Galaxy Z Flip 4 Preorder Quest 2: Still the Best Student Internet Discounts Best 55-Inch TV Galaxy Z Fold 4 Preorder Nintendo Switch OLED Review Foldable iPhone? 41% Off 43-Inch Amazon Fire TV
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you
Accept
Why You Can Trust CNET Advertiser Disclosure
CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Avant Credit Card: Build Your Credit Without a Security Deposit

This card won't earn you any rewards -- but it'll help pave the way for a credit card that does.

The Avant Credit Card is one of the most basic unsecured credit cards out there. It doesn't offer many perks, and it's designed for those with fair credit -- typically a credit score between 580 and 669.

While you can't earn rewards, welcome bonuses or travel benefits with this card, you can build credit with responsible use so you can qualify for a higher-yielding card down the road. We always advocate paying your credit card balance in full each month, but it's especially important with this card, which has a higher-than-average APR at 27.24% variable.

As an alternative, you could go with a secured credit card, which accepts applicants in the same credit range, and works well for those with troubled financial history or no credit history at all. The difference with the Avant Credit Card is that you don't have to put down a security deposit to maintain your credit line. You'll just have to pay a $59 annual fee, and your credit limit will only be between $300 and $1,000.

If you're looking to build your credit, don't mind an annual fee and don't want the responsibility of a lot of spending power, the Avant Credit Card could be a good option. We'll explain below how to build credit with this card. If this card doesn't feel right for you, we'll suggest some other potential fits.

In this article

Avant Credit Card

Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR27.24%* Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Fair Credit
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$59
Additional Details
Late Payment Fee Up to $39

Building credit with the Avant Credit Card

The first step to building credit with this card is opening an account. One component of your credit score, albeit minor, is the number of accounts you have. The more important factor is your activity once the account is open.

To really help build your score, you'll want to use this card carefully and somewhat frequently. This means making all your payments in full and on time, and not abusing your credit line. Credit rating agencies count your "credit utilization ratio" -- or, how much of your credit limit you're using at any given time -- toward your credit score. The best practice is to use your credit card for purchases to show responsible use, but keep your utilization under 30% of your credit limit. 

Since the Avant Credit Card's credit limit is so low, this is especially important. If your credit limit is $500, for example, that means you should aim to always keep your balance under $150.

You may see significant impacts to your credit score in as little as a few months. As your credit score improves, you may be able to qualify for more beneficial credit cards, like cash-back cards or cards for those with good credit.

Comparable cards

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

If the Avant appeals to you but you don't want to pay an annual fee, you can apply for the Capital One Platinum Credit Card for similar features. 

This card does not offer bonuses or rewards, but you can build your credit with responsible use. You'll be subject to a 26.99% variable APR if you don't pay your balance in full every month, but if you maintain positive use with this card, Capital One may increase your credit line in as little as six months. You also won't have any foreign transaction fees with this card.

Check out our full review of the Capital One Platinum Credit Card for more details.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

If you don't mind putting down a security deposit, and you want to earn rewards and a welcome bonus, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card* is a great option.

While there's no annual fee, the security deposit will be your credit limit, so you'll have to pony up anywhere between $200 and $2,500. But if you have the cash to spare, this leads to better benefits. You'll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter), and 1% on all other purchases. The welcome offer -- Unlimited Cashback Match -- also matches your cumulative cash-back earned, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. These rewards make this card one of the best available for people with fair or limited credit.

Check out our full review of the Discover it Secured Credit Card for more details.

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card 

The Petal 2 Visa Credit Card, issued by WebBank, Member FDIC, is a great option if you want a traditional credit card -- so, no security deposit -- that offers rewards for those with limited or fair credit. 

You earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases, and this will increase to up to 1.5% after 12 on-time monthly payments. You also have the opportunity to earn 2% to 10% cash-back at select merchants, as well, and there's no annual fee. The Petal 2 integrates some of the best features of all the above cards to make a well-rounded, low-maintenance card.

FAQs

What is considered a bad credit score?

According to FICO, anyone with a score below 580 is considered to have poor credit (also sometimes labeled as "bad" credit). There are many reasons why someone would fall below the threshold of fair to good credit. Bankruptcy or unpaid bills that went into collections are among the more common reasons. Some individuals are classified as having a below-average score after falling victim to identity theft.

You can improve poor credit by applying for a credit repair card and making consistent, on-time payments. 

What is considered a fair credit score?

According to Experian, a credit score that hovers between a 580 and 669 FICO score is considered fair. It's between a poor score, which ranges from 300 to 579, and a good score, which is anything between 670 and 739. Once you hit the threshold for a good credit score on your credit report, you'll gain access to more credit card options with better rates and terms.

What are the benefits of a high credit score?

Having strong credit that falls in the good-to-exceptional range (670 to 850 FICO) comes with a number of advantages: more favorable rates and terms, higher credit limits and more perks and options. You'll also have an easier time finding a credit card that's best suited to your needs and preferences.


Our approach to evaluating credit cards

We review the cards that are in the highest demand and offer the best benefits. We scour the fine print so there aren't any surprises when you open an account. We find the key factors that make a card stand out and compare them with other top cards. That way, readers can opt for a different card with similar features if our pick isn't right for them. Our reviews are regularly checked and updated to incorporate new recommendations, as well as to reflect changes in offers and the market.

*All information about the Discover it Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.