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Is 500 a Bad Credit Score? 

Written by Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a personal finance enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, Allison has made a name for herself as a syndicated financial writer. Her articles are published in leading publications, like, Bankrate, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, and Investopedia. When she’s not busy creating content, Allison travels nationwide, sharing her knowledge and expertise in financial literacy and entrepreneurship through interactive workshops and programs. She also works as a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) dedicated to helping people from all walks of life achieve financial freedom and success.

Updated February 19, 2024​

5 min. read​

A 500 credit score falls within the range of “bad credit.” A credit score in this range can make qualifying for financial products and services challenging, and you may face higher interest rates if you get approved. The upside is it’s not impossible to improve your credit score. By being proactive and taking the proper steps, you can start improving your credit health sooner than later.

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An Introduction to Credit Scores

What is a Credit Score, and How Does It Work?

A credit score is a three-digit number between 300 and 850 – the higher, the better. It demonstrates your creditworthiness or the likelihood of paying your bills and debt obligations on time.

Lenders and creditors use credit scores to make lending decisions. You should also know they are based on the information included in your credit report. More on this shortly.

Breakdown of Credit Score Ranges

Two common scoring models are often used when evaluating credit scores – FICO and VantageScore. Understanding the credit score ranges for these models can help you gauge where your credit score falls and what this means for your financial opportunities.


FICO scores range from 300 to 850, with different categories assigned to specific score ranges:

  • Poor (300-579): If your FICO score is within this range, you may face difficulty getting credit or loans approved. It might also lead to higher interest rates.
  • Fair (580-669): A fair credit score gives you a higher chance of being approved for loans and credit cards. However, the interest rates and terms may still not be as favorable as those for higher credit scores.
  • Good (670-739): A good FICO score means you are more likely to receive better interest rates and terms when applying for credit or loans.
  • Very Good (740-799): You are considered low-risk for lenders, and therefore you’ll enjoy more favorable terms and interest rates.
  • Exceptional (800-850): When your score is in this range, you will generally have access to the best interest rates and terms available.


VantageScore ranges also fall between 300 and 850. However, their categorization of ranges is slightly different:

  • Poor (300-499): Having a VantageScore in this range indicates a high risk to lenders. You may have difficulty obtaining credit or loans and will likely experience high-interest rates.
  • Fair (500-600): Your VantageScore is still considered low, and while you may get approved for certain loans or credit cards, the interest rates are expected to be high.
  • Good (601-660): With a good credit score, your chances of approval increase, and you may receive more favorable interest rates.
  • Very Good (661-780): You can expect better terms and interest rates than those with lower credit scores.
  • Excellent (781-850): If your VantageScore is in this range, you can enjoy the best interest rates and terms available.
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Having a 500 Credit Score

What Factors May Lead to a 500 Credit Score?

Some common factors leading to a 500 credit score include:

  • Missed or late payments: Consistently making late payments or missing payments on your credits, loans, or bills can severely affect your score.
  • High credit utilization: Carrying high balances on credit cards or other revolving credit accounts can lead to a bad credit score.
  • Collection accounts: Unpaid debts that go to collections can significantly damage your credit score.
  • Bankruptcy or foreclosure: These major financial events can also negatively impact your credit score.

How Lenders See a 500 Credit Score

With a 500 credit score, lenders generally perceive you as having a higher credit risk. Consequently, you’re more likely to be turned down for credit or only offered debt products with higher borrowing costs.

Impacts of a 500 Credit Score

These potential negative impacts come with a 500 credit score.

Limited Credit Opportunities

Many lenders may be hesitant to approve you for credit cards and unsecured credit cards due to the high risk associated with such a low score. In general, you’ll find it more challenging to access various financial products, which can make managing your finances and building credit even more difficult.

The Effect on Loan Approvals

The likelihood of getting denied a loan is also higher, with a 500 credit score. This applies to personal loans, auto loans, private student loans and mortgages.

Higher Interest Rates

If you’re able to get a loan or credit card with a 500 credit score, you’ll likely face higher interest rates than someone with a higher credit score. This means you’ll end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan or credit card balance, which can significantly impact your overall financial well-being.

Difficulty Finding a Job

Some employers conduct credit checks as part of their hiring process, especially for positions in the financial services sector. A 500 credit score could raise red flags for potential employers and limit your opportunities for employment in certain industries.

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Is Having a High Credit Score Important?

A high credit score is essential as it reflects your financial responsibility and determines your ability to qualify for loans, secure lower interest rates, and access various financial opportunities. Here’s a closer look at some potential benefits:

  • Better loan terms: With a better credit score, you’re more likely to secure loans with favorable interest rates and terms, saving you money in the long run.
  • More approvals: A higher credit score increases your chances of approval for credit cards and other lines of credit.
  • Lower insurance premiums: Some insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to assess the risk of providing coverage. A higher credit score may lead to more affordable auto insurance premiums.
  • Increased housing options: Many landlords consider credit scores when evaluating rental applications. Maintaining a good credit score increases your chances of being approved for a rental property.

Ways to Improve Your 500 Credit Score

When you’re ready to start improving your credit score, here are some tips to get started:

Finding Errors in Your Credit Report

Regularly checking your credit reports can help you spot errors or discrepancies that may negatively affect your score. Ensure that all your personal information is accurate and all accounts listed are yours. If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit bureaus to get them corrected.

Repaying Outstanding Debts

One of the essential steps in improving your credit score is repaying any outstanding debts. Keep track of your monthly payments and make sure to pay at least the minimum amount required on time. Prioritize paying off high-interest debts first, as they can accumulate interest quickly and significantly impact your score.

Reducing Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of your available credit that you are currently using. Aim to keep this ratio below 30 percent (or lower if possible) to improve your score. You can achieve this by paying down your balances, asking for higher credit limits or spreading your spending across multiple cards.

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Utilizing Credit Building Tools

Consider using a secured credit card to rebuild your credit. A secured card requires a deposit as collateral, which becomes your credit limit. By using the card responsibly and making timely payments, you can demonstrate responsible credit usage and gradually improve your score. Some credit card issuers will upgrade you to an unsecured credit card after you show responsible use over an extended period.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re struggling to improve your credit score on your own, consider seeking the help of a professional. These services can help you identify and address the factors contributing to your low score, file disputes with the credit bureaus and provide guidance on improving your overall credit health.

The experts at The Credit Pros can streamline the process of increasing your credit score fast. The Credit Pros can assist in identifying and addressing the factors contributing to a low credit score and developing strategies to enhance your overall credit with their personalized score insights.

Contact them today to learn more about how they can help you improve your credit score and get a 100% 90-day money-back guarantee. Avail of their free consultation with no obligation to sign up by calling (888) 558-1602 or filling out a short form. Don’t let a low credit score hold you back from achieving your financial goals – take the first step towards improving your credit with The Credit Pros.

How Long Does It Take to Improve a 500 Credit Score?

Improving your credit score will take time, persistence, and effort. There isn’t a specific timeline for raising your credit score, as it depends on various factors, such as your current credit situation and financial behavior.

By implementing the suggestions above, your credit score should gradually improve. Although predicting how long it will take to reach a specific score is difficult, consistency and good financial habits will typically lead to progress. Remember that improving your credit is an ongoing process, and maintaining sound financial practices is essential for long-term success.

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Conclusion: Is 500 a Bad Credit Score?

Yes, a 500 credit score is considered to be bad. Your score falls within the range of 300 to 579, which is labeled as Very Poor. With a score in this bracket, you will likely face difficulties obtaining credit, as many lenders consider borrowers with Very Poor credit scores to have unfavorable credit histories.

In this situation, it’s crucial to focus on building your credit history and raising your credit scores before applying for any loans. Paying down existing debt and being aggressive with payments on credit cards with the highest interest rates can significantly improve your credit score over time. Also, make it a habit to check your credit report regularly. This way, you can monitor improvements and identify any errors that might negatively affect your credit score.

Ultimately, while a 500 credit score is definitely not ideal, there are steps you can take to improve it. By being proactive and disciplined in your efforts, you can work toward better credit health and access more attractive financing options in the future.

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