When your credit score is low, it’s likely that all you can think about is how to raise your score. This is because your credit score affects how your interest rates are calculated, which can ultimately influence how large your bills are and how much money you’re able to set aside each month.
You know that it’s worthwhile to maintain good credit. But what’s the credit score that you should aim for? And how do you get there? We’re going to break it down for you!
What is the highest credit score you can get?
A 900 credit score may be the highest on some scoring models, but this number isn’t always possible. Only 1% of the population can achieve a credit score of 850, so there’s a certain point where trying to get the highest possible credit score isn’t realistic at all. Not to worry though, having good credit can start at around 700. In fact, only a few credit score models have a credit score limit of 900. For instance, both the FICO and VantageScore models max out at 850.
How are credit scores calculated?
You don’t only have one credit score. Different credit reporting bureaus calculate your credit score differently. Today, we’ll explain the most popular credit model, which is FICO, and from there, you’ll be able to understand how credit bureaus calculate your credit score.
How is your FICO credit score calculated?
Here’s how FICO looks at your financial history and ultimately calculates your credit score:
- Payment history: 35%
- Debt or amount owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
Benefits of an excellent credit score
Solid credit scores open up a lot of doors. Here are just a few reasons why raising your credit score is worthwhile.
Access to a range of loan products
Lenders will practically be beating down your door to give you money if you have an excellent credit score. But beware of the risks associated with opening too many loan products, like credit cards, since overspending can be tempting. Make sure you don’t spend above your budget and undo your hard work.
Better chance of rent approvals
Your credit score is often the first thing that landlords look at when going through rental applications. Your high credit score will help you stand out in the rental process. It can make it easier to secure your dream apartment and give you leverage when negotiating your rent amount.
Larger credit limits
Larger credit limits allow you to use more of your lender’s money. This has its obvious benefits, but there’s a little more to it than simply having access to more credit. Greater credit limits also make it possible for you to keep a wider distance between your balance and the amount of credit you have available. This is your credit utilization ratio, and it plays a key role in influencing your score. The more available credit you have that you’re not using, the stronger your score will be.
One of the first things that insurance providers look at during the approval process is the credit scores of applicants. Lenders label people with high credit scores as more reliable and they are more likely to approve candidates with stronger credit than those with low scores.
Better interest rates
Better interest rates are the result of better credit scores. When you have a strong credit score, your interest rates will be lower when you take out personal loans, credit cards, mortgages, and car loans. You’ll be able to access lower monthly payments and you’ll save over the lifeline of your loan. More savings on interest translates to more money in your budget.
7 ways to achieve a perfect credit score
1. Maintain a consistent payment history
Consistently paying back debt is the best way to raise your credit, but it takes time. Speaking of time, make sure you pay your bills on time. Create a pattern of consistency that you can show to lenders, and you will start to see your credit rise over time.
2. Monitor your credit score regularly
Make sure there aren’t any major snags along the way as you work to raise your credit score. Monitor your credit score regularly. Ideally, you should check in at least once a month, especially since different lenders or creditors will process at different times. If you notice anything that seems off, you’ll want to contact the credit bureau to report a mistake. Learn how to monitor your credit here.
3. Keep old accounts open and use them sporadically
Your credit score is affected by your credit history as well as how long you have been building your credit. This means that your old accounts will play a key role in defining the length of your credit history. Keep old accounts open and make sure you use them from time to time.
4. Report your on-time rent and utility payments
Your credit is affected by the payments that you make, including rent payments and utility bills. Make sure the major credit bureaus know that you pay your rent and utility payments on time because this information can help you increase your credit score.
5. Increase your credit limit when possible
As you pay your bills consistently, ask your credit card company for a credit limit increase. Having higher credit limits is a sign that you can be trusted to pay your bills on time. This will translate to a higher credit score over time as well.
6. Avoid maxing out your credit cards
Your credit score has the potential to decrease when you max out your credit cards. This is because your credit utilization ratio will drop considerably. Your available credit should always be much higher than your credit utilization. If you do max out your credit card, make sure to pay it all off in the same billing cycle.
7. Balance your credit utilization
It’s best if you keep your credit utilization rate at 30% or less. For example, if your credit limit is $5,000 in total, then your credit utilization balance shouldn’t exceed $1,500.
A 900 credit score may seem like a lofty goal – which is why it’s not always attainable. The good news is that you don’t need a 900 credit score to have good credit. Good credit starts at around 700 and improves over time. So long as your score is within the 700 to 800 range you should have optimistic approval odds and some leeway on negotiating lower interest rates. All in all, building good credit is a process – not a one-and-done. It’s important to stay consistent and practice smart financial habits for the long run!
What percentage of the population has a credit score over 900?
Only about 1% of people have a credit score of 850. A 900 credit score can be thought of as fairly unrealistic.
Can I buy a house with a credit score of 780?
Yes! There’s a lot you can accomplish with a credit score of 760 or higher – and buying a house is one of them!
Is a 950 credit score possible?
No, a 950 credit score is not possible since 850 is typically the highest.