NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Premium rewards cards and low annual percentage rates are typically reserved for the credit elite, but growing competition has led many issuers to widen their target market.
That means that credit card holders with so-so credit – scores between 650 and 699 – don’t need to resort to using a subprime product to improve their score. MainStreet talked to experts to find out which cards offer the best terms for these cardholders.
Capital One No Hassles Cash Rewards Card
This Capital One card is notable for its rewards program, which offers 2% cash back on gas and groceries and 1% cash back on all purchases made by cardholders. The card does carry a 17.9%–22.9% variable APR and a $39 annual fee, but Beverly Harzog, a credit card expert with Credit.com, says that’s reasonable for a rewards card in this category.
Orchard Bank Secured Card
If it’s a low-interest card you’re after, you might want to sign up for Orchard Bank’s secured card, which features a low APR of 7.99%. (As MainStreet has previously reported, secured cards require customers to put down a sum of money upfront to cover the line of credit and thereby minimize the risk of default.)
“That’s pretty low among all credit cards,” says Anisha Sekar, vice president of credit and debit products with credit card ranking site NerdWallet. The card carries a $35 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year.
Visa Platinum Preferred Credit Card From Associated Credit Union
Another option for people not interested in paying a sky-high interest rate is this Visa card from Atlanta-based Associated Credit Union, which allows new members to apply online. According to Sekar, those with a FICO score higher than 680 can qualify for a fixed 9.9% APR offered by the credit union, while those with a score of 600 will qualify for a 12% fixed APR.
Additionally, the card carries no annual fee and there is also no charge for balance transfers.
Journey Student Rewards Card From Capital One
“This is a good card for students working on their credit,” Harzog says, explaining that it allows cardholders to earn extra rewards when they use the card wisely. Students get 1% cash back on all purchases, but get a 25% bonus on their cash-back rewards each month when they pay their bills on time. The card also carries no annual fee, but does feature a high APR at 19.8%.
Not all credit cards marketed to the credit elite live up to their hype. Find out which cards you aren’t missing out on in MainStreet’s roundup of the most overrated cards of 2011.