800 Credit Score: How to Get One—and Make the Most of It (2024)

If your credit score is at 800 or higher, well done. That demonstrates to lenders that you are an exceptional borrower and puts you well above the average score of U.S. consumers. In addition to bragging rights, an 800 credit score or higher can qualify you for the best offers and faster approvals when you apply for new credit. Here's what you need to know to make the most of that 800-plus credit score, plus some advice on how to get one if you aren't quite there yet. Making on-time payments to creditors, keeping your credit utilization low, having a long credit history, maintaining a good mix of credit types, and occasionally applying for new credit lines are the factors that can get you into the 800 credit score club.

Key Takeaways

  • An 800 credit score shows lenders you are an exceptional borrower.
  • You may qualify for better mortgage and auto loan terms with a high credit score.
  • You may also qualify for credit cards with better rewards and perks, such as access to airport lounges and free hotel breakfasts.
  • Achieving an 800 credit score requires on-time payments to creditors, low credit utilization, a long credit history, a good mix of credit types, and occasional new credit applications.

How Credit Scores Work

First, a refresher on credit scores. A credit score is a three-digit number, typically ranging from 300 to 850, that summarizes your credit risk, based on the information in your credit reports. The most common credit scores are FICO scores, which are calculated using five categories of data. Here they are, along with the percentage of your score they each represent:

  • Payment History (35%). Basically whether you've paid your past credit bills on time
  • Amounts Owed (30%). Not only how much debt you have in total but how much you owe compared to all the credit you have available to you (known as your credit utilization ratio)
  • Length of Credit History (15%). How long you've had your credit accounts, with older being better
  • Credit Mix (10%). The types of credit you've had (e.g., mortgage, auto loan, credit cards)
  • New Credit (10%). Frequency of credit inquires and new account openings

If your credit score isn't yet in the 800+ league, concentrating on improving in those five areas—particularly the highly important first two—can help you get there.

While each lender has its own credit risk standards, the following chart from FICO is a general guide to what each score range represents:

The 800 Credit Score Club Is Growing

As of 2022, the average FICO score in the U.S. was 716. While that's unchanged from 2021, it represents the highest average score so far. Until 2017, when average scores hit 700 for the first time, they hovered in the 680s and 690s. A score of 716 is considered to be in the "good" range.

There are also more people scoring in the "exceptional" range, between 800 and 850. As of 2022, 23.3% of consumers now score in the 800 to 850 range, compared with 16.2% back in 2005.

If your credit card issuers or other lenders offer auto-pay it can be a great way to make sure you make on-time payments on a consistent basis.

The Benefits of an 800 Credit Score

You've worked hard to achieve an 800 credit score, so be sure you make the most of it. In addition to bragging rights, your exceptional credit score sets you up to take advantage of any number of financial benefits, including:

You're more likely to be approved when you apply for new credit.

If you have a high credit score, lenders will view you as less risky, which means you're more likely to be approved for a credit card, line of credit, or loan.

You'll qualify for lower interest rates and higher credit limits.

With an 800-plus credit score, lenders can offer you better deals. This is true whether you're getting a mortgage, an auto loan, or trying to score a better interest rate on your credit card.

In general, you'll automatically be offered better terms on a mortgage or car loan if you have an exceptional credit score (assuming everything else is in order). If you have an existing loan, you might be able to refinance at a better rate now that you have a high credit score. Like any refi, crunch the numbers first (including any fees) to make sure the move makes financial sense.

Credit cards are different, and you might have to ask to get a better deal, especially if you've had the card for a while. If your credit score recently hit the 800-plus range—or if you've never taken a close look at your cards' terms before—call your existing credit issuers, let them know your credit score, and ask if they can drop the interest rate or increase your credit line. Even if you don't need a higher limit, it can make it easier to maintain a good credit utilization ratio.

You'll qualify for better credit cards with better rewards.

Using the same credit card you've had for decades can be good in terms of the length of your credit history, but you could be missing out on valuable benefits. With an 800-plus credit score, you might qualify for perks such as access to airport lounges (great if you have a long layover), free breakfast in hotels, and the chance to earn cash back and airline miles at a faster rate—for example, one-and-a-half miles per dollar spent instead of the standard one mile per dollar.

One easy way to find a better deal is to call your existing credit card issuer and ask if you qualify for a different card with better rewards and benefits. If so, your issuer can explain the application process (it might be something you can do over the phone or online) and get you switched over to the new card. You can also research credit cards online to find one that work best for you.

How to Check Your Credit Report and Credit Score

You're entitled by federal law to one free credit report from each of the "big three" credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—at least once a year. If you stagger your requests, you can get a credit report once every four months, so you can keep an eye on your credit report throughout the year. There is only one place to get your free, federally mandated report: AnnualCreditReport.com.

While your credit report doesn't include your FICO score, you may be able to check it for free if your credit card issuer takes part in the FICO Score Open Access program. According to FICO, more than 200 financial institutions participate, including Bank of America, Citi, Discover, HSBC, the Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo.

If your credit card issuer participates, you'll be able to check your score when you log into your account online, or it will be included in your monthly statement (or both). If you don't have access to your score through your card issuer or other lender, there are other ways to obtain it free of charge.

What Is a Good Credit Score?

Different lenders may have different requirements, but a "good" FICO score is generally in the 670 to 739 range, while a "good" VantageScore is in the 661 to 780 range, according to the credit bureau Experian.

What Is a VantageScore?

VantageScore is a FICO competitor established by the three major credit bureaus. VantageScores work similarly to FICO scores and also use a scale of 300 to 850.

What Information Is in a Credit Report?

Your credit report primarily includes information specifically related your past and present use of credit, including a month-by-month accounting of whether you've paid your bills on time going back seven years. It doesn't include your income, employment history, education, age, gender, marital status, or race.

The Bottom Line

Attaining a solid credit score is important for a host of reasons—even if it takes a while to break into the exalted 800 credit score tier. Your score affects your both ability to get credit and the terms that lenders will offer you, such as the interest rate on a mortgage. Your score may also be factored into the rate you pay for auto and homeowners insurance and even impact your job opportunities (employers often run credit checks) and housing options (landlords also run credit checks).

If you're able to attain a score of 800-plus, it's worth remembering the smart credit habits that got you there and to do whatever you can to keep it up.

800 Credit Score: How to Get One—and Make the Most of It (2024)
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