By CreditNinja Reviewed by Matt Mayerle
Modified on May 15, 2024

If you have a credit score between 300 and 579, like a 300 credit score, then, your credit score falls into the poor credit score category. Being in this range can mean a difficult time navigating your finances. 

However, you aren’t alone! Lots of Americans may find that their average credit score falls in this category, and the good news is that there are things that you can do right away to help improve it! Below, we will go over some of the implications that a poor credit score will have, along with strategies and products that can help you improve a 399 credit score. 

Key Takeaways for a 399 Credit Score

Overview of Your
Credit Rating

A 399 credit score is considered a very poor credit score; it falls within the lowest credit score rating.

Borrowing Options With a
399 Credit Score

With a 399 credit score, you won't have many borrowing options; however, bad credit loans may be available.

Improving a 399
Credit/FICO Score

Improving a 399 credit score will take a lot of work. Start by paying credit accounts on time to establish a positive payment history.

Is a 399 Credit Score Good?

A 399 credit score is not a good score; it’s a very poor score, and it is not too far from the lowest credit score of 300. However, just because you have this credit rating does not mean that you have to stay here. There are several things you can do to improve your credit score, and we will discuss some strategies with you below.

What Can You Get Approved for With a 399 Credit Score?

A 399 will definitely limit your borrowing options; however, once you improve your credit score, other kinds of credit accounts should be more accessible. There may be some workarounds with lenders you can use to get funding for loans that are usually only available to fair or good credit borrowers. 

Below, you will learn about some commonly used loans, and we’ll give you some insight into how you can improve your chances of getting approved.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are unsecured loan options that can be used for several kinds of expenses; many people use them for medical bills, car repairs, home improvement, and more. They can range in funding amounts quite a bit, so you can find a small, medium, or large personal loan, depending on the lender you inquire with. Like most loan options, having a low credit score will make things challenging. However, adding a cosigner to your loan application can help with approval for a personal loan. Along with easier approval, you may have access to better rates and higher loan amounts than you would get on your own.

Bank Loans

Bank loans are any loan option that comes from a bank. When seeking a loan from a bank, most people know exactly what kind of loan they are inquiring about. These loans can range from long-term to short-term for all kinds of expenses related to purchases, education, investments, and even entrepreneurship. Banks usually have pretty strict credit score minimums, so if you decide to add a cosigner, they should have good credit at a minimum. 

Credit Cards

Credit cards are some of the most widely used credit accounts out there, and secured credit cards may be available for bad credit borrowers! While these may not help when you need funding for an emergency, they can be incorporated into a planned purchase or expense. And so, with a 399 score, consider a secured credit card rather than an unsecured credit card with credit card issuers. Here are some examples:

  1. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card — This card is notable for its low-security deposit requirements, which could be as low as $49, $99, or $200, depending on your application details.
  2. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card — This card does not require a credit check, making it accessible even if your credit history is poor. It requires a minimum deposit of $200 and has an annual fee of $35. 
  3. Citi® Secured Mastercard®  — This card requires a minimum security deposit and reports to all major credit bureaus.

Auto Loans

An auto loan helps consumers afford the purchase of a new or used vehicle. Instead of paying the full amount upfront, borrowers can make monthly installments until the car price, interest, and any other miscellaneous fees are paid. When inquiring about an auto loan with bad credit, you can find specific lenders that cater to poor credit or increase your down payment. Another option is to simply consider a less expensive car, so you have less to finance with the auto loan. 

Bad Credit Loans 

Bad credit loans are loans specifically designed to help borrowers who have poor credit scores. A few different types of loans fall into this category, such as payday loans and cash advance loans. While these may help you secure funding when you need it with low credit, these loans are usually challenging to repay because of their high APRs and short repayment periods. And so, they can quickly become overwhelming and lead to a cycle of debt. A more financially sound strategy may be to improve your credit or add a cosigner for better borrowing options. 

Products To Help Improve a 399 Credit Score

Here are some products that can help you improve your credit score:

Credit Builder Loans 

Credit builder loans can be a great tool for building credit history without having to rely on a traditional credit account. With these, you’ll have to make monthly payments, and then you’ll get funds once you pay the lender. Every payment you make should be reported to the three major credit bureaus, which, if you make your payments on time, can help you build a positive payment history. 

Budgeting Apps

A budget is a tool that helps you track your expenses and income. At first, it may not seem like this would be related to your credit scores. However, because a budget has to do with your financial habits, it goes hand in hand with your credit scores (which are essentially a record of those habits). While you can create a budget on your own, there are budgeting apps that can do the work for you. Here are some budgeting apps to consider:

  • You Need a Budget (YNAB) — Best for hands-on, zero-based budgeting.

  • Goodbudget — This app uses the envelope budgeting method, which allows you to categorize your spending into “envelopes.”

  • EveryDollar — Developed for straightforward, zero-based budgeting, EveryDollar provides a simple framework for managing your finances.

  • Empower Personal Dashboard — Formerly known as Personal Capital, this app is particularly useful for tracking wealth and spending.

  • PocketGuard — For those who need a simplified overview of their finances, PocketGuard categorizes your spending automatically and helps identify        areas where you can cut back to save money.

  • Honeydue — This app is specially designed for couples, allowing partners to manage their finances together. 

Credit Monitoring Services

Credit monitoring services keep tabs on your credit history and your credit reports, which will include any active credit accounts. If any changes happen, they will alert you. This can be extremely helpful in case mistakes happen, which is more common than you may think. According to a Federal Trade Commission study, up to 42 million Americans have mistakes on their credit reports.¹ Not correcting this can hurt your credit, and it’s up to the consumer to do so, not the creditor or credit reporting agency. And so, these services can be extremely helpful. 

Benefits of Improving Your 399 Credit Score

There are many benefits that come with improving a 399 credit score; here are some to look forward to:

Lower Interest Rates and APRs

The most apparent benefit of a better credit score is lower interest rates and APRs. This can be a huge advantage when you need to borrow money from a loan or credit card, especially if it’s a long-term credit account such as a mortgage. 

More Loan and Credit Card Choices

Another benefit that you may notice right away is that you’ll have more loan and credit card choices to choose from. You may even be preselected for certain offers. More choices will make things much smoother when you need to take out a loan or get a credit card.

Lower Insurance Costs

With auto and home insurance, servicers may consider credit scores to assess risk. A lower credit score can mean saving on your insurance rates. 

More Housing Opportunities

With a higher credit score, you’ll have access to more renting and home purchasing power. Credit scores are a part of rental and mortgage applications. With higher scores, you’ll be able to secure a rental or mortgage much more easily, and you could save while doing so, too!

How To Improve Your 399 Credit Score

Here are some ways to improve your 399 credit score:

Pay Your Bills On Time 

The most important thing you can do to help your credit scores is to pay your bills on time. Payment history has the largest impact on your credit scores, so it is essential that you avoid missed payments, specifically on your loans and credit cards. 

Keep Your Credit Utilization Rate Under 30%

Your credit utilization measures your existing credit limit against your debt. If this ratio goes above 30%, it can hurt your credit scores, so it will be in your best interest to keep that in mind! You can keep your credit utilization low by paying off debt and keeping revolving accounts open after paying them off. 

Keep Your Paid-Off Credit Accounts Open 

We touched on this in the point above, but we want to expand on it a little further because it’s important. Closing your revolving accounts, such as credit card accounts, after you pay them off will decrease your available credit/credit limit and thus increase your credit utilization ratio, which can hurt your credit scores. 

FAQs About 399 Credit Scores

The average credit score is influenced by several factors, including payment history, credit utilization, credit history length, credit mix, and new credit inquiries. Understanding these can help you strategize on which areas to focus on, such as maintaining a good payment history or managing your credit utilization, to work towards a higher credit score.

Joining a credit union can be beneficial to your average credit score as they often offer personalized financial products with more favorable terms. For instance, a credit union might offer a secured personal loan with lower interest rates, which can be easier to manage and thus potentially help build a positive credit history and improve your credit score.

If inaccuracies are found in your credit report/credit history, it’s crucial to contact the credit bureaus immediately to dispute these errors. Correcting these can help ensure that your credit history accurately reflects your financial behavior, which might help increase your average credit score.

For those with lower credit scores, using a credit builder responsibly can be a way to improve their score, as the lender reports payments to the credit bureaus. Regular, on-time payments can help improve your credit history and potentially lead to a higher credit score.

Yes, your credit mix—having different types of credit accounts such as credit cards, personal loans, and mortgages on your credit report—can affect your FICO credit scores. This diversity shows that you can manage different types of credit responsibly. Adding a new type of credit to your credit report, like a secured personal loan, might improve your credit mix, which could help enhance your average credit score, especially if managed wisely.

What Interest Rate Can I Get With a 399 Credit Score?

Interest rates will depend on the lender, the loan type, and the borrower’s finances (mainly credit scores, income, and ability to repay the loan). Generally, the lower your credit score, the higher the interest rate on a loan option and vice versa. And so, with a 399 credit score, the interest rates on your loan will be on the higher end with most credit card and loan options. 

Can I Buy a House With a 399 Credit Score?

Buying a home has lots of moving parts, including credit score criteria. Here are some other factors that lenders look into for mortgage approval:

Factor

Description

Employment History

Lenders consider the stability and duration of your current and past employment an indicator of future income stability.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

This is a comparison of your gross monthly income to your monthly debt payments. Lower ratios may lead to better loan terms.

Down Payment

The amount of money you pay upfront on the home. A larger down payment can often improve mortgage terms and decrease monthly payments.

Property Type and Value

The type of property you’re buying, and its value can influence the loan terms, as they affect the investment risk for the lender.

Savings and Assets

Lenders examine your savings and other assets to determine your financial health and ability to pay the mortgage during financial downturns.

Loan Type and Term

The type of mortgage and the length of the term can affect interest rates and payment amounts. Different types are available depending on your needs and qualifications.

A 399 credit will likely not meet the minimum credit requirement that most mortgage lenders have. Even for alternative mortgage options, you will likely need a fair credit score. Once you do improve your credit score, you shouldn’t have any issues with the credit score part of the home-buying process.

Top 5 Resources for a 399 Credit Score

Related Credit Scores

300  315  350  370  380  400  430  440  450  460

References:

  1. Is My Credit Report Accurate? For Over 40 Million Americans, the Answer is No | ABI
  2. Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One | Capital One
  3. OpenSky Secured Credit Card | OpenSky
  4. Citi® Secured Mastercard® | Citi Bank