Best credit cards for fair credit in Canada

Best Canadian Credit Cards for Fair/Average Credit Scores

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Last updated on September 2, 2022 Comments: 17

Your credit score might be average—but your lifestyle doesn’t have to be. Canadians with average (or ‘fair’) credit scores can nonetheless qualify for Canadian credit cards for fair credit that offer big sign-up bonuses, high cash back and rewards rates, and low interest charged on purchases and balance transfers.

Don’t settle for a credit card with so-so benefits! We’ve winnowed out the mediocre offers so that you can focus on the credit cards that provide the best value possible while you keep up your credit score climb.

Our Recommendations: 

Credit Card
Annual FeeCard TypeFeaturesCard Review
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*$0Cash Back5% cash back for the first 3 months* (see details below); 0.5-3% cash back on all eligible purchases after the promotion ends*Read more
Home Trust Preferred Visa$0Cash Back/Travel1% cash back on all eligible purchases in Canadian dollars + no foreign transaction feesRead more
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® $0RewardsLucrative welcome bonus (see details below); regular earn rate of 2 points‡ per $1 spent on grocery, restaurant, membership, digital media, and household utility purchasesRead more
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*$20Low InterestA low interest rate of 12.99% on purchasesRead more
MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®$0Cash Back5% intro cash back†† for first 6 months on gas and groceries; 2% cash back‡ once promo ends; 0.5%‡ on all other purchasesRead more
Best Western Mastercard® credit card$0Hotel Rewards5 pts/$ at Best Western‡
1 pt/$ elsewhere‡
Read more

What Is Fair or Average Credit?

The range of Canadian credit scores is from 300 to 900. Although it’s difficult to accurately determine what exactly the average among all Canadians is, an oft-cited ‘magic number’ for credit scores in Canada is 650. Some banks use this as a threshold for whether or not applicants are eligible to be approved for products like unsecured credit cards. In contrast, others consider applicants with credit scores on the lower end of the average range.

Individuals who have undergone bankruptcy or a consumer proposal will need to work hard to build their credit back to a fair/average credit score. Someone who typically has good credit might temporarily dip into this level if they are delinquent on bills, make a series of late payments, or run their balance up to the limit of their available credit.

With the wide range of factors affecting credit scores, keeping it in great shape is challenging. To find your credit score, navigate to TransUnion or Equifax and sign up for their free reports. If you have reviewed your score but find it does not meet the minimum to be considered “fair”, check out the articles here and here to learn how to improve it.

What Can I Do with Fair Credit?

With fair credit, you gain access to a wider range of financial tools that grant more freedom to spend and save. It can take hard work to reach this threshold, and if this is you – congratulations! Credit is an indicator of your personal financial diligence, and a fair score gives you the option to take on more responsibility. Whereas those with poor credit may experience more limited access to financing, fair credit can be used to take out a bank loan, open a line of credit, or benefit from cards with more favorable terms.

Best Credit Cards for People with Fair Credit

#1 BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*

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The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* is unusually generous for credit cards available to those with average credit scores because it offers a solid regular earn rate on all spending and a great introductory promotion. Get up to 5% cash back in your first 3 months, plus a $50 cash back bonus (when you spend $6,000) in your first year – that’s up to $175 cash back in your first year!* After that you’ll get 0.5-3% back on everything depending on the purchase category*. Most cashback cards for people with average credit will either charge an annual fee for earn rates at that level or charge no annual fee but will offer low earn rates and no sign-up bonus to speak of. The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* offers the best of both worlds.

  • $0 annual fee
  • Get up to 5% cash back in your first 3 months, plus a $50 cash back bonus (when you spend $6,000) in your first year – that’s up to $175 cash back in your first year!*
  • 0.5-3% cash back on all eligible purchases after the promotion ends* (maximums apply)
  • 0.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months, 2% fee applies to balance amounts transferred*

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* review.

*Terms and conditions apply.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

#2 The Home Trust Preferred Visa

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The Home Trust Preferred Visa is one of the few Canadian credit cards available to those with average/fair credit scores that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, the 2.5% surcharge that most Canadian credit cards levy when you purchase in a foreign currency. This makes it a great asset for those who frequently travel overseas and/or make a lot of online purchases from sites that don’t offer checkout in CA$. Aside from that amazing feature, it also gives the cardholder 1% cash back on all eligible domestic purchases. Unfortunately, purchases in currencies other than CA$ don’t earn cash back.

  • $0 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases in CA$

The feedback we’ve gotten about the Home Trust Preferred Visa indicates that applicants accepted for the card tend to have credit scores in the average to above-average range. Therefore if you’re interested in this card, we encourage you to check your credit score and ensure that it is 650 or more before applying.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Home Trust Preferred Visa review.

#3 MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

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Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair/Good
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: Age of majority in province/territory
– Residency: Canadian resident

 

Credit cards with a big welcome offer and appealing rewards rates on everyday spending are usually available only to applicants with good-to-excellent credit scores and a high annual income. But the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® packs a substantial amount of value in an accessible package. New cardholders can earn up to 10,000 points when they spend $500 on eligible purchases (5K points) with the card and when they sign up for e-statements (another 5K points) within the first 90 days of opening their account. Plus, they can earn 4 points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, restaurant, membership, digital media, and household utility purchases made within that same 90-day period. When the welcome period ends, purchases in those categories earn 2 points‡ per $1 spent up to a maximum annual spending limit of $10,000 in the applicable category. After crossing the $10,000 annual limit in a given category, further purchases in that category will earn 1 point‡ per $1 spent for the remainder of the year, the same rate for purchases made in any category outside of groceries, restaurants, memberships, digital media, and household utilities.

MBNA Rewards points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including travel, cash back, gift cards, and merchandise, but they have the highest value when redeemed for travel, where they’re worth $0.01 per point.

  • No annual fee
  • 4 points per $1 spent on eligible groceries, restaurants, digital media, memberships, and household utilities within the first 90 days of opening your account; 2 points‡ per $1 spent in those categories after the welcome period ends (up to $10,000 spent annually in the applicable category)
  • 1 point‡ per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn up to 10,000 additional points during the 90-day welcome period
  • 19.99% interest on purchases; 24.99% interest on cash advances; 22.99%✪ interest on balance transfers

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® review.

‡, ††, ✪, ***, Terms and Conditions apply

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

#4 BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*

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Even if your credit score is not quite perfect, you can still get an excellent rate on purchases and balance transfers with the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*. You do need a credit score of at least 650 to apply, but the low-interest rate is extremely competitive for a card that is available to those with ‘only’ average credit. The card’s key features are:

  • $20 annual fee (waived the first year)*
  • 12.99% interest rate on purchases and 15.99% on cash advances
  • 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 9 months, 2% transfer fee applies*
  • 15.99% interest rate on balance transfers after 9 months
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection on eligible purchases*

Click here to apply for the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*

*Terms and conditions apply

#5 MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

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Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair/Good
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: Age of majority in province/territory
– Residency: Canadian resident

If you spend a lot of your hard-earned funds on gas and groceries, but you recoil at the thought of paying an annual fee for a credit card, the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® might be the perfect fit for you. It starts with one of the most attractive welcome offers among credit cards with no annual fee, doling out 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first six months. This is reduced to 2%‡ after the six-month promotional period ends, which is still a relatively high cash back rate. All purchases outside the gas and grocery categories earn 0.5%‡ cash back.

Take note that you can only earn at the 5% and 2%‡ cash back rates up to a monthly total of $500 in combined grocery and gas spending; after you cross that limit, you’ll earn at the base 0.5%‡ rate in those two spending categories until a new month begins. These limits are admittedly a bit of a letdown. However, the card still offers solid value, particularly for singles and couples who are less likely to exceed $500 in combined grocery/gas spending within a month compared to, say, larger families.

  • No annual fee
  • 5% introductory cash back rate on gas and groceries for the first 6 months ($500 monthly spending cap)
  • 2% standard cash back rate‡ on gas and groceries after the first 6 months ($500 monthly spending cap)
  • 0.5% cash back‡ on all other purchases
  • Other benefits like purchase assurance, extended warranty, and discounts at select car rental companies
  • 19.99% interest on purchases; 24.99% interest on cash advances; 22.99%✪ interest on balance transfers

Click here to apply for the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®.

‡, ††, ✪, Terms and Conditions apply

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

#6 The Best Western Mastercard® credit card

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Hotels represent some of the largest expenses incurred on any vacation or business trip, so it helps to carry a card that reduces the bite they take out of your wallet. The Best Western Mastercard® credit card is one of these cards, earning 1 point for every $1 spent in eligible purchases, 5 points for every $1 spent on Best Western properties worldwide, and a generous 20,000 points just for making an initial purchase with the card††. That’s already enough for a free night’s stay. Add in some vital travel insurance perks and a $0 annual fee, and the card is made even sweeter.

  • 5 points for every $1 spent at Best Western
  • 1 point for every $1 spent elsewhere
  • 20,000 bonus points for an initial purchase††
  • Obtain “Gold Status” upon first use of your credit card◊◊
  • Standard Annual Interest Rates of 19.99% on eligible purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers✪and access cheques, and 22.99% on cash advances
  • No annual fee

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Best Western Mastercard® credit card review.

✪, ‡, ††, Terms and Conditions apply.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.  For Quebec residents, please click here.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. Each Best Western® branded hotel is independently owned and operated. Best Western and the Best Western marks are service marks or registered service marks of Best Western International, Inc.  

A Fair Credit Score Opens Financial Doors

Keep in mind that although the credit cards featured on this page are very worthwhile, there’s a significant drop-off in value when you slide down the credit score scale and look at the cards available to those with no credit or poor credit. Those who are just starting out their credit journey in Canada, like immigrants and young adults, might be wise to make reaching the average credit score range one of their foremost personal financial goals.

*This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

Author Bio

GreedyRates is Canada’s go-to resource for all things personal finance. Our expert articles and videos cover every topic under the financial sun, including credit cards, credit scores, loans, bank accounts, budgeting, investing, RSPs, TFSAs, GICs, taxes, and more. Want our advice on a personal finance issue? Send us an email at [email protected] and we’ll gladly give you some free tips.

Article comments

17 comments
Marcus McGilligray says:

What card do you recommend? My Transunion is 722, Equifax is 675? I bank with CIBC so would prefer a CIBC visa but am open to others.

Daniel from GreedyRates says:

Hi Marcus,
Start with taking a look at our recommendations for the Best Credit Cards in Canada for 2021. In there, you’ll find the best credit card to use in a variety of scenarios. Given you bank with CIBC, consider taking a look at the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite that offers up to 4% cashback on purchases. Let us know which credit card you decide on.

C8 says:

Hi am looking for a better credit card for me, I declared bankruptcy in Dec 15 and finished Sept 16.
I have had a Capital One Master Card since Aug 17. I finally received an increase last Dec which I am so greatful for when expenses pop up or when needing to book a hotel. My score doesn’t plummet due to credit ratio.
Then a year ago I got a secured bank Visa card. The plan was to use for my every day expenses but I just keep using the other one even tho the Visa is cash back because the majority of the places I shop are non visa.
Can you suggest a master card that I would have a higher approval chance 4yrs post bankruptcy and with a score 664 TU and 648/9 EF.

Aaron Broverman says:

HI CB,
You should try some basic cards with maybe some rewards that don’t go crazy, carry no annual fees and are low interest. I think these are cards you might have a good chance to qualify for (though, of course I can’t guarantee it). I would recommend the MBNA TrueLine Gold for the 8,99% purchase interest rate and no annual fee. Also, the BMO Cash Back Mastercard has no annual fee and gives you a little bit of cash back at 1%. I figured these cards would have a low bar to qualify for them in a walk before you could run sort of way.

Monz says:

Hi, I file a proposal September 2014 and paid it off October 2017. EQ 671 TU 699- there is no public records showing up on my TU account, it does indicate 2 derogatory but does say what it is except for one being a settlement (possibility) with telus. Proposal still shows up under Equifax.

I have a Capital one with balance of 9,500 and Home trust 500$ both secured. (for Capital one i made a $75 deposit to initiate the account and full $500 for the home trust)

Would there be any credit card that is not secured that i may be eligible for?

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Monz,
What is your current credit score? That would give us an idea of a card we can recommend that might fit your credit profile. You can try the Capital One Low Rate Gold Mastercard, which comes in both secured and unsecured varieties. The No-fee Scotiabank Value visa is unsecured as well so that can be another option.

Ky says:

Hello. I am about to go into a consumer proposal and have come across your articles when searching for a new bank to deal with. My question is, should I apply for the home trust visa (or any CC) while my credit is still good? I was advised that doing this CP will drop my credit rating to 600 if it is above. My CR is 717 as of today. Thank you for your time.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Ky,
If you want an unsecured card to help rebuild your credit after entering consumer proposal and once your debt is paid off then go ahead, but you will likely have to rebuild your credit anyway and a secured card is still an option even when your credit is bad so entering into consumer proposal doesn’t mean there won’t be any credit options for you following it. There’s also no guarantees you will be approved for an unsecured home trust card. Also, if your credit score is lower it may affect the kind of proposal you can obtain and what your payment will be.

Monz says:

You will be asked to destroy all credit card once you enter into a consumer proposal. why dont you try settling your debts with the credits directly as oppose to a proposal which lowers her credit score and stays on your records for 6 years from the date file or 3 years from the date paid off which ever comes first.

DaveG says:

Hello, I got a Equifax 625 and TS 602 would I be approved for any credit cards?

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi David,

Yes, you may be approved for credit cards for those with low credit scores. Though, you may only be eligible for a secured card at the time being where you will have to provide money upfront to serve as your credit limit. Don’t worry though, as you pay for purchases on the card in full and on time your credit will improve (it may just take some patience) and eventually your credit card provider will offer you a unsecured card. If you keep up those payment habits that got you it, you will raise your credit score enough to get something like a rewards card perhaps with perks like travel and cash back. It’s a long road, but with discipline and tenacity, you can do it.

Eduardo Pereira says:

I opened a Capital One Credit Card (Canada) every month I paid on time and in every occasion I paid the whole balance at once. My account has been opened for 6 months now, and I have no other credit card or outstanding loan. My credit limit is $300 and I have tried to ask for an increase at the 4th, 5th month but I was denied both times. I also applied for different credit cards from different banks but I was also denied. Now is my 6 month with the Capital One credit card in good standing and a credit score of TU:698 and EQ:686. Does anyone know what could be the reason for the denial? does anyone had same experience?

Ricky says:

I have the same problem, I never missed a payment and paid in full on time every month for 2 years! I still cant get an increase, and my EQ is 680 TU 656, they gave me the gold card which I was excitied for thinking there would be an increase but it remained at 300. Only difference was I got my 75 dollars mailed back, on top of that I have friends with lower credit scores than mine that already got an increase with capital one up to 7000.00 Its so pointless having a 300 dollar limit credit card and frustrating.

shelly ouellette says:

They only do credit increase once a year! I found that out as they sent me an automatic increase of $500, and again they did the same the year after. Its about length of time with this company and of course credit score.

Luke says:

Same situation here, you have to increase your credit as much as possible with the security funds. After having 700 try to apply if you are paying in time and full you should not have problems.

okurd says:

Hi there,

I currently have a score of EQ: 643 and TU: 677. I have only 1 CC with Capital One which got a limit increase earlier this year from $300 to $2800. I want to know the most effective way to cross the 700 mark. Im looking at opening another credit card. Should I go with a department store card or big bank? And which card would I have a good chance of getting approved for?

Nate Siegel says:

Hey Okurd,

Great question. If you’re making good progress on your credit score but it isn’t going up as fast as you want, one strategy to boost your score further is to open a secured credit card. Especially if you want to expand your credit while saving yourself the punishment of a potential application denial, secured cards are ideal because you’re still getting credit (which reflects on your score) but at the price of a simple cash deposit (which matches the limit assigned to you).

With good credit already, as well as the other components of creditworthiness like income or assets, many applicants to secured card issuers are even extended credit limits beyond their required security deposit. This could be handy in case you want to use the card to make larger purchases rather than to optimize your utilization ratio, but ultimately their primary advantage is in showing banks that you’re capable of multitasking with credit and still paying on time. We recommend the Home Trust Secured card.

GreedyRates