Both FICO and VantageScore, two of the most commonly used credit scoring models, set the maximum credit score at 850. Essentially, your credit score is an attempt to place a numeric value on how likely you are to repay any debt obligations that you have. While there are a few different credit scoring models, they generally measure the same sorts of things, like payment history and credit utilization.
A higher credit score is generally better than a low credit score, though there are diminishing returns the higher your score is. In other words, while there may be a real financial impact to raising your credit score from 650 to 700, you won’t see as much of an impact by boosting your score from 800 to 850. Even though it’s not the highest credit score possible, a credit score of 800 is likely high enough that you stand a good shot at qualifying for most loans at the lowest available interest rate.
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How Do Credit Ratings Work?
The different companies that calculate credit scores have different minimum credit score and credit rating scales. These scales generally divide credit scores into five different categories: poor, fair, good, very good, and excellent. Each of these ranges spans a number of different credit scores, and can be a good way to understand your credit at a glance.
What Factors Affect Credit Scores?
Different companies use different factors (and in different proportions) when calculating credit scores, which is why you have different credit scores. Generally, the following five factors affect credit scores:
• Payment history
• Credit utilization ratio
• Length of credit history
• Credit mix
• Recent credit inquiries
How to Check Your Credit Score
While you can check your credit report for free from the major credit bureaus, your credit report usually won’t contain your actual credit score. Instead, there are a number of different ways to check your FICO score or other types of credit score:
• Through your credit company or other financial institution, such as on a loan statement
• By purchasing it from one of the major credit bureaus or other providers
• On a free credit scoring website or other credit score service
Why Should You Have a High Credit Score?
Having a high credit score can have a positive impact on your overall financial situation. In fact, a good credit score is one of the most important assets you have in life. If you have a bad credit score, you may not be able to get approved for credit cards or other loans. And even if you are approved, you may have to pay higher interest rates than borrowers with better credit scores.
Tips for Trying to Achieve a Perfect Credit Score
Here are a few tips if you want to try to achieve a perfect credit score.
Never Miss Payments
One of the best things you can do to positively affect your credit score is to always pay your bills on time, each and every month. Having delinquent or past-due accounts can have a big negative impact on your credit score.
Keep Your Credit Utilization Rate Low
Your credit utilization ratio is defined as the percentage of your available credit that you are actively using. So if you have a single credit card with a $10,000 limit, and you’re carrying a balance of $1,000, your credit utilization ratio is 10%.
Your credit utilization ratio is one of the largest factors that makes up your credit score. Generally aim to keep it at 30% or lower.
Avoid Applying for Credit Too Often
Another factor that makes up your credit score is how often you apply for new credit. Because of this, you’ll want to be judicious when applying for a new credit card (like the SoFi credit card) or any other form of loan. Too many applications within a short window of time can raise a red flag for lenders.
Review Your Credit Reports
It’s also a good idea to regularly review your credit reports, especially if you have a starting credit score you’re trying to build. That way, you can make sure there isn’t any inaccurate or incorrect information on your report. If you do find missing or inaccurate information, contact the credit bureau to have it corrected.
Get a Secured Credit Card
If you don’t have the minimum credit score for a credit card, you might consider applying for a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you put down a refundable security deposit upfront, which then serves as your credit limit.
As you use your secured card responsibly, building up to a fair credit score or even a good one, you might be able to later upgrade it to an unsecured credit card.
Become an Authorized User
Another way to work towards a perfect credit score, especially if you are starting out in your credit journey, is to become an authorized user on a credit account of a trusted friend or family member. As long as your friend or family member is responsible with their credit usage, it can help build your credit score as well.
Pay Your Bills Regularly
Again, one of the best things that you can do for your credit score is to pay your bills regularly. This means setting up a budget and making sure that your income exceeds your expenses, with a little left over each month to stash in savings. That way, you can always make sure to pay your bills while having an emergency fund to cover any unexpected financial situations.
Recommended: Apply for a Rewards Credit Card
There are a few different companies that generate credit scores, and the methodology that each one uses varies slightly. In the most popular credit score models, the highest credit score possible is 850. While it’s generally advisable to work toward improving your credit score, it may not be worth it to overly focus on getting a perfect credit score.
If you already have an excellent credit score, you might consider applying for a credit card that gives you rewards with each purchase. One option you might consider is the SoFi credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn cash-back rewards, which you can then use to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.
The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1
What effect does an 850 credit score have?
If you have an 850 credit score, you are much more likely to get approved for any new loans or credit cards that you apply for. You’ll also likely be eligible for the lowest possible interest rates. These are a few of the reasons it’s beneficial to have a good credit score.
Which credit scores are most widely used?
Two of the most popular companies and credit scores are VantageScore and your FICO Score. However, there are several companies that have their own methodologies and credit scores. This is why you have different credit scores.
Which credit score do banks use?
Different banks, lenders, and credit card companies may use different credit scores, depending on their geographic location and other factors. Each different credit score company uses information from the three most popular credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you’re not sure which credit score your bank uses, you might be able to ask their customer service department or look for an answer online.
Photo credit: iStock/anyaberkut
1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details, please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .
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