The highest credit score you can have is 850. Only a tiny percentage of Americans actually have perfect credit, though. However, many have a credit score that is considered good or very good in the eyes of creditors or lenders.
Here’s a closer look at credit scoring models, ranges and how credit scores are calculated. There’s also guidance to help you work your way up to an exceptional or excellent credit rating.
Credit Scoring Models: FICO Score and VantageScore
FICO and VantageScore are the two most prevalent credit scoring programs. Both are used to compute credit scores that demonstrate the risk consumers pose to potential creditors. However, FICO is more popular as it’s used by 90% of creditors and lenders to make credit decisions.
FICO Credit Score Ranges
FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Here’s how they’re categorized:
- Poor credit – 300 to 579
- Fair credit – 580 to 669
- Good credit – 670 to 7399
- Very good credit – 740 to 799
- Exceptional credit – 800 to 850
Below is a breakdown of how FICO scores are calculated:
- Payment history – 35% of your FICO score
- Amounts owed – 30% of your FICO score
- Length of credit history – 15% of your FICO score
- Credit mix – 10% of your FICO score
- New credit – 10% of your FICO score
VantageScore Credit Score Ranges
VantageScores are also between 300 to 850. The ratings are as follows:
- Very Poor credit – 300 to 499
- Poor credit – 500 to 600
- Fair credit – 601 to 660
- Good credit – 661 to 780
- Excellent credit – 781 to 850
Here’s how VantageScores are computed:
- Overall credit usage, available credit and outstanding balances – Extremely influential
- Credit experience and mix – Highly influential
- Payment history – Moderately influential
- Age of credit history – Less influential
- New accounts – Less influential
What is the Highest Credit Score? Can You Get a ‘Perfect’ Score?
It takes time and patience to achieve an 850 credit score. But you don’t need an 850 to be viewed as credit-worthy in the eyes of lenders and creditors.
The Benefits of Having the Highest Credit Scores
Once your credit score reaches 700 or higher, it generally becomes easier to qualify for lower interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, car loans and other debt products. And by responsibly managing your existing debt load, you can continue to strengthen your credit profile and score.
How To Aim for the Highest Credit Score
The first step is to review your credit report and look for any errors that could be dragging your score down. If you spot issues, file disputes promptly. Once that’s taken care of, here are some additional tips to make your journey to better credit smoother:
- Sign up for free credit monitoring to get alerts any time there’s activity in your credit profile. This helps you stay on top of what’s going on in your credit file, so you won’t be surprised when you apply for credit. Real-time credit monitoring alerts also allow you to detect suspicious activity and report identity fraud promptly.
- View the factors impacting your credit score along with Experian’s recommendations for boosting your credit health. This feature is an added bonus when you check your free credit score with Experian. The other major credit bureaus – TransUnion and Equifax – also allow you to check your credit scores online.
- Pay all your bills on time each month. Each time you add positive payment history to your credit report, your credit health improves.
- Keep your credit card balances low. The credit utilization rate, or the amount of your credit limit in use on revolving accounts (i.e credit cards), accounts for 30% of your credit score. Ideally, you want to keep your credit utilization ratio at 30% or lower – 10% or lower gives you the best shot at a high credit score.
- Maintain a balance of revolving (i.e. credit cards) and installment (i.e. auto loans) accounts. Credit mix is 10% of your credit score, and prospective lenders and creditors like to see you can responsibly manage different types of credit.
- Refrain from closing credit cards. Lengthy credit history can help you get a good or excellent credit rating. But closing credit cards – particularly those you’ve had for a while, will reduce your average age of accounts.
- Only apply for and open new credit accounts as needed. Each hard inquiry can reduce your score by two to five points. While the impact is minimal, too many in a short period can cause significant damage and be a red flag to prospective lenders.
- Use Experian Boost to improve your score. This free service adds timely utility, cell phone and streaming service payments to your credit report to boost your credit score.
FAQs About the Highest Credit Score
You need a 670 credit score under the FICO scoring model and a 661 VantageScore to have good credit.
The highest FICO and VantageScore you can attain is 850. Consumers who reach this level have a healthy mix of installment and revolving debt, established credit history and good debt-management habits.
You should pursue the highest credit score to take the guesswork out of qualifying for the best deals on credit cards and loans. A high credit score could also mean you won’t have to put hefty security deposits on file when you rent an apartment or turn on utilities. Plus, you may get lower insurance premiums if your auto insurance provider uses a credit-based insurance score to assess risk.