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

For this article, we’ll assume you’re looking at a FICO score (the most commonly used by lenders) or a VantageScore (the score most commonly used on free-scoring sites, such as Credit Karma).

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but …

… a 500 credit score is considered a poor credit score by most lenders.

That means you’ll be limited in what kind of card you can get. With a score this low, you are unlikely to qualify for any regular, non-secured credit card. You probably won’t even be able to get a plain vanilla store card. But hope is not lost. You can really only improve from here and it’s totally possible to start building your credit now.

How your score compares

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.

You are at the bottom of this chart, meaning lenders see you as a high risk and someone who may default on their debts.

Cards you can get with a 500 score

  • 1. Secured cards: Browse your options here. These cards require you to put down money upfront to secure your credit line. That way the issuer doesn’t have to worry if you’ll pay them back. Your limit will probably be low, and there may be an annual fee (although some secured cards have no annual fee). But you don’t have to keep this card forever. Once the derogatory information on your credit report starts falling off, you can move on from your secured card to something better.
  • 2. Other credit-building cards: You may qualify for a card that doesn’t require a security deposit. However, these will almost certainly carry annual fees or come with restrictions — the ability to spend things only with the issuer’s online catalog, for example.

  • 3. Credit-builder loans: Some small banks, credit unions and other nonprofit financial institutions offer special loans designed for those struggling to build credit. You may have to put down a deposit up front or regularly paying an amount into a savings account with the bank (which you’ll get refunded later). But these loans report to the credit bureaus and often come with financial counseling.

    Learn more about credit-builder loans.

  • 4. Get added as an authorized user: If a loved one with great credit is willing to add you to their card account as an authorized user, their excellent credit history will cast a glow on yours. It’s not a silver bullet, though. If you have a 500 credit score, you probably have late payments or defaults on your credit reports. So becoming an authorized user won’t “trick” lenders into accepting your credit applications — they’ll see your reports and run. Still, once that damaging information falls off your report, the positive influence of that authorized-user account will give you the leg-up you need to qualify for a new card on your own. Just know this: If the main accountholder is irresponsible with the account, your credit score will fall.

More about credit scores

There are various scoring models out there, FICO being the most commonly used by lenders, VantageScore being the most commonly provided by free scoring sites. So, to create your credit-building road map, review the factors below. We’ve listed FICO’s scoring factors in order of priority (biggest to smallest):

  • Payment history (35 percent of your FICO score): Payments are made on time.
  • Utilization (30 percent of your FICO score): Use up as little of your credit limits as possible. At a bare minimum, stay below 30 percent. Preferably, you’ll stay below 10 percent. Cards designed for poor credit will come with low limits – so consider making just one small purchase on them a month OR paying your balance down several times a month to keep utilization low.
  • Length of credit history (15 percent of your FICO score): FICO’s algorithm rewards you for accounts that have been open a long time. Rapidly opening new accounts will decrease your average age of accounts and lower your score.
  • New credit (10 percent of your FICO score): Every time you apply for a new credit product, expect a hard inquiry, which will temporarily lower your score. That’s why it’s so important to pick a product you have a good chance of qualifying for – if you shoot to high, you’ll get rejected AND get hit with a score-lowering inquiry.
  • Credit mix (10 percent of your FICO score): FICO (and, by extension, lenders) want to see that you can juggle a variety of credit types. Having both installment loans and revolving credit (ie, cards) on your report will help you maximize this factor.

This post was written or last updated May 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.