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From the Experts at

Just How Bad Is My Bad Credit Score?

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Most people have a gut feeling about their credit – it’s either great, good or bad. But what is a bad credit score really? First, it’s important to understand that there are many different credit scoring models out there and each may use a different scale – or numbers – to convey information.

Still, in the lending world, some assumptions can be made about credit scores that fall into different ranges — and, as such, what score may qualify as “bad.”

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    For instance, most major credit scoring models follow a 300 to 850 range (the lower the score, the worse for wear, but more on this in a minute), and, while you’re looking at a score measured this way, you can generally assume anything below 600 is a bad credit score.

    Here are how the basic credit tiers typically work out:

    • Excellent Credit: 750+
    • Good Credit:700-749
    • Fair Credit:650-699
    • Poor Credit:600-649
    • Bad Credit: below 600

    Let’s take a deeper dive into what constitutes a bad credit score.

    Who Decides if a Credit Score Is ‘Bad’?

    As we mentioned, credit score ranges can vary by model. For example, all FICO scores range between 300 and 850 with 300 being the lowest (or worst) possible score, while 850 is the highest (or best) possible score. The range for VantageScore 2.0 credit scores is between 501 and 990, with the higher number representing the strongest score. But its newer version, VantageScore 3.0, has a range of 300 to 850.

    Now, the companies that develop credit scores – FICO and VantageScore, for example – do not decide which credit scores are technically “good” or “bad.” Nor do the credit reporting agencies that supply the credit reports used to create credit scores.

    Instead, it’s up to individual lenders and insurance companies who use these scores to decide which scores demonstrate an acceptable level of risk. They use scores in a variety of ways, too.

    These include:

    1. Determining the interest rate they will charge for a loan, or in the case of an insurance company, the discount they may offer on an insurance policy.
    2. Deciding whether to extend credit, how much credit to approve, whether to increase (or lower) a customer’s credit limit or even to close a risky account.

    In a way, then, there is no such thing as a “bad credit score,” since the number itself doesn’t mean anything until a lender decides how to use it. In other words, a credit score is only bad when it keeps you from whatever you are trying to accomplish, whether that is to refinance a loan, borrow at a low-interest rate, or get the best deal on your auto insurance.

    Moreover, what is considered bad credit by one lender may be perfectly acceptable to another. For example, with many mortgages, the minimum score required may be a 620, while some credit card issuers offering low-rate cards may reject applicants whose scores are lower than say 680.

    Find Out Where You Stand

    Lots of people are saddled with bad credit scores. According to a 2015 analysis of VantageScore 3.0 data, almost 30% of Americans have poor or bad credit (defined here as a score lower than 601). That 30% amounts to about 68 million of the 220 million score-able people out there, VantageScore says.

    Keep in mind; it’s possible to have bad credit and not even know it. That’s why you’ll want to keep a close eye on your credit. You can check your credit score using’s free Credit Report Card. Make sure to check your credit at all three of the major credit bureaus.

    This completely free tool will break down your credit score into sections and give you a grade for each. You’ll see, for example, how your payment history, debt, and other factors affect your score, and you’ll get recommendations for steps you may want to consider to address problems.

    In addition, you’ll also find credit offers from lenders who may be willing to offer you credit. Checking your own credit reports and scores does not affect your credit score in any way.

    You can start taking your credit score from “bad” to “good” by disputing errors on your credit report, paying down excessively high debts and limiting new credit inquiries.

    Credit Score Factors

    If you feel that your credit score is far below where you want it to be and want to see a vast improvement, the following are a few things you should take into consideration when trying to build a good credit score:

    Payment History: make sure to pay all your bills on time each month, and you will begin to see a positive impact on your credit score.

    Credit Utilization Rate: keep the credit utilization rate below the thirty percent mark. You can improve this ratio by paying down credit card balances.

    Credit History: look at the type of debt and type of credit you have and how long you have had them. Make sure you have a good mix of credit rather than just a few credit cards.

    Is 620 a Good Credit Score?

    As already mentioned, credit scores can be deemed bad, fair, or good directly by the lenders. However, there are still a few things a credit score of 620 might be able to get you even if some lenders consider it “poor.”

    • Can I qualify for any kind of credit card? No
    • Can I get a credit card with no annual fee and 0% financing? Possibly but depends on the lender.
    • Can I get a personal loan with a credit score of 620? Possibly but it depends on the lender.
    • Can I get a store credit card with a credit score of 620? Most likely, you can.
    • Can I find the best and lowest mortgage rates with a 620 score? No.
    • Can I find a credit card with a big sign up bonus? Not likely.

    Improving Your 620 Credit Score

    If you are not happy with the answers to the above questions, you should consider the different ways you can begin to improve your 620-credit score.

    • Keep your hard inquiries under the mark of three for the past two years
    • Lower your overall credit utilization rate
    • Maintain a 100% on-time payment history
    • Keep a low debt-to-income ratio
    • Have a diverse mix of credit accounts on your credit reports

    Side Effects of Bad Credit

    When you are saddled with a bad credit score, you will essentially end up paying more in fees and interest and other charges. Remember, the higher the number, the better your credit score will be.

    If you do have bad credit, you may find that you are often maxing out your credit cards and you may also find that you are not paying your bills on time. Your payment history accounts for a sizable portion of your credit score and your credit report, and it can have a negative impact on your credit.

    With a bad credit score and a score of lower than 620, you will find:

    1. You are getting denied for credit and loan applications. The lenders are looking at you as high risk and will not extend credit to you with a poor credit score.
    2. You will have higher interest rates on any loans you are able to secure. A bad credit score costs you money in the long run.
    3. You may even find it difficult to get approved for an apartment or home. Landlords often check potential tenants credit scores to help them determine if they will pay their rent on time.
    4. You may find that you have to pay higher security deposits on your utility accounts
    5. You may be denied employment in the finance industry or even an upper management position because of your poor credit history. Negative items on your credit report can play a substantial role in your life- especially if there has been a bankruptcy or your debts are in the higher numbers
    6. You may experience higher insurance premiums because some insurance companies link a lower credit score to higher claims being filed

    Stuck with No Credit Score and Need a Credit Card?

    Scenario—you have no real credit history, so you don’t have much of a credit score or have a bad or fair credit score. But, you also are financially savvy. You just need to build some credit or improve the score you’ve got.

    A 620-credit score may be an average score, but many lenders are still considering it on the poor side and with so many credit score ranges, you will find it best to do what you can to get your credit score as high as you can and improve your credit. Don’t settle for minimum credit or average credit.

    To combat the effects of poor or bad credit, you should monitor your credit reports, dispute any errors, and find ways to improve your current credit standing. By doing so, you will find that you have much better luck in the future when you try to secure a mortgage loan, auto loan, or any other type of loan or line of credit.

    This article was last published October 26, 2018, and has since been updated by another author.

    At publishing time, the Petal Visa Credit Card  is offered through product pages, and is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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      • Ed

        I just got hit for 5 (so far) ITA fees (foreign transactions) for $15 each totaling $60, taken by the bank for petty eBay purchases as small as $4.55 (300% fee) paid through PayPal, even though my bank’s only involvement was to send money to PayPal in a domestic transaction (the actual paying is done by PayPal).

        Seems the definition of “international transaction” isn’t the only thing that has been changed —- the fee is being charged even if your bank thinks that who they are transferring money to is going to use it for international payments. Clearly a fee gouge job, and the bank keeps quoting “policy” and “regulations” but will not furnish WHAT policies and regulations they are referring to.

        This ITA fee crookery has become so widespread, that the federal rules on international transactions have been changed effective October 31st —- two months ago. My bank (your bank) cannot even process a foreign transaction unless they notify you of the fee and give you time to cancel it.

      • G.L.C.

        My credit union (!) Visa card charged me 2% with an purchase made via PayPal. Is this legal if there has been no disclosure of this additional charge at the time of the transaction by either the company or by PayPal?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Did they say it is a foreign transaction fee? If so, then it would be disclosed in your terms and conditions. It doesn’t have to be disclosed each time you make a purchase.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am sorry but I am not sure where you are getting that impression. Paid collections remain on consumers’ credit reports for 7.5 years regardless of whether they are medical collections or not. And I don’t know what you mean about “won by a consumer in the court of law.” I am not following this either: “Some of mine were sold before they were ever in default, but lo and behold, they are being treated as if they were in collections when they were never in collections.” Did you post elsewhere? I am not familiar with that scenario.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am sorry I didn’t understand your question. (And yes, I read the article – and wrote it! 🙂

        I guess what’s confusing me is that you say you had collection accounts that weren’t in default but had been paid in full. That’s not a typical scenario so without knowing what exactly happened it’s hard for me to comment on the credit reporting issues that resulted. Were you an identity theft victim perhaps?

        At any rate, the fact that you won the lawsuits wouldn’t automatically remove them from your credit reports; the credit reporting agency would have no way of knowing what happened in the courts. Either the furnisher of the information would have to stop reporting it or you would have to dispute it. Sometimes attorneys handling these kinds of cases will make that a stipulation of the agreement, or the judge may order it. But again, without knowing the specifics of your situation it’s hard to comment.

        I hope that’s helpful.

        • Vincentius Veritas

          I beIieve A Penny was referring to this article ( about recent changes to the FICO credit reporting. I venture to guess they believed they were responding to that article, hence their question for you regarding your reading of this article.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Ah thanks. It makes more sense to me now.

            Credit reporting agencies won’t be removing collection accounts as a result of FICO 9. When lenders use that scoring system paid collections will be bypassed (ignored). However, it’s anyone’s guess as to how quickly it will become widely adopted. I wrote about that here:

            Why You Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About the New FICO Score… Yet

            However, in A Penny’s case, I’d still suggest trying to get them removed if they were bogus. Consumers never know which version of which credit score will be used.

      • Susan

        Question: why would my score be 660 when I have NO blemishes on my credit report. my debt to credit ratio is 73%. I have never missed a payment and just had a collection of $1,500 placed due to insurance payment on an MRI.
        Thank you, Susan

        • Gerri Detweiler

          A 73% debt to available credit ratio is high and can definitely hurt your scores. In addition, a collection account – especially a recent one – can drop a credit score significantly. Is it on your credit reports? If so then it is considered negative. We wrote about collection accounts here: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

          Have you obtained your free credit score from It will point out which factors are most affecting your credit.

      • Mike

        I have a question I have three credit cards one secure one retail and one regular credit card but my score always go down never up and I never miss a payment and my cards are kept under 20% why is that and how long does it take for a credit card to benefit my score instead of hurt it

        • Credit Experts

          It’s hard to know from what you are describing what the problem might be. Have you checked your credit reports? Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. Credit scores are calculated from information in your credit reports, so it’s important that those be accurate.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Paying the collection won’t help your credit score in the long run. Can you negotiate to have them not report it if you pay it? That would be ideal. If so, get it in writing.

        Don’t close the accounts. That will make the ratio worse. It’s looking at balances compared to available credit limits. If you can pay down your balances that should help.

        • Susan

          Thank you soooo much Gerri…. you’ve been so helpful.
          One last thing, I promise. Should I ask the credit cards to reduce my limit once I pay them off? will this help in the long run?

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Happy to help. And no – reducing your credit limits won’t improve your credit scores. Just pay them down and leave the limits where they are.

            • Susan

              Thank you!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s hard to say. It depends on what’s affecting your score. I suggest you start by getting your free credit score from It will also give you an action plan for your credit.

        Inquiries tend to shave around 2 – 7 points off the score but it really depends on the type of inquiry and the other information in the report. You will learn more here: Should You Be Worried About Credit Report Inquiries?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Reverse mortgages do not appear on credit reports.After all, you don’t make payments.

      • Credit Experts

        It will be more difficult than if you had better credit, but it’s not impossible. We wrote about it here: How to Rent With Bad Credit.

        Good luck to you in finding your own place. You can also get a free credit score and action plan for improving it from every 30 days. Checking it regularly can help you see your progress rebuilding your credit.

      • KeitasKookie

        I have a “785” credit score but my grade on making payments is an “F” since the last 4 months, when will this grade change for an F to ?.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I’m not sure I understand your question but generally late payments in the past 12 to 24 months carry the most weight. As they become older they may have less impact, especially if you are continuing to pay that account and everything else on time.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s so hard to say as payment history includes so many factors: # of late payments, recency, severity etc. – and each scoring model can weigh those a little differently. There’s no specific formula I can give you, but keep on paying on time and you should slowly start to see improvement.

        • b thompson

          I’m curious to know how someone with an F in the payment history category (the category which seems to carry the highest weight) can have a score of 785. I also have an F in that category due to two 30day late payments over 48 months ago. All other categories are A or B. For over 48 months I have not had a late payment and have been striving for a score of 700 or better. After all this time I can’t get over a 680. I have a combined credit line over $25K but am still hung up on a stupid number. Reading comments like this one exasperates me.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            I hear you. Though if I recall this thread correctly that person was originally referring to a score that came from a different source. I think it may have been based on the older version of Vantage score which runs on a scale that goes up to 990.

      • Credit Experts

        Nathan —
        There’s no way we can tell you. Your score will be different depending on what scale and when it’s reported (there shouldn’t be big differences), and your score might be what your employer considers “fair.” We hope so. You can read more about scoring here:
        What Is a Good Credit Score?

        • KH

          If someone has a 526 credit score and gets a Capital One credit card what are the chances of someone else with a credit score of 639 getting the same Capital One credit card or is this a case where everyone’s credit report history is different so the person with a 639 credit score could be rejected for the card (Note: this person with the 639 credit score has been getting preapproved offers by mail from Capital One almost every week. Would these be fair measuring tools to apply for the credit card without being rejected?

          • Gerri Detweiler

            It’s impossible to be certain that you will be approved until you apply. Do you have a free account? If you look at the offers tab and see it there your chances may be solid. But until you go through their application process you won’t know for sure.

      • Credit Experts

        They come off seven years and 180 days after the original debt was reported late. However, the collections accounts may still be collectable, depending on your state’s statute of limitations. The fact that they are no longer reported does not mean you can’t be sued and get a judgment against you. We wrote about that here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

        • isla

          HI, I have a question about this also, I paid off 3 “collection” accounts in 2010, but they were opened in 2007, when or will they be not on my report and when or if they are will that improve my scores?

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Collection accounts may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. That original date of delinquency should be reported accurately; if it’s not you may have to dispute it.

      • Steve

        I monitor my credit v-e-r-y closely. Living in the information / technology age that we do, there are just too many cracks to be breached, and all activity does not appear on all files, so I have monitoring and alert subscriptions with all three major credit bureaus.

        As such, my TU file had a comment (about 2 1/2 years ago) listed under reasons for my score (825 at that time) was that the available credit limit(s) I have are too low. I have been an Amex customer for 20 years+, and I had only a couple other cards (gas / CapOne) with moderate limits. My Amex allows me to charge up to around $25k in one transaction, and my Pay Over Time limit is $35k. There really wasn’t much motivation to getting other cards. However, Amex is not a revolving credit card with a credit limit (as I later came to realize the implications), so my available credit with revolving accounts was modest (~$6k).

        I proceeded to apply for various cards, and continued to do so, as I monitored for a change / removal of the aforementioned comment. I have added revolving cards from most major banks and now have ~$105k in revolving credit. The message I worked hard to eradicate is gone, but it has been replaced by a comment that I have “too much revolving credit”!! Ugh!

        They don’t tell you what is enough or too much… am I stuck with this comment now? Should I close some of the newest accounts? TU won’t tell me what the “magic number” is, which I find quite unfair. I will be more than happy to meet the criteria, which they have impressed upon me is quite a nebulous, no-rhyme-nor-reason number…. 🙁

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I wouldn’t get too hung up on one particular score or even one particular reason code. Too much revolving credit is not a major factor and if you start to try to manipulate it who knows what will happen? We explain more in this article: How to Decode Your Credit Score

      • Kate

        Since your credit is already ruined for the moment, I would suggest you pay off and close 16 of the 19 accounts you have open and concentrate on the 3 remaining.

      • Credit Experts

        Joe —
        We wrote about the origins of credit scores here: Where Did Credit Scores Come From? And no, other countries do not use the same system.

      • welshie

        I bought a new car in May. I went in with pre-approved financing from a nationally known bank. I was told by the finance manager that he thought he could get me a better interest rate through another bank and I signed a form to let him do so. I didn’t find out until three months later, when letters from prospective banks started coming in saying that they were sorry I’d decided not to do business with them, that they’d sent 12 hard credit hits out to various banks looking for the best interest rate. That little move dinged my credit rating 80 points and 6 months later, my credit score is still in the toilet despite my otherwise spotless credit report

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Ugh! I am going to reach out to you by email.

      • Credit Experts

        We wish we could tell you. Because there are so many factors that determine your score, we can’t. However, we can tell you how to improve yours.. First, pay on time, every time. Second, make sure your balance does not exceed 30% of your credit limit (keeping it to less than 10% is even better). And be sure any loan you have (car, home) is up to date. We also suggest checking your credit reports to be sure that information is accurate. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. You can also get a free credit score and a personalized action plan for improving yours from The score updates every 30 days. It’s a good idea to monitor your scores, but be sure you use the same credit score for comparison. (There are hundreds of them out there, and you want to compare apples to apples.)

        • Brandon

          I sometimes use my personal credit card for work expenses, but I have still always paid off the balance. If I do spend over the 10-30% of my $7000.00 limit, but still pay it off, what kind of effects can it have on my score?

          • Credit Experts

            It depends on when your score is calculated (and they are calculated when requested). So, if it was requested when there was a balance of, say, 35%, it could hurt it. If it was requested the day after you paid, it would not. (Unlike a late payment, which can hurt your score for longer, high credit usage disappears as the balance drops. One way to avoid having the score reflect high usage is to pay online, shortly after the card is used (before you receive a bill.)

            • Jennifer Gottfried

              “Shortly after” is irrelevant. You need to find out what date your cardholder reports to the credit bureau and pay before (or after, depending on your goals) this date, with enough time for the bank to process the payment before they report (usually 2 business days).

      • Credit Experts

        We agree. Thanks.

      • HeatherMc

        Even if you have a long list of creditor’s on your credit report and they have been open for some time, with a good history; I would not delete or close those accounts. Those accounts, used or unused, show what type of customer you have been with that company. Actually if you start closing open accounts, your credit score will drop. Darrell, you offer great advice. Good luck to you, Jojo.

      • HeatherMc

        Glynn – I don’t think we should ever have to “pay” for our credit reports and credit scores. It’s information about us and no one else. Why should we ever have to pay to see what agency has information on us? (The “BIG 3” should earn their revenue from the reporting creditor’s, not the consumer. A small fee that really could mean millions and millions, to the credit reporting agency’s, when tallied up.) I also think is should be LAW, that they three reporting agency’s should have the same content. If the content is different, it should be up the reporting agency’s to do the work to make the report’s “jive” with each other. I totally agree with you, that the credit reporting agency’s should be combined into one. It’s ridiculous to have three. Considering the way things are done today, think how much money and time (not to mention the terrible headaches) it could save the consumer.

        • Jennifer Gottfried

          It is the LAW that they have the same content. They are required by law to have accurate information. It is up the consumer to ensure it is accurate. That’s why you can get your reports (all three) free every year to check and make sure, update your address, employers, etc.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            It’s not required that they all have the same content. Credit reporting is voluntary and some creditors only report to one or two bureaus, not all three. Also they are required to take reasonable steps to ensure accuracy but it’s up to consumers to review their reports and dispute mistakes or incomplete information.

      • HeatherMc

        Paying cash is always a great idea. IF you were to go try to buy a new vehicle that you want financed, you might be surprised to find that your “all cash approach,” will leave you “no credit score.” A credit lender may turn you down for that car loan since you have not built up any credit. Thus by never using a credit card; leaving you with “no credit score” for them to judge your credit worthiness for the loan. You may not get that car you want. In today’s world,since it seems to be all about the almighty “credit score” to qualify you to finance homes, cars, etc. I’m glad to see that you DO have one credit card. It’s really a good thing that you pay off your credit card each month. You’re smart, Danny.

      • Cathy Cee

        I’d always been a bit mystified about credit scores. In 1999 I tried to
        buy a car after mine had been wrecked in an accident caused by another
        driver. I looked for over 4 months, always taking a friend along to
        bounce ideas off and get moral support. When I finally decided on
        one I haggled with the salesman and wondered if I’d be buried under
        payments for the next umpteen years. I’d already looking into financing, but wondered if I could get a better deal thru the dealership’s financing. At one point the salesman said
        something about checking something (I was still dreaming about my new
        car) In a little while he came back put his hands together in a praying
        position and bowed his head at me. I was flummoxed, huh? My friend
        nudged me and laughing, told me I had a good credit report. Oh, I
        asked, what is it? He said he couldn’t tell me, then he laid a paper on
        the table and walked away. Me, still a daze, just sat there, while my
        friend (Isn’t it good to have a smart friend?) reached out, grabbed that
        paper and turned it over to read. Her eyes got big and she told me it
        was 825. I didn’t know a thing about credit scores then, so asked if
        that was good… These days, credit reports are much easier to get, I’m
        still driving that 1999 Ford (on Christmas day, the odometer turned over
        to 200,000) and my credit report is still pretty good.

        • Credit Experts

          Good for you! Both for a great credit score and for getting so much from the car you bought with it.

      • Credit Experts

        You might want to see what you can do about getting a credit score. While it is not impossible to get financing on a home without a credit score, it is more difficult, and you may have to pay more in interest. You could consider a credit builder loan at a credit union or applying for a line of credit, and keeping your balance to less than 10%. The good news is you also have no blemishes on your credit, so do not first have to overcome a low score.

      • Credit Experts

        Very good advice. Thank you for sharing.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        We wrote more about this topic here: An Auto Loan Inquiry Dropped My Credit Score 80 Points

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s hard to say. If the kenders maintained those records then there is a good chance you will be turned down, even if they are no longer on your credit reports. It is also possible they don’t have those records.

        If you do apply let us know what happens!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The credit scores you receive from are based on data from Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. The scores you see at Credit Karma are based on information from TransUnion and Equifax. This article may be helpful in explaining the different credit scoring models available:
        FICO vs. FAKO: What’s Your Real Credit Score?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Another good question. One is not necessarily more “correct” than the other. What matters more is what category you fall into – and that should be similar among the different models (unless one of your credit reports contains information quite different than the others.) Looking at those scores, where do you fall in terms of good, excellent etc and is it pretty consistent across the different scores?

      • Monique Goins Tyler

        I was doing good until around November I started getting these pre approvals and opened these accounts which I have already paid off, thinking I was doing something my credit score was steadily rising and boom applying for these cards took my score down 20 points this is unreal what can I do????? I know I will not apply for anything else and the fact they are paid off doesn’t seem to be helping me either.

        • Credit Experts

          Monique —
          Every credit application causes a small, temporary drop in your credit scores. As long as you are paying these new cards off in full every month, you will likely see your scores rise again.

          • Monique Goins Tyler

            I will continue to watch they have all been paid off except one. Thanks

      • Barb

        I think it is a violation of your privacy for a new employer to look at your credit score. It is your personal business and has nothing to do with your job.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Some legislators agree with you Barb and have passed state laws restricting their use.

      • Jack Soffalot

        I’m 45, have no debt at all. Always used my debit card or cash. If I want something I save my money and buy it.
        I finally broke down and got my first credit card 3 months ago because I would like to buy a house at some point. I only use it the same way I used my debit card. I never buy anything unless I already have the cash to get it. I keep balances between 5% and 10% and pay those as soon as bill is posted.
        I now have 4 credit cards. I try not to think of them as credit cards though. They are my “credit score improvement cards”. Plus I’m getting 5% cash back on gas purchases. Also protection if card is stolen or something goes wrong with a purchase.
        I believe with a debit card you only have 48 hours to report fraudulent charges to guarantee being responsible for only $50.00. With a credit card you have at least 30 days.
        I was always afraid of Credit cards, but now that I am older and more responsible it’s not so bad. Just use them for things you were planning to purchase anyway and always pay them off.
        They are actually paying me to use the cards. Mahahaha.

      • Jack Soffalot

        I bet that you do have a credit score. I recently got my very first credit card and I had a credit score. My credit score got sent to me in the mail and it was in the 400s. The only thing I had on my report was from way back in 1991 for a used car loan. It was nothing bad just an old address or something from a bank. I can’t remember. I got my credit report and it had absolutely nothing on it.

        What I did was went to my bank and applied for a secured credit card. My bank offered me a partially secured card. (I gave them $99.00 and they gave me a card with $500.00 limit.) Then about a month later I applied for 3 other cards and got approved for them. (If you do apply for other cards make sure they aren’t cards for people that have excellent credit or you will get denied and that will be another hit on your credit score.) Now I use all 4 of them every month to pay my regular bills, gas, and groceries.

        Before the bill gets posted I make sure to pay them down to between 5% and 10%. Then once the bill is emailed to me I pay the rest. The people with the highest FICO scores only use 7% of their available credit every month and always pay off their cards every month. They are actually paying me to use the card with 5% cash back. Last month they gave me over $6.00.
        Just go to your favorite search engine and type “Build Credit” then read everything. I think this site is excellent. lots of useful info.

      • Sam

        I graduated about two years ago, and couldn’t find a job right away. So i did jobs here and there just to pay bills, but it still didn’t cover everything. Now those late payments are effecting my credit score. Is there anything I can do to change or help my score?

        • Credit Experts

          Sam —
          Those late payments can be reported for seven years and 180 days after the accounts first went late. However, if you are NOW paying on time and keeping balances low (no more than 30% of your credit limits), you should be able to improve your score. Recent, positive information diminishes the impact of the older, negative information. You can read more here:
          How to Rebuild Credit

      • Jennifer Gottfried

        If you paid off half your credit cards and changed 3 cards in 2 months this will make your score take a hit. It takes a few months, often a year of steady payments, to see much increase on car loans. If they look at more than the score, they will see that you are changing vehicles, changing cards, and may see you as not so steady or reliable. Hopefully they don’t really care and are just looking for criminal issues, fraud and lawsuits or liens.

      • Jennifer Gottfried

        Opt for sharing a house with a housemate. They rarely check credit scores and are more looking to see if you paid your utilities on time and if you have any evictions.

      • Jennifer Gottfried

        If you were to pay the debt to Chase, you will likely be approved for a new card. No one will approve you for a new account when you never bothered to pay the old one. Pay it and show them what kind of customer you are NOW, and the will see you are not such a bad risk any more.

      • Jason Johnston

        I’ve been told, repeatedly, that a good way to raise your score is to just pay a bit over the minimum balance required monthly on your card, since it’s consistent payment that looks good. I understand the idea, but somehow, after reading hours of advice, even on Experian and Equifax, it don’t seem right. I’m getting a secure card, starting at a 200 limit, next weekend. Way I see it, I should spend 20 on it, then pay the 20 back a month later? There’s still a lot of lingo I don’t understand, but there are apparently periods in which its safest to pay off what you spent and a period when it hurts your score. So, if they send me a statement, is it too late by that point? My girlfriend has a card with Buckle, and she waits for the statement then pays. I guess paying beforehand doesn’t help, and even hurts, your score, because it doesn’t look like you’re even using it, on your report.

        • Credit Experts

          Jason —
          If you are using just 10% of your balance, just paying on time will help your score. You don’t have to pay ahead.

      • Concerned

        There’s nothing wrong with paying cash/debit everywhere and if it works for you, fantastic. However one thing I want to point out (as a banker) is while your bank may stipulate you’re only responsible for the first $50, that may not be true. It has to be disputed and there could be a long wait for you to have your funds back. Sometimes they offer provisional credit while they’re investigating but that’s not guaranteed. For people living paycheck to paycheck this could be devastating and leave you with no access to any money. Just a warning. An emergency credit card isn’t always a bad thing.

      • Frank Benna

        i have retired after almost 20 years working for a large corporation and then
        successfully running my own business for 25 years. being self employed taught
        me to be very responsible and accountable, which i thought i did a great job as i
        have always paid all of my bills on time and as agreed.

        i retired on December 31 2012 which is over 2 years ago. however, here is my
        dilemma, apparently someone or somebody has put a collection notice on my
        credit report? how can this happen without me ever being notified? also seems
        a little strange that this would happen after over two years of my closing my
        business and retiring? my question is can a collection be placed on your credit
        report without ever being notified? i have always had excellent credit and i only
        have one credit card that i use rarely and when i do use it i pay it in full when
        i get the bill in 30 days.

        dont know what to do about this collection problem but if i dont do anything i am
        afraid it will effect my credit score. again i do not owe anyone and i surely
        am not going to pay this collection account. especially since i dont even know
        who it is or what it is for? but i certainly need to dispute it? what should i
        do? thanks for your help and opinion.

        • Credit Experts

          Ask for a “validation of the debt.” This would be sent via postal mail, and federal law requires that the collector send it if you request it. We cannot recommend you pay money you don’t think you owe. Here’s what you need to know about collectors:
          The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
          Good luck in getting this straightened out.

      • Credit Experts

        Employers typically look at credit reports, not credit scores. Here’s more information about that:
        What to Do When Your Employer Wants to Pull Your Credit

      • वे ङ्कट

        I do have a credit card of $22000 limit with no apr for 12 months. If i make purchase of $5000 and pay only minimum amounts for these 12 months, to make use of interest free period , and pay off remaining balance in single shot after twelve months, will paying minimum only hurt my credit score???

        • Kali Geldis

          Hi —

          Making the minimum payment only will not necessarily hurt your credit, but having a $5,000 balance on a $22,000 account may impact your score. That’s a credit utilization ratio of roughly 20%-25%, which is ok, though under 10% is ideal.

          There is a big shift happening in the credit reporting industry and your payment amount may impact your scores moving forward, although currently the vast majority of credit scoring models do not consider your monthly payment amount in your scores.

          Hope that helps!

          • वे ङ्कट

            Hi kali, thanks for the info. so if i just purchase 2200$ i.e 10 % and make min payments for 12 months….i wud be on safe side?

            • Kali Geldis

              Yeah, that would be a wise move!

          • वे ङ्कट

            hi kali, i just got my amex blue cash limit increased to 30k today. they said that a second limit increase request can be put only after 6 months from now. I just wanted to check like how much high credit limit increase can i request for the next time.
            Mine is a 2 yr old good credit history with scores fluctuating between 730 to 760

      • guest

        I have a credit score of 601 with I have 1 credit card that I am paying on every month. I have different account that went to collections on my account. I’ve paid off two recently. How much will my credit score rise. Also, what else can I do to raise my score without opening anything else. I am looking to purchase a house and car soon. Which should be purchased first?

      • kv1995

        Hi there, I’m a student at university and I just failed a credit scoring for opening up a student current account (with application for OD) with HSBC. I already have a OD on my natwest account with a £2000 limit which I am £1600 into due to accommodation. But my credit score online is calculated at 722 (CallCredit and Experian) I am 19 and not yet on the electoral role here at the council by my university, but when applying for a student current account surely that doesn’t take into age? So I have applied to be on the electoral role. Also I have never owned a credit card in my life, and only have the natwest one. I dont see its the point of having too many student current accounts as a couple of my friends do this, as London is a costly place.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It sounds like you are in the UK – is that correct? Unfortunately, our expertise is in the American credit system.

          • kv1995

            Oh thanks Gerri. Sorry! Is there any places where you could discuss this UK wise?

            • Gerri Detweiler

              Our site is US focused – I am sorry I just don’t know of a comparable site in the UK. If you find one will you let us know?

      • Sudarto

        Each lender has a rule that is not always the same as the other. Perhaps here, our application is not accepted. However, in other place is accepted. The important thing is to use a credit card properly and responsibly. This is the main way of improving credit scores. Thank for your explanation about bad credit.

      • Renee

        I have a low credit score due to having multiple late payments. I have since paid the cards off and closed the accounts. I found out afterwards that I should not have closed the accounts. My question is there any way I can either have these accounts removed from my credit report or is there a such things a forgiveness?

        • Credit Experts

          You can ask, but it’s unlikely they’ll be removed. How long ago were the late payments? They will likely remain on your credit report for 7 years, but the impact will diminish with time, and positive information can help your score as well. If you still have credit, be sure you are paying on time. That is the biggest single factor affecting your score.

      • Whiz

        Last year at 70 yrs. old I had very good credit for a long time but had three heart attacks within 11 months which put me in hospital each time and out of commission for that time period. All my monthly bills were being paid by direct debit and paid on time. I had only one open account on a credit card that did not get paid by my son with a very low balance while I was in recovery because he did not know I had that bill. When I finally returned to my home I paid the bill thru the card company over the phone and thought I was doing the right thing. Now it has devastated my credit report and after many calls to them asking them to notify the credit reporting companies to inform them I paid the account off months ago and they still have not done it. What else can I do to make them fix what was just an unfortunate medical condition that was not done by the lack of funds but simply because I was unable to understand what was going on during my illness and my son not knowing I had it.

        • Credit Experts

          Whiz —
          We hope you are recovering. So there was one bill reported late (probably multiple times) and now the bill has been paid in full? Was there a lawsuit or judgment while you were ill? You can contact the credit bureaus, and they will likely add a note to your file. This won’t change your score, however. You can ask the credit card issuer to delete the late reports (it would be a goodwill gesture, though; it is not required). However, if the rest of your accounts are in good staring and are being paid on time, your credit should recover. Time is your ally here, as are the positive reports from the on-time payments on other accounts. If you don’t yet have all of your free annual credit reports (one from each of the three credit bureaus), we suggest you take a look. It would also be smart to track your credit. If one of your credit cards provides free scores on your statements, that’s one way to do it. You can also get free credit scores, updated monthly, from

      • pieter

        I have no debt and and a credit score of 643 how can I get credit or a loan due to my score being low. No one wants to help me… any advice? Lucid wants me to pay them over 1 thousand rand for them to boost my score to 750?

      • Barbara Lemay

        I have two negatives on my credit report. One drops off next year. One is through a wireless phone company where my grandson & I both had accounts; they put the collection on my credit report that belongs to my grandson, but I could not get proof from him that it was his account. It is in collection. If I pay it off will the late payments still affect my credit

        • Credit Experts

          Barbara —
          If it is being reported on your credit report, then yes, the late payments could affect your credit. You could try disputing it, explaining that it was your grandson’s account. Without proof, though, you could have some difficulty. Still, if they do not confirm that the information is accurate, they must remove it:
          A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • Uzzi

        Can I got car lone with creadt score 640

        • Credit Experts

          Probably. That score is considered to be in the “fair” range, and it’s close to “good” (in most scales, 661 and higher). Do be careful of multiple credit inquiries; each time your credit is checked for the purposes of extending credit, your score can take a small, temporary dip. Here’s more information:
          Are There Car Loans for People With Bad Credit?

      • ToughStuff2012

        My credit score was 775. A car dealership did a “hard” inquiry on my credit score and it brought the score down. From an inquiry. Makes me think this whole industry might be a joke.

        I don’t even need to buy in credit. I have enough cash to buy most anything I need.

      • whooosh

        Nothing is a guarantee. My wife and I just went through chapter 13. One of the creditor was written off and lost $7300.
        2 weeks ago, the chapter 13 ended and all our debts were discharged. Last night, my wife apply for a CC with this same creditor who lost $7300 and was approved for a CC with a limit of $2000.
        Maybe their right hand doesn’t;’t know what their left hand is doing.

      • Permai Lindal

        Can closing an account affect your score?

        • Credit Experts

          It can if it increases your credit utilization (amount of credit you are using relative to your credit limits) or if it hurts your credit age (how long you have had an account). Here’s more information:
          Does Closing Your Credit Card Account Affect Your Credit Score?

      • Ariana

        I’m a 20 year old full-time student and it’s been hell getting certain things that require my credit being run , simply because I barely have any ! I have a capital one credit card that I pay in full every month , and that’s about the only thing . I have hard inquires on my report due to trying to apply for store charges or things that can build my credit up! It’s beyond frustrating because I want a car and I can’t get approved for a loan , yes I have a job also if that matters ! Tips anyone ?

        • Credit Experts

          Ariana —

          It can be frustrating for sure. We wrote about getting a car loan with little or no credit here: Can I Buy a Car if I Have No Credit?

          You are on to something about applying for credit products that you’re being turned down for. Each application causes a small, temporary hit to your credit, so the trick is to apply for credit products you’re almost certain you’ll be approved for. You can find tools online and at that help match up people with credit scores similar to yours with cards marketed to people with similar scores. Here is our credit card comparison tool.

          Finally, once you do have some credit, use it carefully. Pay on time, and try to keep your balance to below 30% of your credit limit (below 10% is even better). Check your credit regularly. Identity theft can result in a lower score than you would otherwise have, and so can errors on your credit report. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports, and here’s how to get two free credit scores from (Those free scores update every 30 days and include a personalized action plan for boosting your score.) Should you find errors in your credit report, here’s how to address those: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

          Finally, read this for some ideas on building credit: How to Build Credit the Smart Way.

          Good luck to you, and let us know if you have more questions.

        • cetkat

          Get a credit card through your bank – especially a credit union (they’re far more lenient when it comes to approving things). Also, it really helps to get stafford student loans. They are reported to the credit reports as positive payments each month, and the high balance seems to actually have a good effect. Between those two things (and later a handful of store cards), I went from no credit to excellent credit in about 3 years.

          • Credit Experts

            Congratulations to you — and thanks for sharing your story (though we’re in favor of working hard to lower the balances on student loans 😉 )

            • cetkat

              Of course 😉 .. however, if you’re lucky enough not to need it, you can stick to just the subsidized staffords (where your interest is paid) and put the money into a CD or high-yeild savings. Then you’d actually come out ahead.

      • Webmasters Pride

        Way to many accounts.

      • cetkat

        This doesn’t help with the credit situation, but for future reference (and for anyone else) – when you have bank account fraud, it is possible to request a temporary credit while the fraud department investigates. The clearer the suspicion of fraud – the more likely they will credit you. The best way to get this is through the 1-800 number: but, if you have a good relationship with a local bank manager, often they have the authority to add a temporary credit (meaning it will be taken back off after a certain time) for any reason. Getting it through the fraud dept is best though, because the credit will remain until the conclusion of the investigation… at which time it just changes to a regular credit.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Sounds like a mess. You’ll need to do two things if possible:

        1. Get your free annual credit reports from all three credit bureaus (not just Equifax) and

        2. Dispute this collection account with any company that is reporting it. Unfortunately it’s going to be challenging to take care of this really quickly though it may be possible.

        Please read:
        A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

        Give your circumstances, this might be a situation where it would be worthwhile to hire a credit repair firm if you can’t get it done in time yourself.

      • PuaHone

        Most, if not all employers are going to be OK with your score of 649. They would be concerned if you had a bankruptcy or foreclosure, but mostly they use the score as a gauge of character. A record of paying your bills on time reassures the employer that you are trustworthy. At 649, you are well within the average range. No worries.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Employers see credit reports but not credit scores, and as @PuaHone says they are usually looking primarily for signs of serious credit problems.

      • Danny More

        Remember.. This Credit Bit is one big scam. To get you to BUY! BUY! Pay & Pay…
        Millions have told the credit scam to take a hike…… I did… And doing just get…..
        YUP! You can live credit free. Millions are doing it……
        Credit Free. Who cares score… And doing just fine…….

      • Dave_Lovell

        I avoid looking at my credit reports because it ALWAYS makes me steaming angry. There is very little accuracy to this process and IMO the credit bureaus should be regulated. It is obvious they serve only the interests of the mega-banks and have zero interest in accuracy.
        The concept of a credit score is a good idea. With proper regulations in place this could become a useful thing.
        For example – I checked my credit score – they had a lien against my house for unpaid taxes on there. For starters my mortgage company pays the taxes on my house every year (it’s called an “escrow account”). The tax bill does not come to me anyway it goes to the bank. Someone should teach these credit bureaus how this process works. I investigated and my mortgage company paid the tax bill – the county admitted they made a mistake. They took the lien away. I sent this information to the credit bureaus and they said that since the information was reported that they could not take it away (even if it is false). That lien stayed on my credit for like 10 years.
        I’ve also had other businesses that I’ve never heard of report debts I owed to them. I challenged them to prove that I ever did business with them but the credit bureaus would not listen to me.
        I think everyone who works for a living should form a company and use it to do nothing but destroy the credit of everyone who is in any way connected to these credit bureaus. I say that in anger knowing it would never work because the credit bureaus would never allow anything bad to be placed on their own credit reports.
        The government should force credit bureaus to verify information and remove information they know to be incorrect. Anyone who claims this is the case now is a liar and I have stacks of proof to discredit them. The burden of proof should be on the businesses that report credit – not on the consumers. How do you prove you did not buy something? The company should be forced to prove you bought whatever it is they claim you’re not paying for (it’s called a “receipt”)
        It is important to remember – your credit score is NOT a measure of your credit-worthiness – it is a measure of how much money the banks think they can make off of you. Running a balance on a credit card is better for your credit than paying the balance off every month because the banks are not making any money off you on interest if you do.
        I live on less than half my income. I never run a balance of more than 20% of the credit limit on any of my cards. I do keep a running balance on them. I make payments on them at least twice a month and I have enough cash in my checking account to pay off every credit card balance ten times over. I’ve never missed a payment or paid late in 10 years. I’ve paid several loans including a mortgage in the same way. But I do not have excellent credit. You cannot tell me this system works the way “the experts” explain it. In fact you cannot say it “works” at all. Sorry I get so angry whenever this subject comes up.
        My advice to anyone who will listen: do not rely on good credit to get ahead in this world. Having bad credit dumped on me by a broken system taught me to rely on money in the bank more than money I could borrow.

      • Ajsmooth

        I had an old child support account in good standing with a zero balance that was closed by the creditor because my daughter turned 18. This dropped my score 33 points. Is there anything i can do to get these points added back to my credit score.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          How old? Child support judgments remain for seven years on your report. If this is too old you can dispute it.

      • Biff Tannen

        I don’t see how to start a discussion, so I’ll ask this here and hopefully I can get some advice. I went through a chapter 7 bankruptcy seven years ago. So a few months ago I decided to apply for a credit card. (I have used cash ever since, bought a house (starter home – paid cash, bought two cars, paid cash, etc – no debt at all since my discharge, everything has been cash transactions since then, but it’s been seven years, and I think everything bad aside of the public record of the b/k has fallen off my credit report. In any event, got a Catipal One Quicksilver card in June and checked my credit score, I was at a 664. On this last check September 4th, I am at a 707 Equifax 710 vantage 3.0 and 703 Transunion (to me – amazing jumps with only having a few credit card payments and my electric bill being reported). I only have a $2,000 limit on my credit card but the results are very positive. I want to get a second card to up my utilization ratio (I pay off every transaction right away as soon as they post, so I never carry a balance). Don’t want to ding my good credit by getting refused for a new card now that it’s improving so much. Do I at this point have a good chance at getting a second card that would be for people with good credit, or am I looking too much at the credit score being good but needing to wait longer? I have no debt, own my own home outright and make about 50k/year. Also want to switch car insurances, as I have paid more the last several years due to the previous low credit score, at what point should I switch to a new insurance company? Should I wait until my score hits 720 or 730, or when would be the best time to switch so I can reap lower car/home insurance rates now that my credit score is much better? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Congratulations on all your progress since your bankruptcy. It certainly sounds like you’d probably be in a position to get a credit card aimed at someone with good credit. It’s hard to say definitively, of course, because every lender is different. I’m not sure what source you are using to check your free credit score but if you are using, you will see a tab that features offers from lenders looking for prospective customers with profiles similar to yours. It’s not guaranteed you’ll get the card, but it should help you pinpoint ones that should be a match.

          As for the auto insurance, I’d say shop now. The trajectory on your scores will eventually likely slow down (when you get to the point where your mix of credit and age of accounts are the main things holding your scores back) so you might as well see if you can save money now. You can always switch again later.

      • joeblack

        Who needs credit when you can hack into banks and steel someone else good identify. 🙂

      • tclapper2

        When someone uses your credit fraudulently, you are on the hook. This person tore our family apart, and my credit went down 200 points before I found out that I should have had her put in jail. Now her Dish account is in collections and I have to pay her $400 bill! I pound on her door to get $20 and I add $20 to that, and slowly the bill has been going down. But how did I not know this account was on my dime until I read my credit report? I never got a phone call to alert me to what was going on!! And what a mess to untangle!

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