How Good Is a Credit Score of 611?

FT Contributor
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A credit score of 611 falls into the official classification of “Fair.” Fair credit scores have plenty of room for improvement and suggest that the borrower may have had financial difficulties in the past. Experian, one of the leading credit bureaus, uses the FICO scale that separates credit scores into five categories from Very Poor to Exceptional:

  • 300 to 579: Very Poor;
  • 580 to 669: Fair;
  • 670 to 739: Good;
  • 740 to 799: Very Good;  
  • 800 to 850: Exceptional.

A credit score of 611 is Fair, and borrowers may struggle to qualify for good credit cards. Borrowers with 611 credit scores should focus their efforts on improving their scores and avoid taking on more debt.

If you recently checked your credit score for the first time and saw that it was 611, don’t panic — this article will guide you to improve your credit score.

Table of Contents

Why Your Credit Score Is 611

There are a variety of reasons why your score is 611. Credit bureaus use several factors to determine your credit score, including:

  • Payment history;
  • Amount owed and total debt;
  • Credit history age;
  • New credit;
  • Credit utilization and diversity.

Each of these factors shares valuable information about your spending habits, risk, and likelihood to default with credit agencies. The more risk your account holds, the lower your credit score. This section details the three most likely factors affecting an account with a 611 credit score.

Missing Payments

A person with a 611 credit score is likely to have missed or late payments in their credit history. According to Experian, 41% of Americans with 611 credit scores have late payments that are 30 days past due on their credit history.  

Missing a payment by one or two days won’t affect your credit score. However, payments more than 30 days late can drop your credit score by up to 100 points.

To remedy a low credit score due to missed payments, pay off any existing debt on your accounts and stay up-to-date on future payments. As you begin consistently paying off debts on time each month, you can improve your Fair credit score to a Good credit score.

Defaulting on Accounts

Defaulting on accounts means you’re accumulating negative reports. Negative reports include foreclosure, bankruptcy, and repossession and can stay on your account for up to 10 years.

For example, claiming bankruptcy can drop your credit score by 200 points and stay on your account for seven to 10 years.  

To remedy an account hurt by foreclosure, bankruptcy, or repossession, focus on building up new credit while you wait for the negative report to fall off your account. There isn’t anything you can do to remove foreclosure from your records, but you can use a secured credit card in the meantime to begin building new credit.

Using Too Much Credit

Utilizing too much of your credit can affect up to 30% of your credit score. If you use more than 30% of your available credit, lenders may report negative marks to credit bureaus and drop your credit score.  

Aim to utilize no more than 30% of your total credit. If you have $5,000 credit available, never use more than $1,500 across all accounts. Lowering your utilization rate can increase the lender’s trust in your account.  

You can also remedy this situation by increasing your available credit and achieve a higher limit on your credit card. You can do this by making an online request to your credit issuers. However, if your Fair credit score results from inconsistent payments, they might not approve your request.  

What Can You Do With a 611 Credit Score?

A credit score of 611 has a lot of room for improvement. A 611 credit score is Fair and doesn’t grant many benefits that a person with a 740 credit score will enjoy. Additionally, a person with a 611 credit score should increase their score rather than take on more debt. However, if you need to take a loan or a new credit card, here are your options.

FHA Loan

FHA loans are mortgage loans for poor credit and low-income borrowers. With a 611 credit score, you can take out a mortgage with an FHA loan and pay a 3.5% down payment on the home. If your credit score is lower than 580, you will qualify for an FHA loan but will have to pay a 10% down payment.

Secured Credit Card

Using a secured credit card is the best option for those with 611 credit scores. Secured credit cards are meant for those with Very Poor or Fair credit and actively increase your credit score. There’s little to no risk of decreasing your score with a secured card.

Store Credit Card

Most store credit cards will accept anyone with a 640 or higher credit score. However, some store cards will accept lower credit scores. For example, you can qualify for a Target Red card with a credit score of 611. By increasing your credit score, you will have more options for store credit cards.

No-Annual-Fee Credit Card 

For low spenders, using a card with a hefty annual fee isn’t practical. Luckily, those with 611 credit scores can still qualify for a no-annual-fee credit card. However, because 611 credit scores are risky for lenders, they will increase your interest rate. The expected interest rate for those with poor credit is 20.5%.  

Personal Loan 

You may be able to take out a personal loan with a credit score of 611, though your annual percentage rate (APR) will be higher than normal. Loans for poor credit compensate the risk by increasing the APR by over 10%. The average personal loan interest rate for those with Fair credit scores is between 28.5% and 32%.

As you work to improve your credit score, you will gain access to benefits enjoyed by those with Good and Very Good credit scores. For example, a person with at least a 690 credit score can apply for an airline credit card and earn free flights and travel bonuses.

A person with a Good credit score can also apply for rewards credit cards that offer cash bonuses. With a 720 credit score, you could apply for an auto loan with a 0% interest rate, helping to save thousands of dollars in auto payments.

How to Improve a 611 Credit Score 

Most borrowers can improve a 611 credit score within a few years and earn a Good credit score. The most important step you can take to increase and repair your 611 credit score is by paying bills on time and avoiding missed payments.

Here are three more ways to improve your credit.  

Apply for Secured Credit Cards

A secured credit card is your best tool to improve your credit. Secured cards are similar to debit cards. Before using a secured credit card, you must make a payment on the card. After depositing money, you can spend the amount you deposited. The lender keeps your deposit if you don’t pay back the amount spent.

Every month, the lender reports positively to credit bureaus, slowly but steadily increasing your credit score. For those trying to repair their scores, using a secured credit card is the safest and fastest way to see results.

Use a Credit Repair Company

If you’re struggling to know where to start, you can hire a credit repair company or credit counseling agency.

A credit repair company actively works with your account to dispute your account’s credit errors and create a payment plan in exchange for a fee.

A credit counseling agency is a nonprofit group that counsels and guides you to improve your score.  

Both options will help repair your credit and encourage you to begin building good credit habits.

Keep Your Accounts Open

If you’re building new credit, you may be tempted to close old accounts and start over. However, closing your old accounts can drop your credit score since credit age plays a huge role in determining your credit score.

Instead of closing your old accounts, keep the accounts open. With the exception of opening a secured credit card, avoid applying for new cards to keep hard inquiries off your account while your score repairs.

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