Is a perfect credit score worth it?

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Although a lot of people might like the idea of a perfect credit score, Experian reports that only 1.2 percent of consumers’ FICO scores are a perfect 850. This suggests getting the highest credit score possible is harder than it looks.

Luckily, you don’t have to have a perfect credit score to reap the benefits of near-perfect credit. If you have a FICO credit score over 800, your credit is considered exceptional—and according to Experian, 21 percent of consumers have credit scores in the 800 to 850 range. While getting an 850 credit score is difficult, a score above 800 seems like a more achievable goal.

How can you get a perfect credit score? If you want to be part of the 1.2 percent of Americans with an 850 credit score, we’ll show you how to work toward that number. We’ll also tell you why building a perfect credit score might be worth it—and we’ll explain why getting your credit score over 800 is much more important than earning the perfect 850.

What is a perfect credit score?

What does it mean to have perfect credit? If your credit score is 850, you have the highest credit score possible in both the FICO and the VantageScore credit scoring systems.

However, the FICO credit scoring system considers all credit scores over 800 to be exceptional. While trying to get a perfect credit score might be a fun game, you can get all of the advantages associated with perfect credit simply by getting your credit score over 800. Once your credit score passes 800, there’s little you can do to actually make your credit score even higher, besides keeping your credit utilization low and waiting for the length of your credit history to improve.

Benefits of a perfect credit score

The benefits of a perfect credit score are more or less the same benefits you get from having excellent credit. When you have a perfect credit score, you become eligible for nearly all of today’s best credit cards, including premium credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Citi Prestige® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express. Your credit card application could still get declined if you fall on the wrong side of something like the Chase 5/24 rule (which rejects applicants who have taken out five or more credit cards in the past 24 months), but in most cases lenders will be eager to loan you money.

Plus, your perfect credit should score you some of the best interest rates on the market—whether you’re applying for a credit card, shopping for a car loan or taking out a mortgage. In fact, if you took out your mortgage before you earned your perfect credit score, you might be able to save a lot of money by refinancing your mortgage and lowering your interest rates.

Having a perfect credit score can also make it easier to rent an apartment since landlords often perform a credit check after you turn in your application. Perfect credit might even help you during a job search if your employer checks your credit history during the interview process.

How to get a perfect credit score

Want to know how to get a perfect credit score? Start by building good credit—which you can do by making all of your credit card payments on time and keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent. Once you have established good or excellent credit, you can start taking the extra steps that may, with time, help you achieve perfect credit.

Increase your available credit

Work to increase your available credit over time by applying for new lines of credit. Consider applying for a mix of credit that includes both revolving debt (like credit cards) and installment debt (like car loans). Don’t apply for too much credit at once, because that could lower your credit score due to the hard credit inquiries associated with each application. Instead, wait between three and six months before adding another line of credit to your account.

Keep your credit utilization low

Aim to get your credit utilization ratio as low as possible. According to The Washington Post, FICO data indicates that people with 850 credit scores have an average credit utilization of just 4.1 percent. That means that if you have $10,000 in available credit, you’ll want to keep your revolving balances below $410. Anything else needs to be paid off in full before your billing cycle closes.

Track your credit score

You should also check your credit score on a regular basis. Many credit monitoring services not only update your credit score every week, but also provide insights into why your score might have gone up or down. Use those insights to get your credit score as high as possible.

Review your credit reports

Don’t forget to review your credit reports regularly and dispute any errors you find. Many Americans don’t realize that their credit reports contain inaccurate information—your credit report might list a credit account that actually belongs to someone with a similar name, for example—and those kinds of errors can drag down your score.

Is a perfect credit score worth it?

Whether or not a perfect credit score is worth the effort depends on what you hope to get out of your credit history. For a lot of people, having very good or excellent credit will be good enough; you still get nearly all of the benefits of perfect credit, including the ability to access credit cards designed for people with high credit scores.

Some people may still want to push themselves toward that exceptional 800-850 credit score range. If you’re the kind of person who likes a credit score challenge, trying to get your credit utilization low enough to boost your credit score over 800 could be a fun game—and if you’re about to apply for a mortgage or another major loan, shifting your credit score from excellent to perfect could save you some money.

However, don’t spend too much energy trying to earn an 850 credit score. At that point, you’re putting in more effort than you’ll get back because once you’re north of 800 there aren’t any additional benefits to getting your score higher.

Bottom line

What is a perfect credit score? If you have an 850 credit score, your credit is perfect—but any credit score over 800 is considered exceptional, and that’s just as good. Once your credit score passes 800, you’ll receive all of the benefits of having the best credit score possible, so there’s no real reason to push yourself toward earning an 850 credit score.