How Can I Get A Great FICO Score?

FICO, the inventor of the credit score, conducted analysis on those with high credit scores (from 785 to 850), which are called the “high achievers”.  FICO® scores range from 300 to 850, with the higher the score the lower the credit risk.  The data source was one of the three U.S. credit bureaus and pulled from April 2012 data using the latest version of the FICO score – FICO® 08.

High Achievers Characteristics

The high achievers are 25 percent of those with credit scores or approximately 50 million individuals. Basically, this group had all the same credit habits – kept low credit card balances compared to their available credit, aren’t maxed out on their credit (don’t use all their available credit on their credit card) and pay their bills on time.  This group was not free of debt and usually had some credit cards with balances, but was able to manage their debt.

According to FICO’s study, the list of characteristics of high achievers is as follows:

High achievers have an average of seven credit cards including both open and closed accounts.

High achievers have an average of four credit cards or loans with balances.

One-third of high achievers have total balances of more than $8,500 on non-mortgage accounts; the remaining two-thirds have total balances of less than $8,500.

96 percent of high achievers show no missed payments on their credit report. On the average, those with missed payments in the past have had any in four years.

Less than 1 percent of high achievers have an account past due.

Approximately one in 100 high achievers has a collection listed on their credit report and approximately one in 9,000 has experienced tax liens or bankruptcies.

Their oldest credit account was opened an average of 25 years ago and their most recent credit account averages 28 months old. Overall, their average credit account is 11 years old.

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“Higher credit scores can be the key to achieving some of life’s most important dreams: buying a new car, owning a home, putting a child through college, or taking a dream vacation,” said Anthony Sprauve, credit score advisor for myFICO. “The good news is that by understanding and consistently practicing behaviors that can lead to high credit scores, anyone can become a FICO High Achiever.

“While people with a high FICO Score are not perfect, their consistently responsible financial behavior usually pays off over time,” Sprauve added. “In a challenging economic period, the fact that we all have a chance to be high achievers is very good news. The lesson from these high achievers is that it’s never too late to rebuild and score high.”

FICO high achievers have a well-established credit history, seldom open new accounts, were current on payments and didn’t have high credit card debt. If you want to be a high achiever, you should concentrate on the two components of the FICO score which make up 65 percent of the score – payment history (35 percent) and amount owed (30 percent).

Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.  Follow him on Twitter here.