What does a 600 credit score mean and how does it impact your life? A credit score is a three-digit number that lenders and creditors use to evaluate how well you can manage debt. When you apply for a loan, the creditor will use your credit score to assess the likelihood you will repay the loan as agreed.
In Canada, the credit score range is between 300 and 900. A higher credit score will give a better chance of getting a loan with better rates. A 600 credit score is not the lowest score but there is room for improvement. In the ranking of credit scores, it falls into the category of “fair.” It’s not great, but it’s not terrible either. So what exactly does a 600 credit score mean in Canada?
Why is a credit score important?
Your credit score influences your everyday life. From the quality of loans you get to mortgages you qualify for, even to shopping at the grocery store. If you want financial freedom, maintaining a good credit score is one of the best ways to achieve it.
Let’s look at what a 600 credit score means in Canada, shall we?
What Does It Mean To Have A 600 Credit Score?
In Canada, there are two credit bureaus that calculate credit scores: Equifax and TransUnion. Sadly, they do not disclose the formula used to determine your score. They have, however, informed the public of specific data they use to calculate a credit score.
The criteria for calculating a credit score are:
- The age of your credit file
- Re-payment History
- Debt-to-Income Ratio
- Public Records
- Credit Inquiries
- 300-579: Poor
- 580-669: Fair
- 670-739: Good
- 740-799: Very good
- 800-850: Excellent
If your credit score is 600, you will not qualify for some loans, nor will you qualify for low interest rates. This is because lenders consider you to be a higher risk; more likely to mismanage your financial obligations. Generally, a 600 credit score will limit your options when you need to make some crucial financial decisions.
What A 600 Credit Score Cannot Get You
With a 600 credit score, there are many limitations on the loan terms and credit options available to you. Let’s consider purchasing a new car with a loan:
If your credit score is 600, you are considered a subprime borrower, which is bank-talk for less than ideal. Those with higher credit scores will have the edge over you. If you wish to take out a car loan, you may not be lucky enough to get it. If you do qualify, expect a high interest rate and stricter loan terms.
You may need to consider applying for the loan with a co-signer or purchasing a car second-hand. A co-signer can give you leverage and open you to up to better rates.
Going down this route, however, is risky for both you and your co-signer. You will both be legally responsible for the debt and it will report on both your credit files. If one person mismanages the loan it will hurt both your credit scores.
A 600 credit score will also prevent you from qualifying for a standard credit card. You will have to settle for other options like prepaid cards, or credit cards designed for credit-challenged folks. Therefore, you need to level up and improve your credit score to get these things.
What Can A 600 Credit Score Get You In Canada?
It’s not really a surprise that a 600 credit score is considered fair — a step above poor — and will limit the financial options made available to you. Nevertheless, despite a fair credit score, some great options are still available to you. They include:
#1. Store / Retail Credit Cards
Have you ever visited a store and seen someone shopping with a special card bearing the company name or logo? These retail shops issue these cards as a form of incentive to their faithful customers.
You don’t need a strong credit score to get this card, unlike most regular credit cards. One major difference between retail credit cards and regular credit cards is that you can only make purchases in a specific store with a retail credit card, but that’s not always the case.
With a regular credit card, it can be used anywhere and for any purchase. In addition, holders of retail cards enjoy many incentives and discounts from the issuing stores. There are several stores in Canada that issue retail cards to their loyal customers.
#2. Secured Credit Cards
Secured credit cards are those credit cards that require an upfront cash deposit as collateral in order to qualify. Upon opening the account, you will need to make a deposit. The card issuers can keep this money if you ever default on your account.
Over time, secured credit cards have helped people improve their credit scores, clear their debts, and become financially independent.
Read More: The 8 Best Secured Credit Cards in Canada
#3. Student Cards
Are you a student who wants to build a good credit score? Then this card option is for you. A student credit card has more relaxed requirements to qualify than a regular credit card.
Many student credit cards in Canada offer rewards on purchases too. Typically, they have no annual fee attached, thus making budgeting and repayment easier for you.
However, student cards might place more limitations and restrictions on your account, like a much lower credit limit. In the long run, it keeps you debt-free.
#4. Prepaid Cards
Prepaid cards offer benefits like a cash-back policy and amazing discounts. Setting up a direct deposit for your account qualifies you for even more bonuses than a regular account. One of the best prepaid cards available in Canada with the best discounts is the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard.
#5. Apartment Loans
Qualifying for an apartment won’t be a challenge for you, even with a credit score as low as 600. Landlords will likely still rent out their property to you with the belief that there will be an increase in your credit score in the near future. However, you might not qualify for bigger homes, limiting you to apartments and condos.
Can I Get a Home with a Credit Score of 600?
The Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, CMHC, increased the minimum credit score for insured mortgages from 600-660. Therefore, getting an insured mortgage may be out of reach for a 600 credit score.
This doesn’t mean that if you have a 600 credit score, you do not have access to mortgages. On the contrary, mortgage loans are often available to first-time home buyers and repeat borrowers with 600 credit scores or even less.
Even though these programs are available to individuals with a low credit score, they have still requirements you should meet. Some of those requirements are:
- Verified source of income
- Good credit history
- Low debt-to-income ratio
Ways to Level Up From a 600 Credit Score
If you have difficulty getting your loan approved because of a low credit score, you know you need to level up fast. Your low credit score is no doubt holding you back from amazing opportunities. Improving your credit score requires constant diligence to improve in areas where you fall short.
Here are some steps to help you boost your credit score:
#1. Increase Your Credit Limit
You can contact your financial institution to help increase the limit on your account. But you shouldn’t increase how much you spend. Boosting your credit score by increasing your credit limit only works if you maintain the same balance owing, but with access to more money. This will lower your credit utilization ratio, how much you owe vs. how much can borrow, which improves your credit score.
#2. Pay Your Bills On Time
If your loan payments are late or you miss them altogether, that hurts your credit score the most. It is a sign that you are not financially responsible because you do not honour the legally-binding loan contract between you and the lender. Stay on top of the due date for your bills and always pay them on time. This will reflect on your payment history and improve your credit score.
#3. Reduce Your Credit Utilization Ratio
Your credit utilization ratio reveals how much of your available credit you have already used vs how much credit you still have access to. An ideal credit utilization ratio should be 30% and below. Anything above is high and will adversely affect your credit score.
To reduce your credit utilization ratio, you can either reduce the balance owing on your credit card by paying it down or increase your credit card limit. Ideally, you should do both if you can. For instance, if your credit limit is $4,000, your balance owing should never be more than $1,200. This will help keep your utilization ratio in check.
#4. Get a Secured Credit Card
As discussed earlier, a secure credit card with a cash deposit will serve as collateral in case of any default. You can use a secured card to improve your credit score by using a small percentage of your credit limit and paying the full balance off as soon as your statement arrives.
#5. Keep Tabs On Your Profile
Sometimes you may have an inaccurate credit score because of errors on your credit file. To avoid this, check your credit file often to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date. You can dispute errors on both your Equifax and TransUnion credit files.
You can even go further by visiting your financial institution’s site and monitoring your account’s progress. If you’re diligent at this, you will be surprised at the number of errors you can point out.
Frequently Asked Questions About a 600 Credit Score
From the ratings given by TransUnion and Equifax, 600 is just a little below the average Canadian credit score. Though, this credit score might deprive you of some financial products, but there are others that you can still access with a 600 credit score.
Conscious efforts can improve your credit score to enjoy more financial benefits. Credit scores between 670 – 739 fall in the category of ‘good’ credit scores.
One would have to improve their borrowing habits to go from a 600 credit score to a 700 credit score. It requires diligent effort and responsible financial decisions like making on-time payments, keeping old accounts open, and limiting how often you apply for new credit products.
Yes, you can. Although, you will need to satisfy other requirements. For starters, you might need a co-signer that will stand in for you in case of any payment default. You may also need to make a large down payment in order to be approved.
Yes, you can get a car with a 600 credit score. However, you might need to provide a co-signer and/or collateral to qualify. If you are not up for that, you can go for a second-hand vehicle from a car dealer or through a private sale. Used cars are cheaper to purchase and would not require a big loan.
You should not feel downcast if you check your credit score and discover that it is only 600. Rather, strive to improve your score because it is possible and not hard to do. Your credit score is the bedrock for the majority of your financial needs and milestones.
Take note of the above steps and apply them accordingly. Doing so will see you making outstanding financial decisions in no time. You will also see a significant increase in your credit score and enjoy the benefits of having a strong credit file.
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