There has been plenty of talk about good and bad credit scores in the news lately. It is no secret that there are plenty of people who have come to the realization that their credit scores are holding them back. The bad credit score is holding them back from owning a home, going to college or even buying a car. So what is a bad credit score? The terms have changed quite bit over the last decade or so. What used to be considered good has been bumped down to the ‘fair’ category making it much more difficult for people to obtain prime interest rates on loans.
Here are five things you should know about scores and how to determine what is a bad credit score versus a good score.
- A bad score is somewhat subjective depending on the type of credit a person is applying for. Home loans have some of the strictest credit standards while department store credit cards have fairly lax standards. Home loans will typically consider anything under 640 as a bad score, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is impossible to get a home loan under some programs.
- Credit card companies will often offer credit lines to those with scores ranging in the high 500s and low 600s, but the interest rates will be less than prime. There may be additional fees tacked on as well.
- When talking about what is a bad score, it is important to understand that scores under 500 are considered very bad. People with scores that low will struggle to get unsecured loans or credit lines. However, it isn’t the end of the world. It is possible to raise a credit score.
- Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to knock a credit score down. One late payment, bankruptcy, or medical bill sent to collection can reduce a score by double digits. It takes very little time, a matter of months, in fact, for a score to be negatively impacted, but it can take several months, if not years to repair.
- Consumers with scores that fall into the bad credit range will pay close to double the interest rates compared to those with scores above 640. It is very costly to get an auto loan with interest rates that are essentially punitive. Many consumers would be better served by saving the cash in a bank and buying what they need outright rather than taking out a high-interest loan.
Understanding how scores impact interest rates for loans and credit cards is an important step to rebuilding credit. Before applying for credit, consumers must have a firm understanding about what is a bad credit score. Never make assumptions about whether a score is good or bad until you have the facts. Choose wisely when it comes to applying for new credit. Don’t get sucked into cards with steep interest rates that will cost you more money and drive you further into debt, effectively hurting your credit score more than it already is.