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A credit score of 350 is higher than the lowest credit score of 300, but it’s still a long way off from the highest credit score of 850. Both FICO and VantageScore (the main scoring models used by the three major credit bureaus) consider 350 to be in the lowest credit score range.
Here’s how your FICO credit score measures up to other generations on average.
In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at what life is like with a 350 credit score and what you can do to take control of your credit and start working toward a strong financial future.
What does a 350 credit score mean for your life and finances?
Having a bad credit score makes it very hard to get approved for a loan or a new line of credit. What’s more, even if you do get approved, you’ll end up paying much more than you would if you had a good credit score. Here’s a realistic look at life with a 350 credit score.
You’ll pay higher loan fees and interest rates
Although you may be able to get a new loan or credit card with a 350 credit score, the incredibly high fees and interest rates you’ll be offered will take a toll on your finances, meaning it may not be worth it.
The table below shows how much higher your interest rates will be with a 350 credit score than they’d be if you had fair, good, or great credit.
Average Interest Rates According to Credit Score
|Credit Score Tier||Avg. Credit Card APR |
|Avg. Auto Loan Rate
|Deep subprime (300-499)||23.9%||14.39%|
|Near prime (601-660)||22.6%||7.65%|
|Super prime (781-850)||17.5%||3.65%|
For example, although there is no credit score too low to get an auto loan, waiting until your score improves could save you hundreds of dollars each month and thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
The same is usually true for car loans, home loans, student loans, personal loans, personal lines of credit, and unsecured credit cards.
You’ll have difficulty getting a job, apartment, and other essentials
You often need a credit score to rent a house or apartment, and many landlords and employers run credit checks. There’s no universal minimum credit score required to rent an apartment, but many landlords look for a score of at least 620–650.
With a 350 credit score, you’ll probably also end up paying more for the following services:
- Utilities (e.g., water, gas, and electricity)
- Cell phone contracts
Explained: Your 350 score in 1 minute [Video]
How your 350 credit score was calculated
Your credit score is a number reflecting your risk as a borrower, and may be calculated based on either FICO or VantageScore’s credit scoring models.
FICO is by far the most commonly used model by lenders, although some credit bureaus, creditors, and credit monitoring websites use VantageScore. 1
FICO credit scoring factors
- Payment history: This is a record of whether you’ve made on-time payments on your credit accounts.
- Credit utilization rate: Also known as your debt-to-credit ratio, this is how much you’re spending on your revolving credit accounts (like credit cards and store credit cards) as a percentage of your credit limit.
- Length of credit history: This refers to the age of your oldest and newest accounts as well as the average age across all of your accounts.
- Credit mix: Your credit mix indicates the diversity in the types of credit accounts you have (specifically revolving accounts and installment loans).
- New credit: This factor includes the number of recent hard inquiries you have from credit applications, the number of new accounts you have, and how old your newest account is. 2
FICO credit scoring factor weights
What’s the difference between FICO and VantageScore?
Although there are some minor differences between FICO and VantageScore in terms of how they evaluate and weight the above factors, if one scoring model is giving you a 350 credit score, then the other one will probably give you something similar.
VantageScore credit scoring factor weights
Your path from 350
The table below shows the average VantageScore and FICO credit scores among US consumers as well as your credit rating in each of these models and how far your 350 credit score is from the next scoring category.
|Your Rating||Points to Rating Upgrade||Points to Rating Downgrade||Average Score in US|
How to recover from a 350 credit score
With a credit score of 350, it’s likely that you have several derogatory marks on your credit report. These may include very late payments or potentially even more serious black marks, such as foreclosures, repossessions, or bankruptcies.
This sounds bad—and it is—but don’t lose hope. It’s possible to repair even the most damaged credit score with the right tools and strategies. You should investigate both:
Quick fixes for your 350 score
If you want to fix your credit quickly, your best bet is to remove some of the negative marks from your credit report. To do this:
- Request copies of your credit reports (you can get them for free once per year from AnnualCreditReport.com)
- Dispute any items you find on your credit reports that you believe were added in error (e.g., missed payments on credit cards that don’t actually belong to you)
- Contact your creditors and debt collectors and negotiate with them to remove your legitimate negative marks, which you can do by request a goodwill deletion or offering pay for delete
To dispute questionable marks on your credit report, write a dispute letter using the free downloadable template below.
If you do manage to remove some of the negative marks on your credit report, you may be able to improve your score of 350 significantly in a matter of just a few months—much faster than you’d ordinarily have to wait for your score to recover.
Long-term strategies to rebuild your credit
350 is a low enough credit score that, while the methods listed above may improve it somewhat, you’ll need to do more if you want to bring it up to a decent level. After all, even if you can remove some of the negative marks on your credit report, you probably won’t be able to remove all of them.
Truly rebuilding your credit requires a long-term outlook. For a more complete recovery, you’ll need to change your habits. Going forward, try to:
- Make use of low-risk, easy-to-get credit accounts like secured credit cards and credit-builder loans to add positive information to your credit reports, which will eventually outweigh your negative marks
- Make sure you’re practicing good credit management in the future; use your credit cards in moderation and try to pay off your credit cards in full every month
- Make an effort to get out of debt (and stay out of it once you do)
- Add alternative data to your credit report (such as utility bills) with Experian Boost or a third-party rent-reporting service, like PayYourRent or eCredable
If you’re consistent about sticking to these strategies, you can be confident your score of 350 will recover, although it might take a while.
How long will it take for your score of 350 to fully recover?
Negative marks stay on your credit reports for a maximum of 7 years (except for certain bankruptcies, which remain for 10). This means that in 7–10 years at the most, your 350 score will have made a full recovery (assuming that you don’t incur any more negative marks from this point onwards).
In most cases, your score won’t actually take the full 7–10 years to recover. As mentioned, if you successfully delete any of your negative marks, you may see a moderate improvement in your score in just a few months, and if you stick to the credit-rebuilding best practices outlined above, your score will see a much more significant improvement in a matter of 1 to 2 years.
Credit cards and loans you can get with a 350 credit score
Until your score improves, avoid borrowing money unless absolutely necessary to ensure that you won’t sabotage your progress by accumulating too much debt. If you need a new loan or credit card, then you’re best off picking one of the ones below, which are specially made for people with a 350 credit score.
Credit cards for a 350 credit score
The credit cards you can get with a 350 credit score fall under two categories: secured cards and subprime credit cards. Here are the best credit cards on offer right now for people with a 350 credit score:
Don’t apply for a credit card if you know your credit score doesn’t meet the credit card company’s minimum requirements. Most applications will trigger a hard inquiry, and hard inquiries take a few points off your credit score for up to 12 months. 3
Auto loans for a 350 credit score
Although you’ll have more options if you wait until your score improves, several auto loan companies offer bad credit car loans that you can qualify for. Here are the best car loans for people with a 350 credit score:
Alternatively, you can avoid taking out an auto loan altogether by simply paying in cash for a used car. Just make sure to get the car inspected by a mechanic before you buy it so that you don’t end up facing car repair fees that could further damage your finances.
Mortgages for a 350 credit score
Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that you’ll qualify for a mortgage with a credit score of 350. The minimum credit score to get a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is 500. Until your credit score is high enough to qualify you for an FHA loan, you’ll probably need to rent a house or apartment instead.
Personal loans for a 350 credit score
You’re unlikely to qualify for a personal loan with a 350 credit score. The minimum credit score to get a personal loan is generally in the 600s or higher, depending on your lender.
You can try applying for a secured personal loan, finding a cosigner, or borrow money from a credit union if you’re already a member, but you’ll probably need to wait until you have at least fair credit before you’ll be approved.