What is the Highest Credit Score?
For both the FICO score and the VantageScore, the highest credit score is 850. However, you can still get competitive interest rates and good terms on loans with a credit score in the "very good" range between 740 and 799.
What is the highest credit score?
Generally, the highest credit score you can achieve as a consumer is 850. However, it's possible for a score to reach 900 in limited circumstances.
It's important to note there are a variety of different scoring models. However, the two primary models are the FICO score and the VantageScore, both of which have a credit score range from 300 to 850.
About 90 percent of lenders use the FICO scoring model, with most using FICO 8. The three major credit bureaus created VantageScore as a competitor to the FICO score, with the most popular version being VantageScore 3.0.
Whatever scoring model you look at, your credit score is likely to fluctuate at any given time and across the three credit bureaus. This is because creditors don't always report to all three bureaus.
Credit score ranges
Both FICO and VantageScore use score ranges that determine if a score is good, bad, or somewhere in the middle.
Here is how the FICO scoring range breaks down:
As you can see, FICO ranks different ranges of scores, beginning with "exceptional" scores and going all the way down to "very poor" scores. Here is a different way of looking at it:
800 to 850 - exceptional
740 to 799 - very good
670 to 739 - good
580 to 669 - fair
300 to 579 - very poor
While the VantageScore ranges are similar, there are some small differences. Here is a look at how the scoring bands break down:
As you can see, the score categories for VantageScore differ somewhat from the FICO scoring model. Here they are in another form:
781 to 850 - excellent
661 to 780 - good
601 to 660 - fair
500 to 600 - poor
300 to 499 - very poor
For example, a credit score of 781 is "very good" under the FICO scoring model, but it's "excellent" using the VantageScore model. These differences are due to how each model assigns weight to the factors that make up a credit score.
Factors in calculating a credit score
The two scoring models consider various factors when it comes to calculating a credit score. Depending on which model you use, some factors get more weight than others.
With both the FICO and VantageScore models, your payment history is the most influential factor for determining your credit score. While the FICO score weights each factor with a percentage according to its importance, VantageScore does not.
For example, the FICO scoring model weights the five factors that affect your credit score as follows:
Payment history (35%)
This refers to whether you pay your bills on time.
Credit utilization (30%)
The ratio between your available credit and how much you're using.
Credit history (15%)
How long you have used credit.
Credit mix 10%)
Whether you have a good variety of credit types.
New credit (10%)
How often you apply for new credit.
By contrast, the VantageScore model doesn't put a percentage with each factor. Instead, it breaks down the five credit score factors as follows:
Does having the highest credit score matter?
While having a "perfect" credit score might feel good and give you certain bragging rights, financial experts say striving for perfection probably won't net you any extra benefits you can't already get with a score in the "exceptional" or "excellent" range.
According to one chief financial analyst who spoke to CNBC, "obsessing over a score of 800 versus 820 is largely a waste of time." Instead, you should aim for anything 760 or above, as this will get you the best rates.
Benefits of having good credit
Having good credit offers a number of benefits. Here are six things you can look forward to when you have a good credit score.
Low interest rates - People with excellent credit scores receive prime interest rates. These are the best rates, which means they save money on interest compared to someone with a lower score.
Better odds of getting approved for credit - Lenders like to work with people who have good scores because these consumers are low risk. If you have a good score, chances are your credit history shows you are responsible with credit.
Leverage when negotiating - Having a good credit score also gives you an advantage when you sit down at the negotiating table. For example, if you're buying a car or financing a home, an excellent score can help you convince a lender to offer more favorable rates and terms.
Access to more credit - People with high credit scores often get approved for higher credit limits. This increases your purchasing power.
Lower car insurance rates - Insurance companies typically pull your credit report when considering you for a policy. Having a better score can score you lower insurance rates.
No need for a security deposit - In some cases, lenders and utility providers ask for a security deposit when an applicant has a poor credit score. With a good credit score, you probably don't have to worry about coming up with a security deposit for a mobile phone contract or utility service.
How to build and keep the highest credit score
There are several things you can do to improve your credit score and keep improving it over time.
Always pay your bills on time
Your payment history is the most important factor for determining your credit score. This is true for both the FICO score and the VantageScore.
If you have a history of paying bills late or forgetting to make a payment, consider enrolling in automatic payments with your creditors. Many creditors even offer a discount if you sign up.
Clean up your credit report
Negative items on your credit report can bring down your score. Worse, there is a chance some of the negative accounts on your report shouldn't be there in the first place.
According to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 1 in 5 Americans has an error on their credit report. Mistakes can include duplicate accounts, fraudulent accounts, mistaken identities, and inaccurate information.
To find out if your credit report is accurate and up to date, visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free copy from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It's important to review all three reports, and some creditors don't report to all three bureaus.
Improve your credit utilization
After your payment history, your credit utilization is the most influential factor in determining your credit score. Ideally, you should keep this figure below 30 percent.
For example, if you have two credit cards with a combined credit limit of $10,000 and you have a $5,000 balance, your credit utilization is 50 percent. To improve your credit score, you should bring your balance down to $3,000 or lower.
Avoid applying for too much credit all at once
When you apply for new credit, creditors usually pull your credit report. This adds a hard inquiry to your credit report.
While one or two hard inquiries probably won't hurt your score, racking up too many in a short period of time can lower your score. When you apply for too much new credit all at once, it can make creditors assume you're unable to pay your bills and thus desperate for cash.
Keep old credit cards open
Generally, you should avoid closing old credit card accounts even if you're no longer using the card. When you close a card, you can deprive yourself of valuable credit history, which can hurt your score.
However, there is no need to keep a card open if you're stuck paying a high annual fee or expensive monthly maintenance fee. In this case, you're probably better off closing the card and using other strategies to boost your credit score.
Highest credit score FAQs
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding the highest credit score.
Can you have a 900 credit score?
A 900 credit score is possible, but only in very limited circumstances. There are some older scoring models that go up this high, as well as the FICO Auto Score, which is sometimes used for car loans.
Is it possible to get a 850 credit score?
While it is certainly possible to get a perfect 850 credit score, it's difficult to achieve. According to Experian, just 1.2 percent of all consumers have a score of 850.
What percentage of the population has a credit score over 800?
About 20 percent of Americans have a credit score ranging between 800 and 850. The average credit score in the U.S. is 706.
Fortunately, your credit score doesn't have to be perfect for you to enjoy the best interest rates and terms on loans and credit cards. While having the highest credit score is a nice goal, financial experts agree that most people with a score of 760 or above will get good rates.
About the Author
Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.