Getting a perfect credit score is no easy feat. It takes time, energy, commitment, and you’ll need to practice good payment and spending habits. However, getting an 850 credit score isn’t impossible. Here are five tips to help you hack a perfect score.
What is a Perfect Score?
Before taking a deep dive into the perfect credit score, it’s important to understand the credit score basics. According to FICO, the average credit score in the second quarter of 2019 was 703 and roughly 58% of Americans have a credit score at or above that range. Credit scores can vary from a 300 to 850, creating different thresholds for what’s considered a reliable customer.
– Excellent: 800 to 850
– Very Good: 740 to 799
– Good: 670 to 739
– Fair: 580 to 669
– Poor: 300 to 579
Why is a Perfect or Excellent Score Important?
Getting a perfect score will definitely give you bragging rights, but any score over 800 will also give you the same benefits. Having a score in the 800 range means you’re more likely to get approved for a credit card or a loan. This is because the lender will see you as a responsible credit holder because you pay bills on time and make good money decisions. You’ll also get access to lower interest rates which are crucial in helping repay loans — even a 2% difference could mean several thousand dollars. Ultimately, the lower the interest rate, the easier it will be to repay your loan in the long term, plus you’ll save money.
Another benefit of an 800-plus credit score is that you’ll likely qualify for better credit cards with perks and rewards programs. Even having a score over 700 and good credit habits could help you qualify for cards like the American Express Platinum Card or the Capital One Venture Rewards card, which offer a range of benefits including airport lounge access. In general, most cards for credit holders in this range offer rewards like airline miles and greater percent cashback rewards on dining, entertainment, and even travel. Keep in mind that no specific score is guaranteed approval, but having a score over an 800 will definitely help.
How Do I Attain a Perfect Credit Score?
Maintain a Long Credit History
Credit history is one of the most crucial components to maintaining and attaining a perfect credit score. The length of your credit history also accounts for about 15% of your score. Maintaining a long and reliable credit history is perhaps the easiest way to obtain a perfect score, but it does take time, especially if you’re fresh out of college and just building credit. Most users in the 800 range have a credit history spanning roughly 25 years. According to data from the second quarter of 2019, those over the age of 60 had the highest credit score — a 749 — on average, compared to 20-29-year-olds who had a 662 on average.
Make Payments on Time
In addition to credit history, payment history, which accounts for 35% of your entire score, is also crucial. A missed payment is one of the most common causes of a credit score drop, and according to Experian, one missed payment can stay on your report for up to seven years. Making payments on time shows the credit card company that you’re a responsible borrower. According to Credit.com, a late payment could lead to a 90 to 110 point drop if you have a score of 780 or higher. The greater your score, the bigger the hit, which is why it’s important to set reminders and practice good payment habits.
Lower your Credit Utilization
Credit utilization — or how much of your available credit you use per month — is another important component of a perfect score. Experts suggest using less than 30% of your credit limit to maintain a good, very good, or excellent score. However, if you want a perfect score or at least one over 800, most users use less than 10% a month. According to FICO, users with a perfect score use 7% or less of their credit limit on average. Using less of your credit limit is certainly easier with a higher credit line. However, this will increase depending on your income and good credit history.
Apply For a New Card Sparingly
To obtain a perfect score, you’ll need to have multiple credit card accounts, but these accounts should be opened sparingly. Credit mix, or how many accounts you have open, accounts for about 10% of your FICO score. Opening multiple accounts within a short time frame will result in a credit drop from multiple inquiries and will also make you look desperate and risky to the lender. Most companies suggest waiting between six months to a year to apply to a new credit card. According to FICO, those with an 850 carried about 6.4 cards on average in comparison to the average of 3.8 credit cards in 2019.
Keep Debt Low
According to FICO, most cardholders with perfect scores owed on average $3,025, compared to the national average of $6,445. Keeping your debt low, shows that you have good credit management habits and that you’re worth the risk.
A Perfect Score Isn’t Everything
Keep in mind that scores change. While you may end up with an 850 in October, a big-spending trip for the holiday season could lead to a decrease in December. It’s also important to note that you don’t necessarily need a perfect score to get low-interest rates, better loans, and stellar credit card rewards programs. According to FICO, in April 2017 a little under 21% of credit scores were in the 800 range. Once you’re in that excellent range, above 800, you’ll already qualify for the best loan rates, mortgage rates, and rewards cards. Getting an 850 isn’t the end-all and be-all, so don’t stress over perfection! If you’re interested in learning more about what factors into your credit score, check out this article on credit scores and credit limits from Vola Finance.