Common sense and financial lore say that the higher our credit score, the better. A high credit score is a badge of honor to many people. This is because building a solid credit score takes years of stewardship managing credit and plenty of financial discipline. But how high of a credit score is good enough to strive for without driving ourselves crazy in the process?
Credit scores tabulate variables about our timely payment of debts and our borrowing traits in general. They are a way that financial institutions measure how creditworthy we are. FICO scores, the most commonly-cited credit score type, range from 300 to 850. While anything below 650 is considered problematic, a score of 700 or above is prime. The average FICO score is 704.
Should we fixate over obtaining a perfect credit score of 850? Probably not, according to a CNBC article . Experts say 750 or 760 is probably good enough.
Greg McBride, chief analyst at Bankrate, tells CNBC Make It, “Once you’re above 760 you’re getting the best rates. That’s why obsessing over a score of 800 versus 820 is largely a waste of time.” John Ganotis of CreditCardInsider.com says anything above 750 will “likely qualify you for some of the best rates and offers.”
Four ways to improve a low credit score are as follows:
- Always make payments on time. (Even one late payment could lower your score by 60-110 points, depending on other items in your credit history.)
- Don’t max out credit cards or lines of credit. (Experts advise using 30% or less of your credit line to help build a good credit score.)
- Pay down debt. (Just shifting debt around from one card to another doesn’t necessarily help.)
- Regularly check your credit reports for errors. (You can see your credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.)
It’s good to be attentive about maintaining our credit scores. There’s no reason to lose sleep, however, over those few last points on a quest to 850.