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Do you have an excellent credit score? A lot of people can achieve good credit scores by practicing responsible financial habits, such as making on-time payments, but it takes a little extra knowledge—and some credit card savvy—to take your credit score from good to excellent.
But is having excellent credit worth it? Absolutely. Credit scores make up a huge part of our financial lives, so it’s to your advantage to learn how to get your credit score as high as possible—and getting an excellent credit score is just about as high as you can go.
How do you know if you have excellent credit? What is an excellent credit score and is there an easy way to get it? Let’s take a closer look at what is considered an excellent credit score, as well as what you can do to boost your credit score into the excellent range.
What is an excellent credit score?
According to the FICO credit scoring model, an excellent credit score falls between 800 and 850 points. FICO, or the Fair Isaac Corporation, operates one of the most popular credit scoring systems in the industry, and myFICO.com reports that over 90 percent of top lenders use FICO credit scores to help them make lending decisions.
Another popular scoring model is VantageScore, and there are several different models including VantageScore 3.0 and VantageScore 4.0. The most notable difference between FICO and VantageScore is the scoring range. With VantageScore, scores range from 300 to 850 and the factors that go into calculating a score are determined on a scale from “less influential” to “extremely influential.”
If your credit score falls within the excellent credit score range, your credit is as good as it gets. Yes, you could try to achieve a perfect credit score, but you don’t need to actively work on building your credit the way you might if you had fair credit or bad credit. Instead, you can focus on maintaining your excellent credit score by practicing the responsible credit habits that helped you earn your score in the first place, like paying your bills on time and keeping your balances low.
What are the credit score ranges?
What is an excellent credit score range? How does it compare to the other credit score ranges? Here’s a breakdown of the five FICO credit score ranges—including the points that fall within each range—followed by the VantageScore ranges:
|FICO Credit Score Ranges|
|VantageScore Credit Ranges|
What are the factors that impact your credit score?
The FICO credit scoring model uses five factors to determine your credit score: payment history, credit utilization, credit history, credit mix and recent credit applications. VantageScore calculates scores a bit differently, but under the same set of criteria. Let’s take a closer look at how each of those factors impacts your credit score with both FICO and VantageScore:
- Payment history (35 percent): This is your history of on-time payments. If you have excellent credit, you’re probably very good at making on-time payments—the most important aspect of building stellar credit.
- Credit utilization (30 percent): Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit you’re currently using compared to the amount of credit available to you. If you have excellent credit, you probably have a lot of available credit because you keep your balances low or pay them off in full every month.
- Credit history (15 percent): This is the age of your open credit accounts. If you’ve been successfully maintaining credit accounts for a long time, your credit score is likely high—one reason it’s important to keep old credit cards open.
- Credit mix (10 percent): Your credit mix is based on the different types of credit accounts under your name. If you successfully maintain different types of credit, such as revolving credit (like credit cards) and installment loans (like a car loan), your score will likely get a boost.
- Credit applications (10 percent): If you apply for a lot of credit all at once, lenders may wonder if you’re taking on a lot of debt—and whether you’ll be able to pay it off. This is why hard credit inquiries, which occur every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, can cause a temporary drop in your credit score.
- Payment history (40 percent)
- Credit history and credit mix (21 percent)
- Credit utilization (20 percent)
- Credit balances (11 percent)
- Credit applications (5 percent)
- Available credit (3 percent)
Steps to improve your credit score
If you want to learn how to get an excellent credit score—or if you already have excellent credit and want to work toward that perfect 850—here are some steps you can take to improve your credit score.
Start by making on-time payments every month, if you aren’t doing so already. Since 35 percent of your credit score is based on your payment history, making on-time payments is one of the best things you can do to boost your credit score.
Next, start paying down your balances. The lower you can get those balances, the more available credit you’ll have—which is good for your credit utilization ratio and even better for your credit score. Keeping a low credit utilization—below 30 percent at least, but ideally within single digits—is another surefire way to keep a strong credit standing. To quickly determine your current ratio, check out Bankrate’s credit utilization ratio calculator.
You can also increase your available credit by requesting a credit limit increase or applying for a new credit card. If your credit already falls in the Very Good range, going online and requesting a credit limit increase on one of your existing credit cards might give you the point boost you need to take you over 800.
Lastly, you’ll want to track your credit score on a regular basis—you can request your free report at AnnualCreditReport.com—and review your credit reports to ensure that all of the information is accurate and up-to-date. Understanding how your credit score fluctuates based on your outstanding balances, new credit applications and overall credit history can help you make adjustments that will benefit your credit score both now and in the long run.
Benefits of having excellent credit
There are numerous financial benefits of having excellent credit. When you have excellent credit, you can access the best credit cards on the market—including the top travel credit cards, the best cash-back credit cards, the best credit cards for dining out and more. Want to see if you pre-qualify without affecting your credit score? Check out our CardMatch™ feature and get matched with a card that best fits your needs.
Excellent credit score credit cards generally offer lower interest rates, thanks to your strong credit history. When lenders trust you to pay back your debt promptly and responsibly, they have less of an incentive to charge high interest rates—which means you can expect to receive lower interest rates not only on your credit cards, but also on auto loans, personal loans and mortgages.
Plus, your excellent credit will never stand in the way of your ability to rent an apartment, open utility accounts or—if your employer checks credit before hiring—get a job.