By CreditNinja Reviewed by Matt Mayerle
Modified on May 22, 2024

All credit scores between 300 and 579, including a 535 credit score, are in the “very poor” credit category.

This is the lowest credit rating tier and usually indicates that the consumer is either new to personal finances or recovering from one or more financial challenges. 

If you have a very poor credit score, like 535, you may want to prioritize improvement. By achieving a higher credit score, you may find yourself the recipient of tons of great benefits and perks. You’ll have an easier time finding approval for loans with higher loan amounts, and you may even find you’re able to qualify for better housing options or insurance rates! 

Key Takeaways for a 535 Credit Score

Overview of Your
Credit Rating

535 is a part of the lowest credit rating tier, referred to as the “very poor” credit category. All scores between 300 and 579 fall in this category.

Borrowing Options With a
535 Credit Score

Borrowing options will be limited for consumers with very poor credit scores. Improving your average credit score is the best way to receive approval for better loan products.

Improving a 535
Credit/FICO Score

Working on payment history is the most significant thing consumers can do to improve their credit. Lowering debts, avoiding new credit inquiries, and limiting unnecessary spending will also help.

Is a 535 Credit Score Good?

No, 535 is not a good credit score. In fact, 535 is a part of the lowest credit ranking tier, including all credit scores between 300 and 579. Other credit ranking tiers include scores between 580 and 669 (fair credit), scores between 670 and 739 (good credit), scores between 740 and 799 (very good credit), and scores between 800 and 850 (excellent credit).

What Can You Get Approved for With a 535 Credit Score?

Getting approval for certain types of loans and credit cards may be difficult for people with lower credit scores. To make sure you find the best deal on a personal loan with 500 credit score, research your options and compare offers. Below are a few types of funding you may come across during your initial loan research. 

Personal Loans

A personal loan is a broad type of loan that consumers can use for just about any purpose. Since personal loans come in high and low loan amounts, they are great for a wide variety of expenses. 

Furthermore, personal loans typically come in the form of fixed-rate loans, which means the interest rate will stay the same throughout the life of the loan. These fixed rates keep monthly payments predictable so borrowers can easily plan out their entire repayment schedule. 

Bank Loans

Consumers can also access personal loan funding from a local or chain bank. However, with a lower credit score like 535, approval may be unlikely. Bad credit consumers may have a better chance of approval when they go with a credit union or another private lender instead of trying to work with a strict lender like a bank.

Unsecured Credit Cards

An unsecured credit card is the most common type of credit card. However, traditional credit card accounts can put borrowers at risk of accumulating unaffordable debt. CNBC reports that adults owe an average credit card debt of $6,321.1 

Secured Credit Card 

A secured credit card may be more suitable for consumers who want access to a line of credit but are also working on improving their credit scores. Since lenders are essentially guaranteed repayment, they are more likely to approve borrowers who may be considered a higher risk of general delinquency. With secured credit cards, borrowers pre-pay their credit limit upfront to act as a sort of security deposit should they become unable to repay. 

A few types of secured credit cards include: 

  • Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One 
  • Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
  • Self Secured Visa® Credit Card

Car Loans

Auto loans are secured loans consumers use to help them purchase a new or used vehicle. According to Experian, the average auto loan balance is approximately $23,792.2 While you may have difficulty finding approval for a traditional car loan when you have a bad credit score, you can increase your chances of approval by asking a cosigner to sign your loan with you or by submitting a larger down payment

Quick Cash Loans 

Quick cash loans, such as payday loans, were designed to help consumers out with extra cash while they are waiting for their next paycheck. Repayment terms for these types of loans typically last two weeks or less. Quick cash loans are also known for having extremely high-interest rates. So, unless you can pay off your balance within about fourteen days, it may be in the best interest of your credit score for you to stay away from quick cash loans. 

Credit Builder Loan

Credit builder loans are installment loans designed to provide low-credit consumers with funding in a way that can help build their average credit score. On-time payments for credit builder loans are reported to the major credit bureaus as positive payment history. After borrowers successfully pay off their loans, they should have a history of timely payments and an improved debt-to-income ratio that may increase their credit score!

Products to Help Improve a 535 Credit Score

Below are some products, tools, and services that can help consumers achieve higher FICO scores.

Budgeting Apps

Budgeting apps like YNAB (You Need a Budget), PocketGuard, Honeydue, and more can help you digitally manage your finances, spending, and upcoming payments. You can share information like your loan or credit card payments, monthly bills, and other financial obligations you are responsible for, and the app can compare that against your recurring income. From there, you can set financial goals, spending limits, and other benchmarks to help you keep your budget on track. 

Credit Report Monitoring

Credit monitoring services review your recurring credit reports on your behalf, and inform you of any errors, inconsistencies, or potentially suspicious activity. The three major credit bureaus, as well as several independent companies, offer free and paid credit monitoring services. 

Below is a quick comparison of the availability level of some common features in free vs. paid credit monitoring services. 

FeatureFree ServicesPaid Services
Cost$0Typically ranges from $10 to $40/month
Credit ReportsAccess to reports once a yearMore frequent access, sometimes unlimited
Credit ScoresMay include one bureauOften includes scores from all three bureaus
MonitoringLimited, usually one bureauComprehensive monitoring of all three bureaus
AlertsBasic alerts (e.g., new inquiries)Real-time alerts for a wider range of activities
Identity Theft ProtectionMinimal or noneOften includes insurance and recovery services
SupportBasic or online onlyAccess to personal support, possibly 24/7
Additional FeaturesFew or noneCredit score simulators, financial calculators, etc.

Disclaimer: The information presented in the graph above is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual features, availability, and costs of credit monitoring services may vary depending on the provider and specific plans. Always verify the current terms and details directly with the service provider before making a decision based on the information shown here.

Use a Credit Repair Company

If you feel unfamiliar with how your credit history works and have no idea how to go about improving your average credit score, a credit repair company may be able to help you. Many companies offer free consultations and may be able to offer you personalized advice. A few well-known credit repair companies include: 

  • The Credit People
  • Lexington Law
  • CreditFirm.net
  • Sky Blue Credit
  • The Credit Pros
  • Credit Assistance Network
  • Credit Saint
  • CreditRepair.com

Credit Boosting Services

While most of your payments and financial habits are tracked by the credit bureaus, some are not. That means you could be making timely payments that aren’t currently improving your credit history. Services like Experian Boost or TurboTenant Rent Report can help you include payments towards rent, subscription services, and more to build the positive payment history you need to improve your average credit score. 

Benefits of Improving a 535 Credit Score

A few benefits you’ll be able to enjoy once you achieve a higher average credit score include: 

  • Easy approval for more loan types: When you meet a lender’s minimum credit score requirement, they may approve your application faster! 
  • Lower interest rates: Lenders want good credit borrowers, so they typically offer them lower interest rates to make their loan products more appealing than their competitors.
  •  Better housing opportunities: You’re more likely to get approved for a wider variety of rental or mortgage options when you have a clean credit history. 

Higher credit limits and loan amounts: Since you can be trusted as a responsible borrower when you have a higher credit score, lenders are more likely to approve you for higher amounts.

 

How to Improve Your 535 Score

Improve FICO credit scores by utilizing the helpful tips below: 

Understand How Your Credit History Works

You can’t improve your credit score without understanding what type of information goes on your credit report. Your credit reports are compiled with financial data from five main categories. Those categories are:

  • Payment history: How on time consumers are with submitting due payments.  
  • Debts owed: How much debt consumers currently have in their name.  
  • Credit mix: What types of financial accounts consumers have. 
  • Length of credit history: How long consumers have had open and active credit. 
  • Recent hard credit inquiries: How often consumers apply for loans or lines of credit.  

Work on Payment History

Your payment history is the most influential factor that can help increase your credit score. But, when you fail to make timely payments, payment history can also be your biggest obstacle in preventing your credit score from improving. Just one missed payment on your credit profile can negatively impact your score for up to seven years! 

To make sure you never miss a due payment, set reminders on your smartphone or computer. Or, sign up for autopay to have your due payment automatically deducted from your checking account. That way, you can make all your payments on time and not have to worry about remembering to manually submit them yourself! 

Pay Off Debts 

In addition to paying all your bills on time, you should also prioritize lowering your overall debt. You can do this by paying more than the minimum amount due each month. By paying more than the minimum amount due, you’ll pay off loan balances faster and potentially save money on interest rates! Just make sure your lender doesn’t charge early payment fees. 

Avoid Applications for New Credit Accounts

You should also avoid new credit inquiries while you are working on improving your credit score. Not only can applications for multiple credit accounts within a short period of time hurt your credit, but you’ll also put yourself at risk of accumulating too much debt. Instead, when you need extra money, seek out non-loan alternatives first. Try dipping into your savings, having a garage sale, getting a temporary part-time job, or even asking a trusted friend or family member for a small loan.

 

FAQs About 535 Credit Scores

No, checking your own credit score is considered a “soft inquiry” and does not affect your credit score, unlike “hard inquiries,” which occur when lenders review your credit for borrowing purposes.

No, volunteering does not directly impact your credit score as it is not a financial activity reported to credit bureaus.

Your marital status itself does not affect your credit score. However, joint accounts, if not managed well, can impact both partners’ scores.

What Interest Rate Can I Get With a 535 Credit Score?

When you have a poor credit score, interest rates for most loans and credit card products will be higher. However, once you improve your credit history and achieve a higher credit score, you should start to qualify for lower interest rates.

Can I Buy a House With a 535 Credit Score?

While a low credit score doesn’t have to stop you from purchasing a home, it may make the process way more difficult. You’ll have a much easier time finding approval for a mortgage if you work on improving your credit history. In fact, by improving your score just a little and progressing into a better credit tier you may start to qualify for mortgage assistance loans like FHA loans. These types of loans were designed to help people with a lower average credit score purchase homes. However, you usually need a minimum credit score of 580 in order to qualify.

Top 5 Resources for a 535 Credit Score

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