Chris Bridges, Founder and CEO, VITAL Card Inc.
The highest credit score is 850 with the current scoring models, says credit ranking expert source Experian. However elusive this dream score appears to be, Experian says you can reach it. There are many incentives to do so.
What is a credit score?
Credit scores determine how much money a lender can loan to you. The higher your credit score, the bigger a loan you may get approved for.
Getting the highest credit score help with this:
Dreaming of buying that new home? Or the latest Tesla? Well, unless you have millions stacked up, you might take out a loan. Take a loan today and pay it back over the next 20 years. All well and simple, right?
Not so much. Banks and credit card companies only approve loans based on your credit score. Not only that, even the terms of your loans depend on your credit score.
Banks and credit card companies function on risk vs. reward. They adjust the risk of you paying back your loan through your credit score.
A higher credit score can indicate a higher likelihood of you paying back your loan.
A credit score of 850 is the highest for both FICO and VantageScore, the most popular credit scoring companies.
According to FICO, credit scores have been rising rapidly, and today over 20% of Americans have a score above 800.
So while it’s not unheard of to have scores above 800, if you have a score of 700+, you are likely to be alright.
After all, the average FICO score for Americans reached an all-time high of 710 in 2020. So it’s not that hard, is it?
If so many Americans can do it, so can you!
Why Is Your Credit Score Important?
Seriously, why is a high credit score so important? Let’s take a closer look.
Your credit score is a three-digit number that tells a bank or credit card company your likelihood of paying back a loan.
Your credit score is a reflection of all your credit decisions so far. So, if you have been paying back your loans on time, you are likely to have a good credit score.
Your credit score also affects the terms and conditions of your loan.
If you have a perfect score, banks can rest assured that you are likely to pay back your loan, so they have a smaller risk on you and can reward you by charging you a lower interest rate.
Not only that, but credit scores also impact employment opportunities.
As a new but controversial practice, employers have been checking the credit score of potential employees to determine responsibility.
So if your scores are good, employers may be more likely to believe that you will be an excellent employee.
Credit scores also determine the premium that insurance companies charge you. A good credit score lets you buy insurance with the same sum assured at a lower premium.
So good credit scores can be extremely beneficial. They allow banks and credit card companies to reward you by charging you lower APRs as well as giving you rewards such as access to exclusive events.
How To Check Your Credit Score?
After reading how important credit scores are, we were sure you’d want to check your credit score.
Don’t worry; it’s pretty easy, and there are tons of ways for you to check your credit score. So here are a few ways:
- Check with your card company
- Check your credit card statement
- Check your loan information
- Use any free online service that calculates your score for you
- Purchase a credit score summary from a credit bureau such as FICO
Wondering How Your Credit Score Is Calculated?
Your credit score is a weighted average of five metrics:
- Amount owed – 30%
- Payment history – 35%
- New credit – 10%
- Credit history – 15%
- Credit mix – 10%
Your credit report usually summarises all these metrics and your personal information and your credit score is essentially a number computed from this credit report.
How To Know Where You Stand?
So you found out what your credit score is. Great! Now, how do you know if the number before your eyes is good enough or whether you are way off track in your credit habits?
Here’s what FICO’s score band looks like:
- Poor: 300-579
- Fair: 580-669
- Good: 670-739
- Very good: 740-799
- Excellent: 800+
While obviously some of you might be delighted to know you are in the top category, some of you may be slightly disappointed. However, don’t worry just yet!
There are a number of ways for you to improve your scores. However, one way is to sign up for a VITAL Card!
Key Traits That Consumers With High Credit Scores Have
While everyone has different spending habits and different ways of charging their credit cards, here are a few traits common to all consumers who have a perfect or nearly perfect credit score.
Long Credit History
Credit card companies take note of whether you are loyal to their company and have been using their card and repaying the debt in a timely fashion.
If you have a long history with a card company, your credit score is probably going to be higher, and you might get rewarded with low-interest rates.
Consumers who have a perfect credit score tend to have a long history, so it’s probably not worth canceling a card when another company comes knocking on the door with that extra lounge pass.
Perfect Payment History
Consumers with a perfect credit score pay off their statement balances before the due date, consistently.
A perfect credit score means any late payments were more than seven years ago.
Low Credit Utilization Ratio
For a perfect credit score, consumers should generally keep their credit utilization ratio to as low as 7%.
This means that out of the total credit that is available to you, you are only utilizing 7% of it. This can be done by dividing your expenses over multiple cards, resulting in a better score on each one.
Consumers with a perfect score have a credit utilization ratio that ranges between 1-7%.
Low Number of Credit Inquiries
Every time you apply for a new credit card, there is a hard inquiry on your credit habits, and this deducts points from your credit score.
Several hard inquiries within a short span add up to significantly reduce your credit score. Apply for new credit only if you really need it, and make sure to space out your new credit applications.
How To Get A Perfect Credit Score
There is no secret recipe to a perfect credit score, but there are many ways you can improve your credit habits, which can eventually result in a better score.
So here’s what you can do:
- Pay every bill on time, every time. Check your statement balance a few times a week, and pay off dues as you go. Set a reminder for the due date, and never miss a payment. It might also be helpful to set up automatic payments, so you don’t have to keep worrying about it. Payment history accounts for 35% of your score and is a key factor in attaining a perfect score.
- Use multiple credit cards, divide up your expenses, and never use more than 10% of the total credit available to you on a card. Remember, consumers with a perfect score use anywhere between 1-7% of their available credit.
- Don’t cancel cards, even if you barely use them, unless it’s for a valid reason. Let your credit history add up because it can potentially improve your credit score. Make sure to keep an eye on the balance, though, if you aren’t using it regularly, otherwise the interest might add up.
- Don’t apply for new credit unless you really need it. If you do apply for new credit, try to make sure it’s before a big purchase rather than after, and space out your applications by at least six months.
- Review your card reports after every billing cycle to check for errors and illegitimate negative marks on your card. This happens more often than you think. Most people never go through their detailed reports, which can end up affecting their credit score simply because the card company made an error.
- Apply for authorization if your credit history is on the shorter side, or you’re young and just starting off on your credit journey. Simply ask a family member or relative who has an excellent credit score to add you as an authorized user on their oldest credit card. This way, your score can increase if your credit card company reports authorized users to the credit bureau. The downside, however, is that if the primary cardholder misses a payment, it could be reported in your credit reports and decrease your score.
Your credit score is important, but don’t stress yourself out trying to be perfect. Perfect scores are obviously beneficial, but a good score can score you the exact benefits as those with that 850 score.
So if you are just setting forth on your journey to improve your credit score, we invite you to try out VITAL Card.
VITAL is a credit card company that pays you to share and spend responsibly with no annual fee. You never know; you may just end up with a perfect score along the way!
VITAL Card blog posts are intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or any other type of advice.