500 Credit Score: Good or Bad?

A 500 credit score falls into the bad range. You'll have trouble getting credit, but your score can recover.
Amrita Jayakumar
By Amrita Jayakumar 
Updated
Edited by Kathy Hinson
500 Credit Score: Good or Bad?

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A 500 credit score is in the bad credit score range. Your credit score determines whether you qualify for financial products, like credit cards and car loans, and what interest rate you might pay.

In April 2023, about 3% of Americans had a score lower than 500, according to credit scoring company FICO.

FICO Blog. Average U.S. FICO Score at 718. Accessed Dec 19, 2023.

Here’s how a 500 credit score can affect your financial life.

You may have a tough time getting a loan or card

When your score is 500, you'll have trouble qualifying for some financial products. You will have to pay the highest rates on loans and credit cards, and you may pay more for car insurance.

The good news is it might not take much to move the needle on your score. Here are some quick ways to improve your credit.

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Tips to work on your 500 credit score

Here are a few ways to build credit:

  • Apply for a secured credit card. They are easier to qualify for because they require you to place a cash deposit.

  • Get a credit-builder loan or a secured loan, which allows you to build credit and savings at the same time.

  • Ask someone you know with good credit to add you as an authorized user on their credit card.

  • Practice good credit habits. The two most important things are paying all bills on time and using less than 30% of your credit limits.

Building up a track record of on-time payments and keeping balances low can help steer you toward good credit score territory.

Get more financial clarity with NerdWallet
Monitor your credit, track your spending and see all of your finances together in a single place.