What Is a Perfect Credit Score & How Do You Get One?
You don’t need the highest possible credit score (850) to have perfect credit. Rather, a perfect credit score is anything above 799. Some experts even say that perfect credit begins at 751. But our research into credit card approval rates indicates the bar is a bit higher.
Perfect credit is more attainable than you might’ve thought for a simple reason: Higher scores won’t save you more money.
And as a result of this dynamic, nearly 15% of people can rightfully think of themselves as having perfect credit scores, according to WalletHub data. Plus, everyone with excellent credit (750+) is within shouting distance.
Who has a perfect credit score?
You can see if you’re part of the perfect-credit crew by checking your latest credit score for free on WalletHub, the only site with free daily updates. Below, you can learn more about why you don’t need a credit score of 850 to have perfect credit, plus what you can do to build a perfect credit score.
Why Perfect Credit Doesn’t Demand Perfection
Less than 1% of people have a credit score of 850, according to the major credit-scoring companies. And it simply wouldn’t make much business sense for financial institutions to create special products for such a small target market. So they don’t.
After all, when was the last time you saw a credit card “for people with perfect credit”? Never. Instead, you see offers for people with excellent credit.
But if it isn’t 850, and there isn’t one perfect credit score, where do you draw the line? Where does excellent credit end and perfect credit begin? It’s all about risk and reward: how much risk you pose to lenders and when a higher credit score stops rewarding you with additional savings. And that point seems to be anywhere from 751 to 800.
“Many lenders consider anyone with scores above 750 as being almost completely void of credit risk,” said credit expert John Ulzheimer. “There’s little incremental value in having an 850 over having a 750, as you’re likely going to get the best treatment in either scenario.”
In other words, a score above 750 is generally good enough for you to get the best terms on your credit cards, loans and insurance premiums. But you should shoot for 800 just to be safe. And anything beyond that is good for little more than bragging rights.
So as Stacy Smith of Experian recommends, “Instead of chasing the impossible perfect score, strive for a score that is good enough to qualify you for the best rates.”
3 Tips for Building a Perfect Credit Score
The process of perfecting your credit score is very similar to simply building a good credit score from scratch. You need positive information flowing into your credit reports on a monthly basis. And the easiest way to accomplish that is to use a credit card responsibly.
But there are a few things you can do to push your credit score into perfect territory once you’ve reached good or excellent credit.
Pay twice a month – Paying monthly loan and credit card bills on time every month is one of the easiest ways to help your credit score. And failing to do so is one of the easiest ways to hamper credit-improvement efforts. So one on-time payment per month should already be in your plans. But doubling up can pay big dividends by helping to reduce your credit utilization ratio.
Credit utilization is calculated for each of your credit card accounts, based on the spending limit and the balance listed on your monthly statement. Paying your bill early enables you to reduce your statement balance and thus your credit utilization. And paying again ensures you won’t be charged interest for purchases made between your first payment and the end of the billing period.
Maximize your available credit – The more credit you have at your disposal, the better it generally is for your credit score. And there are a few ways to increase the amount of credit you have available. You can reduce the amount you spend, for one thing. And you can become an authorized user on a family member’s credit card account, assuming they have excellent credit.
You also can request a higher credit limit and even apply for a new credit card. Those last two things may lead to a short-term drop in your credit score, given the hard inquiry that results in both situations. But they should lead to long-term gains if used responsibly.
- Check your Credit Analysis – The Credit Analysis page of your free WalletHub account provides a letter grade for each component of your credit score as well as personalized credit-improvement advice based on your biggest weaknesses. You’ll also be able to watch your credit score improve over time, as WalletHub is the only site with free credit scores and reports that are updated daily. That means you’ll know as soon as you have a perfect credit score, too.
For more tips and tricks, check out WalletHub’s complete guide on How to Improve Your Credit Score.
Ask the Experts: Getting to Know the Near-Perfect-Credit Crowd
For a more intimate look at what it’s like to have perfect credit, we posed the following questions to a panel of people who either currently have or have previously attained an 850 credit score. Hopefully you can pick up some pointers that will take your credit standing to the next level.
- Is a perfect credit score a goal of yours? Why or why not?
- How often do you check your credit score?
- What is the best tip you would give someone trying to build good credit?
Yes, because I want to be someone that stays out of consumer debt and pays bills on time. The fact that many employers run credit checks on potential employees indicates that a good credit score is reflective of how reliable and responsible you are — possessing those qualities matters to me. Having a great credit score also allowed me to buy my first condo during the height of the recession when mortgages were hard to obtain.
How often do you check your credit score?
Because I'm concerned about identity fraud, I try to check it every six months.
What is the best tip you would give someone trying to build good credit?
Avoid debt like the plague. Any time you charge a purchase to your credit card, pay it off the next day. If you don't have cash to cover that purchase in the bank, don't buy it. Despite making a decent salary, I drove the same car for 17 years because it worked well, and I didn't want to replace that vehicle unless I could easily pay cash for another one. Building good credit definitely requires you to not have a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.
If you get a power bill today, it is usually due in a couple of weeks. You and I know what happens in the next two weeks. Other bills come in. It is a constant cycle of shuffling bills and wondering which should be paid first. Paying the bill the day it comes in gives me discipline. Paying my obligation the day it comes in also assures me that I will not spend those funds on something else. After several months of doing this, I could see my financial picture getting better.
I know that this is not the secret sauce that will take away all financial worries, but it will surely change bad habits and be a foundation for good financial health. I practice this with personal bills and business bills. I also contribute to retirement plans the same way. I give to my church and various charities in the same manner. At the end of the month, finances are in control.
I am self-employed in the life-insurance business and my income is certainly not steady. My income changes every month, so paying obligations the day I receive them is key. This has allowed me to become completely debt-free. All of this didn't happen overnight, but 10 years ago I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It just happens one day out of nowhere.
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