When you’re trying to improve your credit, you may wonder what the maximum limit is for credit scores. The highest credit score possible is 850 and the lowest is 300. A bit over 1% of the US population has a perfect score.
Anyone that wants to achieve the highest possible score can do it if they set their mind to it and work on it for years. Just because this is possible to achieve doesn’t mean it is worth your time and effort though. Read more to learn my tips on high credit scores.
Credit Score Ranges
Your FICO or VantageScore can be anywhere in the range of 300 up to 850. There are 5 general levels to credit FICO scores…
- Excellent: 800 – 850
- Great: 740 – 799
- Good: 670 – 739
- Fair: 580 – 669
- Poor: 300 – 580
Which level your score falls in can drastically affect whether you’ll get approved for credit and it can even affect how much you’ll pay in interest rates. Poor scores will have difficulty obtaining any kind of credit. Fair credit gets you access to more types of credit but usually with bad interest rates. Good scores have access to most types of credit with better rates. Great or Excellent scores can typically get approved for all types of credit and will get the best rates.
Highest & Lowest Possible FICO Scores
A perfect credit score is 850. A bit more than 1% of the population in the United States has a score this high. Anyone with this score will receive the best possible interest rates for all loans. Mortgages, car financing and even a business loan isn’t a problem for someone with the maximum score as long as their income and DTI levels match their requested loan amounts.
The lowest possible score is 300. You have to really mess up bad to get a score this low. It would require never making payments and pretty much burning every possible credit source in the worst ways imaginable. Personally, I’ve had bad credit years ago. I didn’t keep track of my credit. I’d regularly default on loans and miss payments all the time. I was even habitually late on payments, often staying 30-60 days past due for years on numerous accounts.
Even after all of that, my score was only in the low 500s when I started trying to improve it. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and repossessions were basically the only bad things that didn’t exist on my credit report, so I would imagine someone with those negative marks on their record could have a score in the 300s or 400s.
Maximum Useful Credit Score
As you build up your credit score, you’ll get access to more types of financing and lower interest rates. However, this increase in benefits will plateau once you reach the 740-760 range. Once your score is above 760, you’ll end up qualifying for the best possible rates.
There’s a lot of room between 760 and 850 though. What happens when you reach that upper range? Pretty much nothing! Someone with a score of 765 and someone else with a score of 850 can get access to the same types of credit and the same rates.
Is there any point to obtaining a perfect credit score then? Yes and no. While your rates won’t get better beyond 760, it can still be useful to have a buffer zone. For example, if your score is 765 and you start to use some of your available credit and apply for new loans, you could easily end up dropping your score below 760 for a while. However, if you have the highest score possible then it won’t matter if it fluctuates and drops 20 points.
Pursuit of a Perfect Score
Sometimes setting a lofty goal to obtain perfection can help you to stay motivated. Even though there may not be much reward for having a perfect credit score, it can still be a sense of pride and ego to get there. This pursuit could also help to keep you motivated to always improve your credit. If you spend years repairing your credit and finally get into the 700s, you may feel like your job is done and stop paying attention to it. However, this lack of attention can actually result in your score dropping over time by simply making careless mistakes.
If you have decided to try to get the maximum score limit of 850, you will have to get serious about this goal for years. It can take a couple of years to repair bad credit just to get a score of 700. From there it can take multiple additional years to attempt to hit 850. You can’t ever miss a single payment. Payments can be late as long as they’re not more than 30 days past due. You also need a variety of credit types and make sure you keep your credit utilization rate low.
Even when you avoid mistakes with your credit, it may still not be enough to reach the 800s, much less 850. Time is important. Having aged credit accounts is something you simply cannot rush. Using your credit is really important too. In an attempt to keep credit utilization rates low and avoid interest payments, it’s easy to stop using credit cards. When you stop using your credit accounts and balances sit at zero, you maintain a perfect payment history, but you can actually miss out on more points when you don’t use your credit.
Credit Perfection Summary
Ultimately, it may not be worth the effort to try to achieve the highest credit score possible. Instead, make it your goal to reach 760. Once you get there, try to stay 20-40 points above that level to give yourself a bit of a cushion. This level will give you the maximum benefits with the least amount of effort.
With that said, if you want to get a perfect score, go for it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making that a goal. It can have a lot of positive benefits on your overall credit and financial habits.