Rich and I finally got (broke?) into the 800 FICO Credit Score Club! It took a lot of hard work and research. We researched anything we could to help us get more information to help us. We also found out a load of not so relevant stuff like how the credit score in the UK is much different to the US! This 800 FICO Credit Score Club is a feat accomplished by only 20% of individuals, so it was nice to hit another personal finance milestone. It’s not about hitting every goal. It’s about having goals to hit. This is why we encourage everyone to set measurable personal, career, and FinGoals, then revisit your progress during the year to make sure they’re still relevant. Financial goals keep us motivated and eager to reach our next accomplishment. Specific to credit scores, this post covers the strategies each of us focused on to raise our credit scores over 800, the fintech app that helped us stay on track, and why the credit score you may want to reach doesn’t necessarily need to be 800-850.
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Raise Your Credit Score By Focusing On the Major Factors that Impact Your Credit Score the Most
Each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — all have their own secret original recipe of herbs and spices for calculating your credit score. The exact formula each uses is proprietary. According to Liz Weston, CFP (PB: It’s Time to Raise That Credit Score!) and author of Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future, lenders can choose from hundreds of scoring models to measure the likelihood you will pay back your debts in full and on time. The percentages may vary slightly but there is a general consensus on the following key factors:
Payment History is over ? of your score, so be sure to pay all of your bills on time. One of the (few) benefits of being Senior Millennials like Rich and I is that we have time on our side. Marcus obtained his first credit card at age 18 and has only ever missed one credit card payment in the subsequent 18 years (Editor’s Note: I still vehemently maintain that this was a credit card mix up and they lost my payment in the mail. That will be the story I stick to until I die!) Rich also had one missed payment from a decade ago that he still sees when reviewing his full credit history. He vehemently claims it wasn’t his fault since the bank was trash and no longer exists today. Additionally, he carried balances at various points and finally became 100% consumer debt free earlier in 2018, which got him into the 800 club. This has literally given us both over a decade to maintain a healthy credit utilization rate (outstanding debt divided by total available debt). In fact, it’s better to have small balances on multiple cards than one large balance on one card if it pushes you over 30% utilization. For this reason, we recommended that you keep your balances paid in full each month or a utilization under 30% in total or on any given credit card to maintain a high credit score.
Debitize Lets You Use Your Debit Card Like A Credit Card
If you have trouble making timely payments or you’re just not comfortable managing a credit card on your own, Debitize has created an easy-to-use interface that allows you to use your debit card like a credit card. You can listen to our interview with the CEO, PB79: Debitize – Credit Card Perks without Credit Card Debt ft Liran Amrany. Debitize has automated a low-risk way for you to quickly raise your credit score by consistently maintaining your payment history.
While there is nothing stopping you from paying your own credit card in full throughout the month, most people will wait until the due date because waiting until the last minute is human nature. Just be honest with yourself. We found that Debitize is a simple way to automate the process. Rich has been using the service since February and it has helped him autopay his balance in full each month and accumulate enough credit card points to book multiple round-trip flights. He’s a man of automation and Debitize has gotten it done for him.
The Difference Between a Good Credit Score and a Great Credit Score
What’s a good credit score? To keep it simple, a “good” score is anything over 700; however, to get the best rates and deals you should shoot to get your score to 740 or above.
For context, I’m not aware of my credit score ever dropping below 700. Using the information from above, this is likely because I’ve always maintained a positive payment history. I didn’t reach an 800 credit score until I was age 36. Put another way, if you find yourself on the right side of 30, then simply paying your card off in full each month and practicing responsible credit card management over time will likely automatically lift you into the 800 FICO club when you’re old dinosaurs with blogs and podcasts like ourselves. Keep hope alive.
While I got my first credit card at age 18, I actually didn’t see my credit score until I was in my late to mid-20s. There are two reasons for this:
- I wasn’t financially responsible, so I didn’t care to monitor my personal finances, budget, or both checking my credit report (freely available at AnnualCreditReport.com).
- Credit Scores weren’t as widely available as they are now, but even if they were, see point #1.
As a benefit to you, my youthful ignorance is your wisdom to gain. These days, there is no reason for anyone who wants to know their credit score not to be able to easily obtain it, usually for free. At any given time, I can view my credit score from a variety of sources including but not limited to Mint, my bank account, and through the website of the only credit card I actively use. In 2018, I can honestly think of no reason to pay for your credit score unless you are just genuinely curious about all of the scores lenders use. In that case, Liz Weston recommends you use MyFICO.com for the most robust and accurate reports.
A Great Credit Score Is Important but Keep Things in Perspective
Whether you have a great credit score or a bad score doesn’t matter, unless it matters. In fact, some experts believe pursuing anything over 760 is a complete waste of time. Before driving yourself crazy trying to obtain the highest credit score known to Mother Earth, you might want to first ask: is my credit score already good enough to meet my needs?
Chasing after a high credit score you don’t plan to use is like paying to take the SATs when you’re not interested in college. You might get a high score, and I guess that’s great in principle, but is it worth the stress?
Most experts agree there is limited tangible benefit gained by consumers with scores ranging from 760 – 850. You might qualify for a few more perks, credit cards, or bragging rights on The Gram but nothing is guaranteed. It’s actually more difficult to stay in the 800 FICO Club — like trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA — than it is to reach 800. After 760, the remainder of your race to 800 shouldn’t be something you stress yourself over if you don’t plan on making any major purchases and no one is running your credit report any time soon Stated another way, once you reach 760 you can begin to relax and cruise to victory.
I’m not encouraging anyone to have bad credit, but I am encouraging everyone to keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, a credit score is no more than a measure of how well you manage debt. If you don’t need to manage debt or obtain a loan, please go back to living your best life. After 760, you may be better off dedicating your energy towards focusing on your other financial goals or increasing your net worth. Your credit score is just one part — and potentially a very small part — of the overall health of your complete financial picture.
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