There are many important numbers in your financial life, from the private data your Social Security number represents to the digits in your weekly paycheck. But the FICO score is arguably the most critical number of all, responsible for everything from the interest rate on your mortgage to your ability to get hired for your dream job.
When you apply for a loan, the lender will look closely at your FICO score, using the number they find to determine the interest rate they will charge, or even if you qualify for the money at all. And when you are ready to buy a home, a low FICO score could sink your dreams of homeownership and make your landlord very happy. Your FICO score even plays a role in your employment, since many companies check the credit of their job applicants and factor that information into their hiring decisions.
FICO scores are expressed in a range, with a low of 300 and a possible high of 850. The higher your score, the better your credit, and a score above 800 put you in the company of others with excellent credit.
If your credit score is already above 800, you automatically qualify for the lowest rates and most favorable lending terms, but what if you want to aim a little higher? Achieving perfection in the FICO score arena is no easy task; less than 2% of all men and women have a score of 850. But if you want to get there, you can learn a lot from those who have achieved FICO perfection. Here are some key things these men and women have in common.
They Have an Average Number of Credit Cards
Using credit cards and paying on the balances is a good way to build credit, so it is no surprise that those with perfect FICO scores carry plastic in their wallets. In this regard, those who have achieved credit score perfection look pretty much like everyone else.
Men and women with FICO scores of 850 carry an average of four credit cards, very similar to the average for their less creditworthy peers. But those with perfect FICO scores have their choice of cards, and they tend to choose based on rewards, bonuses, and other valuable financial perks.
They Are Not Necessarily Debt Free
You might think that people with perfect credit would have paid off all their debts, but that is not always the case. While it is true that members of the 850 FICO club have average debt that is half that of their peers, a surprising number do carry balances on their credit cards.
What sets those perfect credit score achievers apart is how they are utilizing their debt and how quickly they are paying it off. Those with perfect credit are likely to say they are actively working to pay off their existing debt, and their responsible use of credit is reflected in their stellar FICO scores.
They Use Relatively Little of Their Credit
Another thing members of the 850 FICO score club have in common is their relatively low credit utilization rate. This makes sense, since the amount of outstanding credit is a factor in determining credit scores.
It is not unusual for someone with a $10,000 credit limit on their credit card to use $7,000 or $8,000 of that amount, but those with perfect credit tend to be much more conservative. Given that same $10,000 credit limit, an individual with perfect credit might limit their spending to just $2,000 or $3,000.
Furthermore, those with perfect credit are more likely to pay off the entire balance, or at least a high percentage, each month. While many members of the 850 FICO club do carry a balance, their outstanding debt tends to be lower than their less creditworthy peers.
The Population Skews Older
It can take some time to build a stellar credit score; just ask the 22-year-old college graduate. So, as you might expect, the population of perfect FICO score overachievers tend to skew a bit older.
They may be older than average, but they have also used their time well. Over the years, men and women with perfect credit scores have worked hard to pay their bills on time, and they learned to keep their spending and their use of credit under control.
Now that you know what those with perfect 850 FICO scores have in common, you can start emulating their winning ways. From how they spend to how they view debt and credit; these exceptional men and women have a few key traits in common. If you want to reach the 850 goals, learning from their example is a good place to start.