Is 650 a good credit score? (updated for 2015)

Posted by CreditCardGuru

the number 650 printedSo you check your credit score and find out it’s 650. But what does that number mean? Is 650 a good or bad credit score?

650 vs. average?
The average credit score in the United States fluctuates and is hard to pin down, given that there are so many different types of credit scores and that the companies that calculate them keep their data under wraps. According to Experian data, the average VantageScore as of November 2014 (when they last published their annual “State of Credit” data) is 666 (VantageScores range from 300 to 850). However, in certain metro areas (such as in the Midwest), the average credit score can be up to 20 or more points above average. So any way you cut it, a score of 650 (whether it’s FICO or VantageScore) is probably below average.

Will a 650 score cause you any problems?
Even during prosperous economic times, this score would not be sufficient to qualify you for many mid-tier to high-end credit cards or for the best rates on auto loans. Now that the banks have tightened up after the great recession, a 650 score will do even less for you.
That’s not to say you won’t qualify for any loans and lines of credit. However, a score of 650 will generally mean a higher interest rate for the ones you can actually qualify for. This can actually cost you quite a bit of money; the difference between a 0 percent or 12.99 percent APR and a 21.99 percent APR can cost you thousands of dollars extra, depending on the length of the loan (or how long you carry a balance). When it comes to credit cards, a score of 650 might mean a low credit limit. This can be inconvenient for large purchases. Plus, you’ll have to work extra hard to keep your balance low to avoid high credit utilization (which can hurt your credit score further).

So is 650 a good credit score? Unfortunately for 2015 it’s not. But the good news is, if that’s your number, you are not far off from attaining a good score.

How can you improve your credit score?
There are many different criteria that go into the calculation of your score, but here are a few tips to help you out…

  • Always pay your bills on time - This may seem like common sense but a lot of people don’t always do it. While a day-late payment will practically never end up on your credit reports, payments over 60 days late will. Even worse is a charge-off (bad debt), so definitely don’t let that happen. So, pay online several days in advance or mail your payment a full week before it’s due to ensure there are no postal delays. And, pay your bill in full if possible.
  • Don’t carry high credit card balances – If you have a $5,000 credit limit on a card, it doesn’t mean you should be using $3,000 of it (60 percent of the limit). A small part of the score is based on what percentage of your credit you use — no one knows the magic number but most experts recommend never using more 30 percent of your available credit on any given card. Using any more than that reportedly can have a negative impact on your credit score. What if you need to make a big charge (like plane tickets) on your credit card? You can still keep your utilization low by making multiple payments per month. As long as you’ve paid down your balance to below 30 percent of your limit by the day your statement cuts (and your bank reports your balance), the credit bureaus never need to know you had 80 percent utilization earlier in the month.
  • Have a good mix of active credit accounts – If you have no negative history, the reason you have a 650 credit score may be because you don’t have enough lines of credit. In order to have a good credit score, generally you need to have both revolving lines of credit (credit cards) as well as installment loans (loans you pay a set amount on each month, like a mortgage or card loan). Even a few credit cards used wisely can get you an excellent credit score — no installment loans necessary.

Best credit cards for scores in this neighborhood?
Remember, you do NOT need to carry balances on your credit cards to achieve a good score. What’s reported to the credit bureaus is your statement balance, so whether or not you pay it off in full, it will still be reported. My advice is to have a few different credit cards, but to never carry a balance into the next payment cycle on any of them. Doing so lets you build credit without paying interest.

Use your cards on occasion and always pay them off in full. For our listing of the best credit cards for 650 credit score range, check out these cards for average/fair credit scores

Updated February 2, 2015

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

51 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Carl February 13, 2015 at 2:35PM

    My Credit Score is a 656. I had a bankruptcy in 2009 that will clear in 2016. I am a home owner. I have a car loan. I need a credit card so that I can use to travel and go on vacation instead of a debit card. Can you suggest something?

    • Heather March 25, 2015 at 8:28AM

      Bankruptcies don’t clear in 7 years! Mine will be discharged 10 years in December & I’m hoping this is the year it clears from my report. I rebuilt my credit with a secured credit card. I’m now a homeowner, and have a new car with a lovely interest rate. I recently decided to get a “real” credit card & My bank approved me for a credit card with $5000 limit & 0% interest for first year. Why not check with your bank?

  2. Mike September 3, 2014 at 12:47AM

    I just love how this credit scam works. you get credit card say 1,000 and say you use $800 of it. you pay on time never miss or late but your score suffers cause you carry high balance. i mean its a scam. just like trying to make a loan at a bank. They say sorry you dont have the money in the bank to cover the loan. my response is if i had the money in the bank i would not be asking for a loan. Its all a scam. just another way to tie good hard working people who pays there bills on time down. And now my medical is pulling me under thanks to the ACA (Obama Care) another scam

    • Lizzie September 4, 2014 at 2:08PM

      Try getting Credit Care. It’s a Medical Credit Card that can be used for medical, dental and even vet bills. You can usually qualify for this unless your Credit Score is in the 500′s, (which was me 2 years ago) I’ve read the reviews and most people who had a 650 score were able to be approved for Credit Care. Also, you will most likely qualify for more money from Credit Care if your doctor’s office speaks with Credit Care on the phone, when you first apply right there in front of the doctors. Credit Care often has specials that allow you to have no interest charged, as long as you pay the bill in full BEFORE the ‘amount of months’ they are allowing.
      Only other option and this does work depending on your income and situation is; negotiate with the billing department. Stay calm, respectful and insistant that you want to make payment, but you can only afford to pay $xx as a total and $xx amount each and every month as a payment until the bill is payed in full. Have it bill payed right out of your bank and you probably won’t miss it.
      Regardlesss of what they say, hospitals as well as Dr.’s offices have a budget for ‘write offs’ each year. People who can’t or won’t pay.
      Also, find out if your hospital has received Hill Burton Funding, if they have, then ‘under law’ they must negotiate with you providing you have an inablity to pay.
      Lastly, see if you qualify for any medical grants.

  3. bigmike April 4, 2014 at 9:00PM

    this whole credit score deal is weird to me, so check this out.
    two yrs after my wifes bk, bought a house and got 3.25%.
    4 yrs after her bk and two after mine, we bought a new car 4.5 %
    now 5 yrs later from her bk and 3 from mine another new car 3.07 %.
    her score currently 684 mine is 654.
    also with both have credit/reward cards already.
    5 credit cards total and we always pay them off, I suppose that helps.
    so figure all that out. its easier than you think to get credit after bk’s
    both chapter 13′s

    • Lizzie September 4, 2014 at 2:11PM

      That’s what I did. I had too many credit card bills as a result of a serious medical injury. Obviously, I didn’t know any of the above advice I gave to Mike at the time. I just wanted to make sure my bills got paid. But finally I came to my senses and figured I’d be paying on my credit cards for the rest of my life……… thanks.

    • Shaherizad March 20, 2015 at 1:52AM


      I’m no expert, but one of my classes in college covered this topic. (Note: I took the course before the bankruptcy laws changed, but I don’t think that should make any difference.)

      The reason they are giving you credit partly has to do with your income to debt ratio, but is mostly because you can only file bankruptcy once every 10 years. If neither of you make any mistakes, in 10 years your credit will be better than someone who’s never made any mistakes at all.

  4. madonna March 1, 2014 at 10:15PM

    I recently sent this company 960.00 to borrow 20,000. Needless to say I was scammed. Never got money and they wanted me to send 1,000.00 more for my insurance. Is there any way to ever get the money back?

    • Darlene March 25, 2014 at 5:37PM

      Samethg just happen to me first they asked fr 210.00 then 378.00 then 450.00 and when i told them i didnt have any more money they said in order to get my money i had to pay taxes but when they called me they said it was a tax free grant scrammers !!!!!

      • randy April 27, 2014 at 7:54PM

        anyone that would do or send money as some of your had written obviously do not have much common sense and deserve what you get. really, i cant believe so many idiots exist out there for people to rip off.

    • candi July 4, 2014 at 9:58PM

      takem to small claim court in your town it will cost you small court fee you will get it back at the end the card holer will have to pay your court fees when you win your case take all papers connected to transation you will win no dout about it they took your money.

    • Patrick August 24, 2014 at 5:08AM

      Contact your local District attorney

    • Lizzie September 4, 2014 at 2:14PM

      Go to the Attorney General or whoever handles that stuff in your State. The higher you go, the more likely you are to get results. And if your State and/or Federal Representatives are less than helpful, call the T.V. station to do a story on the Fraud and to warn others of course.

  5. dustin hodgkinson February 13, 2014 at 12:54PM

    yes they do 19.99 each

  6. bonnie January 18, 2014 at 5:29PM

    Help me improve my credit. It’s only 560.

    • jerry February 3, 2014 at 7:38PM

      I’m in the process of fixing mine. I used credit karma as a tool, and got rid of my old lingering debit

    • jody April 23, 2014 at 4:42PM

      i had a worst score than that nwn i have a 710 720 583 i have a little more work to do i can help

    • candi July 4, 2014 at 10:05PM

      HI I”m Working with lexington Law so far they working very hard on credit report email me in a month ina half i could give you more positvie info later

      • jim July 30, 2014 at 9:12AM

        sky blue credit is better than lexington law,imo.they have done a great job for me,i only could had 2 bad credit cc,and now i have barclays,belk,walmart,cap one,and a 3.43 auto loan,its not a quik fix,it will take about 4 mths to see real results!

  7. Cyrus December 7, 2013 at 10:59PM

    I want to purchase a home to live in but my credit is 650 now. I had to stop making payments for a service I partially received from a cosmetic company. I borrowed money from a private company but thru the company that cheated me. It was 6500 dollars I paid 2000 dollars and then stopped. My credit was greater than 650. It is considered delinquent. How can I get it cleared on my credit report?

    • sam June 18, 2014 at 1:27PM

      Just wait. dont pay anything. they will sned u a settlement offer. Or after 2 years it will go away

  8. Sherri-Lee November 11, 2013 at 4:34PM

    Thamkyou for the information given to me. I am pleased to know my credit is finally considered fair. And is close to being considered good. Only 20 more points to go!!! Hurray!!!
    Once again,, Thank you,
    Sherri-Lee Green

  9. B man November 1, 2013 at 11:42AM

    My score is 20 is that good or bad

    • jerry February 3, 2014 at 7:37PM

      its better than my 10

    • Joseph February 7, 2014 at 11:03AM

      its pretty good , if you’re playing black-jack

    • randy April 27, 2014 at 7:55PM

      it could never be 20…there’s no such score

  10. Lance September 12, 2013 at 12:48AM

    Jewels, The best thing for you guys to do, besides finding employment, is to get some credit cards. I learned the hard way for the past 10 years, got some items I couldn’t afford, a couple bad car loans, and some cards that I let go delinquent. There is stuff that your parents and teachers are either going to tell you or not give you all your information for, and you being 30 it’s never too late to learn. I’m 28 and I’ve just started recovering my credit this year, not using debt consolidation programs, but by hard work, and believe it or not, getting some credit cards. I hope your situation is better now, a couple of months down the line, but I hope this will help once you have that job, or if you do.

    Just remember, this has nothing to do with negative accounts, charge offs, collections, and repos. If you have bad credit and would like to improve your score, try following this.

    What people are told or not given enough information about is “credit cards are bad, you don’t want them” and that is flat out wrong. Credit cards are only as bad as you make them out to be. No credit cards do nothing for your credit score, and if you have them, having one card can be just as bad or good as having many cards. I carry 3 on me, and they all have low balances. If you have bad credit, it will be harder to get a card, but if you can get one and you have to pay the fee to get it, do it. Just make sure you pay the fees off.

    If you carry one card with a high balance that card will be easier to pay off than having a couple of cards with some balance on both, but having one card with a high balance will do more damage to you than having 3 or 4 cards with low balances each. What the credit bureaus want to see is money management, and what I mean by that is your balance to available funds ratio, and if you keep that fairly low (usually below 35-40% used at the most) then the bureaus will like it and give you a higher credit score. They not only look at the total amount of what you have available, they also look at each individual account. Lets say that you have one card with a $1000 limit and it has a balance of $600. That means that you are using 60% of the available credit, and the bureaus will look down on that. Now let’s say that you have 2 cards, each with a $1000 limit, and $300 used on each. You will be using $600 of the $2000, or 30%, and the bureaus will like that more than the 60% used. Even though it is the same amount of debt, the ratio is lower and can help you build your scores faster.

    Now, I can’t tell you what cards to get, but what I will tell you is that with bad credit you will probably need to pay some fees when getting a card AND the starting line of credit will probably be between $300 and $500, maybe more if you are lucky. Realistically, of that available you will have to pay a $75-150 fee, which they will automatically take off the card, so you will want to pay that back as fast as possible. Also, some of these cards will pay you back those fees after the first year or credit it towards your account. Just remember that these cards will probably not get you any rewards, like miles or cash back, BUT they will you rebuild your credit.

    The idea is to have a $0 balance on each card that you have, but if you have to keep a balance on it I suggest not going over 35% each, and the lower the better. If you are really concerned about the usage of the cards that you have the best thing to do is to have a $0 balance on it. If you can’t pay off what you paid for with the card in the month then don’t buy it. If you need to pay it off over a second month, try to keep the balance as low as possible, but never ever make only the minimum payment. As a good rule of thumb, if you pay twice the minimum payment then you’ve paid the interest (but we always want to pay off whatever we can). Another good rule is to use the cards for something that you know you buy every month, like a phone bill or groceries. You know, something that you would have to pay for out of your own bank account but instead use the card for and then pay it off right away.

    That brings me to my last couple of points before I turn in for the night. When you pay the credit card off DO NOT GET RID OF IT!!! That’s right, the bureaus want to see credit history, and the longer you have a card open the better. Some things are given, like house or car loans. When they end they end, and closing an account can be good and raise your score a little, but having an installment loan or revolving credit can help you out in the long run, especially if it ages. This also means to not let the card sit anc collect dust. Use it once or twice a month and make sure you pay it off. The bureaus love it more when there is no balance, but the credit card companies hate it when the card isn’t being used.

  11. Saucy September 9, 2013 at 9:07PM

    Hocus pocus Plus Scores are *Magical*, but unfortunately it’s the credit bureaus way of marketing products giving guesstimate’s of what your scores maybe. There is no need to buy services from any of the bureaus unless you’re disputing. Lenders will only use FICO score, so here’s a nice link to get realistic scores – – Lenders will use the middle of 3 as your average FICO. 650 is not BAD considering the economic times and how many mortgage loans ive helped down to 580 FICO’s. There have been more auto loans to subprime borrowers in the last 5 years and per credit cards, limits and approvals are more conservative because just like mortgages there is no way of simply stating income to qualify, as everything is verified (unless its a HARP, Streamline, or IRRRL – where ratios are not required). As long as you manage your credit to debt ratios up to 20% of your available credit card lines, your score will rapidly grow, just like mine after a BK with 1 year seasoning now at a 707 FICO vs the PLUS who quoted 50 points higher and isn’t even used in qualifying for credit. USAA and Cap1 offer the best secure cards. The Key is 20%<= balances, 1 year of timely payments, and no inquiries during that time.

  12. Bill S July 5, 2013 at 8:01PM

    The whole credit scoring system is a scam. I had 12 bad accounts and 2 credit cards with good history for over 12 months and below 30% utilization. Original scores were all around 540. I paid off every charge off account in full, reported them to the credit bureau and scores went up to 670 in 45 days. Forget this paid for delete nonsense, nobody does that anymore. You can settle but nobody is deleting information.

    • Kim R July 10, 2013 at 10:38AM

      I disagree, I just had five items with IMC credit deleted that I paid at a discount, so there are still companies that will delete your information.

    • cheryl August 26, 2013 at 9:28PM

      I am confused. Doesn’t paying anything reset the delinquent account to 7 years? How did that improve your score. Also, please further define paid for deleteand why this doesn’t remove if you get it in writing before agreeing to pay

      • randy April 27, 2014 at 7:57PM


    • vanessa November 23, 2013 at 3:59PM

      you are completely wrong about this because I started off fixing my credit with pages of negative accounts, disputed them all and got all removed but two. They ABSOLUTELY delete off your report!

    • Heather James July 21, 2014 at 8:46PM

      I totally agree. The whole credit scoring thing is BS.

  13. clberry May 29, 2013 at 5:38PM

    Is it legal for collection companies to buy up really old debt and try to get payment when it is no longer on my credit report?

    • randy April 27, 2014 at 7:58PM

      its called re-aging the debt, and they can do it if its not over 7 years old. and they can put it on your report as well.

  14. Jewels April 12, 2013 at 7:31PM

    I’m 30yrs old and just a few years back 2008 I scored 720 as the highest and 680 the lowest, I realized it was thanks to my parents putting me down as a co signer on their car loans and credit cars, I’ve never signed up for a credit car, I own my car paid cash and was a cash payer for during college and paid it all off. I did my credit score yesterday and sad to find out I score 656 highest 561 and 551. My future husband and I are expecting and we’d like to get a loan for a house and 10.000 to put and first time buyer. I was forced to quit my job do to my pregnancy and he just lost his job and is applying for unemployment. In anyones best knowledge do I have any chance in getting a loan and if not should I get a couple of credit cards? are there better ways to raise my credit. My father recently passed and I’m no longer on any of my mothers credit cards and such, we are no longer in speaking terms. Therefore no chance for a co-signer….Any info helps! Thank you

    • Nd April 23, 2013 at 9:50AM

      If you’re both unemployed there is 0% chance of getting a mortgage.

  15. CashIsKing February 1, 2013 at 11:44AM

    I held a credit score of 800 for many years; however, after the financial meltdown and the actions of our pig politicians in bed with the banks, I decided to use only cash and cut the bankers out. Banks receive virtually free money from the government and loan out at 20+% – it is a broken system.
    The banker’s motto “privatize the profit, socialize the loss”, keeps them and their senators very fat.

    My advice – Buy gold.

    • jacob January 23, 2015 at 9:49PM

      I like your idea of buying gold but really anything with value is better then cash like cars . Musical instruments collectibles like stamps or antiques etc . Gold is a little over valued but obviously us dollar is a fiat currency with little inherent value . Anyone working so hard on building credit is just trying to scam the scammer (bank). Remember this if you can’t afford it don’t buy it. This includes houses cars and other crap you don’t need so instead of buying a new car get a cheap used one like me . I drive a piece of junk car but I have no payments I don’t own a home and never plan to cause home ownership is a scam (when a house cost 40 years of 80% of your income it’s a scam) so live a simple life it’s not the same america your used to politicians have changed that so just get used to it

  16. michael October 18, 2012 at 4:46PM

    Every time someone mentions their credit scores, i notice a trend that i don’t think is fair and that is transunion always seems to show lower scores than the other two. how can you have the same exact accounts on all three, but have 10 to 20 points lower always on transunion?????

  17. Raul March 28, 2012 at 8:21PM

    I got on Experian a 650 points in my credit, starting from 250 til 900. So how is my credit?

    • randy April 27, 2014 at 7:59PM

      350 is the lowest score possible, 650 is fair.

  18. Josh hall February 24, 2012 at 6:35PM

    I just got my new credit score it is 720 on Experian and 650 on TransUnion. My question is is it going to be hard to get a small loan at a bank?

  19. Ron January 18, 2012 at 7:55AM

    I claimed chapter 7 in 2009, I ran a credit check and it’s on there and it says i have 9 negatives and 23 positives on my report.

    I ran into some money and paid off all of my current credit cards and i am doing as you say, using the cards and paying them off at the end of the month, my credit score is not 650 but close at 660 now. I wonder how it could be that high, when its only been 2 and a half years since the bankruptcy? I am getting lots of credit card offers and car loans solicitations, by the way that was my vantage score.

    I just bought a home cash for a investment property. I guess this will not affect my credit score because it is a cash deal? i want to by another home for investment, but i don’t want to buy it cash. I will wait 6 months longer to do so. Will I be able to get a mortgage with a score of 650-660, if i put 50% down? any advice would be appreciated.

    • Robin March 11, 2012 at 1:03PM

      I’d love to hear what you find out, as I did much the same except buy property for cash, now in the market for mortgage!

    • Krissy October 3, 2013 at 10:22AM

      I filed ch. 7 a year ago and now have 650+ credit score! You should be able to get financed for a home yes. If I can so can you. GL!

      • randy April 27, 2014 at 8:01PM

        after a chapt. 7 i don’t know any mortgage company that will finance you until 2 years have passed. 2 years is also the rule for FHA as wll. i assure you , without someone to co-sign, and i’m sure you didnt get a mortgage after 1 year.

    • Art December 10, 2013 at 10:39AM


  20. Kenneth R Lord December 10, 2011 at 4:48AM

    I have had my share of financial problems. My chapter 13 filing date will reach the seven old year mark in June of 2012. I have noticed my scores improving from the low 500s to a equifax 623 experian 672 and transunion 656..I wonder why my scores vary so much depending on which report you look at…any help in understanding this would be greatly appreciated…

    • CreditCardGuru December 17, 2011 at 7:09PM

      Hi Kenneth,

      Scores vary between the bureaus because they each have a different data set, so their calculations may be difference.

      However you mentioned all 3 bureaus… what type of scores are you getting? FICO doesn’t sell their scores directly to consumers for all 3 credit reporting agencies, so my guess is you are going off of PLUS Score or Vantage, correct?

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