Most people know that having a good credit score is important. A good credit score opens the door to better interest rates, which saves you money.  The higher the score, the better. So, it’s no surprise that chasing the “perfect” credit score is a goal many people strive to achieve. While it takes a bit of work and time, reaching the highest credit score isn’t an entirely impossible task.

While exceptional scores start at around 800 points, both FICO and VantageScore, the main issuers of credit scores, top their scales at 850.

How can I get a perfect credit score?

While not many people achieve a perfect score, it’s possible to get an 850. And getting your credit score to the highest credit score possible starts by having a clear understanding of what a credit score is and how it’s calculated. Another key factor is patience.

The amount of time it takes to get to 850 can seem long, especially if you’re starting from the lower end of the credit score range. But, if you focus on the key credit score factors, you may be able to claim the highest given score. However, it’s important to note that it’s normal for credit scores to fluctuate with each billing cycle based on your activity. While you may reach 850 one month, it’s possible for your score to go down a bit the next month and then go back up again.

What percentage of the population has a credit score over 800?

According to both FICO and VantageScore, only around 1% of their reported scores are 850. As for people who have scores above 800, the percentage is a little higher. The most recent data from FICO shows around 20 percent of scores reported at over 800 points. For VantageScore the number is a little lower, coming in at 17 percent.

How can I get a perfect credit score?

While getting a perfect score isn’t necessary to reap the benefits that an exceptional score provides, but it’s something to aspire to. If you’re trying to get a perfect credit score, you can start by examining your credit report on a regular basis. Due to COVID-19, you can check your report from all three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) weekly until April 2021 – and it’s free. Knowing where you stand will give you an idea of what you need to do to increase your score.

Next, it’s time to focus on strengthening the key credit factors. This starts with how you use credit. To get a perfect score, you’ll need to use only a small fraction of your available credit. Try to use no more than 10 percent at a time, less if you can. The average utilization rate for those with perfect scores is six percent. When using your credit card, focus on making regular payments on things, like a phone bill or utilities. This will keep your card activity consistent, which is also important for your credit score. Another key to a perfect credit score is to always pay your bills on time and ideally in-full.

When working towards a perfect credit score, the type of credit you have is also important. People with the highest scores have a variety of credit on their credit report. This includes credit cards, loans and mortgages. Time also is a factor – the longer your credit history, the better. Lastly, be very selective about opening new accounts. Each time you apply for new credit, a hard inquiry is made on your account. Hard inquiries cause your credit score to go down temporarily. Instead, look for pre-approval for new credit accounts. Pre-qualified and pre-approved offers only require a soft inquiry, which won’t affect your credit score.

What can a perfect credit score get you?

Having a perfect credit score can open quite a few doors for you financially, but it’s actually not necessary to have an 850 for that to happen. When card issuers look at credit scores, they are looking at a range, not a specific number. The very good range for credit scores starts at around 740, and any score in this range will give you around the same benefits, like access to higher tier credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, lower interest rates and pre-approval rates.