The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, August 9, 2022

8 Best Loans & Credit Cards for a 500 to 550 Credit Score

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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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 might 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 around 700 — and everything under 580 is firmly in the “bad credit” category.

Having bad credit can make finding new credit much more difficult. However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and there are a variety of credit options for those with scores of 500 to 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 such as personal loans.

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 credit cards available to those with low credit scores between 500 and 550 will be unsecured credit cards with low 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 MasterCard

The Surge MasterCard offers robust credit lines and quick pre-approval decisions for those with bad or poor credit scores.  Applying online is very simple, and doing so will not hurt your credit score.

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

  • 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 with responsible usage.

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 Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card may be a good credit-building option.

Depending on your specific 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.




  • 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
26.99% (Variable)
Limited, Bad

You can receive a credit limit increase after making your first five payments on time, so long as you make at least the minimum required payment before the due date.

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 simply close your credit card account in good standing. Make sure you pay off your balance in full before closing your account to recover your full deposit amount.

3. Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard®

Prepaid credit cards are ideal for those consumers with poor credit who want access to digital payments but who don’t want to get their credit profile involved in the process.

With a prepaid card, you can add money to your account and use it to make purchases anywhere the card’s network (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) is accepted. The Brink’s 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




  • 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
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable

Because prepaid credit cards aren’t associated with a credit line, you won’t need a credit check to open a prepaid card, and applying for a prepaid card won’t impact your credit score in any way.

At the same time, prepaid cards won’t report your payment behaviors to the credit bureaus, so they can’t be used to establish or build your credit score. If you want to improve your credit profile, you’ll need an unsecured or secured credit card instead.

4. 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).

The size of your deposit will determine the size 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




  • 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
12.24% (V)
Bad / No Credit

Your secured credit card deposit is fully refundable, and you can reclaim your First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card 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, not only costing you part or all of your deposit, but also causing severe credit score damage.

If you are someone who pays off their complete 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 the easiest type of credit to get with a low 500 to 550 credit score, it can also be fairly simple to obtain some small personal loans, 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 fees and must be repaid all at once on the due date.


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-termloans, also called cash advance or payday loans, often charge large finance fees with three-digit APRs.

If you really need a short-term loan, using an online lending network, like, can be an easy way to find and compare multiple loan offers at once. has 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’s lending partners can provide short-term loans of up to $2,500 for qualified borrowers, though individual amounts will vary by lender and your specific credit profile.

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

6. CashUSA

Personal installment loans are designed to be long-term financing that you want to repay a little each month. Installment loans generally extend from three months up to six years and are repaid via small monthly payments that include interest and principal payments. is an online lending network that connects borrowers with potential lenders from across the country with a single application. Borrowers can easily compare 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

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

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

Auto Loan: 500-550 Credit Score

When you’re dealing with a 500 to 550 credit score, it can be hard to find any kind of financing, let alone a big loan for a new car. That being said, auto loans are typically secured by the vehicle they finance, so they’re often less risky to the lender.

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.

7. 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

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 size and the long term length.

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


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

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

  • Find lenders for new home purchases, refinancing, home equity loans, and reverse mortgages
  • Lenders compete for your business
  • Offers in minutes
  • Receive up to 5 loan offers and select the right one for you
  • Founded in 1996
  • Over $250 billion in closed loan transactions
Overall Rating

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 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 generally 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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