What Percentage of Americans Have Bad Credit?

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According to recent data from FICO, approximately 25.5% of Americans find themselves with a bad credit score (around 43 million people) . This statistic not only reflects the challenges faced by a significant portion of the population but also underscores the importance of understanding credit scores and their impact on everyday life.

In this article, we will examine the impact a bad credit score can have on your financial situation, and how you can work to improve your credit rating. 

What Is a Bad Credit Score?

A credit score is a numerical representation of an individual’s creditworthiness, based on their credit history and financial behavior. 

Scores typically range from 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating better creditworthiness. A bad credit score generally falls below a certain threshold, commonly around 580 or lower, depending on the scoring model used by lenders. 

Breakdown of credit scores in the US

Factors such as late payments, high credit card balances and accounts in collections contribute to a lower credit score.

You can obtain your credit score from various sources, including credit bureaus like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Many credit card issuers and financial institutions also offer free access to credit scores through online banking portals or mobile apps.

What Is Your Credit Score Used For?

Your credit score is used by lenders to assess the risk of extending credit to you. Whether you’re applying for a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, cell phone or even renting an apartment, your credit score often plays a significant role in the approval process. 

A higher credit score can result in lower interest rates and more favorable loan terms, while a lower score may lead to higher interest rates or even denial of credit.

Why Is Having Good Credit Important?

Having good credit opens doors to various financial opportunities and benefits. 

A strong credit score not only makes it easier to qualify for loans and credit cards but also enables you to secure better terms, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in interest over time. 

Additionally, many landlords, employers, and insurance companies consider credit history when making decisions, further emphasizing the importance of maintaining good credit.

What Is The Impact of Bad Credit?

Beyond the immediate challenges of obtaining credit, bad credit can have far-reaching consequences on an individual’s financial well-being. 

Higher interest rates and fees associated with poor credit can result in increased financial strain, making it more difficult to achieve long-term financial goals such as homeownership or retirement savings. 

Moreover, the stress and anxiety caused by financial insecurity can negatively impact mental and emotional health. Therefore, addressing bad credit and taking proactive steps to improve financial literacy and habits are essential for promoting overall financial wellness.

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?

Improving your credit score is achievable with dedication and discipline. 

Start by reviewing your credit report regularly to identify any errors or discrepancies that may be dragging down your score.

Next, focus on making timely payments and reducing outstanding debt. Keep credit card balances low relative to your credit limits, as high credit utilization can negatively impact your score. 

Additionally, avoid opening too many new accounts at once, as this can signal financial instability to lenders.

Some people think that taking out payday loans or credit cards to build up your credit score is a good idea – but this is certainly not the case. In fact, having too many loans and credit cards open can make you look more risky, because you have so much access to credit at your fingers. However, you could take off a credit builder card which offers small amounts, purely for the practice of getting used to making payments on time, which can build up your score.

A list of things you can do includes:

  • Join the electoral register to vote – this confirms your name and location which is good for a credit score
  • Pay off any debts on time
  • Consolidate outstanding debts into one loan if you have too many on the go
  • Disassociate from people with bad credit if you have a joint account
  • Don’t use payday loans and other loans for the sole purpose of boosting your credit score
  • Close down any store cards and credit cards that you are not using
  • Use a free service to check your credit score (see USA.Gov for more information)


The percentage of Americans with bad credit, currently estimated at 25%, highlights the presence of financial challenges faced by a significant portion of the population. 

Understanding the factors that contribute to a bad credit score and the importance of maintaining good credit is essential for navigating today’s financial landscape. By taking proactive steps to improve creditworthiness, individuals can unlock greater financial opportunities and build a solid foundation for their future financial well-being. 

Remember, while rebuilding credit may take time and effort, the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial challenges.

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