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Do You Need an 800 Credit Score?

Do you need an 800 credit score to get great interest rates and other perks? No, but find out why you might want to become a member of the 800 Club.

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This story originally appeared on MarketBeat

Have you always been insatiably curious about your credit score? I am. In my mind, my credit score is kind of like a report card, like a race toward personal best. (Hey, it's the best those of us with zero athletic talent can do.)

Depositphotos.com contributor/Depositphotos.com via MarketBeat

Despite widespread media reports of Americans' debt challenges, most consumers have credit scores that fall between 600 and 750. More good news: In 2020, the average FICO Score in the U.S. reached a record high 710, according to Experian.

So, speaking of an 800 credit score — what is it and should you work toward achieving it? Let's dive in.

What is Considered a Good Credit Score?

First of all, FICO scores range from 300 to 850, which translates to the following categories:

  • 300-579: Poor
  • 580-669: Fair
  • 670-739: Good
  • 740-799: Very good
  • 800-850: Excellent

As you can see, FICO defines a good credit score as a score between 670 to 739. 

What Percentage of the Population has a Credit Score Over 800?

In April 2018, about 21% of the population had a credit score between 800-850, which represents the higher echelons of credit score possibilities. 

However, that doesn't mean that most Americans don't fall into those "upper ranges." In fact, by 2020, 69% of Americans had a "good" credit score — at 670 or above. Americans have worked to get their credit into a better position than last year and even increased their scores three percentage points compared to last year.

How'd they do it? Credit card debt reduced by 14% last year and credit utilization also dropped 3.5%, to 25.3% in 2020. 

Is it Possible to Get a Credit Score of 850?

Yes! You can attain a perfect credit score of 850. Some Americans have achieved it. In fact, 1.2% of all FICO Scores in the U.S. sit precisely at 850. 

How do you know if you're close to 850 or way off? You can check your credit scores using a few different methods.

One thing to note: If you check your credit reports for free through Experian, TransUnion or Equifax, that doesn't mean you get access to your credit scores. (It's a common misconception.) You get your credit reports — a list of all the actions you've taken with creditors.

So how do you know your credit score? You can take various steps:

  • Check with your financial institution. 
  • Look at your credit card statement. 
  • Take a look at your loan information — your lender may provide it.
  • Use a credit score service or free credit scoring site.
  • Purchase a credit score summary directly from one of the three major credit bureaus or another provider like FICO.

Don't be alarmed if the credit scores provided by the three nationwide credit bureaus look different. Some creditors may report information to one credit bureau, two, or all three. Therefore, all three credit bureaus might show you a slight variation on your credit score!

What Does a Credit Score of 800 Mean?

When you have a credit score of 800, that means you have an exceptional score. Since you have a credit score well above the average, you'll probably have an easy time getting the very best credit offers when you apply for new credit. For example, if you want to buy a home, you may qualify for the lowest mortgage interest rates on the market. 

Credit scores fluctuate, however. Just because you have a credit score of 800 this month, will it stay the same next month or next year? No! Because your credit score moves up and down, at any given time, you get a report of your credit at that moment in time. It may look different this month compared to next year, so remember that when you take a look at your credit scores.

Therefore, you may wonder what will happen if you slip to 799 or slightly lower. Remember, 799 is still categorized as a "very good" score and you'll still have ample opportunities to qualify for good credit offers. That said, hitting the 800-850 range will still get you the best possible offer options.

How to Get a Credit Score of 800

When you want to shoot for those upper tier credit scores, keep a few things in mind. Take a look at a few guidelines you want to pursue relentlessly in order to achieve admission to the 800 Club:  

  • Keep your utilization rates at or below 30%.  What does this mean? This means that even if your credit card offers you a $10,000 credit line per month, repeatedly using more than 30% of that line will affect your score.
  • Length of credit history matters. A longer credit history will result in a higher score than a shorter credit history.
  • Credit applications affect your score. Applying for new credit means your score can drop temporarily, but often "comes back" within a few months.
  • Debt mix makes a difference. Multiple types of credit, including revolving credit (like credit cards or HELOCs), installment loans (like student loans and mortgages) look better on your credit score than just one type of credit. 
  • Keep tabs on your credit reports and scores so you know what's going on. Keep on top of your credit reports because it's very possible that the credit bureaus could have made a mistake.
  • Get rid of debt — with a caveat. Getting rid of revolving debt (like credit cards) helps your score by bringing down your credit utilization rate. However, know that closing certain lines of credit can actually bring down credit score temporarily. 
  • Make all of your payments on time. (Yes, even those pesky utility bills.)

Keep Your Credit Score in Tip-Top Shape

Should you stress if your credit score doesn't hit the 800 range? Absolutely not. Many borrowers can get loans and adequate interest rates when in the lower credit ranges. 

However, you may want to consider boosting your credit if you fall into the "poor" or "fair" categories to make sure you get the absolute best credit offers possible when you want to buy a car, buy a home or utilize credit in other ways.

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