Profile of a “Perfect” 850 FICO® Score
People with a perfect FICO® Score tend to follow the best practices for improving their FICO Score, such as paying bills on time, avoiding using a large portion of their available credit and only applying for credit as needed.
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A perfect FICO® Score can be a lofty goal, and it's not something that many people achieve. But it also might not be as important as you think. In fact, when you apply for a new credit account, there might not be a difference between having an exceptional FICO Score of 805 versus a perfect 850.
Why a perfect score might not matter
Most FICO® Scores range from 300 to 850. A higher FICO Score is better because it indicates that someone is less likely to miss payments in the future. Creditors consider this when deciding whether to approve credit applications and the rates and terms to offer applicants. They give the best offers to people who are least likely to miss payments.
However, creditors generally don't require someone to have a perfect FICO® Score to get the best offers. Instead, they often have a cutoff point, and anyone with a score higher than that can qualify.
The specific point can depend on the creditor and type of account, and creditors might change their cutoff at times depending on other criteria, such as economic trends and an application's history with the company. But creditors rarely, if ever, require you to have an 850 FICO® Score. Instead, they might give the best offers to anyone who has a FICO Score in the upper 700s and higher and meets their other criteria.
If you have an exceptional FICO® Score — 800 and above — you almost certainly have a high enough FICO Score to get the best offers. However, it's still important to shop around because different creditors may offer you various rates, terms and loan amounts.
So, what's a perfect 850 good for? Bragging rights for one. But also, it gives you a little extra wiggle room in case your score changes. If you're right on the cusp of the creditor's cutoff, a new hard inquiry or high utilization ratio might drop your FICO® Score beneath their cutoff. A higher score might drop and still be above that threshold.
Pathway to a perfect 850
There's no single path to getting an 850 FICO® Score. After all, everyone's credit profile is unique. However, a 2023 FICO study found that people who have a perfect FICO Score tend to share several characteristics.
- Considering your payment history makes up about 35% of your FICO® Score, it makes sense that people with perfect scores also have a great payment history. This group didn't have any late payments, collections or other negative marks in their payment history.
- The amounts you owe on credit accounts makes up about 30% of your FICO® Score, and your revolving credit utilization ratio is a significant component of this scoring factor. It might surprise you to learn that people with an 850 FICO Score had an average of $13,000 in non-mortgage credit balances. However, this doesn't necessarily mean they revolve a credit card balance or pay interest. And their average revolving utilization ratio was low — just 4.1%.
- These people have also been using credit for years. The average age of their oldest credit account (not the average of all their accounts) was 30 years.
- Additionally, about 10% of the people had a hard inquiry from the previous 12 months, and about 25% had opened one or more new credit accounts during the past year.
Whether intentionally or not, people with a perfect FICO® Score tend to follow the best practices for improving their FICO Score, such as paying bills on time, avoiding using a large portion of their available credit and only applying for credit as needed.
How many people have perfect FICO® Scores?
Data from April 2023 found that about 1.7% of people who meet the minimum requirements for a FICO® Score had an 850. That's an increase from previous years, but still a small minority of people.
Broken down by state, Hawaii, New Jersey, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut had the highest percentage of people with a perfect FICO® Score. But even in Hawaii, it was only 2.62% of the state's eligible residents.
It's also normal for FICO® Scores to change throughout the month, and they also depend on whether the underlying credit information comes from your Equifax, Experian or TransUnion credit report. So, if you work hard to get a perfect FICO Score, don't fret too much if it goes down a bit at times. And remember, a perfect score is mainly for bragging rights— any FICO Score in the exceptional range can help you save money.
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