So is 800 a good credit score? Well according to Fair Isaac (developer of FICO) only 13 percent of Americans have a credit score above 800. When you consider the national average is 692 and the median is 723, the 800-and-over crowd is an exclusive club indeed. But how do you get there?
If you want to know how to get a 800 credit score, you should go straight to the horse’s mouth….
- MyFICO.com – This is FICO’s site for consumers. Yeah, a lot of it is trying to sell you on their credit score monitoring services – but aside from that, there’s a great deal of free information in the education and community sections of their site.
- Members of the 800 club – Know someone with a FICO score in this range? Grill them on the types of accounts they have, their credit utilization, payment history and more. Want someone to start with? Well in a recent post, I wrote about my credit score of 790, which you may find useful (used to be 800 before some recent credit inquiries were made).
Is that too much work? OK, here’s a cheat sheet for you…
If you don’t want to spend all your waking hours scouring the MyFICO site, poring over forum posts and interrogating those who already have a high score, I’ve created the following cheat sheet just for you.
This information is derived from the clues that MyFICO gives about so called “high achievers” (those with a score between 760 and 850) as well as my own experience and knowledge.
1. Age of your accounts
Unfortunately this is one of the few things that you can’t control. Just like you can’t accelerate the aging of a fine wine, you can’t speed up the clock on the age of your credit account.
The oldest revolving account (translation: credit card) for the high achievers is pegged at 19 years on average. Furthermore, the average age across all their accounts is between six and 12 years. The age of your accounts is important because lenders like to see you’ve been handling credit responsibly over a long period of time.
What does this mean? Age discrimination that’s 100 percent legal! Even though I first hit 800 in my mid-20s, that is extremely rare and most people may not hit that number ‘til their 30s.
2. Bad debt
Collection or public record on your file? On MyFICO it says that “virtually no” high achievers will have that. So even if you do everything else right, don’t think you can get away with having that one ER bill charged off or that old credit card from five years ago in collections.
Don’t get me wrong: You can have charged off debt and a few years later, it might be possible to have a FICO in the mid-700s. But if you are shooting for a credit score of over 800, you need to seriously do whatever it takes to prevent charge-offs. If they’re already on there, you’ll need to let time do its work. Charge-offs will fall off your credit reports after seven years.
3. Number of accounts
According to a post by a MyFICO moderator, six accounts currently being paid as agreed is the average for high achievers. Moreover, high achievers have an average of four to five credit cards on file (which includes accounts both currently open and those that have been closed but are still on the report). Just a little FYI though — I have many, MANY times more cards than that!
So for all the haters out there that love to harp about how evil credit cards are, just remember, when used responsibly, they can be quite helpful for your credit score. If you honestly think you’re going to get to 800 and above by only having a student loan and car loan on record, then I have some swampland in Florida I would like to sell you.
This post was written or last updated Jan. 31, 2014