The highest credit score you can have is 850. That’s the maximum credit score used by all of the most popular credit-scoring models today. While less than 1% of people have that highest possible credit score, according to score providers, far more of us can claim to have perfect credit.
Anyone with a credit score of 800+ (about 15% of us) has essentially perfect credit for the simple reason that lenders don’t price products for the top 1% of people. In other words, before you reach the absolute highest credit score possible, you’ll arrive at a point where improving your score further will stop saving you money. And saving money is the name of the game.
Fortunately, a large percentage of Americans are within striking distance of perfect credit, if not the maximum score, as you can see in the following table.
|Score Range||% of Adults|
Source: TransUnion (VantageScore 3.0)
Below, we’ll take a closer look at what it takes to build perfect credit and pick the brains of people who have come close to reaching the top of the credit totem pole. If you’d like to see how far you are from credit perfection at the moment, you can check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub. We update your score every day, so you’ll always know where you stand.
Credit scores convey a lot of information. And you can learn a great deal about the nature of credit-score perfection as well as how to achieve it by analyzing the profiles of people with an 850 rating. So let’s take a quick look at some of their common traits:
Bear in mind that the credit performance highlighted above is by no means universally representative. It’s certainly possible to achieve perfect credit with a different background. And it’s entirely possible that you won’t reach such heights even with this sort of exemplary record.
There is no secret recipe for building an 850 credit score. But there is indeed a playbook for putting yourself in the best position to achieve the highest possible credit score. It all begins with a credit card, as you’ll learn from the following:
Maximize Your Available Credit
Credit cards are the best credit-building tool available because most people can get approved for one. They all report information to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis, and they don’t have to cost you a thing. As long as you pay your bills on time and avoid spending more than you can afford, your credit reports will fill with positive information, and your credit score will improve. And you can help things along by keeping your credit utilization below 30% – or even below 10% if you’re really aiming for perfection.You should also consider becoming an authorized user on a family member’s credit card account. Assuming your relative has good credit or better, his or her standing will effectively rub off on you and accelerate your credit-score gains.
Never Miss a Payment
If there’s one thing you can control when it comes to credit building, it’s payment history. Payment history accounts for at least 35% of most credit scores. And you can avoid forgetting to pay your bill by setting up automatic monthly payments from a bank account. You just need to make sure there’s enough cash available in the account every month to cover the payments.
With that in mind, it’s wise to contribute to an emergency fund on a monthly basis as well. With a solid stash of cash backing you up, you will be less susceptible to missing bill payments and incurring credit-score damage if you’re ever met with a significant, unexpected emergency expense. Your goal should be to save about a year’s worth of take-home pay for this purpose, but even a few months’ pay will go a very long way.
Don’t Rush Things
Credit-scoring models compare the types of accounts on your credit reports to those of people your age or folks with a similar financial profile. This reflects how well-rounded of a borrower you are and the extent to which your financial responsibility has been tested. But while demonstrating financial versatility is necessary to achieving a perfect credit score, rushing things is a recipe for disaster. So wait to get a car loan, mortgage, etc., until you’re truly ready.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Even if you never reach 850, “merely” having excellent credit is an amazing achievement. It will save you boatloads of money over the course of your life. And it won’t ever stand in your way like a “bad” score. Plus, you may find consolation in the fact that having excellent credit means your score is higher than over 60% of people, according to WalletHub data.
For more tips and info, check out WalletHub’s Guide to Building Credit.
For some outside perspectives on just how realistic reaching the top of the credit-score scale is and how fruitful of an accomplishment that would be, we posed the following questions to a panel of personal finance experts. Meet them and see what they had to say, below.
- Is there any point in trying to reach an 850 credit score? Would reaching the highest possible credit score save someone with excellent credit any money?
- What percentage of people would you say have an 850 credit score?
- What is the best piece of advice you have for someone shooting for an 850 credit score?