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Personal Finance

Is 600 considered a bad credit score? Here’s how it compares to the average American’s credit score

Select looks at the different types of credit you could qualify for with a FICO score of 600.

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Your credit score can determine your ability to reach many of your financial goals, whether it's purchasing a house or adding a new credit card to finance your move. Lenders, financial institutions and banks use these three digit numbers to evaluate the likelihood that borrowers will be able to pay back their loans.

Three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — collect information regarding your credit accounts, such as your payment history, credit limit, balances and bankruptcies, then use this information to calculate a credit score. There are two types of credit scoring models: FICO® Score and VantageScore.

FICO® Scores, which are more commonly used, range from 300 to 850. Generally, the higher your score, the better the credit cards, mortgages and loans you can qualify for.

Below, Select looks at what it means to have a 600 credit score and the types of credit cards you'd be able to qualify for with it.

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What does having a 600 credit score mean?

According to FICO® Score, 15.5% of the population has a credit score below 600, while the average credit score sits at 716. Having a 600 credit score places you below the national average and into the "fair credit" category.

Subprime is the categorization lenders use to designate the likelihood that a borrower will default on or pay back their loan. While the definition and range of a subprime credit score varies, generally a score of 600 will fall into this category as FICO® Score considers borrowers with scores between 580 and 619 to have subprime credit. 

FICO® Score ranges:

  • Super-prime: 720 or above
  • Prime: 660-719
  • Near-prime: 620-659
  • Subprime: 580-619
  • Deep subprime: 580

Since subprime borrowers are considered riskier to lenders, they tend to receive worse terms on their loans compared to prime borrowers. Subprime borrowers will typically have higher APRs on credit cards or higher interest rates on mortgages than their prime borrower counterparts, for example.

In other words, having a credit score of 600 may limit your ability to secure mortgages, personal loans and credit cards with favorable terms.

What types of credit cards can you get with a 600 credit score?

Since 600 is considered to be a fair credit score, borrowers with this score generally won't qualify for credit cards with large welcome bonuses, generous rewards and perks or low APRs. However, there are still some options available — using a secured card or becoming an authorized user on someone else's card. 

A secured card typically requires that cardholders put down a security deposit that's equivalent to the amount of credit they are extended. The deposit acts as collateral in case a cardholder fails to make their payments on time or in full. Cardholders will then receive their security deposit back if they display good payment behavior and choose to close the account or upgrade to an unsecured card.

Secured cards are also a good choice for those with subprime credit because they allow the opportunity for cardholders to improve their credit score by making on-time payments that are then reported to the credit bureaus. 

Select ranked the Discover it® Secured Credit Card as one of the best secured cards. There is no annual fee and the card has a minimum security deposit of $200 — remember, the amount of the security deposit is equivalent to the amount of the credit line and in this case, can be up to $2,500.

For those who prefer a clear path to getting an unsecured card, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a good option because after seven months of card membership, the issuer will start to evaluate your account to determine whether you can be moved to an unsecured card and have your security deposit returned to you.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

On Discover's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    N/A on purchases

  • Regular APR

    28.24% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    New / Rebuilding

  • *See rates and fees, terms apply.

Another choice for folks with fair credit scores is the Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card, issued by WebBank, doesn't require a security deposit and offers credit lines ranging from $300 to $10,000 depending on the cardholder's creditworthiness. Petal may also take a look at the factors behind your credit score, such as your bank statements, during the approval process. 

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

  • Rewards

    1% cash back on eligible purchases right away and up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments; 2% to 10% cash back at select merchants

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    18.24% - 32.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Fair, Good, No Credit

Terms apply.

The Petal 2 provides 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away and up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after you make 12 on-time monthly payments.

Two other cards you may be eligible for with a credit score of 600 are the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Platinum Credit Card. While both cards offer minimal rewards, with neither offering a welcome bonus, the QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card does give cardholders 1.5% back on all eligible purchases, though there is a $39 annual fee . The Capital One Platinum Credit Card, on the other hand, offers no rewards but has no annual fee.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Rewards

    Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $39

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 at the Transfer APR, 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer to you

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Average, Fair, or Limited

Terms apply.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 at the Transfer APR, 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer to you

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Fair/Good

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

Cons

  • High variable APR
  • No rewards program

How to quickly boost your credit score

Lastly, if you're looking for an easy way to boost your credit score before signing up for your own credit card, you can always opt to become an authorized user on someone else's account. 

Becoming an authorized user on a primary cardholder's account means their credit history for that card is reflected on your own credit score — as long as the primary cardholder makes their payments on time and in full, the authorized user's credit score will improve as well. However, if the primary cardholder is delinquent on their payments, it will end up negatively impacting your credit score, too.

Keep in mind that the primary cardholder may choose not to provide the authorized user with an actual credit card. The authorized user is also not the one on the hook for making payments.

You can check and monitor your credit score with a free credit monitoring service like CreditWise® from Capital One and Experian. And using a service like Experian Boost™ can you help you quickly raise your FICO® Score* if you're trying to achieve a fair, good or excellent score by taking regular bills you pay on time like Netflix and adding that to your credit profile.

Experian Boost™

On Experian's secure site
  • Cost

    Free

  • Average credit score increase

    13 points, though results vary

  • Credit report affected

    Experian®

  • Credit scoring model used

    FICO® Score

Results will vary. See website for details.

How to sign up for Experian Boost:

  1. Connect the bank account(s) you use to pay your bills
  2. Choose and verify the positive payment data you want added to your Experian credit file
  3. Receive an updated FICO® Score

Learn more about eligible payments and how Experian Boost works.

*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

Petal 2 Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, click here.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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