The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Monday, November 28, 2022

Best Loans & Credit Cards for 500 to 550 Credit Scores

500 To 550 Credit Score

credit card advice

Ashley Dull

Written by: Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull

With more than a decade of experience as a content manager and marketer, Ashley has specialized in finance coverage since 2015. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media campaigns. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among others.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Danielle Spurlin

Danielle Spurlin

With more than 10 years of accounting experience, Danielle Marshall has a deep understanding of many financial disciplines, including personal and commercial lending, retirement annuitities, financial forecasting, and general bookkeeping. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida's Fisher School of Accounting and currently manages all accounts receivable and payable for the parent company of CardRates.com. She works directly with credit card issuers and advertising partners to ensure our content meets compliance expectations and regulatory standards.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Despite the fact that it’s often referred to in the singular, you actually have dozens of credit scores. That said, the most prevalent credit scoring model currently used is the FICO Score 8.

The FICO Score 8 operates on a scale of 300 to 850, with 850 being the best possible score. While this may make it seem as though a 500 to 550 credit score puts you near the middle, the average FICO Score in the US is actually above 700 — and everything under 580 is firmly in “bad credit” category.

Having bad credit can make finding new credit more difficult. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and several credit cards exist for people with scores below 550. Keep reading for some of our top choices for credit cards that may be suitable for those with less than ideal credit, as well as other options to consider.

Credit Cards | Personal Loans | Auto Loan | Home Loan

Credit Cards: 500-550 Credit Score

A ubiquitous part of everyday American life, credit cards not only make online shopping easier and more secure, but they can also help improve your credit when you use them responsibly.

Most cards available to people with low credit scores are unsecured credit cards that have low credit limits and high APRs, secured credit cards that require a deposit, or closed-loop store credit cards that can only be used at a specific retailer.

1. Surge® Platinum Mastercard®

The Surge® Platinum Mastercard® offers robust credit lines and quick pre-approval decisions for those with poor credit scores.  Applying online is simple, and pre-approval will not hurt your credit score.

Surge® Platinum Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
See website for Details
24.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
See website for Details
See website for Details*

In addition to receiving free access to your credit score from Experian, you’ll also have your payment activity reported to the major credit bureaus, which can help you rebuild credit over time when you manage your account well.

2. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

If you’re willing to put down a deposit in exchange for lower rates and fees, then the may be a good credit-building option.

Depending on your credit profile, you’ll need to make either a $49, $99, or $200 deposit to open a Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card account with an initial $200 limit. For that deposit, you’ll receive a credit card with a competitive interest rate and no annual fee.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

You can receive a credit limit increase after making your first six payments on time with no additional deposit needed. Capital One will periodically check on your credit score progress and payment history to determine if you’re eligible for an upgrade to an unsecured credit card. If so, you’ll be automatically upgraded to the new product, and your deposit will be refunded.

If you wish to reclaim your deposit without an upgrade, you can request to close your credit card account. Make sure you pay off your balance in full before closing your account to recover your full deposit amount.

3. Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is a real diamond in the rough. This is a secured credit card with the benefits and fees of a card for someone with a good credit score. It offers cash back rewards, a moderate APR, and no annual fee.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The card requires a $200 minimum deposit amount and may consider you for a higher credit line — with no additional deposit necessary — in as soon as six months.

It’s also loaded with account benefits that include elevated rewards on select travel purchases made through Capital One Travel, $0 fraud liability, and access to a free credit score.

4. Brinks Prepaid Mastercard

Prepaid cards are ideal for consumers with poor credit who want access to digital payments but don’t want their credit history involved.

With a prepaid card, you can add money to your account and use it to make purchases anywhere the card’s network (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc.) is accepted. The Brinks Prepaid Mastercard can be loaded via a bank transfer, mobile check load, or direct deposit.

Brinks Prepaid Mastercard Review

at Republic Bank & Trust Company'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster* than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • *Card issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Mastercard Debit cards are accepted. “Apply Now” for full details.
  • See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable

Because prepaid credit cards aren’t associated with a credit line, you don’t need a credit check to open a prepaid card, and applying for a prepaid card doesn’t affect your credit score.

But at the same time, prepaid cards don’t report your account to the credit bureaus, which means they can’t be used to establish or improve your credit score. If you want to improve your credit, you’ll need an unsecured or secured credit card that reports to the bureaus.

5. First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a solid option for consumers who may occasionally carry a balance on their credit card, as it has a low purchase APR that will help keep interest charges low (though it’s always best to pay in full each month to avoid interest fees).

The size of your deposit will equal the amount of your credit line, and you can open a First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card account with a $200 deposit (but deposits of up to $2,000 are allowed).

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
3.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.74% (V)
$49
Poor/Limited/No Credit

Your secured credit card deposit is fully refundable, and you can reclaim your deposit at any time by closing your credit card account in good standing.

Any balance you have remaining when you close your account will need to be paid in full to recover your security deposit. If left unpaid, your account could enter default and cost you part or all of your deposit and cause severe credit score damage.

If you are someone who pays off their credit card balance each month, the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card‘s annual fee may make it a less-than-ideal choice. Consider a card without an annual fee if you won’t be carrying a balance.

Personal Loans: 500-550 Credit Score

Although credit cards are typically among the easiest types of credit to get with a lower credit score, it can also be fairly simple to obtain a personal loan, including both short-term and installment loans.

Overall, short-term loans will have less stringent credit requirements than installment loans, but short-term loans charge much higher interest rates and usually must be repaid within seven to 90 days.

6. MoneyMutual

Short-term loans are typically used by poor-credit borrowers who need quick financing, as short-term lenders tend to have very flexible credit requirements and a quick turnaround. That said, short-term loans, also called cash advances or payday loans, often charge large finance fees with three-digit APRs.

If you really need a quick personal loan, using an online lending network, like MoneyMutual.com, can be an easy way to find and compare multiple loan offers at once. MoneyMutual.com is an online marketplace with dozens of lenders that can help you find the best fit.

  • Short-term loans up to $5,000
  • Online marketplace of lenders
  • Funds available in as few as 24 hours
  • Simple online form takes less than 5 minutes
  • Trusted by more than 2 million customers
  • Not available in NY or CT
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.8

MoneyMutual.com’s lending partners can provide short-term loans of up to $5,000 for qualified borrowers, though individual loan amounts vary by lender and credit profile.

While MoneyMutual.com can connect you with a lender, MoneyMutual.com doesn’t actually provide the loan. Once you choose an offer on the MoneyMutual.com website, you’ll be directed to the lender’s independent website to complete the loan process.

7. CashUSA

Personal installment loans are designed to be long-term financing that you repay in fixed monthly payments, or “installments.” Installment loans generally extend from three months up to six years.

CashUSA.com is an online lending network that connects borrowers with potential lenders from across the country with a single application. Borrowers can easily compare bad credit loan options from up to four lenders at a time to find the best match.

  • Loans from $500 to $10,000
  • All credit types accepted
  • Receive a loan decision in minutes
  • Get funds directly to your bank account
  • Use the loan for any purpose
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.7

Although CashUSA specializes in helping poor credit borrowers find loans, the network’s lending partners will still set their own credit score and income requirements.

The maximum loan amount borrowers can receive from a CashUSA lender is $10,000. But according to CashUSA’s website, consumers with the lowest credit scores are unlikely to receive a loan greater than $1,000.

Auto Loan: 500-550 Credit Score

When you have a 500 to 550 credit score, it can be hard to find any kind of financing, let alone a car loan. But auto loans are typically secured by the vehicle they finance, so they’re less risky to the lender than unsecured loans.

This means you may have decent luck finding a lender willing to provide you with an auto loan, particularly if you have a sizable down payment (or valuable trade-in vehicle) to further reduce the overall risk to the lender.

8. Auto Credit Express

For the most part, major banks are unwilling to work with consumers with very low credit scores. For auto loans, the better bet to find financing with poor credit is usually to finance through the dealer from which you purchase your vehicle.

Given that dealer financing isn’t always the most affordable option, it’s important to compare your options. Auto Credit Express is an online dealer network that can help you find and compare auto loan quotes from dealers around the country to get the best rates.

  • Dealer partner network has closed over $1 billion in auto loans
  • Can help those with bad credit, no credit, bankruptcy, and repossession
  • Established in 1999
  • Easy, 30-second pre-qualification form
  • Bad-credit applicants must have $1500/month income to qualify
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.9

While specific credit requirements will vary by dealer partner, you’ll need a monthly income of at least $1,500 to qualify for a loan through an Auto Credit Express dealer.

You can get an idea of what kind of loans you’ll qualify for by filling out the Auto Credit Express pre-qualification form. Once you’re matched with a dealer, you’ll work directly with the dealer to find a vehicle and finalize your loan.

Home Loan: 500-550 Credit Score

One of the most difficult types of financing to obtain with a low credit score is a mortgage loan, both because of the typical mortgage amount and loan term of up to 30 years.

That said, some options do exist for potential home buyers with low credit scores, particularly if they can qualify for a mortgage insured by the FHA, VA, or USDA.

9. eMortgage

Although most government-insured housing programs don’t impose minimum credit score requirements for approval, individual lenders have the leeway to set their own requirements. This can make it difficult to find a mortgage lender even if you qualify for a particular type of mortgage.

As an online lending network, eMortgage can connect borrowers with dozens of lenders from around the country, increasing the chance of finding a lender with flexible credit requirements for someone with a bad credit score.

  • Refinance loans, new home purchase, and reverse mortgages
  • Compare lenders with no obligations or fees
  • Simple and secure form
  • Receive up to 5 free rate quotes in 2 minutes and see what you can save on your payment.
  • Rates are at historic lows
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.8

One of the most important aspects of finding a mortgage with bad credit, especially if you wish to use an FHA-insured mortgage, is to ensure you have an adequate down payment.

While the FHA only requires a 10% down payment for sub-580 borrowers, a larger down payment will increase your attractiveness to a potential mortgage lender and can help offset some of the financial risk of having a low credit score.

Options Exist — Even With Poor Credit

Although the FICO Score 8 credit score range goes from 300 up to 850, only those in the top 25% are considered to have good credit. And those consumers with scores below 580 are automatically considered to have bad credit.

But while bad credit can be a hindrance to qualifying for credit cards and loans, a low score won’t always mean an instant rejection from every creditor. Options for new credit are out there, you just need to do a little research to find them.

Range of credit scores covered in this article: 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 511, 512, 513, 514, 515, 516, 517, 518, 519, 520, 521, 522, 523, 524, 525, 526, 527, 528, 529, 530, 531, 532, 533, 534, 535, 536, 537, 538, 539, 540, 541, 542, 543, 544, 545, 546, 547, 548, 549, 550

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