Home > Credit Score > Is a ‘Perfect’ Credit Score Even Possible?

Comments 0 Comments

If you were someone who wasn’t satisfied in school unless you had a report card filled with As, then maybe a blemish-free 850 credit score is your adulthood equivalent. You’ve heard it exists, but you’ve yet to see the perfect credit score yourself.

But that may be OK, as “there is absolutely no advantage to having [an] 850 versus any other 800 number (or even high 700, in most cases),” Thomas Nitzsche, media relations manager for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, said in an email.

Is Perfection Possible? 

While it may not be essential, the fact of the matter is, getting a perfect credit score isn’t easy. Credit scoring algorithms are complicated, and even if you do take a look at your credit and see a gold-star 850, it’s unlikely you’ll keep it forever.

“A perfect score is possible but very rare,” Nitzsche said.

And, really, once you have what is deemed “excellent credit” — typically seen as about 750 on a 300 to 850 scale, which most major credit scoring models follow — you’ll likely qualify for the best interest rates and credit products anyway. Whether you have a score of 780 or a perfect 850 won’t make much of a difference to anyone (except you, if perfection is your thing).

Good Habits That Lead to Excellent Credit

What we’re saying is that, yes, you can get perfect credit, but you don’t have to. However, working toward having great or excellent credit is certainly something to strive for. So, how do you do it?

“If you pay your bills on time, keep your balances low and apply for credit only as needed, over time you can build the credit scores you need to get the credit you want without unnecessary stress or frustration,” Rod Griffin, director of public education at credit bureau Experian, said in an email.

In addition to having a strong payment history, good debt usage (which experts say is at least 30%, and ideally 10%, of your combined credit limit) and few hard inquiries, it’s important to note that your age of credit and diversity of credit accounts are other factors impacting major scores. (To see where your credit currently stands, you can review your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

And organized perfectionists rejoice — getting a good credit score is your time to shine.

“Those who set reminders, obsess over due dates and outstanding debt, notice when bills are missing, etc. have an advantage over those who are more impulsive,” Nitzsche said.

What to Avoid

Nitzche said it’s important to stay current on payments, as missing one can harm your score and keep (or significantly delay) you from achieving credit perfection.

“Payment histories remain on your credit report for 7 years, so missing just one payment can haunt you for a long time,” Nitzsche said.

He added, “Beyond this, the most common problems we see are folks not using credit at all (thus having low scores) and consumers who overextend themselves, using too much of their available credit.”

Griffin pointed out that you should avoid comparing your scores to other people’s, as that’s not what lenders are doing.

“It is possible for two people to have the same credit scores but for very different reasons,” Griffin said. “The only way to know what you need to do to maximize your credit score is to identify the specific items from your personal credit history that are most affecting your personal credit score.”

Now’s the Time to Start Building Good Credit 

So, whether you’re after that perfect 850 or just want a score that will help you get better terms and conditions on your lines of credit, it’s never too late to start.

“Don’t wait until you need good credit to start working on a great credit score,” Nitzsche said. “It may not feel like it right now, but you will likely have financial goals in the future that require a good credit score — or that will be easier if you have a great credit score.”

Image: PeopleImages

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team