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Highest Credit Score: Can You Get the Perfect Credit Score?

Cecily Kellogg December 4, 2018

If you understand the world of finance, you probably know how important your credit score is. For those that don’t, it mostly comes down to obtaining loans and favorable interest rates. Those with high scores will see a high acceptance percentage and low interest, while those with low scores will suffer the opposite. A logical step you might take is asking how not just to attain an excellent rating, but the highest credit score possible. Below, we tell you everything you need to know about this question.

The Highest Score

First things first, let’s discuss what the highest credit score is. The standard FICO scale ranges from 300 to 850, making the latter the highest score possible. The following are the percentages of U.S. consumers at different credit score ranges (source: FICO).

800-850: 20.7%
750-799: 19%
700-749: 17.1%
650-699: 13.2%
600-649: 10%
550-599: 8.5%
500-549: 6.8%
300-499: 4.7%

As you can see, most people have impressive ratings, with each step down having a smaller percentage of the population. These statistics tell you that the majority of Americans are responsible with their finances.

How Many People Have it

Though you now know the general distribution for scores, you still might wonder how many have the highest credit score of 850. The answer is roughly 1%, according to FICO. The reason this number is so low is that perfection is tough to achieve. If you have one small wart in your financial history, it will likely bring you down a few points. Fixing those issues takes a significant amount of time and effort, and often still does not guarantee a perfect score. Additionally, most consumers don’t prioritize achieving an ideal score for reasons we delve into below.

Can You Get it?

Achieving the highest credit score is definitely possible, but it is more attainable for some consumers. If you have an excellent rating already, tweaking your behavior will allow you to reach 850. On the other hand, if you have severe mistakes on your record, getting a perfect score will take a long time. No matter what, perfection is attainable.

Why It Might Not Matter

As we explained above, the two primary advantages of having good credit are loan application acceptance and low interest rates. The reasons these are critical factors is that some of the most important moments of your life involve taking out loans. Three examples are applying for a mortgage, car loan, and business loan.

For each of these applications, the results have a massive effect on your life. Acceptance means taking a crucial step forward, while denial leads to staying in the same place. Additionally, interest rates are vital for large loans. The difference between a couple of percentage points could be many thousands of dollars over the course of your payments, so getting the lowest rates possible is vital.

With all of that said, the difference between an excellent score and the highest credit score is not relevant in the vast majority of situations. When lenders check your score, they look for something near the upper end. If you have a score of 850 and someone else has 825, there is very little chance that your interest rates will be much better than theirs. Because of this, obtaining a perfect score is not as important as just making sure you are in the upper range.

How to Achieve the Perfect Score

The following are the best methods for attaining the highest credit score.

• Pay Your Bills on Time

Missing a payment is one of the worst things you can do for your credit score. While just one or two mistakes is not the end of the world, they will keep you from a perfect score. If you have one on your record, you will have to wait seven years before it is removed. Paying your bills on time is the most crucial step you can take to achieve a perfect score, so it is worth prioritizing.

• Pay Your Bills in Full

Another critical factor is how much of a balance you carry. If you do not pay your bills in full every month, that will lower your score significantly. Additionally, you should try to keep your credit utilization low, which means using less than 10% of your credit limit. While it may seem unfair that your score drops even if you pay your entire bill, it is one of the rules of credit, and you must follow it.

• Have Multiple Types of Credit

Lenders want to know that you can handle different kinds of debt. For this reason, having multiple types of credit raises your score. While you should not take out a loan for the sole purpose of building up your score, increasing the diversity of your credit will help you achieve perfection.

• Resist New Credit

Opening many new credit cards is a red flag for lenders and thus, lowers your score. To avoid this penalty, you should only open a line of credit when it is vital.

• Build a Long History

The last factor that raises your score is history. There isn’t much you can do about this one except wait. After a couple of decades, your score will go up based on your long history of responsible use.

• The 800 Club

Another piece of data that FICO gathered is credit characteristics that top scorers share. Each of them echoes the concepts we outlined above and additionally, provides more specific numbers.

• Around 25 Years of Credit History

After 2.5 decades, FICO gives you a significant bump in score. The reason is that an extended credit history shows long-term reliability.

• Very Little Money Owed

This point echoes our recommendation of paying your bills in full. The extract metric FICO gives is less than $3,500 on your cards at one time.

• Low Utilization

Less than 10% is the standard advice for utilization, but the 800 club usually has less than 7%. This low usage comes from responsible spending and using cash for large purchases.

• No Missed Payments

As we explained above, missing payments is the worst thing you can do for your score. Most 800 club members have no missed payments on their records, meaning they have paid every bill for the last seven years.

Enjoy it While it Lasts

One thing to understand about your credit score is that it can fall at any time. You might miss a payment, utilize too much credit in a month, open up a new credit card, or act in any other way that lowers your score. When you do, you’ll find yourself back below perfection. For most, this is inevitable. We are all human, so small credit mistakes are bound to happen. Because of this, you should enjoy your perfect score before it inevitably dips again.

Now that you understand the highest credit score, you can decide if you want to pursue it. Ultimately, making this choice will be a personal goal, rather than one with severe consequences. The reason is that the difference between an excellent score and a perfect one is insignificant. Still, taking on the target of perfection is something that you might find fun, and pursuing it can only bring you positive outcomes. If perfect is what you want, then feel free to chase it. If not, a typical high score is just as favorable for your financial wellbeing.

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