Is a 303 Credit Score Good Or Bad? + Your Loan & Credit Card Options

Summary:
A 303 credit score is considered "Poor" by the FICO credit score model. With a 303 credit score, it will be harder to qualify for a loan or a lease, and you will typically have to pay higher interest rate on credit cards, personal loans, and mortgages. The good news is there are still options available and multiple ways to improve your credit score.

A 303 credit score is significantly below the average in the U.S. According to FICO, this score falls within the "Poor" range, which is from 300 to 579. With a 303 credit score, lenders likely won't accept your loan application, and if they do, you'll probably have to pay much higher interest rates or extra fees as a result. However, as you will see below, you still have options.

Is there a way to increase your score to avoid these extra fees and higher rates? While it's not an overnight process, there are several steps you can take to improve your credit score and rise above a "Poor" rating. Keep reading to learn what goes into a credit score, what a 303 score means for your financing options, and how you can increase your score over time.

What affects your credit score?

Before we get into what this credit score means for you and your finances, let's take a brief look at what credit scores actually are. Your credit score is broken into a few different categories, each of which contributes to the total score.

  • Payment history. Your payment history has the biggest effect on your credit score and is exactly what it says: a history of your bill and credit payments. This tracks the number of on-time payments you make, whether on loans or credit card accounts.
  • Amounts owed. This refers to how much available credit you have compared to how much credit you owe. You can also think of this as your credit utilization ratio, which should ideally be kept below 30%. For instance, if you've reached the credit limit on numerous credit cards, this will likely lower your score.
  • Length of credit history. How long you keep a credit account open matters, even if you don't actively use that credit line. This factor considers the age of your oldest and newest credit accounts as well as the average age of all your accounts together.
  • Credit mix. While it may sound counterproductive to have multiple credit accounts, a mix of different accounts is actually a good thing. Having a couple of credit cards, an auto loan, and a mortgage shows lenders that you can manage several types of credit responsibly.
  • New credit. "New" credit specifically looks at how many credit accounts you opened recently and the number of credit inquiries made into your account. Each time you apply for a new loan or line of credit, the lender will make an inquiry into your credit history to review your score and payment history.
How FICO calculates credit scores

Pro Tip

Keep in mind that the categories above are used to calculate FICO credit scores, but these categories are also used in other models. There are two other models for calculating credit scores — VantageScore and PLUS. While lenders don't typically look at PLUS scores, many lenders and loan officers check VantageScore. So when reviewing your score and credit history, don't forget to check all of your credit scores.

What does it mean to have a 303 credit score?

A 303 credit score is significantly below the average credit score. Though a small percentage of Americans have credit scores below 579, Experian found that these borrowers were significantly more likely to become "seriously delinquent," or more than 90 days late on a bill or debt payment. With this in mind, it makes sense that lenders would be hesitant to offer financing to an applicant with a 303 credit score.
Credit score range % of consumers Delinquency rate
300-579 16% 61%
580-669 17% 28%
670-739 21% 8%
740-799 25% 2%
800-850 21% 1%

How you reached this score isn't quite as clear. Maybe you made several late payments in the past in addition to reaching your credit limit on multiple lines of credit and having your car repossessed. If you recently had to declare bankruptcy, this could also drop your credit score substantially.

Related reading: Though having bad credit can make it difficult to receive loans or credit cards, having no credit isn't great either. To learn more about this, take a look at our article on the topic.

How does this score compare to others?

Unfortunately, as we mentioned above, a 303 credit score isn't great. You'll likely have a difficult time getting an auto loan or unsecured credit card, and you won't have access to a high credit limit on a secured credit card either. And as you can see from the data below, the average credit score is only increasing with time.

The table below links to in-depth articles for all credit scores.

Credit score Scale
300Poor
301Poor
302Poor
303Poor
304Poor
305Poor
306Poor
307Poor
308Poor
309Poor
310Poor
311Poor
312Poor
313Poor
314Poor
315Poor
316Poor
317Poor
318Poor
319Poor
320Poor
321Poor
322Poor
323Poor
324Poor
325Poor
326Poor
327Poor
328Poor
329Poor
330Poor
331Poor
332Poor
333Poor
334Poor
335Poor
336Poor
337Poor
338Poor
339Poor
340Poor
341Poor
342Poor
343Poor
344Poor
345Poor
346Poor
347Poor
348Poor
349Poor
350Poor
351Poor
352Poor
353Poor
354Poor
355Poor
356Poor
357Poor
358Poor
359Poor
360Poor
361Poor
362Poor
363Poor
364Poor
365Poor
366Poor
367Poor
368Poor
369Poor
370Poor
371Poor
372Poor
373Poor
374Poor
375Poor
376Poor
377Poor
378Poor
379Poor
380Poor
381Poor
382Poor
383Poor
384Poor
385Poor
386Poor
387Poor
388Poor
389Poor
390Poor
391Poor
392Poor
393Poor
394Poor
395Poor
396Poor
397Poor
398Poor
399Poor
400Poor
401Poor
402Poor
403Poor
404Poor
405Poor
406Poor
407Poor
408Poor
409Poor
410Poor
411Poor
412Poor
413Poor
414Poor
415Poor
416Poor
417Poor
418Poor
419Poor
420Poor
421Poor
422Poor
423Poor
424Poor
425Poor
426Poor
427Poor
428Poor
429Poor
430Poor
431Poor
432Poor
433Poor
434Poor
435Poor
436Poor
437Poor
438Poor
439Poor
440Poor
441Poor
442Poor
443Poor
444Poor
445Poor
446Poor
447Poor
448Poor
449Poor
450Poor
451Poor
452Poor
453Poor
454Poor
455Poor
456Poor
457Poor
458Poor
459Poor
460Poor
461Poor
462Poor
463Poor
464Poor
465Poor
466Poor
467Poor
468Poor
469Poor
470Poor
471Poor
472Poor
473Poor
474Poor
475Poor
476Poor
477Poor
478Poor
479Poor
480Poor
481Poor
482Poor
483Poor
484Poor
485Poor
486Poor
487Poor
488Poor
489Poor
490Poor
491Poor
492Poor
493Poor
494Poor
495Poor
496Poor
497Poor
498Poor
499Poor
500Poor
501Poor
502Poor
503Poor
504Poor
505Poor
506Poor
507Poor
508Poor
509Poor
510Poor
511Poor
512Poor
513Poor
514Poor
515Poor
516Poor
517Poor
518Poor
519Poor
520Poor
521Poor
522Poor
523Poor
524Poor
525Poor
526Poor
527Poor
528Poor
529Poor
530Poor
531Poor
532Poor
533Poor
534Poor
535Poor
536Poor
537Poor
538Poor
539Poor
540Poor
541Poor
542Poor
543Poor
544Poor
545Poor
546Poor
547Poor
548Poor
549Poor
550Poor
551Poor
552Poor
553Poor
554Poor
555Poor
556Poor
557Poor
558Poor
559Poor
560Poor
561Poor
562Poor
563Poor
564Poor
565Poor
566Poor
567Poor
568Poor
569Poor
570Poor
571Poor
572Poor
573Poor
574Poor
575Poor
576Poor
577Poor
578Poor
579Poor
580Fair
581Fair
582Fair
583Fair
584Fair
585Fair
586Fair
587Fair
588Fair
589Fair
590Fair
591Fair
592Fair
593Fair
594Fair
595Fair
596Fair
597Fair
598Fair
599Fair
600Fair
601Fair
602Fair
603Fair
604Fair
605Fair
606Fair
607Fair
608Fair
609Fair
610Fair
611Fair
612Fair
613Fair
614Fair
615Fair
616Fair
617Fair
618Fair
619Fair
620Fair
621Fair
622Fair
623Fair
624Fair
625Fair
626Fair
627Fair
628Fair
629Fair
630Fair
631Fair
632Fair
633Fair
634Fair
635Fair
636Fair
637Fair
638Fair
639Fair
640Fair
641Fair
642Fair
643Fair
644Fair
645Fair
646Fair
647Fair
648Fair
649Fair
650Fair
651Fair
652Fair
653Fair
654Fair
655Fair
656Fair
657Fair
658Fair
659Fair
660Fair
661Fair
662Fair
663Fair
664Fair
665Fair
666Fair
667Fair
668Fair
669Fair
670Good
671Good
672Good
673Good
674Good
675Good
676Good
677Good
678Good
679Good
680Good
681Good
682Good
683Good
684Good
685Good
686Good
687Good
688Good
689Good
690Good
691Good
692Good
693Good
694Good
695Good
696Good
697Good
698Good
699Good
700Good
701Good
702Good
703Good
704Good
705Good
706Good
707Good
708Good
709Good
710Good
711Good
712Good
713Good
714Good
715Good
716Good
717Good
718Good
719Good
720Good
721Good
722Good
723Good
724Good
725Good
726Good
727Good
728Good
729Good
730Good
731Good
732Good
733Good
734Good
735Good
736Good
737Good
738Good
739Good
740Very Good
741Very Good
742Very Good
743Very Good
744Very Good
745Very Good
746Very Good
747Very Good
748Very Good
749Very Good
750Very Good
751Very Good
752Very Good
753Very Good
754Very Good
755Very Good
756Very Good
757Very Good
758Very Good
759Very Good
760Very Good
761Very Good
762Very Good
763Very Good
764Very Good
765Very Good
766Very Good
767Very Good
768Very Good
769Very Good
770Very Good
771Very Good
772Very Good
773Very Good
774Very Good
775Very Good
776Very Good
777Very Good
778Very Good
779Very Good
780Very Good
781Very Good
782Very Good
783Very Good
784Very Good
785Very Good
786Very Good
787Very Good
788Very Good
789Very Good
790Very Good
791Very Good
792Very Good
793Very Good
794Very Good
795Very Good
796Very Good
797Very Good
798Very Good
799Very Good
800Excellent
801Excellent
802Excellent
803Excellent
804Excellent
805Excellent
806Excellent
807Excellent
808Excellent
809Excellent
810Excellent
811Excellent
812Excellent
813Excellent
814Excellent
815Excellent
816Excellent
817Excellent
818Excellent
819Excellent
820Excellent
821Excellent
822Excellent
823Excellent
824Excellent
825Excellent
826Excellent
827Excellent
828Excellent
829Excellent
830Excellent
831Excellent
832Excellent
833Excellent
834Excellent
835Excellent
836Excellent
837Excellent
838Excellent
839Excellent
840Excellent
841Excellent
842Excellent
843Excellent
844Excellent
845Excellent
846Excellent
847Excellent
848Excellent
849Excellent
850Excellent

What does a 303 credit score get you?

Even though a 303 credit score is considered "Poor," you'll still have some financing options available to you, as you can see below.

Type of credit Qualify?
Secured credit card Yes
Unsecured credit card Maybe
Best rewards credit card No
0% APR credit card No
Personal loan Yes
Apartment rent Maybe
Home loan Yes (VA and FHA)
Auto loan No

As you can see, your best bet when applying for loans or credit lines with a 303 credit score will be secured lines of credit. These could be secured credit cards — where you must provide a security deposit — or secured personal loans, which are secured by an asset. With secured loans or credit lines, the lender has funds or an asset that can then be sold to cover your overdue payment, which reduces the lender's risk.

IMPORTANT! Keep in mind that the information above isn't absolute. For instance, your application for an unsecured credit card may be accepted, but you probably won't receive the best terms or interest rate.

Popular credit cards for a 303 credit score

Most of the best credit cards to apply for with a 303 credit score are secured cards, such as the Capital One Platinum secured credit card. Not only does this card not have an annual fee, but it also has one of the lowest security deposits among secured cards.

However, the above card isn't the only one available to applicants with low credit scores. Take a look at the credit cards below, each of which accepts a 303 credit score, and compare which option is the best for you.

What are the best personal loan options for someone with a 303 credit score?

Just as with credit cards, the most popular personal loans for consumers with scores around 303 will mostly be secured personal loans. While these aren't the only personal loans available, they'll probably offer applicants with low credit scores the best loan terms.

IMPORTANT! Though you may be tempted to apply for a payday loan, it's usually best to avoid them. Payday loans have very high interest rates and can push borrowers into a cycle of debt and could result in an even worse credit score.

Auto loans with a 303 credit score

Unfortunately, very few auto loans were provided to consumers with credit scores below 540. Instead of applying for a car loan and receiving poor terms, you may be better off saving up and improving your credit score before applying for auto loans. As you can see from the table below, a higher credit score can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the loan.

Credit score APR Monthly payment Total interest paid
720 - 850 6.511% $237 $1,386
690 - 719 7.744% $243 $1,661
660 - 689 9.573% $252 $2,076
620 - 659 10.739% $257 $2,345
590 - 619 15.055% $279 $3,372
500 - 589 16.484% $286 $3,723
*Rates above for a $10,000 48-month used auto loan.

That being said, the auto loan lenders below have previously accepted applicants with a 303 credit score.

Mortgages and home loans with a 303 credit score

Consumers with credit scores below 620 typically make up a small percentage of successful mortgage applicants. This means mortgage lenders may refuse to work with applicants that have credit scores around 303.

By creating a savings plan and improving your credit score first, you may receive better financing down the line. For example, if you get your credit score to 580, you'll qualify for a lower down payment requirement through the Federal Housing Administration (from a 10% to a 3.5% down payment). Just as a higher score saves you money in auto loan interest rates, improving your credit score can save you even more money on a mortgage.

Credit score APR Monthly payment Total interest paid
760 - 850 6.129% $304 $59,416
700 - 759 6.351% $311 $62,014
680 - 699 6.528% $317 $64,104
660 - 679 6.742% $324 $66,652
640 - 659 7.172% $338 $71,841
620 - 639 7.718% $357 $78,556
*Rates above for a $50,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

However, there are still mortgage lenders who will accept applicants with a 303 credit score. For instance, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not have minimum credit score requirements, so you may receive home financing through a VA loan.

Student loans with a 303 credit score

Fortunately, student loans are some of the easiest loans to receive with a credit score of 303. Since most students are still building credit at this time, it makes sense that student loans would have less strict credit requirements. In fact, federal student loans generally don't have credit requirements at all.

However, private student loan lenders usually have more stringent requirements and typically won't accept an applicant with a 303 credit score. Because of this, your chances will be much better if you have a cosigner.

How to improve a 303 credit score

With all of this in mind, there is a silver lining. If you have bad credit, it is easier and faster to improve your score substantially because of the way credit score algorithms are set up.

Catch up on past-due payments

We know it's easier said than done, but repaying your old bills and debts can help improve your credit score. This is especially true when it comes to the most recent versions of FICO and VantageScore credit scores. Newer credit scoring models ignore collections that have a zero balance. So, if you pay or settle a collection and it's updated to reflect the zero balance on your credit reports, your FICO® 9 and VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0 scores may improve. However, scores generated by older models that do not ignore zero-balance accounts will not improve.

However, it can be tricky to know how to best tackle your debts when you first start out. Luckily, you have a few options available to you:

  • Do it yourself. This is the most obvious plan. Using a calendar, day planner, or money management tool, start budgeting and tracking your payments regularly. It won't be easy, but by creating a solid repayment strategy you can chip away at your debts and lower your credit utilization ratio. You should also consider which debt repayment strategy is right for you before starting.
  • Apply for a debt consolidation loan. If you have multiple debts to pay off, consolidating your debts into one payment can make repayment easier to track and manage. While you may have to search for a secured loan with a 303 credit score, consolidating your debts can help debt payments feel more manageable.
  • Consult a debt settlement company. If your debts seem too large to tackle, talking to a debt settlement company may help you reduce your debts to something more doable. While they won't pay your debts for you, a debt settlement company can help reduce the amount you owe to a particular creditor.

Review your credit reports for errors

Sometimes, a poor credit score isn't your fault. Though we'd all like to believe mistakes won't be made when it comes to our credit, there's always a chance you could have an error on your credit report. It could be the result of fraud, where your information was stolen and used to open a credit line or loan, or a simple mistake by the major credit bureaus.

Regardless of what happened, make sure to regularly review your credit report for any errors. If you don't have the time to monitor your credit score yourself, consider hiring a credit repair company instead. Their job is to review your credit history and report any false information on your behalf, which could end up improving your score.

Pro Tip

You can request a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year. If you haven't done so already, visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free credit report today.

Be patient after a foreclosure or repossession

After a foreclosure or repossession, you may feel like you need to work quickly to better your credit score. The reality is that a foreclosure or repossession typically happens after multiple missed payments and attempts to collect those payments. Because of those attempts, a foreclosure won't be the only bad mark on your credit report. And once a repossession is part of your credit history, you'll likely see your score drop significantly, often 100 or more points.

What does this mean for you? Patience. Instead of scrambling to repay every debt you have and anxiously monitoring your score, understand that repairing poor credit doesn't happen overnight. It may take several months or years to return your credit score to its previous glory. On top of that, repossession may stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

That doesn't mean stop trying, but rather be patient and take small steps towards your debt repayment goal. If you're not sure where to start, read this guide. You can also reach out to a certified financial planner or a credit counseling company. They can help you budget and create a debt repayment strategy that works with your finances.

Open a secured credit card account

One way to show your creditworthiness is through a secured credit card. To use a secured credit card, you first have to pay a security deposit, which the card issuer holds onto. If you ever miss a card payment, the card issuer uses the security deposit towards your balance.

This can be a great way to improve your credit score and manage credit card debt more effectively. Take a look at some of the secured credit cards below and compare card features to find the best one for your spending habits.

FAQs

What is the difference between FICO credit scores, VantageScore, and PLUS?

FICO and VantageScore are the two most popular credit scoring models in the United States. They are both used by lenders to assess your creditworthiness, and they both have a range of 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating better credit.

Here are some of the key differences between FICO and VantageScore:

  • FICO scores are more widely used by lenders. About 90% of lenders use FICO scores, while only about 60% use VantageScore. FICO scores are more complex than VantageScore. FICO scores use a variety of factors to calculate your score, including your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and recent inquiries. VantageScore uses a simpler model that focuses on your payment history and credit utilization.
  • Also, VantageScore scores are more forgiving of recent inquiries. VantageScore counts multiple inquiries, even for different types of loans, within a 14-day period as a single inquiry. FICO scores only dedupe multiple inquiries from student loan, auto loan, and mortgage applications.
  • PLUS is a newer credit scoring model that is still gaining traction. It is designed to be more transparent than FICO and VantageScore, and it uses a variety of factors to calculate your score, including your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and credit mix.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between FICO, VantageScore, and PLUS:

Feature FICO VantageScore PLUS
Range 300 to 850 300 to 850 250 to 900
Popularity Most widely used Less widely used Newer model
Complexity More complex Simpler model More transparent
Inquiries Multiple inquiries within a 14-day period count as a single inquiry Multiple inquiries within a 14-day period count as multiple inquiries Multiple inquiries within a 14-day period count as a single inquiry
Factors used Payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and recent inquiries Payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history Payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and credit mix

Can you get approved with a 303 credit score?

There's a chance you could be approved for a credit card or loan with a 303 credit score. However, you may be subject to higher interest rates or poor loan terms with this score. Instead, try applying for a secured credit card or secured personal loan.

How can I raise my credit score from 303 to 700?

While you can raise your score from 303 to 700, keep in mind that this will take some time to do so. You can help increase your score by making timely payments, regularly reviewing your credit reports, and effectively using a secured credit card.

What credit score do you start with?

There technically isn't a "starting" credit score, at least not one that everyone starts with. If you haven't ever applied for a loan or credit card, you won't have a credit score at all. Once you apply for your first loan or card, the three major credit bureaus will begin building a credit file based on how you manage your account.

What is the lowest credit score?

Technically, the lowest credit score possible is 300, but you'll only have this score if you manage your finances extremely poorly.

Key Takeaways

  • A 303 credit score is considered "Poor" by FICO score standards and represents around 16% of Americans.
  • The most influential factor when calculating a credit score is the consumer's payment history.
  • To improve your score, try paying down current debts, reviewing your credit report, or applying for secured cards or personal loans.
  • Applicants with a 303 credit score may have a difficult time receiving a mortgage or car loan.
  • Repairing your credit score doesn't happen overnight. It may take months or years to raise your credit score from 303 to 700 or above.
View Article Sources
  1. Credit Reports and Scores — USA.gov
  2. CFPB to Supervise Credit Reporting — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  3. Credit Reporting — Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  4. My debt is several years old. Can debt collectors still collect? — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  5. How to Improve Your Credit Score — SuperMoney
  6. Top 10 Factors That Affect Your Credit Score — SuperMoney
  7. Do Medical Bills Appear On Your Credit Reports? — SuperMoney
  8. What is the Quickest Way to Fix Your Credit Score? — SuperMoney
  9. How to Illegally Change Your Credit Score (And Why You Shouldn't Try) — SuperMoney
  10. How Long Does it Take to Improve Your Credit Score? — SuperMoney
  11. How to Raise Your Credit Score by 100 Points — SuperMoney
  12. Do Personal Loans Build Credit? — SuperMoney
  13. What is Considered a Good Credit Score? 5 Major Factors That Determine Your Score — SuperMoney
  14. How Many Credit Bureaus Are There in the United States? If You Answered 3, Try Again — SuperMoney
  15. Best Credit Repair Companies — SuperMoney