Credit scores range from 350-850. Several benefits are associated with having an exceptional credit scores, and you don't need to attain an 850 credit score to gain access to those benefits.
Simply reaching an 800 credit will get you the same advantages and perks as people with an 850 score. People with an 800 credit score rarely get denied credit whether it's for auto loan, credit card or mortgage loan.
How to get an 800 credit score
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers 760 credit scores as super-prime with borrowers in this category presenting very low risk of default. There's probably not much more value for having 800 or above credit scores besides bragging rights.
But if having an 800 or above credit score is your desire, here are some tips to get you there:
1. Stay ahead of your credit reports.
Through Dec. 31, 2023, you can get access to weekly free credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus. Review your credit report for accuracy, making sure there are no mistakes.
Big credit score killers are late payments, collection accounts, charge-offs, bankruptcies and under-reported credit limits. Dispute negative credit information, inaccurate or outdated information and always request deletions for collection accounts.
2. Monitor your credit scores.
Credit scores can change daily, depending on the number of creditors you have reporting to the credit bureaus and the information being reported.
If you're in the market for an auto or mortgage loan it's especially important to monitor your credit score for updates before you apply to eliminate any surprises.
Ordering your credit report and score will not adversely affect your credit scores. You can pay for all three of your FICO scores at myfico.com.
3. Pay bills within the grace period.
Credit card companies and lenders report late payments once you are 30 days past due. A high credit score can decrease as much as 100 points for one late payment.
If your credit score is low, the decrease in points will not be as much; but nevertheless, any points your credit score suffers due to late payments is significant. If you are late paying begin paying on time immediately and your credit score will recover within several months.
4. Pay more than the minimum due.
Paying more than the minimum on credit cards not only helps you get rid of debt faster, but you also put more money in your pockets by paying off debt sooner. Your credit score may see a significant increase if credit cards that are maxed out or close to the limit are paid down or completely paid in full.
5. Work with your creditors if you fall behind.
Credit card companies and banks may negotiate a payment plan if you get behind on payments. There usually has to be an acceptable hardship that has occurred such as loss of income or illness.
Banks want your money, not a charge-off or risk of a customer filing bankruptcy. If you fall behind request more time to make payments or request a revised payment structure or even ask about rehabilitating a delinquent account.
You have options, use them. Creditors will sometimes make a goodwill adjustment to remove late payments.
6. Use 10% or less of available credit.
Using 10% or less of your available credit limit will help you obtain a higher credit score. Reducing your credit card balances to 10% or less of your credit limits will have an immediate positive effect on your credit scores. If you want a real boost in credit scores, reduce your account balance to 7% or less of your available credit limit.
FICO recently released a few tips of consumers with the highest credit scores. Consumers with 7% or less utilization of available credit had the highest credit scores.
Consumers should also avoid carrying a balance, even if it is small on every credit card in their wallet. For example:
- If you have 5 credit card accounts at least 3 of those cards should have a zero balance.
- Reducing your debt load on revolving accounts (credit cards) is probably the most important action you can take, besides making on-time payments, to boost your credit scores.
- The FICO scoring system likes to see as much space as possible between your balance and your credit limit.
7. Create a good credit mix.
The best credit scores usually come from a variety of credit accounts including a mortgage loan, auto loan, major credit cards and a few store credit cards or a gas card. The types of credit you have have (credit mix) accounts for 10% of your over all credit score.
For consumers with low credit scores it may be difficult to get an installment loan. If this is the case try a secured personal loan product.
Credit Unions often offer credit builder loans which report to the 3 major credit bureaus. This does not mean you should make a major purchase such as an auto loan just to get a good credit mix.
Use credit wisely and do not apply for new credit too frequently. Put 4-6 months between new applications for credit.
8. Re-establish your credit history.
If you can afford the payments get a personal loan to help re-establish your credit history. Paying the new credit on time and responsibly managing the new credit will raise your credit scores in a matter of months.
9. Keep Old Accounts Open
Finally, keep old accounts open even if you no longer use them. Your credit score may be benefiting from the card’s long history. Closing older accounts could cause your credit history to appear shorter and could harm your credit score. It is better to keep the account open and not use it or just use it from time to time with very small purchases.
Closing credit accounts in general is not a good idea. Closing a credit account, whether it's store-issued or bank-issued has the potential to harm your credit scores.
Here is why.
Your credit score takes into consideration credit utilization ratio. This ratio looks at your total used credit (balances) in relation to your total available credit (credit limits). The more credit you are using; the higher this ratio is. This can negatively affect your credit score.
When you close credit card accounts, you are essentially wiping away some of your available credit which makes it look like you're using more of your available credit.
Let’s say the total account balances owed across 2 cards is $1800:
Credit Card A Limit: $3000 (amount owed $1500)
Credit Card B Limit: $2000 (amount owed $0)
Credit Card C Limit: $1000 (amount owed $300)
Total Available Credit: $6000
Your credit utilization ratio is ($1800 balance divided by $6000 limit) which equals 30 percent credit utilization. Keeping credit card utilization to 30 percent is considered a good threshold for credit utilization but as we discussed 7 percent is optimum.
Now suppose you close Credit Card B. You can no longer count the $2000 card limit in your utilization ratio. Your new credit utilization ratio is now ($1800 balance divided by $4000 limit) which equals 45 percent credit utilization.
You can see that by closing credit accounts, credit utilization ratio rose from 30% to 45% – this can hurt credit scores.
Overall it's just best to leave old or unused credit accounts alone. Closing them has no positive effects.
Getting a perfect credit score is possible, but it's not going to happen overnight. However, even if you do achieve an 850 credit score, it's unlikely to stay that high forever and definitely not going get you rates any better than someone with a 760 score.
Common financial moves, such as applying for new credit or paying off a loan in full, can cause your credit score to dip. However, this doesn't mean that you'll have bad credit.
Anything over a FICO score of 760 is generally considered to be excellent credit, and you'll still be able to reap the benefits of this, such as qualifying for lower interest rates on loans and credit cards.