By CreditNinja
Published on March 18, 2024

Borrowers with a 550 credit score have subprime credit. Subprime credit is much lower than the average credit score.

Poor credit can negatively affect your finances and quality of life.

A low credit score can limit your financial options, increase your loan fees, and reduce your housing options. The good news is that low credit is still better than no credit. Approximately 11% of Americans are deemed credit invisible, which can significantly complicate their life.¹ But you have the advantage of an established credit history that you can start improving. 

Key Takeaways for a 550 Credit Score

Overview of Your
Credit Rating

550 is a poor FICO Score and a poor VantageScore. This type of score indicates to lenders that the borrower is a high credit risk. A poor credit score can make it much more challenging for a borrower to get emergency funding or rent an apartment.

Borrowing Options With a
550 Credit Score

Subprime borrowers can qualify for bad credit loan options, such as online personal loans, cash advances, and title loans. Certain types of mortgages and auto loans may also be attainable, although rates and terms may not be ideal.

Improving a 550
Credit/FICO Score

You can improve a poor credit score by avoiding late payments, becoming an authorized user, and reducing your credit card debt. If you're trying to improve your credit score, it may be in your best interest to avoid applying for new credit unless absolutely necessary.

Is a 550 Credit Score Good?

A 550 score falls within the 300 to 579 range, which is the lowest FICO Score category. A good credit score ranges from 670 to 739, which is 120 points higher than 550. Borrowers with good credit scores generally get more financing options and better terms than subprime borrowers. Obtaining a good credit score is not impossible for someone with a 550 credit score, but it will take time and continuous effort.

What Can You Get Approved for With a 550 Credit Score?

These are a few loan products you can get approved for with a 550 score:

Personal Loans

Personal loans are versatile installment loans that can be used for all types of unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or house repairs. Many personal loan lenders are willing to work with subprime borrowers. When you are looking for an online lender, look for one that advertises low minimum credit score requirements and competitive rates.  

Eligible borrowers with poor credit can typically get a personal loan worth $100 to $5,000. This flexibility makes personal loans an ideal option for both small and large expenses. But even if you qualify for the maximum loan amount a lender offers, it’s never a good idea to borrow more debt than you reasonably need. 

Personal loans are generally repaid over the course of a few months or years. A long repayment plan can result in lower monthly payments, but remember, you will pay more interest. If you want to reduce your total personal loan cost, consider opting for a short repayment schedule or working with a lender that does not charge prepayment penalty fees. 

Bank Loans

Banks have various loan options to choose from, but the qualification requirements can be strict. While you may be eligible for a personal loan or home equity line of credit despite having a bad credit score, you are not likely to get approved for a conventional mortgage loan or business loan. 

But remember that while you may qualify for certain bank loans, your rates and terms may not be affordable. When rates are too high, you may find it challenging to keep up with your monthly payments. Suppose you are struggling to get funding, but a local bank approves you for a $2,000 personal loan with a 30% APR for 6 months. You may be ecstatic about getting approval for a personal loan, but you will end up paying $363.10 a month! 

If you have other monthly bills, you may struggle to keep up with such a high personal loan payment. Falling behind on personal loan payments can result in default and damage to your credit history. Remember to use an online financial calculator to determine how affordable a personal loan—or any other type of installment loan—is for your budget.  

Credit Cards

Getting an unsecured credit card can be difficult for borrowers with poor credit scores. It is generally easier for low-credit borrowers to get store credit cards instead. A store credit card works like a traditional credit card, but it can only be used at a specific retail store or chain. 

These are some of the best store credit cards for poor credit scores:


Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Kohl’s Credit Card

TJX Rewards Credit Card

Amazon Store Card

Capital One Walmart Rewards Card


5% off at Target &

Extra savings offers throughout the year

5% back at TJX companies

5% back at with Prime membership

5% back at, 2% at Walmart stores, restaurants & travel


29.95% (V)

31.24% (V)

32.24% (V)

29.99% (V)

29.99% (V)

Special Financing Offers




0% APR for 6-24 months on qualifying purchases


Additional Perks

Free 2-day shipping on eligible items, extended returns

Birthday gift, special anniversary offer

Exclusive shopping events

Special financing options

Mobile payment capability, security alerts

Disclaimer: APRs are subject to change based on the prime rate and an individual’s creditworthiness. Rewards and benefits can also vary, and special financing offers may have specific terms and conditions that need to be met.

Auto Loans

You may be eligible for an auto loan with poor credit because it is a secured loan. Secured loans require collateral, in this case, the vehicle. If the borrower fails to meet their debt obligations, the lender can repossess the car to recoup the remaining loan balance. Since lenders have security, the approval requirements for auto loans can be more flexible. You will likely get a high rate, but you can reduce interest fees by offering a high down payment. 

Products To Help Improve a 550 Credit Score 

These financial products can help you improve your poor credit score so you can obtain good or excellent credit more quickly: 

Secured Credit Cards 

A secured credit card is a credit card that can help cardholders improve their credit scores. In order to qualify, you must provide a refundable down payment that will act as your credit limit. You can use the secured card to make purchases and pay bills. Making on-time payments and keeping your credit usage low can improve your credit history. Once you have achieved your desired credit score, you can close the account and get your initial deposit back.   

Consider using one of these secured cards if you want to boost your bad credit score:

  • Best Low-Interest Card for Bad Credit: First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Card
  • Best for Rewards: Discover it® Secured Card
  • Best for Flexible Credit Line: Merrick Bank Secured Card
  • Best for No Checking Account Requirement: OpenSky® Secured Visa®
  • Best Secured Store Credit Card: Amazon Secured Card
  • Best for Tracking Your FICO® score: Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Automatic Payments 

Automatic payments are monthly payments that are automatically paid on your due date. Signing up for automatic payments (autopay) is typically free. If you constantly forget to pay your bills on time, opting in for autopay can help you avoid late fees and negatively affect your payment history. Remember that your payment history counts for 35% of your FICO Score. If your financial goal is to increase your credit score, it’s crucial to avoid missed payments. 

Becoming an Authorized User

An authorized user is a consumer who has been added to an existing credit account but is not financially responsible for payments. Suppose you are added to your parent’s credit account as an authorized user. Any and all financial activity reported on their credit report will also appear on yours. So, if they continuously manage their credit responsibly, your credit score can increase over time as a result!  

Benefits of Improving Your 550 Credit Score

A higher credit score can award you a lot of benefits, such as:

Better Interest Rates

The greatest benefit of having a high credit score is that you can secure lower interest rates. Lenders mitigate risk by charging higher rates, which is why subprime borrowers generally pay more for borrowing money. However, higher credit scores can help you secure the best rates to save more money. Having more money in your bank account means you can start an emergency fund or open an investment account.                   

Better Housing Options

Higher credit scores indicate that a borrower has control over their spending habits and can be reasonably expected to pay their bills on time. Most landlords require good credit scores for rental units because they lower the risk. If you work on increasing your credit, you can significantly increase your renting options and potentially get immediate approval for your dream apartment. 

Easier Approval Process

A good credit history can make the approval process for loans and credit cards much easier. While other financial factors are important for loan qualification, such as income and your debt-to-income ratio, your credit score is one of the first details lenders look at. High credit scores indicate that you are financially responsible, so you may experience an easier and faster approval process than someone with poor credit.  

How To Improve Your 550 Credit Score

If you want to improve a 550 score, consider implementing some of these financial tips:

Improve Your Payment History 

Establishing a positive payment history can significantly improve your credit. A borrower’s payment history is the most important factor in determining FICO Scores. A long history of reliable payments looks very good on a credit report and reflects positively on your credit score. You can maintain a positive payment history by signing up for autopay or payment alerts. 

Take a look at the five categories that directly affect FICO Scores:

  • Payment History (35%)
  • Total Debt (30%)
  • Length of Credit History (15%)
  • New Credit Inquiries (10%)
  • Credit Mix (10%)

Check Your Credit Reports

Your credit report contains a lot of information that directly affects your credit. If you want to get a good credit score, it’s essential to check your credit reports. Monitoring your reports from all three major credit bureaus can help you identify errors that are negatively affecting your credit. Every borrower is entitled to free annual credit reports from the three credit bureaus. You can request your reports through the Annual Credit Report website. 

Reduce Your Credit Utilization Rate

Your credit utilization rate is the difference between how much revolving credit you have and how much you’re using, expressed as a percentage. Carrying too much credit card debt can increase your credit utilization rate and make it much more difficult to obtain good credit. 

According to economic data, individuals with good credit generally use an average of about 9% of their available credit limit.² If you want to improve your credit, start reducing your outstanding debt by paying more than the minimum or consolidating with a balance transfer loan.  

FAQs About 550 Credit Scores

Credit bureaus typically update your credit score every 30 to 45 days, but this can vary depending on when your creditors report your account activities. While adopting better credit habits is an excellent step forward, it might take a little time for these changes to reflect in your credit score. Patience is key, and consistently good habits will lead to improvements.

Yes, you can join a credit union even with a 550 credit score. Credit unions are known for their member-focused services, including offering more personalized financial products and advice. They may provide lower interest rates on loans and credit cards, as well as free credit score monitoring services to help you track your progress as you work to improve your credit.

Prioritizing credit accounts with high interest rates or those close to their limits can be a good strategy. Aim to pay down balances on credit cards to below 30% of their limits, as this can have a significant positive impact on your credit score. Additionally, always make at least the minimum payments on all your accounts on time to avoid negative marks on your credit report.

What Interest Rate Can I Get With a 550 Credit Score?

Consumers with a 550 score may have difficulty getting low rates on financial products. Most lenders consider it risky to conduct business with subprime borrowers. So, in order to reduce the risk of payment failure, many financial institutions will charge high interest rates. If you need quick cash with poor credit, make sure you inquire with more than one lender and compare rates. 

Can I Buy a House With a 550 Credit Score?

Buying a house with a poor credit score is challenging but not impossible. The most accessible option will be an FHA loan. An FHA loan is a government-backed mortgage meant to help consumers with poor credit or low to moderate income buy a primary residence. 

FHA loans have more flexible requirements than conventional loans, so they’re usually easier to get. For example, borrowers with scores higher than 580 can provide a 3.5% down payment. If your score is lower than 580, you may still qualify, but you will need a 10% down payment. 

Top 5 Resources for a 550 Credit Score

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