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What's the Minimum Credit Score for Mortgage?

What is the minimum credit score for a mortgage? Are FHA and conventional loan requirements different? I want to refinance my home loan mortgage and I want to know what is the minimum credit score for a home loan.

If I'm applying for normal home loan, do I need to put down 20% down?  Does the lender require I have a minimum credit score, and if so what is that score?  What I really want to know is:  what is the minimum credit score I need to get a home loan mortgage?   

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Bill's Answer
(53 Votes)

Updated: Aug 28, 2015

Minimum Credit Score for Mortgage? Credit score for home loans differ between FHA requirements and conventional loan requirements.

  • Credit score requirements can vary from lender to lender and program to program.
  • Check with multiple lenders to see what the minimum credit score is for a new loan.
  • FHA lenders have lower minimum credit score requirements for than traditional mortgage lenders.

Thank you for your question about minimum credit scores for mortgage loans. Credit scores are one of the important factors in qualifying for a mortgage loan.

There is no simple answer to your question, because the minimum credit score depends on the loan program you apply for and the individual lender’s own guidelines and rules. They also depend on other qualifying factors such as your Loan to Value ratio (LTV) and Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI).

The housing and mortgage crash of 2007-2008 reset the underwriting rules and virtually wiped out the subprime mortgage market. If you want to qualify for a loan, then you need to make sure that your LTV, DTI, and Credit Score/History meet the lender’s guidelines.

To help you understand about minimum credit scores and mortgages, here are the topics I will cover:

  • FICO Scores: The Basics
  • Minimum FICO Scores: Different Loan Types 
  • Qualifying for a Mortgage: Not just Credit Scores

FICO Scores – Minimum Credit Scores

Although there are different credit scores available, the most popular one is the Fair Isaac & Co. (FICO) Credit Score. Mortgage lenders use specific FICO scores to judge your credit worthiness. Although you can purchase Credit Scores and even FICO scores, they are not always the same as the one used by the lender. The FICO score ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850.

Looking for a mortgage purchase or refinance loan?

and pre-approval from a mortgage provider.

FICO scores are based on your credit history, as reported by the consumer credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Here are the top three factors of your FICO score:

  1. Timely Payments: Do you make your payments on time? This is the most important factor.
  2. Credit utilization: How much of your line of credit do you use? For example if you have a $10,000 line of credit, do you use up $9,000, $3,000 or pay off your balances each month).
  3. Credit Mix: Do you have different types of credit such as credit cards, installment loans, mortgage loans, auto loans and student loan?
Monitor your credit report.

Make sure that you monitor your credit report by getting one free report each year from each CRA at If you want to more closely monitor your credit report, and also see your credit score, then , for a free trial period, for a credit report with credit score.

If your credit score is low, then follow these steps:

  • Inaccurate Items: Read the article and learn how to dispute any inaccurate items that appear on your credit report.
  • Overall Poor Credit: Read the article for. If your score is low, then you might start with a secured card. Make sure that you set up a budget and make all of your payments on time.
Struggling with credit card debt?

with a pre-screened debt provider.

Minimum Credit Score and Types of Loans

In general, most loan programs have underwriting rules that set an acceptable minimum credit score. Lenders often add on their own stricter rules. In addition, lenders take into account other factors such as your loan to value ratio, debt to income ration, and compensating factors such as asset portfolio. For example, a conventional loan with an 80% LTV may require a FICO score of 620, whereas a 95% LTV requires a 720 score.

Here are some general guidelines. Remember, loan programs have many rules and lenders often have even stricter rules. So make sure that you shop carefully.

FHA Loans:

An FHA loan has lenient credit score requirements. The minimum credit score required is 500, but your down payment must be at least 10%. If your credit score is over 580, then you can get an FHA loan with a down payment of 3.5%. As of 2015, there is at least one lender approving FHA loans for borrowers with scores down to 550, with an LTV maximum of 90%.

For borrowers with sub-620 scores, the lenders have tougher requirements. For example,  anyone with a DTI over 43% and a FICO score under 620 needs the lender to manually underwrite the loan, carefully documenting the compensating factors. 

Lenders can apply stricter rules than the FHA requirements specify.

Most FHA lenders require a minimum credit score of at least 620, even though the FHA allows borrowers with lower scores to qualify. If a lender turns you down, find out if it was due to you not meeting FHA requirements or the lender's requirements. If it is the lender's requirements, keep shopping. Other lenders may have looser requirements.

Conventional Loans (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans)

Fannie Mae requires at least a 620 for a FRM, 640 for an ARM, and 720 for an I/O. If you want a higher LTV than 80%, then you will need a higher FICO score. If you have a score of over 680, then a Conventional loan is a good option for financing up to 95%% financing with mortgage insurance. Even if your FICO score is lower (over 620), then you may qualify for a conventional loan with 80% LTV. You will need to meet any stricter credit and income requirements, as well as lender overlays.

Looking for a mortgage purchase or refinance loan?

and pre-approval from a mortgage provider.

Jumbo Loans

Jumbo loans whose loan limits are higher for either conforming loans or high-balance loans (super-conforming). For most parts of the US the limit is $417,000 and about $625,000 in high cost areas. There are higher amounts for Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the US Virgin Islands. The minimum credit score varies from lender to lender. A minimum score of 720 is required although give strong compensating factors, lenders will go down to 680. If you need a larger loan, then your option is a jumbo loan. In general, you will need a strong credit score, LTV under 70% and strong income.

VA Loans

VA loans have less stringent requirements. Lenders generally require a minimum score of 620, even though VA program guidelines allow lower scores. As of 2015, there is at least one lender that is accepting VA loan applications from borrowers with scores down to 550.

. A veteran with a VA eligibility card can get up to 100% financing Subprime Loans Subprime loans are for those with poor credit, generally low credit scores, but also other credit history factors or high DTI. They have virtually disappeared since the crash of 2007-2008. Beware of predatory lenders offering high cost loans (interest rates and fees). A loan with an artificially low beginning payment is a high-risk loan.

Special Refinance Programs:

There are special refinance programs, which do not require a minimum credit score, although lenders often have stricter requirements. Here are some of the programs:

  1. HARP 2 Mortgage Loan: If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, originated and delivered before June 1, 2009, then you may be eligible for a HARP mortgage refinance loan. This is available even if your home is worth less than your loan balance. The HARP loans have no credit requirements if you do the loan through your original lender/same servicer, and a minimum credit score of 620 if you take a HARP loan through a new lender. 
  2. FHA Streamline: There is no minimum credit score for a FHA streamline. If your original loan was originated before June 1, 2009, then you can refinance with reduced mortgage insurance premiums.
Are you eligible for HARP? FHA Streamline? can . with rates at historic lows, it pays to apply now.

qualify for a mortgage loan: not just minimum credit scores

by correctly preparing your finances, you will qualify for a mortgage that best suits your needs, at the best rates possible. learning about your credit score is an important step in the mortgage qualification process. although you will need a minimum credit score to qualify for a loan, it is not the only criteria.

i recommend that you read the article about and learn about two other areas the lender looks at:

  1. debt to income ratio: controlling your overall debts will help you qualify for a mortgage loan and make your payments more affordable.
  2. loan to value ratio: by saving money and having at least a 20% down-payment, you will be able to avoid mortgage insurance. in general, you will be able to qualify for a mortgage with a lower credit score.

after preparing yourself to qualify for a mortgage loan, shop around.

you will find that different lenders have different criteria. shop around with different lenders. not only will there mortgage rates and mortgage fees differ, but you may qualify with one lender and not another lender. from mortgage providers.

i hope this information helps you find. learn & save.



(53 Votes)

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Recent Best
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  • MC
    Jan, 2014
    Playa Del Rey, CA
    Are there any changes that will take place in 2014 to make it easier to qualify for a loan with less than excellent credit?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jan, 2014
      As of now, the best mortgage option for a person whose credit is not good remains an FHA loan. While many, if not most, FHA lenders require a minimum credit score of 620, there are FHA lenders who go down to 580.
      0 Votes

    • WO
      Mar, 2014
      Aurora, CO
      You may want to check into the NACA Programs, If they work in your area, they will not only get you approved, but you will get around a 4% mortgage through them.
      0 Votes

  • MM
    Dec, 2011
    I have 3.5% downpayment. I have a 623 credit, my wife has a 630. And we make nearly 6 figures a year. Yet we are having a terrible time getting a loan!!!! I have paid off many of things this year, which seems to be a problem. Any suggestions?
    2 Votes

    • BA
      Dec, 2011
      I recommend that you read the article about FHA loans, which require low down-payments, and less stringent credit history requirements. You can seek a pre-approval by applying for an FHA mortgage loan. If one lender says "no," it does not mean every lender necessarily will.
      0 Votes

  • JP
    Nov, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    Will the new HARP program have a minimum credit score requirement?
    1 Votes

    • BA
      Nov, 2011
      As of today, November 16th, it is not exactly clear what the credit requirements will be for a new HARP mortgage.

      Some of it will depend on whether or not your new HARP payment increases your current payment by more than 20. If so, there will be a minimum credit score of 620. However, my reading of the guidelines released so far has not found a credit score requirement for someone whose payment is not increasing by more than 20%.

      More details will be coming out, as lenders and investors chew over the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac releases about HARP. Please check back with, as we will be following the HARP rules closely and reporting on them as they develop.
      0 Votes

  • JW
    Aug, 2011
    Ramseur, NC
    My credit score is above the recommended beacon score of 640 and I have had a steady income that has increased every year for the last seven years. However I don't know my debt to income ratio. Will I still be able to get a loan?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Aug, 2011
      Lenders are going to look at your credit scores from all three of the main credit bureaus, and scores can differ from bureau to bureau. 640 is a fair score, but will not qualify you for the best rates available. Lenders are looking for 720 scores from borrowers seeking prime loans.

      Your debt-to-income ratio is crucial to qualifying for a mortgage and for determining what size mortgage payment you can handle, if any. Your DTI is determined by looking at your gross income, your new mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance costs, and your costs for certain monthly bills, such as a car payment, student loan payment, or monthly credit card required minimum payments. If you divide those monthly costs by your gross income, you come up with your DTI. In general, you can't have a DTI over 44% and qualify for a loan these days.

      I suggest that you speak with a lender or three to see what you qualify for now or what barriers there are to qualifying (credit or income, for instance), so you can work on addressing them if necessary
      0 Votes

  • LK
    Feb, 2011
    Stafford, VA
    Is there a minimum credit score that I need to avoid having to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance on my home loan?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Feb, 2011
      While there is a minimum credit score required to qualify for a home loan, there is not a minimum credit score required. Private Mortgage Interest (PMI) is generally required when a borrower has less than a 20% equity stake in the home. PMI protects the lender, in case the borrower defaults.
      0 Votes