Credit Requirements and Score for a Conventional Loan

Beautiful suburban homeIf you're in the market for a home loan, one of the most significant decisions you'll make is whether to get a conventional or government-backed mortgage. Conventional loans have specific eligibility requirements for credit scores, down payments, and debt-to-income ratios. This article will summarize the critical details around qualifying for and getting a conventional loan.

Conventional Loan Basics: Explained

Instead of having a government agency guarantee or insure it, a conventional loan adheres to the standards set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Private lenders offer conventional loans, which typically have stricter requirements than FHA or VA loan programs. However, they offer some key advantages, making them a popular option for many borrowers.

Essential Requirements for a Conventional Loan

Qualifying for a conventional mortgage comes down to meeting a few essential requirements:

  • Credit scores: A minimum score of around 620 is required. 740+ scores get the best rates.
  • Down payment: At least 5% down is typically needed. 20% avoids private mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Your total debts divided by income should be below 50%.
  • Loan limits: Conforming loan amounts 2023 are typically capped at $700,000 and up to $1 million in some high-cost areas.
  • Income and assets: Documentation is required to verify your financials and repayment ability.

Meeting all the requirements ensures your conventional loan application is approved!

Understanding Loan Types: Conventional Loans

Conventional mortgages differ from government-backed loans in a few ways:


  • Offered by private lenders
  • Must meet standards set by Fannie/Freddie.
  • Stricter qualifying criteria
  • Lower interest rates in many cases


  • insured or guaranteed by government agencies
  • More flexible income and credit requirements
  • It is easier to qualify, but it may have higher rates.

Conventional loans provide attractive rates for borrowers with good credit and low down payments. However, government programs can assist those who may not meet all the traditional requirements.

The Importance of Credit Scores for Conventional Loans

Your credit score is one of the most critical factors lenders review. The minimum score for a conventional loan is typically:

  • 620: Meets the baseline requirement
  • 680: Secures a better interest rate
  • 740+: Gets the very best rates offered

The higher your score, the lower your interest rate on a conventional mortgage. Excellent Credit means significant interest savings. Even minor score improvements can help your rating.

Conventional Mortgage: What You Need to Know

A conventional mortgage is a home loan not part of a government-backed program. Here are some key facts:

  • Not insured by FHA, guaranteed by VA, or subsidized by USDA
  • Must meet the credit standards and loan limits Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set.
  • Offered by private lenders like banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies
  • Typically, they require higher credit scores and down payments than government loans.

But in return, conventional loans often offer lower interest rates that save money over the long term.

Factors Affecting Conventional Loan Eligibility

Many factors determine if you can qualify for a traditional home loan.

  • Credit score: minimum of 620, but higher scores get better rates.
  • Down payment amount: at least 5% is usually required.
  • Monthly income: enough stable income to cover mortgage payments comfortably
  • Debts: Total monthly debt payments, including the new mortgage, should be less than 50% of gross income.
  • Loan size must conform to limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Meeting all eligibility criteria ensures your conventional mortgage application is approved!

Securing a Conventional Loan: Credit Score Matters

Your credit score is one of the top criteria lenders review when considering a conventional loan application. Here's a look at the minimum scores needed:

  • Excellent Credit (740+) gets you the very best rates.
  • Good Credit (680–739) still qualifies for competitive rates.
  • Fair Credit (620–679): Meets the minimum but leads to higher rates.
  • Poor Credit (below 620): It is tough to qualify; an FHA loan may be better.

Work to improve your Credit before applying. Higher scores mean better loan terms.

How to Improve Your Credit for a Conventional Loan

If your score falls below 620, take these steps to improve it before applying:

  • Pay down balances and lower credit utilization.
  • Dispute and correct any errors on your credit reports.
  • Please don't apply for new credit weeks before using it.
  • Get current on all bills and avoid missed payments.
  • Monitor your score trends leading up to your application.

Even small score bumps can make a difference. Show positive credit behavior leading up to your mortgage application.

Interest Rates for Conventional Loan Applicants

Conventional mortgage rates are tied to your specific credit score.

  • 740+ Credit: around 5% interest rate
  • 680-739 credit: approximately 5.25% rate
  • 620-679 credit: may see rates around 5.75%
  • Below 620 credit: unlikely to qualify for a conventional loan

Rates change daily. But excellent Credit means securing the lowest rates possible.

Preparing for a Conventional Loan: Credit Score Minimums

To be eligible for a traditional mortgage, you'll typically need:

  • A minimum credit score of 620
  • Although scores of at least 680+ get better rates,
  • Solid and stable monthly income
  • Total debts, including new mortgages, are less than 50% of revenue.
  • At least a 5% down payment on the home

Meeting these conventional loan requirements ensures you get approved at a competitive interest rate!

The Role of Good Credit in Obtaining a Conventional Loan

Good Credit plays a pivotal role when applying for a conventional mortgage. Minimum credit score requirements are typically:

  • At least 620 FICO to qualify
  • But 680+ is better to secure a preferred interest rate.

The higher your score, the lower the rate lenders offer on your conventional loan. Excellent Credit saves substantially on interest costs over the life of the mortgage.

Steps to qualify for a conventional loan

Follow these steps for getting a traditional mortgage:

  1. Check credit reports and scores from all three bureaus.
  2. Pay down debts and improve your Credit if you are below 620 FICO.
  3. Calculate your debt-to-income ratio to make sure it's below 50%.
  4. Gather the required income and asset documentation.
  5. Shop lenders and get pre-approved for a loan amount and rate.
  6. Make an offer on a home after pre-approval.
  7. Complete your mortgage application and submit the paperwork to your lender.
  8. Get the home appraised.
  9. Undergo underwriting approval.
  10. Close on your new home and mortgage!

With excellent Credit and proper preparation, you'll be poised for conventional loan approval. Stay organized throughout the process.


Conventional mortgages offer great rates for those who meet credit, income, and down payment requirements. Take steps to build your Credit and qualify before applying.

General Requirements for Credit Scores
Requirements for Credit Reports