How Good Is a Credit Score of 646?

FT Contributor
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According to credit reporting agency Experian, a credit score of 646 officially ranks as “Fair.” Although you’ve eclipsed minimal qualifications for a “Very Poor” credit score, your Fair credit rank still requires additional improvements before you can secure low interest rates, affordable loan fees, and other benefits.

Five individual financial factors determine your credit score:

  • Credit age;
  • Credit type;
  • New credit;
  • Total debt;
  • Payment history.

Together, these influential credit score factors help lenders determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan.

One of the first steps toward improving a credit score of 646 is accessing regular credit reporting. That’s why many borrowers trust the safe-for-use credit aggregation service AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can access credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion in one convenient place.

While not a credit reporting program in itself, AnnualCreditReport.com helps consumers identify and track credit score fluctuations — positive or negative — over time.

Why Your Credit Score Is 646

While it isn’t possible to identify the exact reason why your credit score is 646, common influences on Fair credit scores include fluctuating levels of total debt, inconsistent payment history, and a still-maturing average credit age.

Fluctuating Total Debt

Accounting for 30% of the equation that determines credit score, total debt is one of the most important factors in driving credit score improvements and regressions. Individuals with a credit score of 646 have likely seen fluctuations in total debt keep them from achieving the credit score improvements they’re looking to see.

Total debt refers to the entire amount of debt across all active lines of credit. Low overall debt is one of the signs of a “Good” credit score, while lesser credit scores can be a sign that total debt is higher than the borrower would like.

Sometimes, higher levels of debt are acceptable. For instance, a borrower who recently closed on a sizable mortgage loan would expect to face higher debt levels, until repayments toward credit balances lower their overall amount owed.

In the months immediately following the closure of a loan, individuals with Fair credit scores need to prioritize credit repayments. This practice will positively influence payment history and can help you regain the points you lost as a result of the added debt.

Inconsistent Payment History

Payment history is the single most important factor in deciding a borrower’s credit rating and makes up 35% of the credit score equation. Individuals with 646 credit scores often face inconsistent payment histories, where late payments could be compromising overall credit ranking.

Improvements to your credit score of 646 are possible simply by establishing a clean payment history, though it will take discipline. This means avoiding impulse purchases whenever possible and reserving fuller portions of monthly wages specifically to pay off debts before they come due.

Prioritizing complete, on-time payments can help you avoid missed deadlines, and will likely pave the way for future credit score increases.

Young Credit Age

Credit age refers to the average age of all active lines of credit and is one of the factors that work to determine a borrower’s credit score.

Individuals with lesser credit scores often have a short average credit age, where still-maturing lines of credit can mean lower credit scores until regular payments begin to indicate increased financial responsibility.

Achieving a healthy credit age is something that takes both time and self-control. Whenever borrowers open a new line of credit, they will — sometimes unexpectedly — compromise average credit age.

Avoiding new loans and new credit cards can help naturally increase your credit score, as long as you continue to make regular payments a priority.

What Can You Do With a 646 Credit Score?

A Fair-ranking credit score of 646 means that borrowers will face some challenges when attempting to qualify for a new loan, a new credit card, or a new line of credit. Credit scores of 646 can mean that even when approved, consumers will face increased interest rates and the possibility of higher fees.

Consult the below details for even more information on the opportunities available to individuals with 646 credit scores.

  • Rewards-based credit cards offer incentives to borrowers after a transaction.
    • While it’s not likely that you will qualify for one of the best rewards-based credit cards with a credit score of 646 — featuring perks that can include airline miles, hotel points, and restaurant rewards — you can still obtain a credit card that offers 0% financing and benefits from your favorite stores.
  • Personal loans help consumers finance a range of personal projects, from destination vacations to hospital bills.
    • Individuals with 646 credit scores will face challenges when attempting to qualify for personal loans from reputed lenders, and acceptance can mean lofty interest rates and fees.
    • Consider personal loan options for lesser credit scores, to obtain funding in a pinch.
  • Mortgage loans are possible to obtain with a credit score of 646, though you won’t be able to secure industry-low interest rates or fees. Still, your Fair credit score is often sufficient to help you take steps toward property ownership.
  • Apartment rentals are often possible with a credit score of 646, though this will vary depending on your preferred apartment complex.
    • Many apartment managers are accustomed to dealing with lower credit scores, increasing your chances of acceptance into your next ideal community.

Loan options — especially affordable ones — are difficult to obtain with a credit score of 646. If you’re experiencing challenges in securing the new line of credit you need, consider lenders with loans optimized for poor credit.

How to Repair a 646 Credit Score

Repairing a credit score of 646 starts when you take steps to address any of the more serious challenges to long-term financial health. This means avoiding bankruptcy and prioritizing payments toward collections agencies.

Taking steps to repair a Fair credit score usually entails a shift in financial habits. In prioritizing a clean payment history and low total debt, consumers need to cut down on impulse purchases and unnecessary spending.

When borrowers dedicate considerable, but reasonable, portions of wages toward credit repayment, their scores will often see the increases they deserve.

If you ever notice errors in your credit report, it’s time to act before those inaccuracies result in lowered credit scores. Fortunately, the best credit repair agencies can help you take concrete steps toward a corrected credit record, even communicating with credit companies and lenders on your behalf.

Correcting inconsistent credit records can establish a foundation for future credit score repair, helping borrowers systematically achieve better credit ratings.


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