How to Get an 850 Credit Score: What You Need to Know
A perfect credit score isn't common, but it is achievable. Learn how to get an 850 with these tips.
Contributing Writer at Tally
January 21, 2022
You've been working over the past few months to build your credit score. You monitor your credit reports and watch your score climb little by little each month. But just how high can it go? Whether you’re talking about a FICO® Score or VantageScore, the answer is the same — the highest credit score possible is 850.
If you're looking to achieve a perfect credit score, we’ll outline how to get an 850 credit score. We'll also go over what a credit score is, how likely you are to achieve a perfect score and whether it's something you need to strive for.
Credit scores — the basics
A credit score is a three-digit number that measures your creditworthiness. It summarizes your credit history and the information contained on your credit report, which is provided by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
Credit scores range between 300 and 850. The higher your score, the more lenders are likely to offer you the best interest rates and terms.
There are two types of credit scoring models: FICO Score and VantageScore. They essentially look at and consider the same information from your credit report, though each scoring model emphasizes different things.
Your FICO credit score is calculated based on the following factors and weightings:
Payment history: 35%
Amounts owed: 30%
Length of credit history: 15%
Credit mix: 10%
New credit: 10%
FICO breaks down its credit score ranges in the following manner:
Exceptional credit score: 800 to 850
Very good credit score: 740 to 799
Good credit score: 670 to 739
Fair credit score: 580 to 669
Poor credit score: 300 to 579
VantageScore doesn't define the exact percentages they use to determine scores. But here is the breakdown of factors and how influential they are:
Total credit usage, balance and available credit: Extremely influential
Credit mix and experience: Highly influential
Payment history: Moderately influential
Age of credit history: Less influential
New accounts: Less influential
VantageScore breaks down its credit score ranges in the following manner:
Excellent credit score: 750 to 850
Good credit score: 700 to 749
Fair credit score: 650 to 699
Poor credit score: 550 to 649
Very poor credit score: 300 to 549
In both models, an 850 is the highest credit score you can achieve.
The likelihood of achieving an 850 credit score
Of those people with credit scores, the number with a perfect score is pretty slim. Though it varies from year to year, it is approximately 1.5%. For instance, in 2019, 1.2% of all FICO Scores were perfect. That number increased to 1.6% in 2021.
So, while it is possible to achieve a perfect credit score, it takes a lot of work to move from a good credit score to a perfect credit score.
How to get an 850 credit score
Wondering how to get an 850 credit score? Below are some of the tangible steps you can take to increase the likelihood of reaching a perfect score.
Review your credit report
Thirty-four percent of Americans have at least one error on their credit report. If you’re one of them, this information could potentially be lowering your score. These errors can be the result of an innocent reporting mistake or something more serious like identity theft.
You should review your credit report for errors and inconsistencies. You can do so by requesting a report via the Annual Credit Report website. If you notice errors on your report, you can work to fix them.
Be mindful of your credit utilization
Your credit utilization rate is a measure of how much of your available credit you’re using, and is calculated by dividing your total credit used by your total credit available. For instance, if you have $10,000 in available credit and have credit card balances of $4,000, your credit utilization rate is 40%.
In general, you should keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. But if you’re chasing an 850 credit score, you will want to keep it above 0% but below 10%.
Carry a balance but pay it in full
If you’re looking to build credit, you should aim to make at least your minimum monthly payments on time. But if you want to achieve a perfect credit score, you’ll want to pay your balances in full, but not before they hit your statement.
By paying your balance early—before the end of your billing cycle when a statement is issued—you will never have a balance on your statement. If your credit card company doesn't have a statement balance to report to the three major credit bureaus, it will appear as though you're not using your credit card, even though you are.
You should carry a small but manageable balance, keeping your credit utilization rate in the single digits. While you won’t want to pay your full balance early, you may want to make a partial payment before the end of your billing cycle if your credit utilization ratio will be high that month.
It is also worth stressing that you need to make on-time payments. While it is possible to recover from a late payment or missed payment, it can take a while to do so.
Determining whether an 850 credit score is necessary
Obtaining a credit score of 850 is possible, but it may not be necessary. If you have an exceptional credit score (FICO) or excellent credit score (VantageScore), lenders will still extend you the best rates and terms. Typically, a credit score around 760 is all you need to receive the best offers from lenders.
A credit score is relevant whenever you are going to open a new line of credit. It will impact your ability to obtain:
Credit card accounts
Any other financial products that involve borrowing money
If your credit score is above 760, you will receive the best credit card and loan offers. Your interest rates will likely be lower, saving you money in the long run. You may also have higher credit limits or access to things like cash-back reward credit cards. Some card offers may contain introductory annual percentage rates (APRs), waiving or substantially lowering interest payments for the first year.
Raising your credit score improves your financial outlook
With both FICO Score and VantageScore, the highest possible credit score that you can obtain is 850. However, only about 1.6% of Americans have a perfect credit score. Achieving a perfect credit score takes time and patience. And while it is something to work toward, it is not of utmost importance.
If you can achieve an excellent credit score, you'll find that you’re putting yourself in a great position for success. Doing so allows lenders to extend you the best offers on credit cards and loans, which can save you money on interest.
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