Credit scores measure a person’s ability to manage finances and pay off debts. A credit score between 300 and 579 is “Very Poor,” while a credit score between 800 and 850 is “Exceptional.” Experian, one of the leading credit bureaus, ranks credit scores to help borrowers know where their credit stands.
- 300 to 579: Very Poor;
- 580 to 669: Fair;
- 670 to 739: Good;
- 749 to 799: Very Good;
- 800 to 850: Exceptional.
A credit score of 610 falls into the “Fair” category, suggesting that the borrower has a lot to improve when using credit. If you’ve checked your credit score and found that it’s 610, don’t panic; this article focuses on how a person with a 610 credit score can improve their credit.
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Why Your Credit Score Is 610
A credit score of 610 suggests that you’ve struggled with managing your credit. Several factors can contribute to a Fair score of 610, including outstanding payments and delinquent accounts, repossession, and bankruptcy.
Having delinquent accounts (unpaid debt on multiple credit cards) can lower your credit score. One late payment in a history of good credit won’t decrease your credit score; however, if you have multiple late payments on multiple accounts, your credit will start to suffer.
When a cardholder is two months late on a payment, the lender reports the information to a credit reporting agency, and the cardholder’s credit score falls, reflecting delinquent accounts.
Nearly half of all cardholders with delinquent accounts see a 29 point increase in their credit score once they pay off delinquent accounts. Cardholders can increase their 610 credit score to over 640 by keeping up-to-date on payments.
Utilization is the percentage of credit balance that you’re currently using. Credit experts recommend that cardholders stay well below a 30% utilization rate. If your utilization rate is higher than 50%, your credit score could be affected. A cardholder’s utilization rate can affect up to 30% of the credit score.
To remedy a credit score affected by a high utilization rate, pay off all outstanding debts, regardless of how close the payment deadline is. If you can decrease your utilization rate, you can increase your credit score by up to 30%.
Repossession is when the borrower defaults on multiple payments against a secured loan, and the lender chooses to repossess the collateral.
The lender will use the collateral to repay the debt. If the collateral doesn’t pay off all of the debt, the borrower could still have a debt to pay off. Repossession could decrease a Very Good credit score to Fair.
To remedy a credit score affected by repossession, you will need to replace poor habits with good habits. There’s no way to instantaneously fix a Fair credit score and bring it up to a Very Good score. Over seven years, the repercussions of repossession will fade, and your credit will improve.
Borrowers claim bankruptcy when debts climb too high and are nearly impossible to pay back. Claiming bankruptcy will give the borrower a clean slate but will devastate their credit score.
A borrower with a credit score of 810 can easily fall to 610 after filing for bankruptcy. Once the credit score has fallen, it can take a decade to fully recover from the consequences.
Borrowers won’t be able to avoid the credit consequences of bankruptcy. When claiming bankruptcy, the borrower will have to weigh the pros and cons of losing years’ worth of credit history. While recovering from bankruptcy, borrowers should focus on building a positive credit history by using secured credit cards and loans.
What Can You Do With a 610 Credit Score?
If you have a 610 credit score, avoid further debt. Instead, try to gather resources to improve your credit score and bring it back into the 700s. With a 610 credit score, you’ll still have access to some credit cards and loans. Here’s what you can do with a credit score of 610.
The most popular house loan available to those with a 610 credit score is a U.S. Federal Housing Administration mortgage, also called an FHA Loan.
With an FHA loan, borrowers with a credit score higher than 580 can buy a home with a down payment of 3.5% of the home’s value. FHA Loans are also lenient as to where the buyer gets the money for the down payment, allowing for flexibility.
Borrowers with 610 credit scores are eligible for some personal loans with a higher annual percentage rate (APR). Easy loan companies will let borrowers with Very Poor or Fair credit borrow up to $25,000 for an APR between 5.99% and 29.99%. By focusing on increasing your credit score, you can qualify for loans with lower APR.
Unsecured Credit Card
Some borrowers can qualify for unsecured rewards credit cards with an increased annual fee and APR. Some credit cards are specifically created for those with Fair credit scores and can help improve your score.
However, suppose you’re forgetful or unable to pay back your personal loans on time, and you’re consistently maxing out your credit limit. In that case, it’s better to steer away from unsecured credit cards and look for a secured credit card instead.
Secured Credit Card
Secured credit cards are the best option for those with low credit scores. A secured credit card takes a deposit (which also acts as your credit limit). When you spend money but can’t pay it back, the lender takes the deposit to pay the debt.
In a sense, secured credit cards are similar to debit cards, except that they report back positive credit history to credit bureaus.
Those with low credit can still get an apartment rental. Before renting an apartment, many apartment managers will require a credit check or proof of income. As long as you’re working to have better credit and your income is at least twice the cost of your monthly rent, you should be approved for an apartment rental.
How to Improve a 610 Credit Score
Repairing your credit score has many benefits. Lenders will be more willing to lend money with lower interest rates, and you’ll qualify for credit cards with higher rewards. This section will teach you three things you can do to improve a credit score of 610.
Pay Bills on Time
Unsurprisingly, the most important thing you can do to improve and repair your credit score is paying your bills on time and keeping your credit usage low.
Time heals credit scores better than anything else, as long as you’re maintaining good credit during the repair period. Make it a habit to pay off your debts before the deadline and use autopay services to prevent missed payments.
Use a Secured Credit Card
Secured credit cards are underutilized tools for those who struggle to pay debts on time. Secured credit cards aren’t like typical credit cards and don’t lend out large amounts of money; instead, borrowers can take out $200 on their secured credit card only if they deposit $200 first. It guarantees that the borrower can pay off the credit card and ensures that the lender can report positive credit history.
Get Help From a Credit Repair Company
If you’re struggling to repair your credit on your own, you can look into credible credit repair companies. A credit repair company handles the complicated relationships between the lender, borrower, and credit bureau, easing the borrower’s stress.
However, credit repair companies charge a fee for their services. If you’re unable to pay for credit repair, you can also look into credit counseling instead. Credit counseling is offered through nonprofit financial education organizations to help you improve your credit.
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