We tend to hear a lot about the ideal credit score, but what’s the lowest credit score? While we don’t encourage underachieving, it’s actually important to know about the lowest score to understand the risks of having less than stellar credit.

What is the lowest credit score?

The lowest possible credit score can vary slightly depending on the credit scoring model used. The most widely recognized credit scoring model is the FICO score. According to FICO, the lowest score is 300. This score indicates an extremely poor credit history, with numerous missed payments, significant debt, bankruptcies, and defaults.

A credit score of 300 is an indication of severe credit issues. With such a low score, individuals may find it very hard to qualify for new credit accounts, loans, or favorable interest rates. Lenders are likely to view applicants with a score of 300 as high-risk borrowers, making it tough to secure credit or financial services.

Reaching the lowest score of 300 is not something that happens overnight. It’s usually the result of a long history of financial mismanagement, including consistent late payments, defaults on loans, collections, and possibly even legal actions such as bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Here’s a closer look at some of the key things that can contribute to a credit score as low as 300:

1. Multiple late payments

Consistently missing payments on credit cards, loans, or bills can significantly damage your credit score.

2. High credit card balances

Carrying high balances on your credit cards relative to your credit limits (high credit utilization) can harm your credit score.

3. Collections and charge-offs

When creditors give up on collecting a debt, it may be sent to collections or charged off, and both of those things negatively impact your credit.

4. Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy, whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, can lead to a severe drop in your credit score.

5. Foreclosure

Losing your home due to foreclosure will have a lasting negative impact on your credit.

6. Tax liens

Unpaid tax liens can damage your credit score significantly.

How to improve your score

Having a credit score of 300 is a challenging situation for sure, but it’s not the end of the road. With time, discipline, and financial responsibility, you can improve your credit score. Here are some steps to take.

1. Use Brigit’s Credit Builder

Brigit’s Credit Builder* is a useful tool that can help you build your credit when you contribute as little as $1 per month.

2. Pay your bills on time

Consistently making on-time payments is one of the most effective ways to rebuild your credit.

3. Reduce credit card balances

Pay down high credit card balances to lower your credit utilization ratio.

4. Negotiate with creditors

If you have accounts in collections, consider negotiating with creditors to settle the debt or establish a payment plan.

5. Seek professional help

Credit counseling services and financial advisors can provide guidance on managing debt and improving your financial situation.

The bottom line

The lowest score on the FICO scale is 300, indicating severe credit issues resulting from a history of financial mismanagement. While such a low score presents significant challenges, it’s possible to rebuild your credit over time with responsible financial practices and a commitment to improving your creditworthiness.

*Impact to score may vary. Some users’ scores may not improve. Results will depend on many factors, including on-time payment history, the status of non-Brigit accounts, and financial history. Results show that customers with a starting credit score of 600 or below were more likely to see positive score change results. A Brigit subscription is required. Credit Builder loans are not available in all states.

The Brigit Credit Builder is a service provided by Brigit and its bank partner, Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC. The Brigit Credit Builder product is separate from the Brigit Instant Cash Advance service. Brigit Credit Builder installment loans are issued by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, subject to approved underwriting practices.