What is excellent credit?
An excellent credit score ranges from 781 to 850, depending on the scoring model used
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Excellent credit can open a lot of financial doors: low interest rates, better loan terms, better job offers.
If your credit score is on the low end, improving it is important. But what exactly is excellent credit, and how can you get it? We’ll review what qualifies as excellent credit, what makes up your credit score and ways to improve your credit score to get you in the top range.
- Excellent credit is the top range of the FICO and VantageScore ratings.
- There are five to six main factors that make up your credit score, with payment history being the most important.
- The average credit scores in the U.S. are 716 for FICO and 702 for VantageScore.
What is an excellent credit score?
Your credit score is based on your credit history and profile, and measures your ability to repay your credit obligations. It is represented by a three-digit number, given out by one of two main credit score companies in the U.S.: FICO and VantageScore.
If you have a FICO score of 800 or higher, or a VantageScore of 781 or higher, you officially have excellent credit.
Both FICO and VantageScore are used by lenders and creditors to assess your creditworthiness and qualify you for credit products such as loans or credit cards.
Credit score ranges
Credit scores are split into different ranges, with excellent credit making up the top end. For VantageScore, excellent credit is called “Superprime” and ranges from 781 to 850. For FICO, excellent credit is called “Exceptional” and ranges from 800 to 850.
VantageScore has several versions, with VantageScore 3.0 and VantageScore 4.0 being the latest. Both versions offer four different credit score ranges.
FICO has a base scoring system that offers five credit score ranges, ranging from Poor to Exceptional. FICO also has industry-specific scores that may be used by auto lenders or other credit issuers, but they are not widely utilized.
Both VantageScore and FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Here’s how the ranges break down for each:
VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0
- 781 to 850: Superprime (excellent)
- 661 to 780: Prime (good)
- 601 to 660: Near prime (fair)
- 300 to 600: Subprime (poor)
FICO score (base)
- 800 to 850: Exceptional
- 740 to 799: Very good
- 670 to 739: Good
- 580 to 669: Fair
- 300 to 579: Poor
As you can see, excellent credit scores have a different range for each type of credit score. While VantageScore has a larger range that is considered excellent, FICO’s range is slightly smaller.
What makes up a credit score?
Credit scores are measured by various criteria, but can be summed up with five to six factors that affect your score. Here’s how each type of credit score is measured:
|Age and mix||20%|
|Length of credit history||15%|
- Payment history
- Payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. It makes up 35% of the FICO score and 41% of the VantageScore. Payment history is the record of payments to your creditors, including loans, mortgage, utilities, cellphone, credit cards and other accounts.
- Utilization / available credit
- Credit utilization represents the amount of credit you have used compared to your total available credit. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit and have a balance of $5,000 on it, your credit utilization ratio for that card is 50%. Lower utilization is better for your score.
- Length of credit history / age of credit
- Your length of credit history (or age of credit) measures how long you have had credit accounts opened and the average age of your credit across all credit accounts. Creditors use this record to see how well you have paid back your obligations over time.
- Credit mix
- Credit mix is the different types of credit accounts you have. Having multiple types of accounts with a history of on-time payments and low utilization can boost your score.
- New credit
- New credit measures how many new accounts you have opened. Too many new accounts can affect your credit score, as lenders might see you as riskier.
- Amounts owed / balances
- Credit balances (or amounts owed) is a measure of your overall debt levels. Too much debt compared to your income can affect your score, and keeping balances on your revolving accounts increases overall utilization.
Benefits of excellent credit
“Having excellent credit means showing proof that you're a low risk to lenders,” said Patrick Di Cesare, a certified financial education instructor and owner of the financial education company Basic Financial Literacy. “If you want to borrow money for a car or home, you'll get a much better interest rate and a lower monthly payment if you have a high credit score.”
A FICO score of 800-plus or a VantageScore of 781-plus means you have excellent credit.
Improving your credit score and/or aiming to have the highest credit score possible has multiple benefits, including:
- Better rates on insurance. Insurance companies may pull your credit history or score to evaluate you as a customer, and the higher your score, the better your rates may be.
- Lower interest rates on loans. Whether it's an auto loan, home loan or personal loan, the lowest interest rates are always reserved for those with the highest credit scores.
- Access to more money. A higher credit score helps lenders to trust you, so you might be able to borrow more.
- More job prospects. Some employers may look at your credit score when evaluating you for a position.
- Credit card perks. The best credit cards with the highest welcome bonuses and rewards perks typically require a high credit score to qualify.
» COMPARE: Best personal loans for excellent credit
How to get an excellent credit score
If you want an excellent credit score, you’ll need to pay attention to the main components that make up your score. Here are a few steps you can take to boost your score into the top range:
Pay on time
“Pay all your bills off in full each month,” said Di Cesare. “Credit cards, car payment, etc. Setting autopay up so you don't forget is an easy way to do this. On-time payments account for 35% of your credit score and is the most important factor.”
Keep utilization low
If you have revolving credit lines and credit cards, don’t max them out. Keep your credit utilization below 30% of your total available credit.
Regularly check your credit report (and score)
Keep an eye on your credit report and credit score to make sure everything is on track.
You can access a free credit report from the three main credit bureaus each year using annualcreditreport.com, or you can use a credit reporting company to do it for you. You can also monitor your credit score using apps like Credit Karma or CreditWise.
If you see a discrepancy on your credit report, work with your creditor or the credit bureau to get it removed, which can boost your score. Tracking your credit score helps you see if the moves you are making are actually helping.
Don’t close your oldest account
Credit history can have a big impact on your score, and while the average age of credit is measured, the credit bureaus also consider your oldest account. For example, if you have an old credit card that gets closed, this can hurt your score. Consider keeping your oldest account open to help increase your age of credit.
Consider your credit mix
If you don’t have many bills or credit accounts, this can negatively impact your credit score. Creditors want to see that you can successfully manage multiple types of accounts. Consider opening a credit line or credit card if you don’t have one — but remember to manage it well to increase your score.
A ConsumerAffairs reviewer in Idaho said that even though they had very little debt, there was no upward movement of their mid-600s credit score. “I was very adverse to starting new credit,” they said. “… opening a few accounts, using them very judiciously and paying them off monthly would not only increase my credit score, but help me match accounts that offer bonuses to expenses I already had (ie Amazon.com).”
What is the average credit score?
The average FICO score is 716, while the average VantageScore is 702. Both of these scores are considered “good” by lenders and other creditors.
What’s a perfect credit score?
A perfect credit score is 850 for both VantageScore and FICO. Some FICO scores go up to 900, but those are specific to a small amount of lenders and are not public-facing.
Is it bad to check your credit score?
No, checking your credit score is not bad and will not impact your credit score. You should regularly check your credit score and credit report to ensure everything is accurate. A hard inquiry from a lender or creditor can have a small impact on your score.
How long does it take to improve your credit score?
It can take from one month up to six months to improve your credit score, and may sometimes take years to see a major improvement, depending on what issues you are trying to correct. Defaulted payments, foreclosures or bankruptcies can take years to fall off your credit report. The best ways to improve your score are to make on-time payments, correct any mistakes on your credit report and keep your credit utilization low.
- Article sources
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
- FICO, “FICO® Score.” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
- VantageScore, “VantageScore.” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
- FICO, “What's in my FICO® Scores?” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
- VantageScore, “VantageScore 4.0 User Guide.” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
- FICO, “Average U.S. FICO® Score Stays Steady at 716.” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
- VantageScore, “VantageScore CreditGauge™ June 2023: U.S. Consumers Used Credit More Cautiously as Delinquency Rates Rose and Stayed Elevated from a Year Ago.” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
- FICO, “Credit Checks: What are credit inquiries and how do they affect your FICO® Score?” Accessed Aug. 21, 2023.
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