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Credit Scores

Qualify With A 540 Credit Score: Credit Cards-Personal Loans & Auto Loans


By Mark Huntley, J.D.

Real estate investor, lawyer, personal finance writer, and Co-Founder of Credit Knocks


Advertiser Disclaimer - Some links on this page may pay us advertising fees.

Summary: While a 540 credit score to 549, are considered bad credit, that does not mean that there are no opportunities for you to build your credit or even qualify for a loan. 

Credit scores are used by lenders to help them estimate the possibility of the borrower not paying them back. 

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Increase Your Credit by 100+ Points

In a recent study at Credit Knocks, we found that *48% of clients who used a credit repair company got a credit score increase of 100+ points.

Consultation is quick, easy, and free.

Lenders will use all the information that is available to calculate their risk, which will determine the interest rates you are offered. 

However, where the line of good credit scores begins and ends fluctuates higher or lower based on the type of loan you are considering. 

Quick Article Guide

What can I do with a 540 to 549 credit score?

Credit scores range between 300 and 850, with 300 being the lowest and 850 being the highest. 

A 540 credit score is considered bad credit and usually indicates that your credit report probably shows some; late payments, charge-offs, bankruptcy, high utilization ratios, collections, and too many hard inquiries

If you have a credit score around 541, 543, 545, or 547, then you can be sure you really have nowhere to go but up!

With that in mind, to answer, ‘Is A 540 to 549 Credit Score Good? Or Bad?’ for a particular loan type or how to improve it, we will address each individually.
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540 Credit Score - 541 Credit Score - 542 Credit Score - 543 Credit Score - 544 Credit Score - 545 Credit Score - 546 Credit Score - 547 Credit Score - 548 Credit Score - 549 Credit Score

Just because you have a bad credit score does not mean that you will not qualify for a loan.  It just means that your options will be much more limited and you’ll pay a higher interest rate than someone with a better credit score. 

With a 540 credit score there still is a lot of room for improvement and even more financial incentives for you to improve it. 

One quick fix we recommend is contacting our top-rated credit repair company for a free conversation about how they really can help you.

The great thing about a low credit score is how quickly you can improve it by making just a little bit of effort.

Disclaimer: Credit Score Refers to "FICO Score"

When we say "credit score" in this article, we mean your FICO score.  If you have a free credit score (i.e. VantageScore from Credit Karma or Sesame), that does not likely equal your FICO.  For example, a 540 VantageScore could be a FICO score of... 301, 416, 507?  Who knows?  90% of Lenders use FICO scores, not the free VantageScore. You can get your FICO score here.

Can I Get A Car Loan With A Credit Score Of 540 To 549?

Auto loan rates by credit score are divided into five categories, with Super Prime being the highest and deep sub-prime the lowest.

This is where credit score terminology gets a bit confusing. 

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Car Loan Credit Score 540 - Credit Score 541 - Credit Score 542 - Credit Score 543 - Credit Score 544 - Credit Score 545 - Credit Score 546 - Credit Score 547 - Credit Score 548 - Credit Score 549

A 542, 544, 546, or 548 credit score can be referred to correctly by calling your score bad credit, poor credit, or deep sub-prime credit. 

Referring to your credit score by any of these three categories would be technically correct. 

Bad credit, poor credit and deep sub-prime credit are three names for the same credit score category. 

BUT, with auto loans, they don’t use the bad/excellent categories, but lenders break your credit score into the Prime categories. 

The reason auto lenders use the prime categories is that regardless of your credit score if you have a job, someone will probably give you a car loan, thus more categories to be able to distribute the lender’s risk better.

Auto Loan Credit Categories

Credit Score Range

Super Prime

780 - 850

Prime

660 - 779

Non - Prime

600 - 659

Sub - Prime

500 - 599

Deep Sub - Prime

300 - 499

Auto loans are considered secured loans because you use the actual vehicle as collateral for the loan. 

This allows lenders to offer to finance to people with credit scores that wouldn’t otherwise qualify for an unsecured loan based on their FICO score. 

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While Super Prime and Prime credit scores will be good for the best auto loan rates by credit score, the premium charge for Non-Prime and Sub-Prime auto loan rates surprisingly isn’t that bad. 

Once your credit score starts nearing 540 and below, your auto loan options will significantly decrease with a deep sub-prime credit score

But this doesn’t mean that all is lost because many independent dealerships will offer inhouse financing, and we even have a few lenders that may still give you car financing. 

The APR rates charged for a car loan with a deep sub-prime score are cripplingly high, and we discuss many alternative options in our articles on how to get an auto loan with a deep sub-prime credit score

There are many excellent auto loan lender options that you can spend hundreds of hours reviewing… 

Or piggyback on our research and save yourself some time by reading our article on the Best Auto Loan Companies of 2020.

How To Get A Personal Loan With A 540 - 549 Credit Score

Personal loans are broken into four credit score categories, and to keep things confusing, they usually refer to them as excellent, good, fair, or bad/poor.

Personal Loan Credit Categories

Credit Score Range

Excellent

760 - 850

Good

690 - 759

Fair

580 - 689

Bad or Poor

300 - 579

Personal loans are the Swiss army knife of loans, capable of being accessed for an emergency, to consolidate debt, or even start a business. 

They can be used for a variety of reasons, the list below is just some of the more common uses for a personal loan:

  • Debt Consolidation
  • Pay Off Credit Cards
  • Car Purchases
  • Mortgage Down Payments
  • Home Improvement
  • Emergency Cash
  • Medical Bills
  • Education
  • Business Start-Up
  • Vacation
  • You name it!

Most personal loans are unsecured by any collateral and have lower interest rates than credit cards. 

Many people will look to a personal loan to consolidate their credit card debts at a much lower rate than their credit cards APR to save thousands of dollars. 

Even with a , there are still some personal loan options, albeit, at interest rates between 35% and 155%.
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Personal Loan 540 FICO Score - 541 FICO Score - 542 FICO Score - 543 FICO Score - 544 FICO Score - 545 FICO Score - 546 FICO Score - 547 FICO Score - 548 FICO Score - 549 FICO Score

Personal loans can range from $1,000 to $100,000 with payment terms as short as six months and as long as seven years. 

People with an excellent and good credit score will receive the best rates because they are at a lower risk of not paying back the lender. 

As your credit score falls to fair and lower, the number of lenders willing to risk giving an unsecured personal loan dwindles. 

However, even with a bad credit score you can still qualify for personal loans as large as $35,000 but it will cost you. 

People with a 410 credit score may pay rates as high as 35% to 155%. It goes without saying that you should avoid high interest personal loans if at all possible. 

While these are personal loans, they are usually also marketed as ‘installment loans,’ which have higher interest rates and payment terms between 6 months to 7 years. 

A personal loan with an APR rate of 100% will double in value each year if you have to take out a bad credit loan, take the smallest amount out possible for the shortest length of time. 

Check out our review of the best personal loan companies of 2020.

Best Credit Cards For A 540 To 549 Credit Score

If your credit score is around 540 then you will have a hard time getting a traditional unsecured credit card.

To qualify for a traditional unsecured credit card, you will need a credit score around 600.

Credit Card Credit Categories

Credit Score Range

Excellent

750 - 850

Good

660 - 749

Fair

600 - 659

Bad or Poor

300 - 599

If you want a credit card that you can use anywhere, you should consider getting a secured credit card

There is no credit check with a secured card, and you select the credit limit of the card by depositing the amount you want with the credit card company. 

They hold onto your deposit for a period or indefinitely, and in return, you are given a normal-looking credit card with a helpful Visa or MasterCard logo on it. 

No one will know that it is a secured credit card, and you will begin to build credit to improve your credit score. 

Can I Get A Home Mortgage With a 540 to 549 Credit Score?

Generally speaking, you will need at least a 580 credit score to qualify for a home mortgage loan

This is because most mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac and if you credit score is too low they won't be able to package them for investment. 

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Home Loans 540 VantageScore - 541 VantageScore - 542 VantageScore - 543 VantageScore - 544 VantageScore - 545 VantageScore - 546 VantageScore - 547 VantageScore - 548 VantageScore - 549 VantageScore

Remember the mortgage crisis in the 2000's? 

That was partially caused because they accepted people with much lower credit scores and didn't verify important things like applicants income. 

HOME MORTGAGE LOAN TYPE

MINIMUM CREDIT SCORE REQUIRED

Conventional

620+

FHA

580+

VA

620+

USDA

640+

However, with a credit score around 542, 544, 546, or 548, you may qualify for a personal installment loan if you have a stable job history with verifiable income and a low debt-to-income ratio

With interest rates so low right now, it makes sense to be looking to get a home mortgage even with a 541, 543, 545, or 547 credit score. 

Home APR rates are so low right now that over 50 million people in the U.S. stand to save tens of thousands of dollars if they were to refinance their home mortgage

Best Home Mortgage Loan Rates With A 540 - 549 Credit Score

Mortgage Loans By Credit Score

Rates By Credit Score

540 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan 

541 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

542 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

543 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

544 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

545 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

546 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

547 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

548 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

549 Credit Score Home Mortgage Loan

How To Improve My Credit Score?

I improved my credit score by almost 200 points in 90 days by purchasing the following credit-building tools. 

These tools will increase the key categories that will have the most significant effect on your credit history categories. 

#1: Apply for a Fingerhut Account

fingerhut logo

The first step I took was to apply for a Fingerhut Online Store Credit Card

Department store credit cards are an easy way to increase your revolving credit which accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score. 

Fingerhut credit cards are issued by WebBank and are known for giving unsecured credit to people with notoriously bad credit. 

Quick Note:


Your Fingerhut account won’t include an actual credit card because you can only use the credit to purchase items from their website.   

When I signed up for Fingerhut, I had a credit score of around 550, and they gave me a $1,000 credit. 

I have documented just about 100 points of credit score increase just from my Fingerhut account. 

One year later and I have a $2,900 credit limit, and all I do is make the minimum monthly payment, and they just keep giving me more credit. 

This is important because the more credit you have and do not use, the higher your credit score will increase. 

#2: Become an Authorized User

The second step I took was to be added as an authorized user to some of my family’s credit cards. 

You need to be careful when choosing which family members to ask because by being added as an authorized user, your credit history inherits the credit card credit history. 

The credit card you are added to must have a 100% positive credit history with no late payments or over the limit uses. 

Many people report that they have a hard time finding someone with a good credit card to be added as an authorized user. 

No problem, you can legally purchase an authorized user Tradeline online. 

To learn more, visit our Tradeline Supply Company Review.

Two other ways to quickly improve their credit score are by getting a Credit Builder Loan or having your Rent Reported to the three major credit bureaus. 

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Increase Your Credit by 100+ Points

In a recent study at Credit Knocks, we found that *48% of clients who used a credit repair company got a credit score increase of 100+ points.

Consultation is quick, easy, and free.

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