How to Get an 800 Credit Score
If you want to take out a cheap loan or get a decent rate on your mortgage, having an 800 credit score helps. Since the range is 350 to 850, 800 is about as good as you can get and will qualify you for the lowest rates across a variety of banks and lenders.
Figuring out how to get an 800 credit score, though, isn’t always easy. It’s not just a matter of whacking a few expenses on credit cards and paying your bills on time. There’s much more to it than that.
In this post, we take a look at what you need to do to raise your credit score to the 800 mark. While it’s hard to get a perfect credit score, most people can get close with little patience and know-how.
How Many People Have a Credit Score Over 800?
According to FICO research, about 22% of US adults have a credit score over 800. On average, Americans have a score of 704, a significant improvement from the depths of the financial crisis when it fell as low as 689.
Part of this has to do with improving economic conditions over the last decade and a half. However, the general upward trend in credit scores also indicates growing knowledge about how to raise them.
More people than ever before understand how scoring works.
Why Aim for a Credit Score of 800?
There are several reasons people should strive to increase their credit score to 800. These include:
- Better credit card deals and lower rates of interest: When creditors believe you’re highly likely to pay them back, they’re much more willing to offer you better credit card deals and lower rates of interest. One of the 800 credit score benefits is access to credit cards that offer 0% promotional rates on balance transfers and purchases, lowering your overall cost of credit.
- Higher chance of qualifying for lower interest rates: When you get your credit score to 800, you’re also much more likely to benefit from the lowest rates lenders offer. The percentage differences might seem small on face value, but over the lifetime of a loan (particularly a mortgage), you could be thousands of dollars better off.
- More likely to get your application approved: Being able to take out a loan or a credit card is by no means guaranteed. However, if lenders see that you have an 800 FICO score, the vast majority will agree to lend to you. There’s simply no reason not to.
How To Boost Your Credit Score to 800
Boosting your credit score to 800 is actually easier than you might think. In many cases, you don’t have to earn more or build up a massive stock portfolio. Instead, all you need to do is improve your borrowing and repaying behavior. Here’s what to do:
Allow Negative Information To Age Off Your Credit Report
Information about your credit history remains on your report for seven years – a time limit imposed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
So, if you do have any missed payments or other hits to your credit score, you may need to wait for them to fall off your report before you’re able to get a FICO score above 800. Note that bankruptcy will remain on your report for longer - up to 10 years.
Sometimes, you can ask credit bureaus to remove negative information about you, particularly if it’s incorrect.
However, they may refuse. In this situation, the best thing you can do is make other payments on time and avoid missing any in the future.
Avoid Making Too Many Inquiries
Credit bureaus can downgrade your credit score if lenders make too many inquiries – sometimes called “hard inquiries” – on your account. It’s believed that the number of hard inquiries you make constitutes about 10% of your overall credit score.
Therefore, it could be the difference between a score of 770 and a score of 800. That doesn’t seem like much, but in some cases it could deny you access to the best rates.
Before you make any credit score inquiries, do your research. Find out everything you need to know about the credit cards you’d like, and then make a single inquiry when you’re ready to take one out.
Pay All Your Bills on Time
Always make sure that you pay loan or credit card installments on time. Missed payments count against your credit score and will make it unlikely that you’ll hit the 800 mark.
FICO says that on-time payments account for about 35% of your total score. If your bills go beyond 30 days past due, creditors will report this to the credit bureau, and your scores will begin to suffer.
If you’re paying by credit card, set up autopay. This way, you’ll repay any outstanding balance at the end of the month automatically, without incurring interest charges or causing damage to your credit score.
Check Your Credit Reports for Errors
Credit bureaus don’t always get everything right. From time to time, they can make mistakes. Unfortunately, when these go on your credit report, they can damage your score, so it’s critical to dispute them if you notice any. Research suggests that as many as one in five credit reports contain errors.
You can keep tabs on your credit score on various paid websites that interact with credit agencies on your behalf. Options include:
These services will give you a full rundown of your current credit situation and what’s driving it. You can then use their dispute resolution process to clear up any errors rapidly.
Keep Your Credit Balances Low
Maxing out your credit can damage your score. The reason for this is simple: The more credit you take out, the less borrowing your income can support.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to keep your balances at or below 30% of your credit limit. For instance, if you have a $5,000 limit on your credit card, you’ll want to keep your actual credit usage below $1,500.
To really improve your credit score, you may want to keep your credit utilization rate even lower than that. According to Experian research, customers with 800 credit scores only use an average of 11.5% of their total credit.
Take Out a Credit Builder Loan
Lastly, if you want to build an 800 credit score from scratch and you’re starting from a low level – say, 400 – then you might want to take out a credit builder loan.
These are loans you never receive but pay back to the bank to prove you’re good for the money. Once you pay back the money you owe, the bank releases payments back to you and boosts your credit score.
How To Maintain an 800 Credit Score
Once you reach a credit score of 800, you need to maintain it. You can do this by:
- Regularly reviewing your credit scores via third-party sites that don’t count as “hard inquiries”
- Continue to pay all your bills on time
- Set up a direct debit from your checking account to pay off your credit card every month
- Use a small portion of the total credit you have available, 10% to 30%
- Keep your unused credit cards open
- Don’t make too many credit score inquiries
Figuring out how to get an 800 credit score can seem a little daunting before you know how. However, as demonstrated in this post, achieving an excellent credit score is primarily about credit management, not how much you earn or the money you have tied up in your portfolio.
The principle is simple: Show creditors you’re their friend and, over time, they will reward you.
How rare is an 800 credit score?
A credit score of 800 or more is not particularly rare. Statistics suggest that approximately 21% of US adults fall into the 800-plus category, which is equivalent to about one in five people. The average credit score is between 690 and 710.
How long does it take to get an 800 credit score from scratch?
Credit bureaus want to see evidence of long-term creditworthiness before granting a score of 800 or more. Therefore, it can take up to seven years for people to get over this threshold, particularly if they have a history of missed payments or bankruptcy.
What is a perfect credit score?
A perfect credit score is 850 since this is the highest that FICO assigns. Practically speaking, a score like this is possible but difficult to achieve. To get to this level, you’ll need to demonstrate flawless credit management across a wide range of products over many years.
I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.