Your credit score is far from a random number. It’s a snapshot of how risky or trustworthy you are as a borrower.
The higher that number, the less risk lenders take on when they give you a loan or approve a credit card application. The lower that number, the more risk they bear.
As such, borrowers with higher credit scores tend to not only have an easier time qualifying for loans and credit cards, but also, snagging more favorable interest rates. And so it’s a good idea to get your credit score as high as possible.
Credit scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850. And so once you reach the 850 mark, there’s nowhere upward to go, because you’ve achieved perfect credit.
At that point, your borrowing options are looking pretty good. But what if your score is lower? Just how hard should you be pushing yourself to get to 850?
A number that’s hard to attain
Experian reports that as of late 2021, 1.31% of consumer credit scores were perfect. So clearly, if your score is not at an 850, you’re in the majority.
You also don’t necessarily have to stress about your credit score not being perfect. Once your score reaches the upper 700s, you’re generally in a strong position to be approved for a loan or credit card, and at a great rate. And once your credit score crosses over the 800 mark, frankly, it doesn’t really matter what exactly it looks like.
To put it another way, let’s say you’re applying for a mortgage with a credit score of 830 and another borrower is coming in with an 850. Chances are, you’ll both not only get approved for a loan, but snag the lowest rate your lender is able to give you. So as long as your credit score is in good shape, it’s really not worth worrying about not having perfect credit. Getting to 850 won’t necessarily change things for you if your credit is already excellent.
How to give your credit score a boost
It’s one thing to not chase perfect credit. But if your score could use work, boosting it might make it easier and more affordable for you to borrow. So if your score is stuck in the 500 or 600 range, or even the lower 700s, it does pay to take steps to raise it.
One really great way to do that is to pay every single bill of yours on time. Your payment history carries more weight than any other factor when determining your credit score, so if you get into a pattern of paying on time, your credit score might increase notably.
At the same time, aim to keep your credit utilization low. Ideally, you should try not to carry a credit card balance that’s beyond 30% of your total credit limit. And if your utilization is higher, paying off some credit card debt could help your score improve.
Finally, make a point to check your credit report for errors that could be working against you. Right now, you can request a free copy every week from each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
You don’t need a perfect credit score to open up borrowing options. But you do need strong credit. So if your score could use a boost, it’s worth making an effort to bring that number up — even if you never actually make it to 850.
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