FICO: What is the Highest Credit Rating?

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated January 3, 2022

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close up of a credit card symbolizing credit scores
January 3, 2022

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Consumers are naturally curious about their credit rating since it affects their ability to get loans and credit cards. A low credit rating can also make items like car insurance more expensive. So a high credit rating is certainly a worthy goal, but how high can you really go? What is the highest credit rating? You should focus on getting an excellent credit rating instead of trying for perfection.

850 is the highest credit score you can get on the FICO scale. FICO uses a range of 300 to 850 to determine credit ratings, with 300 being the lowest. So 850 is the highest score, but it is nearly impossible to get. Rather than aiming for perfection, you should be trying for a score of 760 or better.

Getting the highest credit rating is possible but just barely. It’s a little like bowling a perfect game. Just a few people achieve it. In fact, only 1.6% of US consumers with a credit score have an 850 rating. To get that score, you would need to have the perfect storm of credit utilization (probably zero balances with very high credit limits), a long spotless credit history, and no negative marks on your credit report, which is a difficult feat to achieve. And even with all of those factors, you may still not get the highest credit rating. So what score should you be shooting for?

The perfect credit score for a consumer is one that can get you the best interest rates and the highest credit limits. You can get those things if you reach a credit score of 760, according to FICO. Anything above a 760 is just going to be for bragging rights since a score of 760 or above will get you the best rates and credit limits. Your neighbor may have an 850, but they will not have an advantage over you when it comes to credit.

Most businesses use similar cutoff points when determining your rate or credit limit. So if you have a score below 700, you might have higher rates and fewer privileges than someone with a 705. That’s why you need to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your score healthy. Here are some tips on how you might be able to raise your credit score without trying any crazy tricks or participating in a scam.

Once again — no. An 850 credit score won’t get you any more perks than a 760 will get you, except for maybe bragging rights. And you don’t want to be that person at the party, anyway. Best to keep your credit score out of public conversation. Remember, FICO set up its range to help determine how trustworthy a person is based on their credit usage, but anyone with an excellent credit score can take advantage of the best rates and perks. Any rating of 760 or above means you are extremely trustworthy.

About 20% of people in the US have a score of 800 or higher. Twenty-five percent have a score of 740 to 799, and 21% have a score of 640-739. Sixteen percent of people have a score that is considered quite poor.

The average credit score in America is 711. This is up from an average score of 691 in 2013, mostly because the economy has been so strong in the past few years. People over 75 have the highest average score at 758, while people under 23 have the lowest at 674.

The perfect score for you is not an 850, but a score that will get you the best rates and perks is. Here is what determines your credit score and some tips on how you can raise it:

Payment history: This is the number one factor in determining your credit score, counting for 35% of your score. It monitors your payment history over the past seven years, marking you down when you miss a payment. So it’s important to always pay your bills on time. If you can keep your payment history clean, you have a good chance at an excellent score.

Amounts owed: Accounting for 30% of your credit score, this factors in how much credit you are using, employing a credit utilization ratio (CUR). Your CUR is how much you owe on your credit cards compared against your overall credit limit. The lower your CUR, the higher your credit score. So if you are sitting on credit card debt, the easiest way to bump your score is to pay off all your debt, or as much of it as you can afford.

Length of credit history: This factor, which accounts for 15%, looks at how long you’ve held your credit accounts. If you are constantly canceling old cards and signing up for new ones, you’ll be ranking low for this factor. Hold on to your credit accounts, even if you aren’t using that specific credit card anymore.

New credit: Any new credit that you obtain can either hurt or help your score. If you sign up for one new credit card, the added credit limit to your overall credit limit helps your CUR and raises your score. If you apply for five new credit cards, even if you are rejected by four of those, it shows the lenders that you are not being careful with your credit, which can drag down your score. Try not to open too many lines of credit at one time. This factor also accounts for 10% of your score.

Credit mix: Diversify. If you only have credit cards in your credit profile, that can weigh down your score. Same if you only have loans. A good mix of credit cards, mortgages, and loans shows that you know how to use multiple forms of credit, which can raise your score. This factor also accounts for 10% of your credit score.

Having a high credit score can open many doors for you. Most people just think it makes it easier to get approved for credit cards — which it does — but there are many other perks to being in the excellent score club.

Instant approval: With excellent credit, you have a much better chance of being instantly approved for mortgages, credit cards, rentals, loans and insurance.

Lower interest rates: Higher credit scores come with lower interest rates. This is true for credit cards, mortgages and any other type of loan you may get. You can also refinance your current loans to get a lower rate. With lower interest rates, you can save even more money, putting you in great financial shape.

Higher credit limits: If you want the ability to book your entire vacation on your travel reward credit card, higher credit can help you do that. Credit limits are determined by your credit score, so the higher your score, the better chance that you can get a high credit limit on your credit cards.

Credit card rewards: The best credit card rewards are reserved for those with excellent credit. You get upgraded to rewards like up to 5% cashback, access to exclusive airport lounges, free hotel breakfast, more airline miles, free memberships, and credits on things like Uber, Lyft, checked bags, and more.

Lower insurance costs: If you have been able to raise your credit score to an excellent level, reach out to your insurance companies and have them rework your plans. Higher scores can often get you lower insurance rates, from car to homeowners insurance.

Your highest ranking is the one you reach by being consistently responsible with your loans, mortgages, and credit cards. No one is perfect, but if you work at your FICO score, you should be able to reach the golden land of 760 and above. And that score is as high as you really need to go.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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