Paying your credit card early: Does it help your score?

Couple looking at finances together.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Paying your credit card early can raise your credit score. After your statement closes, your credit card issuer reports your balance to the credit bureaus. Paying your bill ahead of time lowers your overall balance, so the bureaus will see you using less credit in total. Since utilization makes up around one-third of your credit score, paying your card early can have a positive overall effect. 

However, paying your credit card bill early may work differently if you carry a balance on your card each month. Instead of paying your next statement early, you’re actually making an extra payment on your previous balance. Therefore, you’ll likely still need to pay the minimum amount on your next statement, or your payment could be considered late.

In most cases, paying your credit card bill early is a good idea—and it can have a positive impact on your score. 

Read on to learn more about how paying your card early affects your score. 

How paying your credit card bill early can help your credit score

Paying your credit card bill early may increase your credit score, since the overall debt that gets reported to the credit bureaus is likely to be lower. 

To understand how paying a bill early could raise your score, you need to understand two things: the factors that make up your score and how your credit issuer reports to the credit bureaus. 

How paying early could raise your score

Your score is calculated based on several factors, and two of them are relevant to paying your bill early: credit utilization and payment history. 

  • Payment history makes up around 35 percent of your score, and simply put, paying your bill early means that you aren’t paying it late. Late payments can have a major negative effect on your score, so paying your bill on time or early will help boost your score.
  • Credit utilization accounts for around 30 percent of your score, and it represents how much of your available credit you’re actually using. As a general rule, you should aim to use one-third of your credit or less. For example, if you have a total credit limit of $9,000, you’d want to keep your balance below $3,000.

The credit bureaus—TransUnion®, Experian® and Equifax®—are responsible for keeping track of your credit history. They receive all of their information from lenders, like the financial institution that issued your credit card. 

After your monthly statement is issued with your balance, you have a grace period before the payment is due—typically around 21 days. During that time, your credit card provider will report your balance to the credit bureaus. If you pay your balance before your statement closes, the total listed balance will be lower, so the credit bureaus will see your overall utilization as lower, which could increase your score.

That said, your particular situation may change how early payments work, so you’ll want to make sure you understand your billing cycle and balance before making early payments.

Is it ever bad to pay your credit card early?

While it is never bad to pay your credit card bill early, the benefits you receive from doing so may vary depending on your circumstances.

For example, if you carry a balance on your credit card every month, you may need to adjust how you handle early payments. While it is a myth that carrying a balance on your card improves your score, there are reasons you may have lingering credit card debt nonetheless.

Early payments work differently if your credit card has a balance.

If you do carry a balance on your card each month, keep the following in mind:

  • Your early payment may not count as your minimum payment. If you have a balance from a previous month, you can’t make an “early” payment toward your next statement. Instead, you’re making an extra payment, so you’ll still need to make a minimum payment after your new statement is issued.
  • You may not save money on interest and fees by making an early payment. Depending on how your credit card issuer calculates finance charges on your previous balance, your early payment may not reduce your interest or fees by much or at all. For example, if you’re charged based on average daily balance, simply paying at the end of the month may not help much.

All that said, it’s still usually a good idea to pay down your credit card debt if you have the funds available to do so. You may not see an immediate score increase if you have a substantial balance, but over time, you’ll build the financial habits that can help you eliminate debt and begin making on-time—or early—payments consistently. 

When is the best time to pay your credit card? 

The best time to pay your credit card bill is before the payment is late. While you may benefit from paying your bill early, you’ll definitely see negative effects if you pay your bill late. 

Paying early keeps your payment history intact and may help lower your overall utilization, while paying your bill more than 30 days late will likely lead to a negative item on your credit report. And if you neglect to pay long enough, your account could get sent to collections. 

If you do start paying your credit card bill early, you’ll want to begin checking your credit report regularly to see how your balance is being reported to the credit bureaus. Over time, you should see your utilization drop and your credit score increase.

While sifting through your credit report, it’s important to keep an eye out for inaccurate information like fraudulent accounts, incorrect negative items or factual mistakes. Any of these inaccurate items could be lowering your credit score. Fortunately, it’s possible to dispute these items on your report and repair your credit score. 

Reviewed by Horacio Celaya, Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Horacio Celaya was born in Tucson, Arizona but eventually moved with his family to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. Mr. Celaya went on to graduate with Honors from the Autonomous University of Baja California Law School. Mr. Celaya is a graduate of the University of Arizona where he graduated from James E. Rogers College of Law. During law school, Mr. Celaya received his certificate in International Trade Law, completing his thesis on United States foreign direct investment in Latin America. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Celaya has worked in an immigration firm where he helped foreign investors organize their assets in order to apply for investment-based visas. He also has extensive experience in debt settlement negotiations on behalf of clients looking to achieve debt relief. Mr. Celaya is licensed to practice law in New Mexico. He is located in the Phoenix office. 

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.


What Credit Score Is Needed For A Us Bank Platinum Visa?

Are you thinking about applying for the US Bank Platinum Visa?

The minimum recommended credit score for this credit card is 750.

US Bank Platinum card

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved for US Bank Platinum Visa

Getting approved for a credit card requires a little planning. Most credit card offers require very good credit. When applying for new credit, it’s important to know your credit scores and what’s on your credit reports.

Credit card issuers want to see a strong credit history, steady income, and low credit utilization. If you’re using too much of your existing revolving credit, it’s a sign that you may not pay them back. It’s also important to make sure that you haven’t applied for too much credit in the recent past. Having too many credit inquiries can lessen your chances of getting approved.

Need help improving your credit score?

One of the best ways to improve your credit scores is by removing negative items from your credit report. Lexington Law can help you dispute (and possibly remove) the following items:

  • late payments
  • collections
  • charge offs
  • foreclosures
  • repossessions
  • judgments
  • liens
  • bankruptcies

They have over 28 years of experience and have removed over 7 million negative items for their clients in 2020 alone. So if you’re struggling with bad credit and want to increase the likelihood of getting approved for new credit, give them a call at (800) 220-0084 for a free credit consultation.

Does Having a Credit Card Balance Hurt Your Credit Score?

Follow these hints from people with credit scores above 800:
Finally, don’t worry too much about small fluctuations in your credit score. Your score can vary from month to month based on the balance you have at the time your creditor reports to the bureaus. Fluctuations are completely normal. Focus on making on-time payments and keeping your balances low, and you’ll build a healthy credit score.

How Your Credit Card Balance Affects Your Credit Score

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

  • Payment history (35%)
  • Credit utilization (30%)
  • Average age of credit (15%)
  • Credit mix (10%)
  • Hard inquiries and new credit (10%)

That said, you shouldn’t worry about a balance showing up on your credit report. As long as your balances — both overall and on each individual card — stay below 30%, you’ll be able to build good credit.
There are five things that determine your credit score. These credit score factors break down as follows:
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Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. If you’re regularly using credit, a balance will probably show up on your credit report. That’s because you don’t control when your credit card company reports activity to the bureaus.
If your credit utilization ratio is 0% because you never use your credit cards, your score could suffer. When you’re not making regular credit purchases and you don’t have outstanding loans, you aren’t generating activity that’s reported to the credit bureaus. That’s harmful because payment history is even more important than your credit utilization.
You probably know that paying down debt is good for your credit score. But there’s a persistent myth about credit card balances and credit scores. Some people say that carrying a small balance from month to month somehow helps your credit score.

Should You Carry a Credit Card Balance?

That doesn’t mean the average person with a perfect score is carrying a 5.8% balance from month to month. When your creditor reports to the bureaus, they’re simply providing a snapshot of your account at that given moment. Even if you pay off your balance in full each month, it’s likely that your account will show that you’re using up part of your open credit.
There’s no benefit to your credit score when you don’t pay off your balance in full. You’ll also pay unnecessary interest, unless you’re taking advantage of a temporary interest-free window.
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  • Make every payment on time. The No. 1 habit of people with exceptional credit scores is that they never miss payments. One late payment will stay on your credit report for seven years.
  • Always keep your utilization below 10%. Most members of the 800 club pay off their balances in full each month, but many say they never let their balances climb above 10%.
  • Keep your oldest card open. As you build good credit, you typically qualify for better credit card rewards. But people with top-notch credit keep those old cards open and use them for a small monthly purchase. Credit scoring models favor customers who have long-term relationships with their cards.

The idea that carrying a balance helps your credit score is totally false. Read on to learn the facts about how your balance affects your credit score.

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For example, suppose you have a ,000 limit and a zero balance. Then you make a 0 purchase. If your creditor then reports to the bureau, you’ll have a 2% credit utilization ratio (,000/0 = 2%), even if the bill hasn’t come due yet.

If a Debt Is Not on My Credit Report, Do I Have to Pay It?

Not all debts show up on your credit report, BUT that doesn’t mean you don’t owe them. Creditors aren’t under any obligation to report unpaid debts to the credit bureaus. They can if they want, but they aren’t required to do so.

What does this mean for you?

Can a creditor, or collection agency harass you for payment if the debt isn’t on your credit report?

They can. Here’s why.

couple on computer

What does it mean when a debt isn’t on my credit report?

You can borrow money for instance personal loans or student loans and not have it show up on your credit report. Even some mortgage lenders don’t report the debt to the credit bureaus. Most private creditors don’t report to the credit bureaus – it’s another expense they don’t want to take on, but that doesn’t mean you don’t owe the debt.

It also doesn’t mean the debt won’t show up on your credit report if you don’t pay it.

Say, for example, you decide you aren’t going to make your loan payment because times are tough and you know they don’t report to the credit bureaus. If you go long enough without paying the debt, the lender could send your account to a collection agency.

If that collection agency reports debts to the credit bureaus, suddenly the debt shows up on your credit report in the worst way possible – as a collection.  This would have a negative impact on your credit history and lower your credit scores.

Do collection accounts always appear on a credit report?

Collection accounts don’t always appear on a credit report. Some collection agencies don’t report right away. If they’re able to secure the payment from you without reporting it to the credit bureaus, it increases their profits, so some wait.

But, if you don’t pay the debt, the collection agency may try to leverage your payment by reporting to the credit bureaus.

The minute a debt collection agency reports your debt to the credit bureaus, it hurts your credit score and chances of securing new credit. This may make you more likely to make good on your debt.

Even if a debt appears on your credit report, don’t automatically pay it without looking into it, as it might be an incorrect debt. Make sure all information is accurate on the account. Does the collection agency have the right to collect in your state? Do they have all the right information? Does the account belong to you?

If anything they reported is unfair or inaccurate, you have the right (by law) to dispute it. Before you pay the debt, try getting it removed from your credit report. You’ll still need to negotiate with the debt collector and come up with a payment plan unless you can prove the debt doesn’t belong to you at all. If it does, though, you may be able to work out a payment arrangement.

If you have inaccurate or incomplete collection accounts on your credit report, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the power to dispute this information directly with the credit bureaus or creditor. 

What if the original account is on your credit report?

Sometimes you can get hit twice with the same debt. If you defaulted on a debt with a creditor that reports debts to the credit bureaus and then they sold it to a collection agency that reports to the credit bureaus, you’d see the debt twice.

Not only will you see the debt twice, but so will anyone that pulls your credit. This means they’ll see that not only did you have late payments with the original creditor, but you got so behind that they sent it to a collection agency.

Your original creditor may show the account as ‘charged off’ or something similar. This shows that you didn’t live up to the agreement you made and still owe the debt, but the creditor sold it off to someone else to handle.

If you’ve reviewed your credit reports and neither the original account nor the collection account is appearing, gather as much information as you can from the collection agency and the original lender to help you determine if you owe the money.

See also: Should I Pay the Debt Collector or Original Creditor?

How long does a collection stay on your credit report?

If the creditor sent your account to collections, it could remain on your credit report for seven years. The clock starts from the original date you were delinquent. This means the original debt and the collection can sit there for seven years.

Even if the collection agency doesn’t report the debt to the credit bureaus right away, hoping you’ll pay it, the clock starts on the original date of delinquency. 

What can you do about a collection that’s not on your credit report?

You may wonder what you can do about a collection that’s not on your credit report.

Should you pay it or ignore it?

Will it hurt you in the long run if you don’t pay it?

These are all valid questions, but the bottom line is that you must satisfy the issue. This may or may not mean paying it. First, you have to get down to the bottom of the issue.

Get the Debt Validated

Determine if the debt is valid. If it’s not reporting on your credit report, you’ll have more sleuthing to do. You must determine where the account originated – who was the original creditor? If the collection has been sold multiple times, you may have to do a little more digging. Sometimes collection agencies only hold onto a debt for a few months before they sell it to someone else.

Once you finally get account information, compare your findings. Look at original account numbers, delinquency dates, balance due, and the name of the original creditor. If something doesn’t match, ask questions.

You can write to the debt collector and ask them to prove where the account originated, the account number, and any other information you want to be verified. They must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you owe the debt to them. 

If they prove it, you’ll need to pay it or at least work out a payment arrangement. Collection agencies are often willing to negotiate too. Most collection agencies buy debts for pennies on the dollar. They then try to collect the full amount from you – this is how they make a profit.

Negotiate with the Debt Collector

But, this leaves room for you to negotiate a lower amount. When you negotiate with debt collectors, start with a lower amount, assuming the collection agency will negotiate – they usually do. Eventually, you’ll land on a number you both agree on, but make sure you get it in writing.

You can also simply ask the debt collector or original collector to remove the collection. This usually involves sending the debt collector or collection agency a goodwill deletion letter explaining your mistake, asking for its forgiveness, and showing them how your payment history has improved. 

If you choose not to pay the debt, be aware that the collector can continue to pursue you for the debt indefinitely – that means calling, sending letters, or suing you for debts still in the statute of limitations – even if it’s not on your credit report. 

Take These Steps Before Paying A Collection

Whether your collection is on your credit report or not, always take these steps to protect yourself.

  • Make sure the account belongs to you. Do as much research as you can to make sure the collection is legitimate, especially if it’s not on your credit report.
  • Negotiate a lower amount; never pay the full amount. But ensure that the collection agency will mark the account ‘paid as agreed.’
  • Get all agreements in writing. This is very important if the collection agency reports the debt to the credit bureaus. If they agree to remove the debt from your credit report after you pay it and they don’t, you can dispute the debt with the credit bureau with your proof.
  • Check your credit 30 days after paying the debt. Make sure the collection agency held up their end of the deal.

Final Thoughts

Do you think, ‘if a debt isn’t on my credit report, I don’t have to pay it’?

Don’t fall for it, because chances are you still have to pay for it. Any unpaid debt is owed, whether it’s on your credit report or not. If a creditor or collection agency can prove the debt belongs to you and let it go unpaid for too long, they can sue you. It’s unlikely, but it does happen.

Don’t rely on your credit report for 100% accuracy. If you have debts not reported to the credit bureaus, you still owe them, and if you default, there will be consequences. If you’ve fallen behind and can’t catch up, talk to your creditors about options, they have to avoid your account getting sent to collections. 

If debt collectors are sent to try and reclaim a debt, you can follow our guide so you’re fully aware of your rights and the ways to proceed. 


How to Choose a Credit Card, the Right Way (Step by Step)

Credit card issuers often extend credit line increases to account holders who keep their card usage low and make monthly payments consistently.
Did you get approved? Congratulations! Be sure to take care of your new account by keeping your usage no more than 30% of your credit limit — if you do that, you may qualify for a line increase down the road.

1. See Where Your Credit Score Stands

With secured cards, you pay for credit. You put up a security deposit, usually at least 0, and then a credit card issuer extends you the same amount in credit. This route lets you prove you’re worthy of more credit, and the lender has nothing to lose if you don’t pay your bill.
Your score doesn’t have to be perfect to land a good credit card. But you’ll at least need a score in the good range to qualify for the top credit cards with the most sought-after perks.

Don’t Stop at Checking Your Score

It’s another possible tiebreaker. Welcome offers are perks you get just for signing up. It could be a statement credit worth hundreds or dollars, or enough miles to pay for a domestic flight. Read through your options.
If you aren’t approved, you should receive a written explanation in an email within a few business days or by mail, within a couple of weeks.
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Don’t Be Discouraged by a Poor Score

Use balance-transfer credit cards to pay off other credit card debt faster or to pay off a big purchase before the card’s normal balance-transfer rates and other fees kick in.
In case you ever need to get your hands on some cash in a hurry, and you don’t have enough on hand, you’ll need to know how much your credit card will charge you for borrowing cash. These are usually comparable to ATM fees, but some can be much more expensive.
The interest rates may be higher than average, and the credit lines may be modest, but cards intended to help build credit give account holders the opportunity to prove their creditworthiness.

2. Determine the Type of Card You Want

You can earn miles to pay for airfare when you use airline rewards credit cards. You can get cash back on dining out with a dining card, or on gas with a gas card, and so on. You’ll need a score that’s at least in the fair-to-good range to qualify for this type of card.

Credit-Building Cards

This maintenance fee is charged every 12 months on many credit cards, but not every credit card will have one. They can range from about to well over 0. However, you’ll come across many card offers that don’t include an annual fee for a set amount of time or include no fee at all.
Don’t abandon the idea of a credit card if your score is fair or even poor. A secured credit card could serve as the bridge needed to get you from being denied to approved.
Like to travel? Want peace of mind when you do? Be sure to review any potential card’s foreign transaction fee. It’s sort of like a cash-advance fee or ATM charge for making purchases in another country, and they can quickly pile up if you aren’t careful.

Low-Interest Cards

After you’ve learned how to choose a credit card, reviewed your credit report and selected a few finalists, it’s time to apply for a credit card.
Keep in mind: applying for credit cards requires a hard inquiry into your credit report, which could cause your credit rating to take a mild or moderate temporary hit.

Balance-Transfer Cards

There are credit cards for every type of financial situation. While the number of credit cards out there may seem overwhelming and hard to count, they all broadly fall into five categories: credit-building, low-interest, balance-transfer, rewards and business.
Once you’ve figured out which type of credit card you want, and you know what you might qualify for, it’s time to compare your top choices head-to-head. And to do that, you’ll need to compare these key credit card features:

Rewards Cards

These cards offer low-interest rates and may not charge you an annual fee, but only for an introductory period that’s usually 12 to 48 months long.

3. Compare the Best Matches

Who doesn’t love to rack up loyalty points or earn cash rewards? A rewards credit card can help you do just that.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

Use a reputable site like Credit Sesame to review options and apply, or go to the credit card on the company’s website. If you’re approved, you should get a response in a few minutes to a few hours.

Balance-Transfer Fees

Typically requiring a credit score in the good-to-excellent range, low-interest cards are great for the long haul.

Late Fees

Check your credit history to see what accounts are impacting your score — and to make sure there are no errors hurting your credit profile. If there is a mistake, you can dispute it and potentially have your score corrected.


While you should always aim to pay your credit card bill on time, it’s still important to know how much dirt you’ll get shoveled with if you fall behind on payments. Beware, and don’t get buried in debt.

Sign-Up Bonuses

They offer highly competitive interest rates, potentially saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars when compared to cards with higher interest rates.

Annual Fees

These include the secured credit card mentioned above, as well as those intended for students and individuals who, for better or worse, haven’t established their credit yet.

Cash-Advance Fees

This is the amount of interest you’ll pay on any balance on your card. The average APR in 2021 is around 16%, though rates could be as low as half of that figure or double (as high as 36%), depending on your credit profile.


Not every credit card will report your on-time payment to the three major credit bureaus.

Foreign-Transaction Fees

With enough on-time payments, you could get a credit limit and eventually be pre-approved for standard credit cards (more on secured credit cards in the next section).

4. Apply for Your New Credit Card

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Even if there are no mistakes on your report, you may find opportunities to improve your credit score with a service like Credit Sesame.
When choosing a credit card, you want one that suits your needs.
It’s a good idea for everyone to see what’s on their credit report. If your score isn’t in the excellent range, you’ll certainly need to make sure it’s accurate. <!–


It can feel overwhelming at first, but it gets easier once you take a look at your credit profile to get a bird’s-eye view of your current financial situation.  Here, we’ll help you learn how to choose a credit card — we’ll highlight the key features to look out for, so you can find a credit card that feels like it was tailored to you.

In 2 Minutes, Credit Sesame Can Help Improve Your Chances of Getting a Home in This Market

If you’ve been trying to buy a house in this chaotic pandemic housing market, you know you could lose an opportunity from right under your feet in an instant.
But there’s one thing that you do have control over — and that’s making sure you get approved for a mortgage, at a rate you can afford. Home sellers want to sell to someone who won’t give them any trouble during the closing process — and having a pre-approval for a mortgage loan is a great selling point. But without a good credit score, you might not stand a chance.
And with a poor credit score, you might not get a pre-approval at all — meaning just putting an offer on a home is out of the question.

A Bad Credit Score Can Deny You a Pre-Approval — Or Cost You Thousands

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Ready to stop worrying about money?
A higher interest rate on your mortgage could cost you tens of thousands of dollars more over the life of your loan. In just 90 seconds, Credit Sesame will show you your free credit score, plus what’s impacting it. It’ll even tell you if there are any mistakes on your credit report — one in five people have one, according to the FTC. Then, they’ll give you customized advice to get your credit score back on track, which could make you more appealing to lenders — and home sellers.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
The market is as competitive as we’ve ever seen it, and cash buyers are snatching up houses left and right. Bidding wars start within hours of a house being listed, and it’s not uncommon to see people offering ,000 over asking price. Some things are just out of your control.
Make sure your dreams of homeownership don’t get squashed by bad credit. Get your free credit score here (it only takes about 90 seconds) and see how much you could improve your score. You could be that much closer to getting the keys to your new home.
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60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

Credit score needed for the Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of today’s top cash back credit cards – and for good reason. The card offers 1% cash back on every purchase, plus another 1% cash back when you pay off your purchases.

“As a busy dog mom with a job and too many hobbies, I love that I can use my card anywhere without having to stop and plan how to get the best rewards rate,” personal finance writer Meredith Hoffman says, explaining why the Citi Double Cash card is the best card in her wallet. “In my first year with the Double Cash card, I earned $187 in cash back on everything from hair appointments to grocery shopping and gas.”

If you’re thinking about applying for the Citi Double Cash card, you’re probably wondering what credit score is needed for your card application to be successful. In most cases, having a good credit score means taking the time to build good or excellent credit before applying – although even people with excellent credit can have their applications denied, depending on how they’ve used credit in the past and how much new credit they’ve applied for recently.

Want to take advantage of all the benefits the Citi Double Cash Card has to offer? Here’s what you need to know before applying.

What credit score do I need to get the Citi Double Cash?

While there’s no credit score range that guarantees your chances for approval, our research indicates that you’ll be most likely to be approved for the Citi Double Cash card if your credit score is good, very good or excellent.

What does it mean to have good or excellent credit? If you’re using the FICO credit scoring model, you’re going to want a credit score between 670 and 850. If you’re using the VantageScore model, your credit score should be between 700 and 850. Here’s a quick rundown of how each credit scoring model tracks credit ranges:

Credit Score Ranges FICO VantageScore
Credit rating Score range Credit rating Score range
Exceptional 800–850 Excellent 781–850
Very good 740–799 Good 661–780
Good 670–739 Fair 601–660
Fair 580–669 Poor 500–600
Very poor 300–579 Very poor 300–499

How can I improve my score to get this card?

If you don’t have a good enough credit score for the Citi Double Cash card, here are some tips to help you improve your credit score quickly:

Make on-time payments, every time

The single best way to boost your credit score is by making on-time payments – every time – on existing credit lines.

Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO credit score, making it the most important factor in your credit file. If you have missed payments on your record, it’s time to change your bill-paying habits to ensure that all future payments go out on time.

Some people use credit card autopay to keep them from missing payments. Other people set up mobile alerts to remind them when their credit card bill is due.

If you want to improve your credit, you need to build a history of on-time payments. Even if you can only make the minimum payment, make sure it goes out on time.

Pay down old debt

Ready for a second step to help you get the credit score needed for the Citi Double Cash card? Pay off any existing credit card debt.

Under the FICO scoring model, your credit utilization ratio makes up 30% of your credit score, making it the second-most important credit scoring factor after your payment history.

Your credit utilization ratio is determined by comparing your available credit to your current debt. The best way to lower your credit utilization ratio and improve your credit score is by paying off your credit card balances.

However, you can also lower your credit utilization ratio by opening a new credit card and increasing the total amount of credit available to you. Some people use balance transfer credit cards as a way to take advantage of both credit-boosting opportunities at the same time, increasing their available credit and paying off old balances simultaneously.

Check your credit report

Here’s one more way to improve your credit score for the Citi Double Cash card: Check your credit report for errors. Many people don’t realize that mistakes on their credit report can lower their credit score – and that taking a few minutes to review your credit report and dispute any errors is an easy way to improve your credit score quickly.

What can I do if Citi declines my application?

If Citi declines your application for the Citi Double Cash credit card, you have a few options. First, you can build your credit score and re-apply for the Citi Double Cash card once you have established good or excellent credit.

You may also want to consider applying for a different Citi credit card, especially if you want to take advantage of Citi credit card benefits like the ability to earn ThankYou points on every purchase.

If you’re thinking about using a balance transfer credit card to pay off old debt and boost your credit score, the Citi Simplicity® Card offers 12 months of 0% intro APR on purchases and 21 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers completed within the first four months (after intro period, regular 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR applies). This gives you over a year to pay off transferred balances before they start to accrue interest – and plenty of time to work on building your credit score.

What if you’ve already built the credit score needed for the Citi Double Cash and Citi still declines your application? Believe it or not, you can be denied for a credit card even with excellent credit – and in many cases, it has to do with other application factors such as income level, current credit card balances and the number of credit cards you’ve opened in the past.

Credit card issuers are less likely to approve people who churn new accounts for their sign-up bonuses, for example – and Citi, like many credit issuers, has application restrictions designed to prevent people from taking out too many new credit cards at once. If you’re turned down for these reasons, you may just need to give it some time before successfully applying for a new card.

Final thoughts

What credit score is needed for the Citi Double Cash Card? In most cases, having a good or excellent credit score will make you a prime candidate for approval.

If you want to test your approval odds before applying, try using a service like CardMatch™ to check for prequalified credit card matches and personalized offers. Otherwise, try building your credit until you have a FICO credit score between 670 and 850 – because our research indicates that’s the best credit score range for the Citi Double Cash Card.


How to Find The Best Renters for Your Apartment Community

Following this step-by-step guide will help ensure you find the best tenants for your rental property.

Finding good renters is something many property owners wonder about, especially if they’re new to owning apartments or other rental property. Choosing the best renters is crucial to your success as a property owner, but it can also be challenging. Finding a tenant requires careful screening and due diligence on your part.

What really makes a great renter? Someone who pays their rent on time each month ensures that you have a steady stream of money coming in. But cash flow isn’t everything. You also want someone who will take care of the property, communicate with you, follow all of the lease provisions and stick around for as long as possible.

The average tenant lives in a rental unit for just over two years. So, creating a streamlined process for advertising your rental and finding, screening and selecting tenants will save you time when a tenant moves out and help you rent the unit to someone else more quickly.

These 11 steps for how to find renters for your apartment community will help.

1. Get familiar with local tenant laws

Landlord-tenant laws vary widely by state and even sometimes by city and county. The laws often specify property requirements and the responsibilities of the property owner. Before you start advertising your rental and looking for tenants, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with local rules and regulations.

Additionally, you must follow the federal Fair Housing Act, which protects people from discrimination when renting a home. The law prohibits discrimination in housing based on the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status (for example, people with children or single parents)
  • Disability

2. Consider hiring a property manager

If you’re new to owning rental property, hiring a property manager may be a worthwhile investment. Property managers are experienced in the local real estate market and know how to find renters quickly and effectively. They advertise the property, show it to potential tenants, review applications, screen tenants and get leases signed.

Once a tenant moves in, a property manager will take care of the day-to-day aspects of the rental, including coordinating repairs and answering questions. Property managers typically charge between 5 percent and 10 percent of the monthly rent, according to HomeAdvisor. But it might be worth it if it will save you time and a few headaches.

3. Create a detailed rental ad

Writing a detailed, unique ad for the rental attracts attention and helps find tenants quickly. Make sure your advertisement includes:

  • A description of the property
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Details about property amenities like a pool or playground
  • Rent price
  • The date it is available
  • Your contact information
  • Several accurate, high-quality photos of the home

Be sure that your ad follows all local landlord-tenant laws and the Fair Housing Act. The law prohibits ads that suggest a preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.

Determining rental price

Determining rental price

4. Price the rental competitively

Deciding how much to charge for rent can be challenging, especially as the real estate market remains in flux. The average rent for an apartment is up about 20 percent over the past year, according to Apartment Guide.

Just because rent prices are going up doesn’t mean you can or should charge exorbitant prices. Pricing the rental property competitively is the best way to find renters. It’s a good idea to check out similar properties in your area and align your rent prices with them.

5. Advertise your property in multiple ways

Placing a “for rent” sign in front of the property is a great way to let passersby know it’s available. But, when it comes to finding renters, it may not capture everyone who’s looking for a home in the area. The truth is most renters start their search online. Advertising a rental online using these channels will broaden your reach:

  • Use your website: If you own several rental properties, set up a website to advertise the available units. Just update it as soon as you know one of your properties will become vacant.
  • Post on social media: Share your rental listing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and ask family and friends to share it, too. You can also post ads for the property in local Facebook groups.
  • Create a listing on Whether you have a rental house, condo or apartment community, posting the listing on allows you to reach about 10 million potential renters. The site also enables you to accept applications, screen tenants and take rent payments online.

Other advertising options for how to find renters include placing an ad in a local newspaper or distributing flyers around the neighborhood, such as local grocery stores or libraries.

6. Show the property

When you get calls from your rental ad, be sure to respond promptly and schedule individual showings with anyone interested in seeing the home. Tours allow potential tenants to see the unit in person, ask questions and decide if the place meets their needs.

Showings are also a great time to get a sense of whether the person will be a responsible tenant. Be prepared to openly discuss the rent price (including whether you’ll negotiate the rate), the amount of the security deposits and fees, policies such as whether you allow pets and how you handle repairs and the application and screening process.

Along with individual showings, schedule a couple of open houses that are open to anyone. Open houses will attract a broad group of prospective tenants who can drop by and scope out the property on their own. If they’re interested, they can ask questions about applying to rent the unit.

Professional young woman

Professional young woman

7. Sell yourself as much as the rental

Renters are, of course, looking for a nice place to call home. But they also want to rent from someone who’s respectful and professional. When you meet potential tenants for the first time, it’s your time to shine. Respond to calls or emails promptly, be on time for meetings, behave in a friendly and professional manner and be upfront about the property, rent and the process for screening tenants.

The goal should be to establish a long-term relationship with renters. Following through on any promises and treating renters with respect is a chance to solidify that bond. Once they move in, always respond timely to requests, make repairs when needed, listen to their concerns and generally keep the lines of communication open. Keeping renters happy will likely encourage them to live in the home longer.

8. Take rental applications

Create a standard rental application with the same questions and requirements to use with all potential renters. A standard application ensures you’re treating all applicants equally and complying with state, local and federal housing laws. Applications typically ask for someone’s contact details, proof of income, emergency contact, references, rental history, pet information and a photo ID. Charging an application fee of $20 to $50 covers the cost of processing the applications and conducting background checks.

If more than one person plans to move into the rental, consider having everyone apply separately, especially if they’ll be paying rent separately. One renter can apply and still have a roommate, however. They just need to specify that in their application and the situation must comply with rental property laws.

Once you receive an application, date it and note the time it was received. Then, do a quick review, just to make sure the applicant answered all of the questions and provided the required information. If anything is missing, ask them to submit those items. When you get multiple applications for the same property, create a spreadsheet to help you track each one and decide which renter is most qualified.

9. Screen potential tenants

The application provides all the information you need to screen tenants. There are several types of screenings to conduct to verify that an applicant is qualified to rent the property — just make sure you use the same screening process with everyone:

Check references

Contact previous landlords, employers and personal references to find out about an applicant’s rental history, financial situation and general stability. Ask how the reference knows the applicant (in case they misrepresent friends as employers, for example) and when verifying income, keep in mind some companies have policies against providing details about employees. Ask yes or no questions, like “[Applicant’s name] said she earns $5,000 a month working there. Is that true?”

Do a credit check

Running a credit report will help verify an applicant’s financial history, including whether they pay bills on time, their credit score and past evictions or bankruptcies. Avoid basing everything on credit score alone, however, as people just establishing their credit might have a lower score or someone may have encountered a hefty medical bill.

Run a background check

Criminal conviction information is public and available at local courthouses. You usually just need a person’s birth date and full name to run a background check. But double-check local renter laws to make sure they permit criminal background checks for tenants. For example, some states prohibit property owners from discriminating against tenants with certain types of convictions, but you’re allowed to check sex offender registries.

Review rental history

Try to talk to at least one of an applicant’s previous landlords to find out if they paid rent on time, why they moved, how they maintained the property, whether they caused damage and if they gave notice before moving.

Happy young couple getting keys

Happy young couple getting keys

10. Decide what makes a qualified tenant

Property owners can decide what makes a qualified tenant, as long the qualifications comply with federal, state or local housing laws and avoid discrimination. Set standards for qualifications that you apply to everyone. Here are some examples of what you might require:

  • The renter’s income to be at least three times the monthly rent. Since most renters pay about 30 percent of their income in rent, this ensures they’ll have enough to cover rent each month.
  • A “fair” credit score of at least 600. More importantly, check the individual’s bill payment history and verify employment.
  • Impeccable references from past landlords, showing that the tenant hasn’t been evicted in the past.
  • No past criminal felony convictions, if this is allowed based on your local tenant laws.
  • A tenant may need a co-signer or guarantor if they don’t meet the requirements.

11. Prepare and sign the lease

Never rely on a verbal agreement with a renter. You need a lease that outlines your responsibilities and the tenant’s responsibilities while they’re living in the apartment. The lease should specify who’s responsible for which repairs and maintenance, when rent is due, how rent should be paid, pet policies, roommate policies, how lease renewals are handled and how much notice a renter should give before moving out. The lease protects you and the renter.

After you’ve reviewed applications, screened applicants and decided who meets the qualifications, go over the lease with the prospective tenant to make sure they understand everything. You can also negotiate portions of the lease, such as whether pets are allowed or if certain utilities will be included.

Once the lease is finalized and everyone agrees to its provisions, you and the tenant sign it. You’ll collect the security deposit and pet fees and decide on a move-in date. Be sure to give renters a copy of the signed lease and keep a copy in your records.

How to find renters

Learning how to find the best renters is a critical part of owning a rental property. Tenants that pay on time, communicate effectively and take care of the apartment or house are your best option, and there are several ways to find them. When you find top-notch tenants, you can build lasting relationships that ensure your property generates income and keeps vacancies to a minimum.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.


Can you get a student loan with bad credit?

Students discussing before class.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Even if you have bad credit, you can still get student loans. Most federal loans don’t require a credit check, which means you can borrow funds for education regardless of your credit history. Additionally, private loans may be available to you if you are able to get a cosigner or work with a lender that considers your course of study to be potentially lucrative. 

Coming up with the money to pay for higher education can be difficult, but loans—especially those based on financial need—are often helpful in providing support up front. Even if you have a low credit score or a less-than-perfect credit history, student loan options are still available to you.

Read on to learn more about how to find federal student loans or private loans with bad credit as well as tips for improving your credit if you need a higher score to secure a loan.

How to get a student loan with bad credit

Getting a student loan with bad credit means taking one of two paths: applying for federal student loans or finding a cosigner for a private student loan. 

  • Federal student loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and they’re available to many people regardless of credit history.
  • Private student loans are offered by a variety of non-government financial institutions, and they’re often limited to people with higher credit scores or cosigners. 

Both of these options could work well for your situation, but it’s generally useful to apply for federal student loans first, as they tend to have more benefits and lower interest rates.

Applying for federal student loans

Federal student loans are an excellent option for many people, including those with bad credit, because they are based on financial need rather than credit scores.

How to apply for federal student loans

Before applying for federal student loans, you’ll need to make sure you meet the eligibility criteria, which include the following:

  • Demonstrate financial need (for some loans)
  • Be a U.S. citizen (or eligible as a noncitizen)
  • Be accepted or enrolled in a degree or certificate program
  • Have a valid Social Security number

These are just a few of the requirements that the government mandates for anyone looking to get federal student loans.

If you do meet the criteria, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine what options are available to you.

You may be eligible for any of the following types of federal student loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: These loans are available based on financial need, and they include the benefit of having the Department of Education pay interest while you’re enrolled in school.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are offered regardless of financial need, and they will accrue interest even when you’re enrolled in school. 
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These loans are available to graduate students or the parents of undergraduates, and they are the only federal loans that require a credit check. 
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These loans enable you to combine all of your federal loans into a single loan, which can reduce the complexity of your payments. 

Since the majority of federal student loans don’t require a credit check, they are an excellent option for those who have poor credit or no credit history. 

Federal student loans also offer other protections, like forbearance (in case there are periods you can’t make payments) and income-based repayment plans (which may offer loan forgiveness after a certain number of qualifying payments). Additionally, federal student loans offer fixed interest rates, which means you’ll have predictable payments for the entire life of the loan. 

Federal student loans are a good option for people with bad credit.

Federal student loans generally cover somewhere between $5,500 and $12,500 per year, although that amount can vary depending on your tax filing status and year in school. If that amount is not sufficient to cover your education costs, you may need to look into private loans.

Applying for private student loans with a cosigner

If you have bad credit, it will likely be difficult to apply for private student loans on your own. Even if you were to qualify for a loan with bad credit, it’s possible the interest rate would be so high that you’d be unable to make payments while you were studying. 

Typically, a better option if you do need a private student loan is to use a cosigner. If your cosigner has a high credit score and steady income, they’ll be able to secure better terms for the loan. That said, ensure you have a solid relationship with your cosigner, as they’ll be equally responsible for your debt if you cannot make payments.

Regardless of what kind of student loan you end up getting, working to improve your credit score can set you up for success down the road as you continue your education. 

Set yourself up for success by improving your credit score

Just as your education opens up opportunities for advancement in your career, improving your credit score can unlock better interest rates—which makes it easier to do things like get a new car or buy a house. As you work through your studies, try out some of the following tips to build your score.

  • If you don’t have any credit history, try a secured credit card. It’s hard to get a credit card without any credit, but responsible credit card usage might be a good way to build credit. One solution is a secured credit card, which works like a regular credit card but requires a cash deposit—so they don’t usually involve a credit check. 
  • Keep up with your student loan payments. If you have unsubsidized loans, you’ll accrue interest even while you’re in school, so you may want to start making payments if possible. After you graduate, look into income-based repayment plans or forbearance if you’re having trouble making monthly payments.
  • Have a strategy for paying down your debt. Especially if you need to take on other debt—like a car payment—make sure you have a solid plan for how you’ll make payments as you start out in your career after college. 

Additionally, you’ll want to take a close look at your credit report as you’re working to improve your score. If you notice any inaccurate or misleading information, it could be bringing down your score unnecessarily. In that case, you may want to work with a credit repair professional to file a dispute with the credit bureaus and have the misleading information removed. 

Reviewed by Horacio Celaya, Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Horacio Celaya was born in Tucson, Arizona but eventually moved with his family to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. Mr. Celaya went on to graduate with Honors from the Autonomous University of Baja California Law School. Mr. Celaya is a graduate of the University of Arizona where he graduated from James E. Rogers College of Law. During law school, Mr. Celaya received his certificate in International Trade Law, completing his thesis on United States foreign direct investment in Latin America. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Celaya has worked in an immigration firm where he helped foreign investors organize their assets in order to apply for investment-based visas. He also has extensive experience in debt settlement negotiations on behalf of clients looking to achieve debt relief. Mr. Celaya is licensed to practice law in New Mexico. He is located in the Phoenix office. 

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.


What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a Car in 2021?

Because a credit score is an important indicator for determining a consumer’s creditworthiness when buying a car, those with excellent credit histories tend to have an easier time borrowing money on favorable terms compared to those with lower credit scores. However, industry data shows that high-risk borrowers remain viable candidates for auto loans. In other words, there is no universally defined credit score needed to buy a car.

Read on to learn how your credit score can affect buying a car, plus some tips for purchasing a car with a lower credit score.

What FICO® Score Do Car Dealers Use?

There are a few different scoring models that car dealers may use for determining a customer’s credit score. They may use the FICO Auto Score 10 , an industry-specific model featuring a score range from 250 to 900. The auto industry also may use VantageScore 3.0 or the newer VantageScore 4.0 model, which has a score range from 300 to 850.

No matter which scoring model is used, a bad credit score falls on the lower end of the range and a good credit score sits on the higher end of the range.

What Is the Minimum Credit Score To Buy A Car?

There may not necessarily be a minimum credit score required to buy a car. Consumers with deep subprime credit scores from 300 to 500 have obtained financing for new and used vehicles in the second quarter of 2021, according to the credit bureau Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market report for that period. Although the percentage of borrowers in this category is very low, this indicates that even those with the lowest credit scores still may have access to auto financing.

Average APR by Credit Score Ranges

Consumers from all credit score categories have obtained auto loans in 2021, but car buyers with excellent credit histories tended to secure the lowest annual percentage rate (APR) financing, according to Experian’s Q2 report. When assessing what is a good credit score to buy a car, Experian’s data confirms that consumers in the super prime and prime categories obtain the lowest interest rates on average for financing.

Quarterly financing data on new vehicle purchases in the second quarter of 2021 shows the following average APRs by credit score ranges:

•  Deep subprime (300-500): 14.59%

•  Subprime (501-600): 11.03%

•  Near prime (601-660): 6.61%

•  Prime (661-780): 3.48%

•  Super prime (781-850): 2.34%

How to Buy a Car With a Lower Credit Score

Obtaining a loan to purchase a new or used vehicle when you don’t have great credit can be cumbersome, but it’s not impossible. Here are some ways a consumer with poor credit may be able to obtain auto financing:

Make a Large Down Payment

Offering a large down payment on a vehicle purchase may allow car buyers to obtain more reasonable rates and better terms for financing, resulting in more affordable monthly loan payments. By putting more money down at the time of purchase, lenders also may view the loan as less risky, thus increasing your odds of approval.

Get Cosigner Assistance

Buying a car with the assistance of a cosigner is another way to potentially bolster your chance of securing favorable financing. A cosigner agrees to share the responsibility of repaying the loan, effectively promising the lender that if you don’t make the payments they will. If the cosigner is creditworthy, it puts the buyer in a much better position to obtain financing than going it solo.

Consider a Less Expensive Car

Especially if you are buying a car with bad credit, it is important to know how much you can realistically afford to spend — and then stick to that budget, even if the dealer tries to upsell you. Additionally, finding a less costly car will reduce the amount you need to borrow, and it may be easier to get approved for a smaller loan amount than a larger one.

Benefits of Good Credit When Buying a Car

The benefit of a good credit score when buying a vehicle is that you may secure lower interest rates compared to consumers with poor credit. Unless a consumer buys a vehicle outright with cash or receives 0% APR financing, the consumer will eventually face monthly principal and interest payments until they’ve paid off the loan balance in full. Auto financing terms may vary in length, with some maturing at 60 months, 72 months or 84 months.

Car loans with a high APR may cause consumers to pay a long-term premium above and beyond the actual sales price of the vehicle.

How to Monitor and Keep Track of Credit Scores

There are a number of ways you can check your credit score, including through your credit company or another financial institution where you have an account, as well as through a credit service or credit scoring website. Contrary to what you may expect, your credit report does not include your credit score, though it does provide valuable information about your credit history and debts, which is why it can still be helpful to read over your credit report before making a major purchase like a car.

Credit scores can fluctuate over time depending upon financial circumstances, and credit score updates occur at least every 45 days. That’s why it’s important to take a look at where your score stands right before you begin the process of car shopping.

Also keep in mind that it’s common for credit inquiries to occur when you’re shopping around to see what auto loan terms you qualify for. While soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score, hard inquiries, such as those that happen when you’re comparing rates for an auto loan, can ding your score. However, most major credit scores will count multiple car loan inquiries made within a certain period of time — typically 14 days — as one inquiry.

What’s Expected in 2022?

Based on the trends outlined in Experian’s Q2 report for 2021, prime borrowers with good credit in 2022 may continue shifting away from used vehicles in favor of new vehicles. Experian’s research also shows that subprime financing remains at near-record lows, with just a fraction of car loans in 2021 going to consumers in the deep subprime risk category. These trends could continue into 2022.

The Takeaway

While it is possible to buy a vehicle with bad credit in 2021, consumers in the subprime or deep subprime risk categories may want to explore ways of improving their credit scores to help secure financing with more favorable terms. As far as what credit score you need to buy a car, any score is potentially sufficient for obtaining financing.

If you want to check your credit or work to improve your score before buying a car, SoFi Relay is a user-friendly app that allows you to easily monitor and keep track of your credit score.

Stay on top of your credit score with weekly updates.

Photo credit: iStock/tolgart

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