What is an excellent credit score?

Credit scores can be used to predict how likely a person is to pay their loans and credit card bills on time. So when you apply to do things like borrow money or get a credit card, you might have more success if your credit scores fall into the “excellent” category.

But what does it mean to have excellent credit scores? How do you get excellent credit scores? And how can you find out where yours stand? Read on to learn more.

Key takeaways

  • A credit score might be considered excellent when it’s 800 or above.
  • An excellent credit score can help borrowers qualify for better loan terms and interest rates.
  • You can build an excellent credit score by using credit responsibly over time. This includes things like paying bills on time and applying only for the credit you need.

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What is considered an excellent credit score?

Generally, scores above 800 might be considered excellent.

Credit scores are calculated using information from credit reports that are compiled by credit bureaus. When calculated, your credit scores will typically be three-digit numbers between 300 and 850. 

That said, what’s considered an excellent score depends on where the credit score comes from, who calculates it and who’s judging it. Credit-scoring companies like FICO® and VantageScore® use different factors and credit-scoring models when calculating scores. That means consumers have more than one credit score. Plus, lenders set their own credit policies and standards to determine creditworthiness.

If your credit score is lower than 800, you could still qualify for credit. But an excellent credit score of 800—or even the highest credit score possible—might help you qualify for better terms and lower interest rates.

What is an excellent FICO score?

FICO categorizes credit scores on a scale of 300-850 and defines scores in the range of 800-850 as “exceptional”:

FICO credit score range.

Source: MyFICO.com

What is an excellent VantageScore?

Using the same 300-850 range, here’s how VantageScore defines credit scores, with those ranging from 781-850 categorized as “excellent”:

VantageScore credit score range.

Source: VantageScore.com

Benefits of excellent credit

Excellent credit scores can be beneficial for lots of different reasons.

For instance, higher scores can help someone qualify for different financial products—and get better terms on those products. The higher the scores, the lower the interest rates on loans and credit cards might be, for example. Higher scores can lead to things like higher credit limits and lower insurance premiums too. And they can even be the deciding factor in qualifying for a new apartment or landing a job.

Learn more about the benefits of a high credit score.

What factors impact your credit scores?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a few factors that generally affect credit scores are:

How is information added and removed from credit reports?

Lenders and creditors typically report your credit activity to credit bureaus every 30-45 days. These bureaus then update your information in your credit reports. Not all lenders report to all three of the main national bureaus—some might report to two, one or none. 

How long each item stays on your credit reports depends on the type of information it is. For example, hard credit inquiries can stay on your reports for up to two years. A late payment could stay on your credit reports for up to seven years. And bankruptcy could stay on your reports for up to 10 years.

Credit reports also usually contain personal information like your name, address and employers. If anything changes, you can typically update individual lenders and creditors, who should then pass it on to the credit bureaus. 

Whenever you receive a credit report, you’ll want to check it for any personal, financial or other credit information errors. Errors can potentially lower your credit scores, but you can dispute them.

Where can you find your credit scores?

According to the CFPB, there are four main ways you can access your credit scores:

  • Check your credit statements. Some lenders show customers their credit scores on monthly statements. And if you’ve applied for credit, the lender usually tells you the credit score they pulled at the time of application.
  • Sign up for a free credit monitoring service. You can sign up for a service like CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise is a completely free tool that’s available to everyone—not just Capital One cardholders. It allows you to monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score and check your TransUnion® credit report.

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How to get an excellent credit score

Building and maintaining excellent credit scores require the responsible use of credit accounts over time. Here are some things you can do:

Pay your bills on time

Your payment history is an important factor used to calculate your credit scores. It shows how well you’ve done making payments on time. Late or missed payments can reduce your credit scores.

Setting up reminders or automatic payments can help you remember to make on-time payments.

Keep credit utilization below 30%

Another important factor in calculating your credit scores is credit utilization, or the amount of credit you’re using compared with your total credit limit. According to the CFPB, experts recommend keeping your credit utilization rate below 30%. 

Keep accounts open and in good standing

How long you’ve had your accounts open and have used credit is also an important component of your credit score. A long and positive credit history suggests you can manage credit responsibly.

Apply only for the credit you need

Credit score calculations take into account your recent credit activity. If you apply for multiple lines of credit over a short period of time, lenders may think your financial situation has changed for the worse.

If your credit scores increase, however, consider whether upgrading or applying for a new card might better fit your lifestyle.

Watch out for credit report errors

Mistakes in your credit reports could negatively affect your credit scores, so it’s important to monitor your credit. You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn how to get free copies of your credit reports.

Excellent credit scores in a nutshell

Having an excellent credit score—typically 800 or above—can help you get the best rates and terms when you apply for financial products. It could even help you when applying for a new job, apartment or cellphone plan.

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