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To increase your credit score to 800, you’ll need a nearly flawless payment history, a credit utilization rate well below 30%, a healthy mix of credit types, and an extensive credit history.
The average American has a credit score of 716, well within the range of what is considered a good credit score. Many people may be content with that score, but there are benefits of working your way up to the exceptional range, which starts at 800 according to the FICO® scoring method. If you’re wondering how to increase your credit score to 800, focused and careful financial habits might help you get there.
Learn more about this prestigious credit score and how to work toward it so you can improve your financial situation.
What Is an 800 Credit Score?
A credit score between 800 and 850 is considered exceptional credit. Only 23.3% of consumers have reached this credit tier, which has significant perks, including better interest rates and access to better financial products.
Several different credit scores exist, but lenders most commonly use the FICO Score, which is a number ranging from 300 to 850. Credit scores fall into five categories using this scoring method:
- Very Poor: 300 – 579
- Fair: 580 – 669
- Good: 670 – 739
- Very Good: 740 – 799
- Exceptional: 800 – 850
How to Get an 800 Credit Score
An 800 credit score is more attainable than it seems. The average number of people with this score has increased steadily since 2010.
Follow the steps below to start your journey to better credit.
1. Obtain Your Credit Report and Resolve Any Discrepancies
First, request a copy of your credit report. Look for any discrepancies. File a dispute for any issues so your credit report is accurate. Credit score companies, such as FICO, base your credit score on the information in your credit report, so accuracy is essential.
If you notice errors on your report, you aren’t alone—according to an FTC study, roughly 25% of people reported errors on their credit report. Fortunately, you can challenge mistakes under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Gather evidence to support your case and write a dispute letter to the reporting bureau. They have 30 days to investigate your claim and five days to notify you of their findings in writing.
2. Analyze Your Credit Report for Areas of Improvement
Once you’ve resolved any issues, analyze your report to determine why your score is lower than 800. Your FICO score looks at the following to determine your credit score:
- Payment history: Whether you pay your bills on time and in full is the most important factor, accounting for 35% of your overall score.
- Amounts owed: This refers to how much credit you’re using compared to your total credit limit, and it makes up 30% of your overall score. The less of a balance you carry from month to month, the better it is for your credit health.
- Length of credit history: Credit history looks at the following and accounts for 15% of your credit score:
- Age of oldest account
- Age of newest account
- Average age of accounts
- How frequently you use revolving credit
- Credit mix: FICO considers the types of credit accounts you have, such as revolving and installment credit. This factors into 10% of your score.
- New credit: FICO bases 10% of your score on whether you’ve applied for several new lines of credit in a short time frame, indicating you may be overextending yourself.
Analyze your report with those factors in mind. Look for areas that need improvement:
- Are you paying your bills on time?
- Do you owe more than 30% of your available credit?
- Is your credit history too short?
- Do you only have one type of credit?
- Have you opened too many lines of credit at once?
Based on the answers to those questions, you can determine what to focus on as you raise your credit score to 800.
3. Establish a Strong Payment History
The most significant factor in your credit score is a strong payment history, and Lending Tree found that 100% of people they surveyed with an 800 credit score pay all their bills on time and in full. If your credit report shows you have late payments, focus on improving your payment history.
Enroll in auto pay to ensure debts are paid promptly (but ensure you always have enough in your account to avoid overdraft fees). If you prefer to pay bills manually, add due dates to your calendar and set reminders to pay them.
4. Manage Your Credit Utilization
The second largest impact on your credit score is credit utilization, so you should prioritize lowering it.
Total all your revolving credit debts (usually credit cards and home equity lines of credit) and divide that number by your total available credit. Then, multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage.
For example, if you have one credit card with a balance of $3,000 and a second one with a balance of $2,000, your total revolving credit debt is $5,000. If each card has a credit limit of $7,000, your total available credit would be $14,000. A balance of $5,000 in debt divided by available credit of $14,000 would be 0.357. Multiplied by 100, you’d get a credit utilization rate of 35.7%.
People with good credit scores tend to have a credit utilization rate below 30%. But if you’re working to earn an 800 credit score, you’ll want to keep that number even lower: The average credit utilization rate for people with 800 credit scores is 6.1%.
If your credit utilization rate is too high, start paying down your debt. Several strategies can help you tackle this effectively:
- Debt snowball method: Use extra money in your monthly budget to pay off your smallest debt. Once you’ve paid that debt off, apply the minimum payment of that debt plus the extra money in your budget toward the next smallest debt. Over time, the money you put toward your debts becomes larger, like a snowball.
- Debt avalanche method: Use extra money in your monthly budget to gradually pay off the debt with the highest interest rate. Then, apply that debt’s minimum monthly payment and extra money in your monthly budget to the debt with the next highest interest rate. With this strategy, you’ll save a significant amount of money on interest.
It’s also important to avoid taking on new debt while you pay down the balances of your existing debt. Establish a budget, stick to it, and avoid making large purchases unless absolutely necessary.
5. Maintain a Mix of Credit Types
Lenders want to see a mix of credit types on your credit report. These can include:
- Mortgage loans
- Installment loans
- Credit cards
- Retail accounts
- Finance company accounts
You don’t need all of these account types on your credit report, but you should aim to have more than one since a person with an 800 credit score has an average of 8.3 open accounts.
But don’t take out an installment loan just to raise your credit score. Instead, consider a credit builder loan, which involves a lender depositing the loan amount into a savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). You’ll receive the total amount once you repay the loan, which will appear as a personal loan on your credit report.
If you have loans but no credit card, consider opening one with a low credit limit and use it for one type of purchase, such as gas or groceries. Apply for a secured credit card if you can’t get approved for a traditional credit card. This type of credit card requires a cash deposit in the amount of the credit limit that operates as collateral.
6. Lengthen Your Credit History
Lenders want to see a long history of responsible credit, so lengthening your credit history can help you raise your credit score to 800. The average age of the oldest active account for those with an 800+ credit score is 21.7 years.
Improving this area of your credit often requires patience, but you can have someone with a long credit history, such as a parent or spouse, add you as an authorized user to their credit card. For example, if your parents have had the same credit card for 10 years and they add you as an authorized user, you’ll lengthen your credit history by 10 years.
Also, don’t stop using credit cards with a longer account history, or you risk decreasing your credit history. Instead, keep them active by making small monthly purchases and paying them off immediately.
7. Monitor Your Credit Report and Credit Score
As you work through the various strategies, monitor your credit report regularly. Report any errors, monitor your report for areas of improvement, and adjust your plan as needed.
You can check your credit report for free annually using sites like annualcreditreport.com. You can also prevent hard inquiries by placing a security freeze on your credit report. This helps prevent identity theft but can also help avoid unnecessary hard credit pulls that may harm your credit.
Some credit cards may allow you to see your credit score every month as part of your monthly billing statement. (Some issuers may offer this feature for free, while others may do it for a small fee.) Ask if your credit card issuer offers this benefit and use it to track your credit score regularly.
8. Be Patient and Persistent
Working to raise your credit score is a long-term commitment. Predicting how long it will take to improve your credit depends on several factors, such as:
- Your current score
- Your overall credit history
- How much debt you owe
- How quickly you can pay the debt down
Even if you don’t see gains right away, or they’re smaller than you’d like, stick with your responsible habits. Over time, your score should improve, and even if you don’t make it to the esteemed 800, you’ll still see the benefits of a higher credit score.
Benefits of an 800 Credit Score
Raising your credit score to 800 isn’t easy, but several benefits make it worthwhile.
- Easier approval for credit applications. An applicant with an 800 credit score is a low-risk investment for lenders, so they’ll quickly approve you for credit as long as the debt fits your income level.
- Lower interest rates on loans and credit cards. Lenders base the interest they charge partially on borrowers’ credit scores, so the higher your credit score, the lower your rate. Once you reach 800, you’ll be able to access the best interest rates on the market, often lower than the national average, saving you money over the life of the loan.
- Higher credit limits on credit cards. Credit card issuers often reward people with good credit with higher credit limits—the average credit limit of someone with an 800 credit score is $69,346, much higher than the of $28,930. While this gives you more purchasing power, its biggest benefit is that it makes it easier to maintain a lower credit utilization rate.
- Access to better credit card products. With a higher credit score, you’ll qualify for credit cards with better rewards. For example, you may get access to airport lounges or earn a higher rate of return on your cash back or airline miles.
- Lower insurance premiums. Insurance companies often pull your credit before determining your rate. Increasing your credit score to 800 may result in a lower rate on your home or auto insurance when you apply for a new policy.
- Improved rental prospects. If you want to rent, boosting your credit score to over 800 can give you access to more rental options. Landlords use credit scores to determine how reliable you’ll be at paying your rent, and with an 800 credit score, nearly every landlord will find you a favorable tenant.
- Peace of mind. With an 800 credit score, you can access loans or utilize your higher credit limits on credit cards when hard times happen.
Improve Your Financial Habits With Credit.com
Improving your credit score comes with substantial benefits, especially when you reach the exceptional credit level. While raising your credit score to 800 can take a while, the financial peace of mind, lower interest rates, and other benefits are worth it.
Start your journey to an 800 credit score by addressing any discrepancies. Then, work toward improving financial behaviors that impact your credit, such as making on-time payments and minimizing your credit utilization rate.