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achieve an 800 credit score

Here are some tips to help you reach the elite status of an 800-plus credit score.

A Quick Recap of Credit Score Basics

It’s important to understand that many types of credit scoring models and companies exist. The two most popular are FICO® and VantageScore®. While these scoring models are very similar, there are variances. So, your score differs depending on which credit report you’re viewing. For simplicity, we’ll reference FICO® scores from now on.

  • Credit Score Ranges

Credit scores range between 300 and 850, with 850 being the best. Each lender will have their own breakdown of credit score ranges in reference to approving and pricing loans. Here is an example:

    • 800 – 850 Exceptional
    • 720 – 799 Very Good
    • 670 – 719 Good
    • 600 – 669 Fair
    • 300 – 599 Poor
  • Credit Score Components

Your credit score is calculated by assigning different weights to the information contained within your credit report.

    • 35% Payment History
    • 30% Amount Owed
    • 15% Length of Credit History
    • 10% Mix of Credit Types
    • 10% New Credit

Two Components Not to Overlook

Two things that will significantly impact your credit score are time and being active. Your credit history is a snapshot of how well you manage credit over time. With a longer credit history, creditors can better gauge the level of risk when lending you money. For example, with “Payment History” making up 35% of your score, the more on-time payments in your credit report, the better.

It’s also essential that your credit history is active. That’s not to say you should always have loans or constantly use credit cards in a push to increase your score. It means that if you never use credit, there’s less data available to determine your fiscal responsibility – making it difficult to earn an exceptional score.

Tips to Surpass the 800 Threshold

  • Never Miss a Payment

Yes, this is a basic tip. However, it cannot be overstated. Payment history plays the most significant role in calculating your credit history, and it’s crucial you never miss a payment. Schedule your bills, loan payments, and credit card due dates on your calendar and set reminders. If possible, consider enrolling in autopay to ensure you never miss a payment. Life happens; accidentally missing a payment is easier than people think.

  • Lower Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio (CUR) is a figure that lenders use to gauge how well you manage revolving debt. Calculate this ratio by dividing your outstanding revolving credit balances by your total credit limit.

For example, imagine you have three credit cards with the following balances and credit limits:

Credit Card Outstanding Balance Credit Limit
#1 $250 $1,000
#2 $750 $2,500
#3 $600 $3,000

Your total outstanding balance is $1,600, and your total credit limit is $6,500. Your CUR will be 24.6%. Lenders like to see this number below 30%. However, individuals with 800-plus credit scores generally have a CUR below 7% or less. So, always try to pay your entire credit card balance off monthly to have a stellar CUR.

ELITE TIP: If you already have a great credit score and can avoid the temptation of spending, you can also decrease your CUR by increasing your available credit. That means you can contact your creditors and ask for your credit limit to be increased. Or you can open an additional credit card to raise your total credit limit. Your goal is to reduce your CUR, not spend more now that your limits are increased.

  • Diversify Your Credit History

Ten percent of your score is determined by the mix of credit in your report. The two main types of debt are secured and unsecured. Secured loans use collateral, such as car loans or home mortgages. Personal loans, credit cards, and student loans are examples of unsecured debt. Demonstrating you can manage both types of debt will strengthen your score.

  • Don’t Close Old Accounts

A common mistake people make is to close their older credit accounts. Doing so creates two problems that can negatively affect your credit score. First, your older accounts keep the average age of your loan accounts up when calculating the length of your credit history (which makes up 10% of your score). Secondly, you can accidentally cause your CUR to jump.

Using the example from earlier, assume you pay off Credit Card #3 and close the account. Your CUR would increase from 24.6% to 28.6%. This increase could be even more substantial if the credit limit were higher, for example, $10,000 or more.

  • Only Borrow Money When Necessary

When you already have a great credit score, it can be tempting to open new credit cards. You likely qualify for low rates, and today’s rewards programs can be enticing. However, to get to an 800-plus score, you should only borrow money as needed. Even stellar rewards programs won’t amount to the savings an exceptional credit score can bring on your next auto or home loan.

  • Monitor Your Credit Score & Report Regularly

It can be exciting when you’re closing in on that 800 score. Like dropping those last five pounds, you’re regularly stepping on the scale in anticipation. Checking your score routinely is a great habit and helps to keep your spending in check. But you don’t want to become disheartened if your score drops slightly.

Credit bureaus update your score regularly – typically at least once per month. That means they might calculate your new score right after you make a large purchase on your credit card. Yes, you planned to pay off the purchase before your due date, but they generated your score before then. Don’t fret. You know your balance will be paid off in time, and that will be reflected the next time your score is calculated. Maintaining an 800-plus score is just as important as passing the finish line. Soon, you’ll be chasing after that perfect 850!

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