Getting that all-important credit history can be confusing. You know the drill… the banks want you to have a solid credit history in order for you to qualify for a credit card that will give you that solid credit history. It seems like a never-ending circular reference. But a short credit history is better than no credit history and that’s very apparent when trying to get approved for an unsecured credit card. Even a 6-9 months of good credit history can spare you from having to tie up hundreds of dollars in a deposit on a secured credit card. With an unsecured card — that is, a card that doesn’t require cash collateral — you can also get lower fees, higher credit limits, and more valuable rewards than you would with a secured one.

So, we set out to discover which financial institutions offer the best deals for those wanting unsecured credit cards, but with limited or short credit histories. We looked for unsecured credit cards tailor-made for those with fair or average credit profiles (FICO scores of 630-689) which offered the greatest benefits and rewards. Here are the cards that topped the list:

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

capital one

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back doesn’t expire and there’s no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until January 2017; 23.24% variable APR after that
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card’s biggest catch is its annual fee of $39. You’d have to put at least $2,600 on this card annually to break even on this deal. But if you’re planning on spending thousands of dollars, using the card’s 0% APR period or traveling abroad, it could offer more long-term value than other cards.

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business


  • Enjoy no annual fee
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Build business credit with responsible use
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy business benefits including Year-End Summaries, employee cards at no extra cost, and experienced small business customer service

Discover it® for Students


  • Discover matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year – automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more—up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won’t raise your APR.
  • Track your recent FICO® Credit Scores for free in one easy-to-read chart on monthly statements & online.
  • Freeze It℠ on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online. Plus get 100% U.S. based customer service

For students, the $0 annual fee Discover it® for Students is a tough card to beat. It doles out generous bonus rewards on restaurants and gas stations, common spending categories for many college students, and offers bonuses for maintaining high GPAs. The biggest drawback is the card’s quarterly rewards caps, but for students who spend modestly, these shouldn’t be deal-breakers.

Chase Slate®


  • Chase Slate named “Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers” three years in a row by MONEY Magazine
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won’t raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

The Chase Slate® is one of the best balance-transfer cards we’ve seen, period. It’s also available to people with fair or average credit, which means that you have a decent chance of getting approved with a thin credit profile. You won’t earn rewards on this card, but if you want to save on interest with the card’s 0% APR offers on purchases and balance transfers, it offers the best value.