically associated with credit cards that have annual fees.

The card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, so it can be used without incurring additional costs if you’re traveling internationally or studying abroad.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: Best secured card

If you want to build your credit and don’t have a solid credit history, secured credit cards — which requires you to put down a sum of money as a security deposit — can be a helpful option. The previous cards we’ve mentioned on this list are unsecured cards, meaning you do not have to put a deposit down to open these accounts.

The Capital One Platinum Secured has a $0 annual fee, and you can put down a security deposit as low as $49. The minimum credit line you’ll be given if your application is approved is $200. You can be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months. All of this makes this card a good option if you’re working on rebuilding or building credit.

And, unlike most secured cards, the Capital One Platinum Secured also offers other benefits, such as auto rental collision damage waiver protection, travel accident insurance, and extended warranty protection.

Credit One Bank American Express Card: Best for retail benefits

Although the Credit One Bank American Express Card has a $39 annual fee, it’s a useful card if you’re looking for a rewards card. This card offers 1% cash back on every purchase and some retail benefits:

You’ll also get $150,000 in travel accident insurance when you book your travel with your Credit One Bank American Express card. And, as a cardmember, you can take advantage of Amex Offers and purchase tickets before the general public to major events, such as games and concerts.

What is a fair credit score?

There are different credit scoring models, so your credit score depends on which model a lender or credit card issuer uses when they do a hard credit check. In that way, you actually have more than one credit score.

The FICO score is the most commonly used model. For FICO, a fair credit score ranges between 580 and 669. Approximately 17% of Americans fall within this range. VantageScore is another scoring model. With VantageScore, the fair credit range is between 601 and 660. Just 13% of Americans have a fair VantageScore.

If your credit score is fair, you are generally considered to be a subprime borrower, and you may struggle to get approved for certain loans or credit cards, or you may pay high interest rates compared to borrowers with higher credit scores.

Both the FICO and VantageScore models use information pulled from your Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion credit reports to determine your score. But although they consider the same data, the two scoring models weight information differently. Factors that may be dragging down your credit scores include missed monthly payments, high credit utilization, and the length of your credit history.

What is the difference between a bad and fair credit score?

Fair and average credit are terms that are often used interchangeably, but the difference between having fair credit and poor credit is dramatic.

According to FICO scoring, fair credit is a score between 580 and 669. Very poor or bad credit is a score between 300 and 579. If your credit profile is rated as being in the very poor or bad range, you likely won’t qualify for a loan or credit card at all, or you may have to pay fees or deposits.

How a credit card can help you improve your credit score

If you have fair credit, using a credit card can raise your credit score. The responsible use of a credit card can actually help you boost your credit in the following ways:

How to choose the best credit card if you have average credit

Checking your credit at least once a year is a good idea. If you have average credit and are shopping for a new credit card, it’s important to consider the following factors:

There’s no one perfect card for everyone, so review the options below carefully. When evaluating the different credit cards, consider your spending habits and financial goals to determine which is best for you.

Methodology

To choose the best credit cards for fair credit, we looked at 15 top credit cards designed for consumers with fair or average credit scores. When deciding what cards to include, we looked at the cards’ fees, rewards, and benefits. Cards with high annual fees, monthly maintenance fees, and setup fees were eliminated, and priority was given to cards that combined low fees with strong reward programs.

credit score needed for airline credit card

Some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for let you build your credit score and earn rewards in the process. Additionally, it can help you to start building a positive credit history while also establishing a relationship with the bank. After some time, you can eventually upgrade to a premium credit card that offers better rewards. Here are some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The Easiest Credit Cards to Get Approved For With Any Credit Score

In general, co-brand airline credit cards are some of the easiest credit cards to get. For most cards, you need a credit score in the mid 600s, but 670 or above is best. Even if your score is only above 600 but not quite 670, you still have good approval odds for cards that don’t have an annual fee. However, your credit limit might be lower than you desire.

For now, focus on getting a credit card for travel rewards points you can use.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

With good credit of at least 670, you shouldn’t have a problem getting the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. With the Venture Card, you can enjoy these perks:

You can redeem your miles for future award travel. Or, you can redeem them for recent travel purchases. It is also one of the best Capital One credit cards.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel, with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

You can also go with the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card which doesn’t charge the $95 annual fee that the Venture does. However, you won’t get the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit.

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card earns 2x miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Additionally, it earns 2x miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and 1x mile on all other eligible purchases. Plus, you can Pay with Miles: take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem with Pay with Miles when you book on delta.com.

For in-flight purchases, you also earn 20% in-flight credit savings. It is one of the best Delta credit cards.

New Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card cardholders can earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on their new Card in their first 6 months.

One benefit of Delta SkyMiles is that they never expire, so long as your account is open and active. This no annual fee card also has no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees). Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

If you fly Delta and want more benefits, look at the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. Perhaps the most valuable benefit is the free checked bags for you and up to eight travel companions on Delta flights. You also enjoy free priority boarding.

You get priority boarding on Delta flights plus Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.

The Delta SkyMiles Gold Credit Card earns 2x Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (1x Mile for everything else that is eligible). It also has 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.

Additionally, you can Pay with Miles: take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem with Pay with Miles when you book on delta.com.

New Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus miles after they spend $2,000 in purchases on their new Card in their first 6 months.

Plus, Gold card members will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit after spending $10,000 in purchases on their card in a calendar year. Cardholders can use the Credit for future travel.

The introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $99 (See Rates & Fees).

This card is great for domestic and foreign travel. Terms apply.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Cards

Maybe you want to earn a fast-track status for the Southwest Companion Pass®. If so, Chase offers three personal Southwest credit cards that are some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for.

One of the best options is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Like most other airline rewards cards, you have good approval odds with a credit score in the mid to upper-600s. Cardholders earn unlimited:

Additionally, get 25% back on inflight purchases.

New Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

But, to receive the bonus, you must not currently own a personal Southwest credit card. If so, you must wait 24 months to try for a new Southwest card to get the bonus.

Depending on which Southwest card you go for, you will get a card anniversary point bonus of up to 7,500 points. Since Southwest has some of the cheapest domestic award flights, this bonus can book a one-way flight.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card (Currently Not Accepting Applications)

The information related to Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected by Johnny Jet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card does a good job of balancing bonus point purchases and travel rewards. You can receive bonus points on your most common purchases. Plus, you also get some valuable rewards points. And yes, the Propel is a Wells Fargo metal credit card.

For instance, you can earn 3x points on these purchases:

To redeem points, your best option is booking award flights on the Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards website. They are worth 1.5 cents each. For cash rewards and gift cards, your points are worth 1 cent each. This is the industry-standard redemption value.

You don’t pay an annual fee with the Wells Fargo Propel. For the best approval odds, you should have a good credit score of at least 670.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

For dining credit card rewards, look at the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. Once again, you may need a score in the mid-600s. But, you can quickly earn rewards points from your everyday spending.

You can earn bonus rewards on these purchases:

Your rewards points are redeemable for cash back rewards, which can be more worthwhile if you aren’t traveling or looking for travel rewards. However, when you do travel, you won’t pay a foreign transaction fee.

There is a $95 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Co-branded hotel credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card might be slightly more difficult to get than airline credit cards. But, you can enjoy a free hotel night each year that outvalues the annual fee of $95. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Earn up to 17x points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card. All other purchases earn 2x Bonvoy points. Cardholders get one Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after their account anniversary.

You can also earn 3x Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.

Additionally, earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.

airline credit card for fair credit

It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t have a high credit score. But, there are some airlines with cards that can help you earn rewards even if you don’t have the best credit. Here are some of our favorites:

Not everyone has 800+ credit score, and that’s okay.

If you don’t have an 800+ credit score, you may be wondering how you can get approved for a good airline credit card. It’s true that your credit score is one of the main factors lenders use to determine your eligibility for an airline rewards card. But it’s not the only factor.

  • Your income: You’ll want to make sure that you’re earning enough money to pay off any balance on your new card each month before interest charges kick in. If possible, aim for a high salary so that more of this money goes towards paying down debt instead of getting lost in interest payments.
  • Your savings: If you have adequate savings and are able to pay down at least half of your total balance each month (which will help build up some equity), then lenders will see this as a positive sign that they won’t need to worry about collecting their money back from someone who doesn’t have enough financial security or stability.

You may be able to get airline rewards with fair credit.

You may be able to get airline rewards with fair credit. You may not get the best deal, but you can still get rewards.

  • Annual fee: You may need to pay an annual fee.
  • Low limit cards: You may need to pay a deposit for a card with a low credit limit, or if your credit score is too low they won’t offer any card at all.

While you may not get 100k points for your sign up bonus, there are still options available.

There are still options available to you if you have fair credit. While the 100k point sign up bonus might be out of reach, there are several cards that will provide a good sign up bonus and other benefits that could help your credit score in the long run.

  • You may have to pay an annual fee:

While most rewards cards do not charge an annual fee, some airline cards do. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card charges $99 per year for its rewards program.

  • You may have to spend more than $1,000 in 3 months:

Some airline credit cards require that you spend more than $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account with them before they will consider giving you any type of rewards or bonuses (like getting points for spending money). If this doesn’t sound like something that would work well with your lifestyle or budgeting habits – then maybe it isn’t worth it?

Here is our short list of airline rewards cards with options for fair credit.

Here’s a short list of airline rewards cards with options for fair credit:

  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With a few of these cards, if you can pay your balance each month, you can see these rewards add up quickly.

The value of airline rewards varies depending on how much you use them. For example, if you were to take two trips per year for which the airline charges $100 each way and you redeemed your miles for each one, that would be worth $400—twice what most travel cards offer as a welcome bonus. But if those trips were made once every 10 years, then that amount of savings wouldn’t be worth it at all.

If you’re looking at an airline credit card because it’s offering great rewards but don’t have the best credit score (or any credit), make sure to read through these tips before applying:

  • Don’t apply for multiple cards at once
  • Pay close attention to the terms and conditions

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®

This card offers the following benefits:

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus miles after first purchase (worth $50 toward travel).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in your first 90 days ($100 to travel).

In addition, you’ll earn 2X miles per dollar spent on all purchases made with Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® and 1X per dollar spent on everything else.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard®

With the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard®, you can earn rewards for every purchase you make. You’ll earn two miles for every dollar you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases, and one mile for every dollar you spend elsewhere. Plus, if your flight is delayed or canceled due to weather conditions or strikes by employees, this card will refund up to $500 per ticket.

That’s right—if the weather causes your flight delays and cancellations, this card will reimburse up to $500 per ticket!

There are options!

It is possible to get a good airline credit card for fair credit, and you can use it to your advantage. If you’re looking for a way to earn points or miles, there are several options available. Some of these cards will even give you an introductory bonus of valuable rewards after spending a certain amount within the first few months.

Other perks of getting an airline credit card include no foreign transaction fees, free checked bags on flights at the majority of airlines (some charge extra), and discounts on in-flight purchases such as food and drinks.

When it comes to finding a good deal, airline credit cards are still one of the best ways to save money on flights because they usually offer discounts when booking direct through them instead of going through third parties like Expedia or Travelocity.

united airlines credit card

The best United credit card reviews

Although it’s not a United co-branded card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card presents a few compelling reasons for United flyers to carry it. It earns Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio to United MileagePlus miles, so your purchase activity can easily earn you award travel on the airline.

These points also transfer to several other airlines including Southwest, Air Canada, British Airways, and JetBlue, so you’ll gain flexibility by earning Ultimate Rewards points instead of just United miles.

The card earns 5 points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 2 points on all other travel purchases, including airline tickets. That means you can rack up extra points not just on United tickets and at hotels like with the United℠ Explorer Card, but on all airline purchases, as well as on things like train tickets, parking, rideshares, and more.

If you’re a very frequent traveler, you could also consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It’s now harder to recommend this card to everyone since the annual fee increased to $550, but it still offers some great benefits, including 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after earning the $300 travel credit), 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2025, 3x points on other travel and dining, and up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases each year.

It’s also offering a sky-high limited-time welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

If you’re unsure which option is best for you, read our comparison of the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve for a thorough breakdown.

If you fly United a few times a year but don’t have elite status, the United℠ Explorer Card is probably your best all-around option, with a $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee. It currently comes with a heightened bonus of 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

That’s because the card offers elite-style perks like a free checked bag for the cardholders and a companion on the same reservation (when you pay with the card), priority boarding, and a 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases. Cardholders also receive two one-time United Club passes each anniversary year, which can help lighten day-of-travel stress on the occasional trip.The card is a good earner in general, accruing 2x miles not just on United purchases, but also on dining and hotel stays. It earns 1 mile per dollar on everything else. When it comes time to put those miles to use, cardholders can also access expanded award ticket availability, which can save tens of thousands of miles on some trips. For more info, read our United Explorer credit card review.

The United Quest℠ Card offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The United Quest℠ Card is the least expensive United co-branded card that offers a free first and second checked bag, making it ideal for those who check multiple bags. United charges $35 for a first checked bag and $45 for the second, so if you check bags frequently, these fees can put a big dent in your travel budget.

Although the card has a $250 annual fee, taking advantage of this benefit can more than offset the yearly cost. Cardholders receive the first and second checked bag free for themselves and one companion on the same reservation (though you need to use the card to pay for your ticket, or the taxes and fees on an award ticket). On a single round-trip itinerary, two people could save a total of $320 if they each check two bags.

Cardholders also receive priority boarding, up to $125 annually in statement credits toward United purchases, up to two 5,000-mile award flight credits per year after the first card anniversary, and valuable travel and purchase protections including primary car rental insurance. Read our United Quest credit card review to learn more.

If you already carry a United personal credit card or are simply looking for a small-business credit card for your work needs, the United℠ Business Card is a great choice for a number of reasons. It’s currently offering 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

This card has a $0 intro for the first year, then $99 annual fee. It also fields some interesting bonus earning opportunities, racking up 2 miles per dollar on United purchases as well as at restaurants, gas stations, local transit and commuting, and office supply stores.

Cardholders and a companion can check a bag for free when traveling on United, and receive priority boarding privileges. They also get two one-time United Club passes each anniversary year. For more information on the card’s benefits, read our United Business Card review.

The United Club℠ Infinite Card is currently offering an extremely high welcome bonus of 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

If you’re a frequent United flyer and value access to United Club lounges, the United Club℠ Infinite Card is the best card for you. Its annual fee is $525, but that’s still less than what most travelers would pay for a United Club membership each year. The other thing worth noting is that it is full club membership, not just access, so cardholders can bring in guests.

Cardholders and a companion on the same reservation can check up to two bags for free and enjoy Premier Access priority check-in, security screening, and boarding. The card earns 4 miles per dollar on United purchases, which is pretty stellar. Read our United Club Infinite Card review for more details on the card’s benefits.

If you prefer to avoid an annual fee, the United Gateway℠ Card could be the first option for you. It doesn’t offer much in the way of extra perks, but it does earn 2x miles on United purchases, and on gas stations, and local transit. And it’s also offering a limited-time increased bonus of 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Though you won’t get free checked bags or priority boarding, the card does offer 25% savings on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases. It also waives foreign transaction fees, and having this card gets you access to expanded award availability, just like other United cards with an annual fee. You can learn more about what this card has to offer in our United Gateway Card review.

Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to United MileagePlus, among other airline and hotel programs.

Not only is it offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, but it also racks up a phenomenal 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 total spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising on social media sites and search engines each account year (then 1x). 

In short, if you’re a small-business owner whose spending habits fit into these categories, you could make a killing on points and then transfer them to United for award travel, among several great ways to redeem the points from the Ink Business Preferred’s welcome bonus.

Aside from that, you can also just redeem Ultimate Rewards points earned with this card directly for reservations made through the Chase travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece, which could make sense for some cheap airline tickets on United. The card also waives foreign transaction fees and comes with primary insurance on car rentals for business purposes. Read our Ink Business Preferred credit card review to learn more.

Ostensibly, The Platinum Card® from American Express does not offer any direct benefits for United flyers. But if you look beyond its obvious perks, there are plenty of reasons to consider it.

Although American Express Membership Rewards points don’t transfer to United MileagePlus, they do convert to miles with Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, all of which you can redeem for award travel on United (and often at better rates than United MileagePlus itself offers).

The public welcome offer for this card is currently 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

The Platinum Card accrues 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), which makes it the top earner in this category. It also includes up to $200 per year in statement credits toward airline incidentals** like checked bags, seat assignments, and club lounge passes, so for occasional United flyers without elite status, this is a big benefit.

Although it won’t get you into United Clubs, it does grant access to Priority Pass lounges around the world** as well as Amex’s own Centurion Lounges, so you can usually find a quiet place to work or relax before flights no matter where you travel. Those are just a few of the card’s benefits, but there are plenty more to take advantage of. Read our Amex Platinum Card review to learn more.

Bilt Rewards is a unique program that gives you the ability to pay rent with a credit card without exorbitant service charges. To boot, you’ll earn points which can be converted into hotel points and airline miles — including United Airlines.

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