What is the Highest Credit Score?

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Most adults in the United States have a credit report containing a wide range of information submitted by landlords, employers, banks, and other creditors. That data is compiled and used to produce a credit score, which falls along a credit score scale between 300 and 850.

It’s also possible that if enough data isn’t available to a credit bureau, they won’t be able to produce a credit score at all, although the credit bureau will continue collecting data until they have enough information to generate a credit score using their models.

The highest credit score available under the FICO model is 850, although it’s a little misleading to describe an 850 credit score as a perfect credit score. After all, the point of a high credit score is to help you get approved for credit — but each time you apply for credit, your score goes down by a few points, because the number of your recent applications for credit is one of the factors your credit score takes into account. The ends sabotage the means to some extent.

According to Credit Sesame data taken from a subset of our 7 million members, the majority of members fall in the “fair” category, which is a 550-639 range, based on the TransUnion credit scoring model. This means they still have room to improve to reach the good, or even excellent range. Below is a chart that shows the average credit scores, taken from a subset of Credit Sesame’s 7 million members collected June 2016.

Related: What’s the difference between TransUnion, Equifax and Experian?

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[Related: What Affects Your Credit Score]

What causes your credit score to change?

Besides recent applications for credit, your score will also vary from month to month, or even day to day, because of fluctuations in factors like your overall credit utilization (the amount you borrow in relation to your total available credit) and how much you utilize each of your lines of credit. In plain English, that means even if your overall credit utilization is low, dollar-wise, you may suffer a hit to your credit score if you use a high percentage of your available credit line on a single credit card.

Your credit utilization is also known as your “credit grade,” just like the grades you used to receive on your report card when you were in school. Here’s a chart that illustrates a subset of Credit Sesame members taken from Q4 of 2015. How do you compare?

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To account for those regular fluctuations in credit scores, lenders usually judge applicants’ credit scores using a credit score chart broken into ranges, from “very poor” credit scores, those below 500, to “excellent” credit scores between 720 and 850.

For example, since an 800 credit score and a 750 credit score are both “excellent” on any credit score scale, if your score is anywhere in that range you’ll probably have the easiest time being approved for credit and be offered the lowest rates on any new credit cards or loans. A person with a merely “good” 700 credit score may pay slightly higher rates or be approved for lower credit limits on new accounts.

Question: What’s the highest credit score you can have?

Answer: Since the credit score range is 300 to 850, the highest credit score possible is 850, although any score of 720 or higher is considered “excellent” and will usually afford you a lender’s most favorable credit terms.

Did you know? While 850 is theoretically the highest possible credit score, the highest credit score among actual Credit Sesame users is 839 — and just 0.006% of members actually have that score. In other words, an 850 credit score is an anomaly, not a goal!

While the credit bureaus are responsible for collecting data about consumers, the FICO score is actually a proprietary formula developed by FICO (formerly the Fair Issac Corporation). This matters because each credit bureau has slightly different information on file, which will typically result in slightly different FICO scores.

For example, if you apply for a new credit card with a lender who only checks your Equifax credit report, that application will only be indicated on your Equifax credit report. Recent applications for credit have a small negative effect on your credit score, so as a result, when applying the FICO formula your Equifax credit score will be slightly lower than your TransUnion or Experian credit scores, all else being equal.

Here is the formula FICO uses when they are evaluating your credit score.

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Since recent applications for credit are just one of many factors used by the FICO formula, these differences are typically small — if your credit score falls in the excellent credit score range with one bureau, it’s very likely you have an excellent FICO score with all three.

If your credit score falls in the excellent credit score range with one bureau, it’s very likely you have an excellent FICO score with all three.Click To Tweet

Where can I get a free credit score?

Since 2003, consumers have been entitled to a free three bureau credit report each year by placing requests with each credit bureau via AnnualCreditReport.com. However, since FICO is a third-party algorithm, the credit bureaus are not required to provide a free FICO score with your free credit report.

Fortunately, consumers now have a range of options to find out what’s in their credit report and to see their FICO credit score.

To start, get a hold of your free report from each of the three credit bureaus once every year via AnnualCreditReport.com.

To keep tabs on your credit more often, you can also use Credit Sesame’s free credit report card and free credit score, based on your TransUnion credit report.

Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee

DiscoveritCashBack219To find out your FICO® score based on the information in your Experian credit file, you have several options. Discover recently launched a free service on monthly statements & online providing your FICO® score and some of the information contained in your credit report using the Experian credit bureau.

Discover credit card customers receive a FICO® score based on the TransUnion credit report, although Discover provides you with the “key factors” that go into your credit score, not a detailed breakdown.

Chase Slate® credit card customers also receive access to a free FICO® score, although Chase doesn’t provide a detailed breakdown of your credit report like Discover does.

Citi-branded consumer credit cards offer users a FICO® score based on your Equifax credit report, again with no details. Don’t rely on a free FICO® score provided by Citi to check for mistakes in your credit report.

Best credit cards for excellent credit

Once you’ve achieved an excellent credit score, you have a good chance of being approved for the best credit cards. There are a couple of considerations you may want to make when selecting the best credit card for you: which credit card to apply for; and when to apply for it. The ideal credit card to apply for is one with the right benefits for you, and it wouldn’t hurt if there was a bonus offer that you would be eligible for.

If you’re interested in credits cards that earn hotel points, the Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express offers 12x Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. 6x Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations. 3x Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Terms and limitations apply.

Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card (Barclaycard)

WyndhamBarclaycardVisaThe Wyndham Rewards® Visa® from Barclaycard earns 3 points per dollar spent on every participating hotel stay and earns 2 Wyndham Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases everywhere else. That’s a big deal, because Wyndham Rewards charges a flat 15,000 points per night at all of their properties worldwide, including their all-inclusive resort properties, making this card one of the fastest ways to earn hotel nights with a credit card.

There are two versions of this card. The Visa Signature version has an annual fee of $69, but you can earn 6,000 bonus points every year on your card’s anniversary. It pays 5 points per dollar spent on participating hotel stays and offers a higher welcome bonus. The Visa version does not have an annual fee and a smaller welcome bonus. Offers are subject to credit approval. If approved, benefits will vary depending upon the card for which you are approved.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

ArrivalPlus219If you’re interested in a simple all-in-one travel credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® earns 2x “miles” per dollar on all purchases that can be redeemed towards travel statement credits starting at 10,000 miles for $100 toward all or a portion of qualifying travel purchases of a $100 or more made in the last 120 days, and it offers you 5% of your miles back as a travel redemption bonus, to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem for travel statement credits.

It also has chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad.


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Responses 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.

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Published June 28, 2016 Updated: September 21, 2016
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