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Here’s How to Rack Up the Perfect Credit Score
A perfect credit score is truly the Holy Grail for any forward-thinking financial consumer – but getting that perfect credit score is no picnic. Here’s what’s considered a perfect credit score by credit reporting agencies – along with a few tips on how to get one.
Ever hear of a “perfect” credit score? Unlike Bigfoot, the Lochness Monster, and the ability of leprechauns to locate gold, perfect credit scores do exist.
Landing a perfect credit score is a big challenge, however.
A Personal “850” Story
The best path to a perfect credit score is created with goal-setting, discipline, and an internal drive to put yourself into the best position for big-ticket purchases like a personal loan, a mortgage, a new car or truck, or a great credit card with all the bells and whistles.
That’s how Joel Klein viewed his hunt for a perfect credit score.
Klein, founder of Self-Generated Income, a digital money management platform, now has a FICO credit score of 850 – the holy grail of credit scores, according to financial experts.
“According to the reports in my Bank of America account (based on TransUnion data) and my Discover Credit Scorecard (based on Experian data), I have a FICO score of 850.” Klein said. “However, it wasn’t always that way. My credit scores have been much lower in the past due to poor use of my credit cards.”
To make it to the top of the credit score mountain top, Klein set out with a few key objectives in mind.
“I have never had a late payment and I maintain low use of my available revolving credit limits – both the total limit as well as individual card limits,” he said. I’ve paid off significant credit card debt in my past and have learned to use credit cards responsibly. “In addition to my on-time payments and low revolving credit utilization, I also have a mix of credit accounts in my credit history (for things like auto loans and a student loan), a long credit history, and a low number of inquiries for new credit.”
With that blueprint, Klein now has that 850 FICO credit score – and you can, too.
Getting the Perfect Credit Score
It does take time and patience to land a primo credit score, along with a plan that’s clearly laid out.
“A perfect FICO score is 850,” said Richard Best, a credit specialist at Dontpayfull.com, an online savings and discount aggregator. “To achieve that, you need to have at least seven years of positive account history, no late payments for the previous seven years, a least five current accounts, and a debt level that doesn’t exceed 25% of your available credit.”
To get there, follow these actions steps, financial experts say.
Pay your bills on time – constantly. Paying your bills, especially loans and credit cards, on time is very important if you want to improve your credit score.
“A good way to ensure that you never miss a payment is to set up a standing order for at least the minimum amount required on each loan or credit card, so you don’t rack up any missed or late payment fees,” said Holly Andrews, managing director at UK-based KIS Finance. “Then you can pay as much as you want on top of the minimum payment. Paying off your balance in full every month, however, is one of the best ways to improve your credit score.”
Reduce your debt. Eliminating your debts is another very important thing to do if you are eager to improve your credit score.
“Once you have repaid a debt in full, this gets recorded on your credit file and the account is closed,” Andrews said. “The more you can pay off, the more it shows to future creditors how you are capable of managing your debts. Lenders are more likely to lend to customers to have a good history of repaying their debts in full.”
Diversify your credit portfolio. Having several types of credit, which you manage responsibly, can help boost your credit score right up to the 850 level.
“Having diversified credit shows that you’re capable of managing different types of loans and repayment methods,” Andrews noted. “Accounts that contribute towards your credit file include credit cards, mortgages, vehicle finance, personal loans, overdrafts, and household bills.”
Monitor your credit. The credit bureaus are known to make mistakes, so keep an eye on your credit report. “Even a small reporting error can affect your score,” Best said. “Monitor your credit regularly to ensure all your payments are being reported no erroneous information appears on your credit report.”
You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, or at any of the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, or Transunion.
Be diligent and have patience. It takes time to build a perfect credit history.
“Depending on where you stand with the above listed factors, you may need to give yourself five to seven years,” said Best. “So factor that into your perfect credit score equation.”
Brian O'Connell has been a finance writer at TheStreet, TheBalance, LendingTree, CBS, CNBC, WSJ, US News and others, where he shares his expertise in personal finance, credit and debt. A published author and former trader, his byline has appeared in dozens of top-tier national publications.