What Is A Perfect Credit Score In 2017?

Is it a bad idea for you to strive for the highest credit score?

bullseyeWe all know the cliché nothing is perfect and this especially holds true in credit scoring. Why? Because not only is a perfect credit score almost impossible, but trying to get one might actually harm your personal finances more than it will help! Credit scores are an area where you shouldn’t make perfect the enemy of good!

The best score?

What is a perfect credit score anyway? Well if you’re going by FICO, it runs on a 300 to 850 scale. So if your definition of perfection is 100%, then a perfect FICO score would be an 850 FICO. This has been the case for many years, as far as the FICO score is synonymous with credit score.

However, I must warn you that the vast majority of websites do not offer true FICO scores. Only two websites offer them, MyFICO and Equifax, both charging $19.95 and $23.95, respectively, just to check it once!

However you can get your real FICO score every month for no charge with these cards from Barclays and Discover card:

If you check your credit score with all other websites, they use a different type of score. The top and bottom number will probably be different but even if it does use 300-850 for the range, you can’t compare a non-FICO to a true FICO since the formula used in the calculations will be different.

For example, the second most popular type – VantageScore – runs from 501 to 990. Someone could get an 850 on that and if they didn’t understand that it was a different model being used, they would wrongly assume they have a perfect credit score.

The lesson? Make sure you know what type of score is being used! The only one you should really be concerned about is FICO. Read this post to understand why: What is a good credit score?

Types of credit scores

Score typeMaximum score
Vantage Score (current version)850
Vantage Score (old version)990

Is perfection even possible?

Okay so now you know what’s perfect, but is it even possible to achieve?

If you want to know how to get an 800 credit score it’s really not that hard. Sure, it won’t happen overnight, but as long as you have a few accounts and manage them properly, you can hit 800 in just a few years.

However, the higher your score goes the more difficult it gets to go higher (i.e. the law of diminishing returns applies). This is why someone can jump from say, 670 to 700 (30 points) in perhaps 3 to 4 months under the right circumstances. But jumping from 800 to 830 (also 30 points) may literally take you decades and even then, there’s no guarantee it will even happen. The reason for this is because the scores fall along a bell curve. Something along the lines of this…

bell curve

A lot in the middle, but only a few on either sides of the spectrum.

How many are on the bottom? Well what we do know is that less than 1 out of every 15 people are lower than a 500 FICO credit score. That’s a pretty small percentage of the population, considering that it encompasses almost 200 points on the scale; 300 to 499.

How many are on the top? Or in other words, how many people have a perfect credit score? Well unfortunately, FICO doesn’t publicize the exact percentage of people with a given number. However they do periodically release information regarding what percentage of the population falls within a certain bracket.

 FICO score distribution

As you see, around 18% of the population is between 800 and 850. Keep in mind that percentage can change, give or take a point, depending on economic conditions. But if you research the distribution numbers from the past ten years, you will see this top bracket continuously hovers around 17-18%.

So 18% are above 800, but how many of these people have a perfect 850?

FICO hasn’t said much about this over the years. However as recently as 2010, Craig Watts, a senior public relations manager for FICO, stated in an interview that about one million people do indeed have the 850 score.

Then what percentage has a perfect credit score? Well as of the last census (2010) the US population is 308,745,538. We don’t know precisely what “about one million” means (800k? 1.2 mil? etc.) but whatever the case may be, it’s safe to conclude that around one-third of one percent (0.33%) have this coveted number. In other words, about 1 in 300 people.

How to get a perfect credit score?

Use credit wisely and basically be an old geezer.

In a different interview with Craig Watts (from the Consumerist, 2010) Watts stated that “Typically people who score in the mid-800s have been managing credit for at least a couple of decades.” And mind you the mid 800s, although quite difficult to achieve, is still a lot easier than getting an 850!

In short, the age of your credit record has a major impact. And unlike other factors such as quantity and diversity of accounts, you can’t control how old they are. Like an aged fine wine, you can’t speed up the clock.

Is it a worthy and realistic goal?

Should you strive for excellent credit? Absolutely. But an 850? Probably not.

The truth of the matter is that once you are in the neighborhood of 780 and above, you will be treated the same as someone with an 800, 820, or even 850. All of you will face the same approval requirements and get the same interest rates. It’s like trying to become an ultra-marathon runner vs. being in good shape.

So why strive for absolute perfection? There’s really no logical reason to. In fact, it’s nothing more than a narcissistic endeavor. Worse yet, in doing so you might actually be doing more harm than good.

I heard from a man in the low 800’s who took out a car loan. Not because he needed it, as he could have paid cash. The only reason he did it was because he wanted another installment loan on his credit report. He chose to pay finance charges, just to try and better his 800+ score. Does that make any sense?

More frequently, I hear from people who say they will never apply for another credit card. The reason? They don’t want to decrease their average age of accounts by opening up a new card… even though they actually want a new card. If you’re getting a mortgage in 6 months that makes sense, but not just because you want to go from an 805 to an 808. Think how much money these sticklers are losing by not taking advantage of 5% cash back credit cards, all because they’re too afraid to open a new account. That’s kind of crazy.

This kind of obsessive-compulsive attitude about credit scoring can be counterproductive, and no doubt, and probably led to the phenomenon of selling credit scores to the public. Don’t drive yourself crazy reaching for a credit score that’s perfect, when you can be 50 points lower and enjoy the exact same benefits in terms of credit access and preferential rates. At least now you can get a free credit score on card from issuers like AmEx, Discover and Barclays – that way you don’t have to obsess and see how your score builds over time.

Last updated February 2017

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

My score is 844. I know because I just got the first rejection letter I’ve had in decades. My bank kept telling me to switch to their new credit card because it’s got better rewards. The card I have with them now has a limit of 35K, I’ve had it for ten years and never paid late, and pay the full balance every month, even when it goes to 2,500 or 3K. I also have a checking account with them, and withdrew $4K a couple of days ago, $3,500 this morning, and still have 2k balance left. Haven’t paid any bill late in 15 or 20 years, and get credit anywhere I go. Just got a car loan earlier his year, used car, 2.74%, while a guy I know at work is paying 25% because his credit sucks. I don’t get it. I’ve got to wait until Monday when card member svcs is available to call them and tell them I think they’re morons.

Perfect 850 Fico 8 score here.

My score right now is 823 but who knows how long that will last. I got this by really doing nothing for 8 years after a foreclosure. And I got a secured credit card from my bank and paid it off every month. Last year it went to unsecured. I don’t plan on buying anything or any loans at all in the near future. At 54 years old less is more to me now.

My score is 847, just came today printed on my discover card statement.

9 Years ago, I co-signed a mortgage that was forclosed on. My score went south. Today my score is 806. Managing your credit is what you have to do. Pay your bills on time and keep your borrowing in check.

My credit rating hovered between 838 and 848 for the last 2 to 3 years. I turned 55 this year. I don’t know if that made the difference, but I am at 850. For now anyways!

If I may:

All our ultimate goal should be to someday not have to borrow ever as a consumer whether for a car, cloths, stuff, food or trips (borrow if you must like or as a business), with funds that you have eventually saved and put that money toward an investment that provides a return on your saved capital invested and wave goodbye to the consumer debt treadmill. A FICO score should become meaningless in terms of a long term goal (and “there” only in case of a worst case emergency and after your emergency fund, other liquid-able assets and friends or family are depleted. Think of consumer debt as a terrible form of material slavery. Learn how to fix your own car, grow a garden, raise a few chickens, sew, repair, learn how to budget and save. Seriously. New shinny things are economically dangerous. Buy depreciated stuff instead and with cash.

Funny. We all seem to place so much value on “our” Credit Score as if it is so critical to our identity when we should have something like a a Savings or No Debt Score. A credit score on yourself is just a means for banks and retailers to market toward you that some will argue thT you should not afford WITH BORROWING (BUT RATHER AND UNLESS you have saved in advance – I know: Old School)… (remember how much you hate all the CC mailers you get?) and ultimately to lend or provide services (utilities) to you and load as much debt

Yes, credit and leverage have their place but it is savings and investment that pull you out of debt slavery, not

I was recently alerted that my FICO score had reached 850. I was not actively trying to achieve this goal, but I was pleasantly surprised. Interestingly, my score took a big jump after I took out a $20,000 car loan about 10 months ago. I am 39 years old, I have a mortgage and car loan. I have paid off my student loans. I use 5% of my existing credit. My oldest account is 19 years old. The average age of my accounts is 11 years. I have no late or missed payments.

A few years ago after my husband applied for a line of credit (I wasn’t at the bank with him) I received a letter in the mail telling me credit score was 850, I still have the letter. Less than two years ago I went to buy a new car, my credit was over 850, I don’t remember the number, I was upset since the FICO score had to have been raised and my score was no longer perfect. I am looking online tonight to see if the FICO score is above 850 and I am not seeing it. My score must have been off the chart.

In Sept 2014, I had about $41K in credit card debt. (I know! I know!) Had been paying my bills on time. FICO score was always about 700-740. In Nov 2014, I took a home Equity loan and paid off the CC debt. Score shot up to 820 and has been there ever since. Working on paying off the Home Equity Debt.
I guess the lesson here is that secured debt is better than unsecured debt. It is cheaper too. 4.99% as compared to 15-21% on the CCs.

Congrats Mundu! Sounds like you are heading in the right direction!!! 🙂

We recently have reached the 850 FICO score. Important thing is to pay your bills on time. Don’t keep opening new cards(that hurts you). Keep cards open that have history. Closing them will hurt you. Be responsible. Watch your credit for mistakes.

Checked my FICO score 2 years ago with MyFico and it was 812. Just checked it again today, and it’s 833. Wow – what a nice surprise! The estimated FICO score provided by one of my credit card companies is about 738, which is well below my actual score. NOW I WANT 850!!!

I currently have an 821, I used a method called fluctuation after my bankruptcy to move my score up. I bought a brand new truck four months after bankruptcy. There are about 100 different companies out there that offer credit score rebuilding, I went to my personal banker and asked her what the millionaires do, and that’s what I did.

I’ve got an 805. Mostly from 4 credit cards that have an 18k average limit and only use the cards for gas and occasional online purchases. Student loans and mortgages have been paid off since 2011. 31 Years old and pretty conservative with money. Keep Credit high and balances low. I feel comfortable with my score and future rates that I may be entitled to.

I’m in my low 30’s and hover between 802 an 805. I have school debt ,a mortgage, married, move a lot, a few credit cards BUT I always pay my bills on time. The mortgage really boosted my score (about 40 points in 4 years). I only had one collection blemish about 10+ years back for 25 bucks. The moral of this is PAY YOUR BILLS and don’t spend what you don’t have.

I’d love to have a perfect score – but we aren’t too far off as we are close to the 800 mark. I’ve found I’m able to get better rates too with the score – so it does pay to have the best possible score you can get. Think most important thing is staying on top of your bills and never missing a payment.