At a Glance
Having a high credit score is helpful for qualifying for loans and securing good interest rates. But what is the highest credit score you can achieve, and is it necessary to have the best score possible? This article will cover:
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number that lenders use to determine your likelihood of being able to pay back a loan. Your score helps lenders calculate the amount you’ll be able to borrow and your interest rate.
Your credit report is maintained by the three main credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While a FICO score is technically just one type of credit score, the two terms are often used interchangeably. In this article, we will be using both terms to mean the same thing.
How are credit scores calculated?
FICO scores are calculated by:
- Payment history (35%): One of the biggest factors in determining your FICO score. This includes whether or not you’ve made payments on time, and any public history of accounts in collection or bankruptcy.
- Amount owed (30%): The amount you owe to lenders, and the percentage of available credit you’re using (less is better for your score).
- Age of credit (15%): How long your credit accounts have been open.
- Credit mix (10%): The types of accounts and loans you have. Having both revolving credit and installment loans can boost your score.
- Recent credit applications (10%): Recently opened accounts and credit inquiries are taken into account. Opening new accounts in a short period of time can make you look like a higher risk to lenders.
Each of these are broken down further to calculate your score, though FICO does not reveal how exactly it works. Scores fluctuate, so even if you are able to secure the highest score possible, it’s not likely that you’d be able to maintain it for long. Learn more about the FICO score changes.
What’s the highest score possible?
FICO scores are three-digits long, with higher scores corresponding to better credit. The credit score range from 300 to 850. The highest score you could possibly achieve is an 850.
- 800 and up: Exceptional
- 740 to 799: Excellent
- 670 to 739: Good
- 580 to 669: Fair
- 579 or lower: Poor
FICO also has scores that are industry-specific, such as for auto loans, which range from 250 to 900. However, for this article, we will be referring to the general credit scoring model only.
Do I need a perfect credit score?
No, a perfect score of 850 is not necessary. While it’s great to shoot for a high score, a perfect score is very difficult to achieve and maintain. A score of 670 and up is considered a good FICO score and will help you get approved for loans and new lines of credit, usually with favorable interest rates.
How can I find out my score?
To get a rough idea of your score, you can use our free credit score estimator. The big three credit reporting agencies will also give you a copy of your credit report for free once a year, so you can dispute any inaccuracies that might be hurting your credit score.
How can I improve my credit score?
If you want to improve your credit score, make sure to:
- Consistently pay on time: Payment history is a huge FICO score factor, so make sure to pay your statement on time. Automatic payments and/or reminders can help ensure you don’t miss a deadline.
- Keep a low balance: The amount you owe on your card also affects your score. Your credit utilization rate, or the amount of available credit you’re using, should ideally be below 30%. If you find that you’re approaching 30%, you may want to consider requesting a higher credit limit which will lower your credit utilization rate.
- Avoid applying for new cards: Make sure to only apply for a new card if it’s really necessary or beneficial to you.
- Check your credit report frequently: Make it a habit of checking your credit report at least once a year to look for any discrepancies that might be negatively affecting your score.