Key takeaways

  • A perfect credit score is a score of 850 on the FICO and VantageScore scoring models.
  • The general rule about credit scores is that the higher your score, the better, but having a perfect credit score doesn’t really get you better perks than having a near-perfect credit score — also seen as an exceptional credit score.
  • With an exceptional credit score — or a credit score over 800 — you’ll be eligible for the same perks, interest rates and benefits as someone with a perfect score.

Although a lot of people might like the idea of a perfect credit score, they’d likely have a hard time actually achieving it. In the U.S., only about 1.7 percent of the scorable population had a perfect 850 FICO credit score in April 2023, according to FICO data. This suggests that for most people, a perfect score is simply too hard to reach — but it also suggests that it’s not really necessary, either.

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, 24.1 percent of the scorable population had credit scores in the 800 to 850 range in April 2023, according to FICO. So, while getting an 850 credit score is difficult, a score above 800 seems like a more achievable goal.

But what if you want to be part of the 1.7 percent of Americans with an 850 credit score? How can you get a perfect credit score to begin with? We’ll show you how to work toward that number and why building a perfect credit score might or might not be worth it — plus, 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: 

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

So, how do you get a perfect credit score anyway? There’s no surefire way to do it — you could do everything right credit-wise and still only get a score that’s near-perfect. But if you still want to try, then you’ll have to 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 following extra steps that may, with time, help you achieve perfect credit:

1. Increase your available credit

Your available credit is how much total credit you have over all of your credit products. Work to increase your available credit over time by applying for new types of credit, as well as getting your credit limits raised. Consider applying for a mix of credit that includes both revolving credit (like credit cards) and installment credit (like car loans).

But 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.

2. Keep your credit utilization low

Your credit utilization ratio is how much credit you’re using compared to what you have available. In general, it’s recommended to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent.

But for a perfect credit score, you’ll need to get your credit utilization ratio as low as possible, preferably in the single digits. Those with 850 credit scores have an average credit utilization of just 4.1 percent, according to data collected by FICO in 2019. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Wait for your credit history to mature

Your credit history shows how long you’ve had your credit accounts, as well as all of your past credit activity. The length of your credit history is especially important because it makes up 15 percent of your FICO credit score.

But when it comes to this step, you can’t do much except wait it out. Keep your oldest credit card accounts open and in good standing, even if you rarely use them anymore, and your credit score should slowly start to rise with the length of your credit history.

Is a perfect credit score actually worth it?

For most people, a perfect credit score probably won’t be worth it. Having very good or excellent credit will be enough for most lenders to give you good rates and other perks. On top of that, the benefits of getting a perfect credit score are basically no different than the benefits of having exceptional credit — or a credit score of 800 or more. With exceptional credit, you’d get all of the benefits of perfect credit, including the ability to access credit cards designed for people with high credit scores.

But for you, whether a perfect credit score is worth the effort depends on what you hope to get out of your credit history.  If you’re the kind of person who likes a credit score challenge, trying to boost your credit score as close to 850 as possible could be fun — and if you’re about to apply for a mortgage or another major loan, getting your credit score as high as possible is always a good move.

However, don’t spend too much energy (or money) trying to earn an 850 credit score. Opening credit lines or loans you don’t need just to perfect your score isn’t good for your finances. Plus, at some point, you’d be putting in more effort than you’ll get back, because once you’re north of 800, you likely won’t be getting any additional benefits from a higher score.

The 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 unless you want to.

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