Is 600 a Good Credit Score?

600 credit score

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    By Austin Kilham

    (Last Updated – 02/2024)

    A 600 credit score is considered “fair,” which is the category below “good.” It’s actually towards the lower end of “fair,” nudging towards “poor.”

    Most people have a credit score somewhere between 600 and 750, with an average score of 715 in the U.S. So what if you find yourself on the low end of that range? A 600 credit score may mean you have limited options for some loans and lines of credit. Those that you do qualify for may charge a higher interest rate and have less favorable terms.

    Here’s a closer look at what a score of 600 means and what loan options might be available to you.

    What Does a 600 Credit Score Mean?

    A credit score range of 580 to 669 is considered to be “fair” according to FICO®. This score is below average, though many lenders are likely to approve loans at this level.

    What constitutes a good credit score then?

    •   According to FICO, the most popular credit bureau, a good credit score is in the 670 to 739 range.

    •   Scores higher than that are considered to be very good (740 to 799) or exceptional (800 to 850).

    •   Credit reporting bureau Experian puts good credit scores at 700 or more.

    That said, if you’ve got a 600 credit score and you’re looking to secure credit, there are probably options available to you.

    When you apply for a loan, a lender will look at your credit score to determine your creditworthiness. Your credit score is basically a numerical representation of your financial history. It takes into account factors such as your history of paying bills on time, how much debt you currently have, length of credit, and whether you’re actively pursuing new lines of credit.

    Higher scores suggest that you are more responsible, that you manage multiple types of debt, have a long credit history, and that you pay your bills on time and in full. What does that mean to you and your ability to access credit?

    •   Lenders see these higher scores as being less risky. They have shown that they use credit responsibly, repaying their loans on time.

    •   As a result, they are more likely to extend credit to people with higher scores, and they are more likely to offer these borrowers lower interest rates and more favorable terms.

    On the other hand, lenders see people with lower scores as representing more risk.

    •   The lender may conclude that these borrowers are more likely to default on their loan. Defaults are costly for lenders who must spend time and money recouping their losses.

    •   As a result, lenders may decide not to extend credit to people with low scores. Or they may compensate for this risk they take on by offering loans with higher interest rates or fees.

    Building Your Credit Score

    Prospective borrowers who wish to avoid higher rates and fees may consider ways to increase their credit score. Strategies include:

    •   Always making on-time payments

    •   Keeping debt-to-income ratios low, usually between 10% and 30% (this meaning you are using 10% to 30% of your available credit limit)

    •   Lengthening your credit history

    •   Having a good mix of credit (installment loans and lines of credit, say)

    •   Be sparing with applying for new credit. Too many applications in too short a period of time can look risky.

    Building better credit doesn’t happen overnight, so if you plan on seeking a loan in the future, start taking steps as soon as possible.

    💡 Quick Tip: Need help covering the cost of a wedding, honeymoon, or new baby? A SoFi personal loan can help you fund major life events — without the high interest rates of credit cards.

    What Else Can You Get with a 600 Credit Score?

    With a FICO credit score of 600, you generally fall in the what’s known as the subprime category of borrowers, or those who have less than average credit. However, as mentioned above this does not mean that you won’t have access to loans or lines of credit.

    Here’s a closer look at what you may qualify for with a 600 credit score.

    Can I Get a Credit Card with a 600 Credit Score?

    You can likely get a credit card with a credit score of 600, but think about this choice carefully. Those with credit scores of 700 or higher typically have the most choice and the most favorable terms.

    Credit cards are high-interest debt. Currently, average interest rates are often above 20%. And if you have below average credit, you may see your rate reflect this average or reach even higher.

    High interest rates can make the cost of borrowing very expensive. Consider your ability to pay off your credit card in full every month, which is the only way to avoid paying interest.

    If this is something you have trouble doing, you may consider an alternative, such as a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you put down a deposit and can spend up to that amount as you credit limit. Using a secured card and making regular payments can be a good way to improve your credit score.

    💡 Quick Tip: With average interest rates lower than credit cards, a personal loan for credit card debt can substantially decrease your monthly bills.

    Can I Get an Auto Loan with a 600 Credit Score?

    There is no minimum credit score for securing an auto loan, but for new car loans, most borrowers have a score of 730. Consider that in 2023, subprime borrowers received 12.67% of new auto loans, while prime borrowers received 45.90% of new loans.

    What’s more, you will likely pay more for the privilege of borrowing if you’re in the subprime category. The average interest rate for subprime borrowers was 11.86% in 2023 compared with a 6.88% interest rate for prime borrowers.

    Recommended: Pros and Cons of Car Refinancing

    Can I Get a Mortgage with a 600 Credit Score?

    You have reduced options for getting a mortgage loan with a credit score of 600. For most conventional loans, which are not backed by a government agency, you’ll need a credit score of 620 or higher. Without that, lenders either won’t offer you a loan or they will offer a loan with a higher interest rate, which increases the cost of borrowing.

    A government-backed USDA loan typically requires a credit score of 620 and other qualifying factors. Some other potential options to consider:

    •   Federal Housing Administration or FHA loans are backed by the federal government. To qualify for a loan with a 3.5% down payment, you typically need a credit score of 580. You can usually qualify for a loan with a 10% down payment with a score between 500 and 579. Homes purchased through this program must be the buyer’s primary residence, and the borrower will need to demonstrate proof of employment.

    •   If you are or have been a member of the armed services, you may qualify for a VA loan offered through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. They are also backed by the federal government and require a credit score of 580.

    Can I Get a Personal Loan with a 600 Credit Score?

    You can likely get a personal loan with a “fair” score. Many lenders start approving personal loans for those with scores between 560 and 660, so loans for a 600 credit score are possible. But as with the other forms of credit examined in this article, you will likely be charged a higher interest rate and may have less desirable terms (such as higher fees) than borrowers with higher scores.

    You might consider whether it is critical for you to take out a personal loan with a 600 credit score now or if you can take steps to improve your credit score before you borrow.

    Recommended: Typical Personal Loan Requirements Needed for Approval

    The Takeaway

    Though a credit score of 600 is below average, you may still secure many types of credit. However, borrowing may cost you more than it would someone with a good, very good, or excellent credit.

    There are steps you can take to help prevent overpaying, however. Any time you seek credit, be sure to compare rates among multiple lenders to help ensure that you receive the best interest rate possible and the best loan terms. You may also want to take steps to build your score as well.

    Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

    SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

    View your rate

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