Credit Cards For 500 Credit Score? Here’s How You Can Do It

500Pop Quiz: What do 1 out of 15 people have?

Answer: A credit score below 500. And perhaps an STD.

FICO scores run on a 300 to 850 scale and reportedly only 6.3% of the US population has a 300-499 score. So I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have a 500 credit score you are about as low as you can go (at least from a credit standpoint).

The silver lining? You can really only improve from here and it’s totally possible to start building your credit now.

1. You won’t qualify for any traditional credit cards

With this low of a score, you are unlikely to qualify for any regular, non-secured credit card. You probably won’t even be able to get a plain vanilla Walmart store card with that low of a score.

Your score – in context

Here’s what various score ranges mean (based on definitions from Experian regarding FICO scores):

500 credit score – what it means

ScoreCredit typeExplanation
800+ExcellentConsumers in this range can expect easy approval for credit products and the best terms.
740-799Very goodConsumers in this range can expect to qualify for a wide range of products and are eligible to receive favorable terms.
670-739GoodConsumers in this range may vary in their qualification for credit products. Those at the lower end may get denied for premium products, or may have less-favorable terms/lower credit limits. Still, getting approved for a card or loan is absolutely feasible.
580-669FairConsumers in this range can expect higher interest rates and may not qualify for some credit products. Results will vary, based on whether the score is due to thin credit history or a troubled one (bankruptcies and late payments).
579 and lowerPoorConsumers in this range will have trouble qualifying for most credit products.

2. Avoid other cards that hit you with excessive fees

scary interest ratesThere are a small handful of unsecured cards out there that will probably approve a credit score of 500. When you see the fees they charge, you will understand why.

Example: First Premier Bank MasterCard

With this not so lovely offer you will pay a $95 processing fee and $75 annual fee. And what do you get in return? A measly $300 credit limit. Oh yeah and a 36% interest rate to go along with it.

Does your credit really stink? 500 is less than fresh, but that does not mean you deserve to get taken for advantage of just because you don’t have a ton of options available. Don’t fall prey to these fee-harvester sub-prime credit cards from issuers like First Premier. They make boatloads of money on the backs of working folks who have few other options. Granted, they have to charge more because the loss rates can be pretty shocking in the subprime market. But still, they take advantage of the lack of competition.

3. Secured cards are your best (and probably only) choice

So with the exception of First Premier Bank, the only credit cards for a 500 credit score are going to be secured.

What does this involve? A security deposit. In exchange for ponying up a deposit, you will be able to get a card. But don’t worry, the deposit will be refundable whenever you choose to cancel your card plus many banks that issue these cards will even pay you interest on the funds, so it’s just as good as putting the money in a traditional bank savings account.

The good news is that major issuers like Capital One and Discover offer secured credit cards along with their other customer-friendly features like free access to FICO credit scores. That can be a huge perk since you can watch and see how your responsible credit behavior builds your credit score over time. Here is my favorite credit card to rebuild credit. Its fees are very reasonable (and I think you will agree with me too).

Now as far as getting a mortgage or auto loan with a 500 credit score…that’s probably a pipe dream (or perhaps you’ve been smoking something from a pipe). Just get a secured credit card and build some solid credit over time – things will start looking up after a year or two of using secured credit responsibly. Then, you can enjoy fair credit terms for all types of loans – even the fanciest credit cards in the market that allow you to earn lucrative rewards.

This post was written or last updated April 10, 2017

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please help me

I have a credit score of 547 per Experian and would like to apply for the Capitol One guaranteed approval credit card to help me start rebuilding my debt. I am hoping to get the unsecured gold card, vs the secured credit card that requires the security funds. I have 6 accounts that are on my report from long ago that are in collections. I have fully paid off my auto loan, and with never missing a payment, and my school loans are all current. Do you think the 6 collection accounts will prevent me from getting the gold card?

Will I get approved for target card with a credit score of 531?

I have a 530 credit score capital one will not approve me I make 17,000 a year I’ve never had a credit card in my life I’m 30yrs old I need some type of credit line to try to rebuild my credit I’ve just discharge from bankruptcy last month on the 15 how can I fix this problem

If you are young without credit try Capital One. They have a student card and start most ppl I’ve known with a $300 limit. Also this is a trick I just learned, have your parent add you as an authorized user on one of their accounts. It will give you instant credit. I did this for my husband and it automatically gave him 10 years of good credit history for my account. It boosted his score over 100 points.

I am 19 years old and a full time college student, still live with my parents and I don’t work..I try to apply for a credit card, but was not approve. I check my credit score, which was 512. Why do I have ha bad/poor credit if I have never had a credit card, load or anything?
Thank you!

Because you are young and haven’t really established any credit yet. Since you’ve not been approved for a credit card, try getting a gas card to start up some credit


521 Credit score due to defaulted school loans and 2 collections for past credit cards.

1 year ago applied for capitol one platinum mastercard
300 limit after six months increased to 2300 (credit steps program which gives a increase after 6months)
After increase I got approved for chase freedom with 750 limit

current credit score 535

hope that helps.

joanna soriano

hello, i just checked my credidt score and it is playing on 530 to 546 score, which you think credit card company that would possibly approved me?

If I have debt with capital one already on my report can I still apply for the secured card with them?

U can apply for their GM card (google it cuz it’s not on their reg site) and u will be approved for the buy power card. Say you’re getting a car in less than a year. They will approve it. I applied with 512 score and said I make $32k year rent $500. They gave me an unsecured card with $500 limit and they’re on my credit report twice. They’ll also give u a secured card.

Hi Crystal, I just applied for the GA power card with credit score of 572 with income of $42k/you and $600. I was denied. I also chose the option to purchase car in 7-12 months. I was successfully approved for a finger hut card with $180 credit limit. I read this card is good for rebuilding credit and they will increase your credit after 4 to 5 on time payments. Only paid $30 deposit for my first order and it was applied to the order. I hope that helps with anyone trying to rebuild their credit.

I will not give up trying to get a card

i am trying better my credit score am 54 years old

I would like to apply for a 500 dollars credit care but my score is about 650 score

Do you think I can get a 500 dollars limit credit card

My credit score was a 586. I got approved for Kay Jewelers and I got a 4000 limit so just give it try.

Credit Score 576 – 3 medical collections on report and a charge off with capital one within last six months.

Credit One – Approved with 300 dollar limit. 75 dollar annual fee. Automatic credit line increases for on time payments.

Kay Jewelers – Approved 1500 dollar limit. Extremely easy online approval. Showed up reporting on credit karma within a week of application. Reports 1500 limit with 0 dollars being used. Can use the card at any Kay jewelers stores, at, or at any affiliated stores. Approval is easy because your line of credit is given to you by sterling silver inc, versus banks that like to beat up on us with low credit stores due to baddies. Hope this helps.

My rating is 567 and have candain tire master for 1,500 .and want to make my credit better .do u think I can get a walmart master card for 500?.

My credit score is 490 I am not eligible do get ANY credit cards becouse of old collections. 8 of them exactly for a total of … 1000 $ There us no way for ne to be approved by any credit card company I tried everything and im in some kind of gimbo Dont know what to do

Have you ever applied for credit with fingerhut? It’s one way you could improve your credit score… they report to the credit bureau. I applied today and was approved for a $230 line of credit with a credit score of 512.

Apply for credit one its only 300 limit but all fees are charged to card no money out of pocket until your first payment

I feel the same way

U can apply to capital one. My score was 490 when I applied. Do the prequal. I had a secured card for $200 and only paid $49 to get it. But the first time I had them ny score was 480 and they gave me an unsecured for $300. Now check this… I messed both of those up in 2010 &2012. Capital one just gave me another chance with a secured card paying the full $200 and less than 2 days later they approved me for a Cap1 GM mastercard while my score is 512. Capital one is the most easiest forgiving cc company in the US. Try it.

Does anyone know of unsecured credit cards that will approve someone with a credit score of 570 I’m trying to rebuild my credit! Help

Maybe a Walmart card, that’s probably all.

first premier with A 300 LIMIT

I got a car loan for a 2013 brand new Ford Fiesta the interest is slightly higher but I am refinancing with my credit union in 6 months. My credit union said after 6 months of steady on time payments my 520 crdit score will be up high enough to refinance through them with a much lower interest rate.

I have a credit score of 464 and was approved for a car loan thru Santander auto loans. I was shocked but it happened.

But your interest rate was through the roof I’m sure…

Did you have to pay an outrageous down payment if you don’t mind me asking cause I’m trying to finance a car and my credit score is also pretty low

You have no idea how bad santander is I also got a loan on a car from them 2 years ago for 19000 I now owe 24000 on the car never had 1 late payment with them they apply every cent to intrest Google them they have a load of lawsuits against them

I was shocked as well but I also was approved thru santander for a car! they have been very friendly when ive called….very nice customer service

Same thing happened to me—I applied for credit for an $18,000 car and was approved

I currently am in the 500’s credit score range. No less than 537 with experian. I am leasing a 2012 Honda Accord. Basically before I got the car my mom used my social security number for numerous of retail card applications as well as cable services and would not pay the bills on time until about 3-4 months later after they cut our services and would just stack up payment. I PERSONALLY pay my statement for my Honda 6 days before the due date every month. I now have lifelock as well to get alerts of any thing that goes under my social. I am 21 years old and I have two jobs as well as i am going to school. I have until 2015 when my lease with this car ends.

My question is, should I wait those next 2 and a half years to see how my credit score goes up with these lease to apply for a credit card or should I apply for a credit card as you say, a secured card, to help improve my credit score as well? My goal is to reach a high credit score by the time I am 35 so that I may buy a house. All my life I have moved around and I want my future family to be secure. Is there any tips you can give me as you answer my question? Thank you!

Hello Christina,

Depending on the type of your credit history, normally it would be kept for 3 or 6 years. So don’t be too worried. See more information here:

If you don’t have any credit cards, I suggest you to apply one from CapitalOne now. They have a guaranteed approval Master Card. It may help you to build credits. You may get a limit for only $500 at the beginning, but try calling them to increase the limit to $1,500 after 6 months or a year.

Please keep in mind to make payment payment on time, if you can’t pay it in full, pay at least the minimum payment.

Besides paying on time, here are some useful tips:

if your credit balance on your statment reaches…
0 – 25% of your credit limit – your credit score will go up
25% – 50% of your credit limit – your credit score will go up a little
50% – 75% of your credit limit – your credit score will not go up
75% – 100% of your credit limit – you’re on the red line
over 100% of your credit limit – you’re damaging your credit

Try to apply for another credit card later, because one credit card account and one auto lease account would not be well enough to show on your credit report.

There’s NO fast track to build credits, beware of the scam websites on the internet. First, make sure all credit accounts are up to date and no collections is against you.

I can tell you that your credit score will climb back to 650 or up after 2 years because I had the same experience 6 or 7 years ago and I now own a house with a mortgage with only 2.15% interest rate.

One more important fact, your credit score not only affect you being approved for credits applications, it also affect the interest rate as well.

For example, if you have a 800 credit score, you may enjoy a much lower interest than the ones who has only 650 buying the exact same product even though you both got approved.

Keep track on all yourself. You’ll be fine.

About credit balance, I didn’t mean you should only use 25% of your $500 limit.
I meant that if you used $500, then pay at least $400 before the statement date not the due date because they report to the credit bureau following the statement date.

And you have to use the credit card, don’t let it sit idle.

Regarding the balance, I didn’t mean you should only use 25% of your $500 limit. I meant that if you used $500, then pay at least $400 before the statement date not the due date because they report to the credit bureau following the statement date. And you have to use the credit card, don’t let it sit idle.

how did you secure a lease with a 537 credit score?

Thanks for the tips, I’ll give this a shot. I’m trying to get my credit score back up.