In the world of finance, there is no shortage of discussions surrounding credit scores and credit building. One of the most common questions that aspiring credit builders have is: What is the lowest credit score you can have?
In order to effectively build credit, you need a solid understanding of how credit scores are calculated and where your score needs to be to achieve your goals. To do that, it helps to know the potential range of credit scores.
Here, we’ll identify the lowest credit score you can have, and the decisions that affect this number. Then we’ll cover some simple ways you can begin improving your credit score today.
What is the lowest credit score you can have?
Let’s start with the most common misconception: is 0 the lowest credit score possible? You might be surprised to learn that this is not the case.
So, where does the credit score range begin? In most credit scoring models (including FICO, which is used by approximately 90% of all lenders) the range is between 300 and 850. This means that, in most cases, 300 is the lower score any user could see.
Some of the most common causes of an extremely low credit score include:
- A minimal credit age: The length of your credit history has a direct impact on your score. People who have never used a credit product (like a credit card or loan) before have no credit history. This is why young adults and people without easy access to financial tools can sometimes struggle with their credit scores.
- Making late payments: Your payment history has the most influence on your credit score. If you make late payments frequently for loans, credit cards, and sometimes even rent and utilities, your credit score will be affected.
- Bankruptcies, foreclosures or repossessions: These major events can remain on your credit report for 7 years, and have serious consequences for your credit score.
- Credit utilization: Are all your credit cards maxed out? Using most or all of your credit limit can seriously hurt your score. It’s recommended that you keep your balances under 20% of your credit limit. Even better, pay off your balance in full each month to maximize your credit utilization ratio and avoid falling into a risky cycle of debt.
How to improve your credit score quickly
The main reason extremely low credit scores are rare is because it’s not easy to stay in a range this low. Once you begin consciously working toward credit building, your score will start improving dramatically. There’s always a way to repair past mistakes. Here are some of the best options to begin improving your credit score right now:.
1. Deal with bills in collections
Any existing bills in collections should be paid off and cleared from your credit history. This is one of the best ways to boost your score rapidly. It’s a step that takes some time, but it’s definitely worth it.
2. Dispute credit errors
You should be reviewing your credit history regularly. The reason for this is that there could be errors on your report that are negatively impacting your score. Take the time to review your credit history and dispute any errors to help improve your credit score.
3. Set up automatic payments
If paying your bills on time is something that you struggle with, consider setting up automatic payments for your bills. This will prevent your score from being negatively impacted every month that you forget to pay on time.
If you’d like to double the impact of your automatic payments, check out StellarFi’s bill pay and credit-building app.
How can bills build credit?
With Stellar, you can schedule and manage your bill payments all in one place. Then, when your bills are paid, Stellar reports your payments to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
These timely payments contribute to all the major factors that affect your credit score, giving you the best shot at building your credit quickly.
Curious to see how it works?