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The Highest Credit Score: Can You Reach ‘Perfect’?

The highest credit score is generally an 850 for FICO or VantageScore.
May 25, 2018
Credit Score, Personal Finance
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The highest credit score on the most widely used scales is an 850. The most-used scores at FICO, and at its competitor VantageScore, are on a 300-850 scale.

FICO says about 1% of its scores reach 850. VantageScore spokesman Jeff Richardson says fewer than 1% of its credit scores are perfect.

The way people get perfect scores is by practicing good credit habits consistently and for a long time.

According to FICO, those who achieve credit score perfection pay on time, use credit lightly, have a long credit history and rarely open a new account.

As you might expect, older consumers are more likely to have high scores than younger ones.

But scores fluctuate because they are a snapshot of your credit profile. Even if you succeed in getting the highest credit score, you’re unlikely to keep it month after month.

An excellent credit score is good enough

You don’t need a perfect credit score to get the best deals. A credit score of 720 or higher is generally considered excellent.

Credit scores are tools to help lenders decide how likely you are to repay money. And you won’t get a lower interest rate for having an 850 rather than an 811.

That’s pretty great news if you aspire to get into the group of people who have top-tier credit but you don’t want to obsess over every single point in an effort to get the highest score possible.

FICO says 20.7% of scores were 800 or higher as of April 2017. About 17% of VantageScores are that high.

Richardson says he would not advise anyone with a score of 800 or higher to open new accounts strictly for the purpose of chasing a higher credit score, because they already qualify for the best terms offered.

FICO says 20.7% of its scores were 800 or higher as of April 2017. Richardson says about 17% of VantageScores are that high.

What the 800 club looks like

An 800 won’t get you the bragging rights that come with the highest credit score possible, but an excellent credit score will get you the same terms on loans and credit cards.

Here’s what FICO says members of the 800 club tend to have in common:

  • A credit history of about 25 years
  • Owes less than $3,500 on credit cards
  • Uses only 7% of credit limit
  • No late payments on credit report (meaning any late payments were more than seven years ago)

Still determined to get the highest credit score?

If you really, really want to fight for every possible point, we have some tips that can help:

  • Ask to be an authorized user on an old, established credit card with a spotless record and low credit utilization
  • Keep your credit balances well under 10% of your credit limits
  • Have multiple credit accounts, and installment loans as well as credit cards
  • Pay every bill on time, every time
  • Apply for new credit only if you really need it

The odds of ever getting a perfect score are slim. But if you do, enjoy your 850 while it lasts. And perhaps take a photo to document it. It may not be there next time you look.

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