Every borrower wants to have a high credit score, but what does it take to have a FICO credit score that’s over 800? A new LendingTree survey offers some insights into the spending habits of borrowers with the highest scores possible— some of which you can emulate to improve your own score.
What it takes to get a credit score over 800
Lenders have their own thresholds for how they determine interest rates, but generally speaking, you’ll qualify for better deals on credit cards and loans with super-prime FICO credit scores (720-850) compared to Prime (690 and 719). As the average FICO score in 2021 is 711, borrowers might be looking to nudge up their numbers to qualify as super-prime. With that in mind, here’s a look at the spending habits of consumers with credit scores over 800:
- They make consistent on-time payments every month: On-time payments account for 35% of your credit score, so it’s not surprising that it’s a big factor for super-prime borrower scores. Even if you have a sparkling payment history, a single late payment more than 30 days past due can knock as many as 100 points off your credit score.
- They have a good credit mix: Your credit mix determines 10% of your credit score, so having various credit accounts—whether that’s revolving debt like credit cards, installment loans and mortgages—can help improve your score. Those with a FICO score of 800 or more have an average of 7.9 credit accounts open.
- They only use a sliver of their credit limits each month: This is where super-prime borrowers do really well, as they only use 5.7% of their available credit. In contrast, the average credit utilization ratio is much higher, at 28% for 2020. Despite carrying all sorts of lines of credit, these borrowers are either not using much of their debt, or paying back their debt right after a purchase. Either way, it has a big impact as credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score.
- They have very old lines of credit: Your credit history—the length of time you’ve had open lines of credit—accounts for 15% of your credit score, so it makes sense that borrowers with scores over 800 would have credit lines that go back decades. The oldest active account for those with scores of 800 or higher averages more than 27 years.
Spending habits affect your score, but keep in mind that there are diminishing returns at play, here, too: Once you hit a credit score of 760 or so, you’re very likely to qualify for the same terms as someone with a score over 800. Still, if you’re looking for a nudge in your score, on-time payments, a super-low credit utilization, and varied lines of credit will go a long way. For other tips on improving your credit score, check out this Lifehacker post.