A credit score of 600 is below average. If your credit score is 600 or less, it may be difficult to get a new loan at an affordable interest rate. Most lenders who see borrowers with a credit score of 600 or lower will only offer high-interest loans with strict terms. If the borrower fails to pay each month, then the lender can send the account to collections. Thankfully, you can do several things to improve your credit score. We’ll cover some strategies in this article.
600 Credit Score: Good or Bad Score?
A credit score of 600 is considered below average. Depending on your exact score and the scoring model (FICO or VantageScore) used it may be considered a fair credit score or a very poor score. The average credit score for Americans in 2021 was 741.
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What Is Credit Scoring Anyway?
Your credit score is like a grade. It grades you on how well you’ve managed your debts in the past.
Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Most credit scores are computed using the information in the borrower’s credit report. This includes your payment history, debt-to-credit ratio, and other factors related to borrowing.
Image Credit: Equifax
If you usually repay your debts on time, then you’ll likely have a good score (680 or higher). But if you have defaulted on several debts, your score will be much lower (620 or lower).
The Credit Score Formula
Here are the key factors that go into computing your credit score:
Payment history (35%)
Total amount of debt you still owe all lenders (30%)
Credit history (15%)
New credit (10%)
Credit mix (10%)
As you can see, about a third of your credit score is based on your payment history. This is the single largest factor in the equation.
Credit information is compiled by credit bureaus, including TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. The three major credit bureaus use the FICO score while others may use a different kind of credit score called the VantageScore.
Credit monitoring companies will monitor your payment history and watch your credit score range to see what rates you should be charged in the future. You can monitor your own progress by getting a free credit report each year. Many financial institutions will also provide a free credit score as part of their account services.
Can I Get a Credit Card, Mortgage, Car Loan, or Personal Loan if My Credit Score is 600?
The answer here will depend on your individual credit history and the type of credit you are applying for. Generally speaking, it can be hard to get a credit card or a loan such as a home loan, car loan, or personal loan if you have a fair or poor credit score.
If you are approved by a lender for a loan or credit card, you’re likely to have to pay a much higher interest rate and be subject to stricter loan terms than someone with good or excellent credit. That means the total cost of the loan for you will be higher. In addition to high interest rates, you may need to pay a higher down payment for an auto loan or home loan if your credit isn’t good. Credit card companies may also charge you an annual fee.
To learn more about your options, check out these articles:
Is It Hard To Improve My Credit Score?
No matter how low your credit score is today, you have the power to improve it. You may be wondering how long it will take to see results once you start working on improving your score. While it’s not immediate, you can often see progress within a few months. The key to improving your low credit score is patience and consistency.
Don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a consumer credit counselor or financial planner if you aren’t sure how to proceed. These financial professionals can tell you which debts you should focus on paying off first and which ones can wait for a while. Your local credit union may also be able to help you with this. Some credit card companies even have counselors who can help you to organize your debts.
How To Improve Your Credit Score
If you’re ready to increase your credit score, you can start by making all your payments on time, not applying for new credit for a while, checking your credit report, and keeping your old accounts open.
Make On-Time Payments
One of the greatest enemies of a good credit score is late payments. Late payments hurt your score and make it harder to qualify for lines of credit or loans. When you do qualify, they’ll be more expensive.
Schedule automatic payments or mark payment due dates on your calendar. Make your payments on time every month to boost and preserve your credit score. And, if possible, pay more than the minimum payment.
Give Your Credit Cards a Break
If you’re struggling to pay the debts you currently owe, it might be time to give your cards a break. Every new credit card means another monthly payment to keep track of. Plus, when you apply for a new credit card, the lender makes a hard inquiry on your credit, which lowers your score slightly. The more hard inquirieslenders make, the more your score is impacted.
Check Your Credit Report
It is important to stay on top of your credit score and pull a copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) at least once a year. And don’t forget to get a copy of your VantageScore as well, as this is also used by lenders.
Make sure that there are no errors on your credit report and take action immediately if there are. Dispute errors as soon as you see them. If you’re working hard to improve your credit score, you don’t want an error on your credit report to set you back.
Keep Old Accounts Open
Even if you no longer use a particular credit card or line of credit, don’t close the account, especially if you have a long history of timely payments on it. One measure of your credit score is the length of open accounts. The older the account, the better for your credit.
Avoid High Credit Card Balances
Regardless of what your credit limit is, it’s best to use only about 30–35% of your credit. In financial terms, this is called your credit utilization ratio. Spending about 30% of your credit limit each month, then paying your bill off in full, is the best way to use your card.