The Perfect Credit Score: Understanding the 850 FICO Score

Some of the most common credit score questions people ask relate to the subject of a perfect FICO® score:

  • What is the perfect FICO® score?

  • How do I get a perfect FICO® score?

  • Does anyone have a perfect FICO® score?

  • What is the typical credit profile of someone with a perfect FICO® score?

FICO® scores are a sequence of three-digit numbers ranging from 300 to 850*. Each lender determines the score threshold they need to approve a credit application and to help them set the conditions (interest rate, credit limit, etc.) of the credit granted. Generally, most lenders do not require an individual to have the highest possible credit score to get the best loan features. Instead, they set a high-end threshold (usually in the upper 700s) where applicants scoring above that threshold qualify as a good credit score and get those most favorable terms.

In other words, don’t worry if you’re “only” an 800, because most lenders are likely to treat you the same if you score between 800 and 850, because your risk of not pay as agreed is very low at these highs. FICO® score ranges.

The percentage of the population with a credit score of 850 is relatively low, but has been increasing. In April 2019, approximately 1.6% of the US testable population had a FICO® score of 850. This compares to 0.98% in April 2014 and 0.85% in April 2009. This slight increase is not surprising as we have seen the average FICO® score on the national population increase over time as the “Great Recession” gets old.

The top five states with the highest percentage of their respective populations with an 850 credit score have remained fairly constant over the past ten years and this percentage has also increased with each state over the period.

These states also tend to exhibit other “high performing” behaviors in areas such as a healthier lifestyle and higher levels of education, which likely correlate with good credit management behaviors. According to the Becker Hospital review, Hawaii, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Minnesota are among the top 10 states in overall health rankings. Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Minnesota are among the top 10 states for percentage of residents with bachelor’s degrees.

We also looked at the major MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Area) to understand which cities have the highest percentage of their respective populations with a credit score of 850. As shown in the table below, the major metropolitan areas encompassing Boston, New York, San Francisco, Southern California, and Washington D.C. consistently surface for having “bragging rights” for the largest percentage of residents with a perfect 850 credit score. Data also shows that the percentage of the MSA population with a credit score of 850 also increased over the period.

If you happen to have a “high performing” personality and are focused on improving your good credit score to “perfect” with a FICO® score of 850, here are some credit behavioral characteristics we have. observed in the population with a FICO® score of 850 in April 2019:

  • Payment history makes up 35% of a FICO® score and, unsurprisingly, we find that those with an 850 have virtually no history of missed payments, collections, or derogatory information.

  • Many people assume that to get an 850 you should have no credit debt. In fact, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly to some, we find that the 850 profile has and uses credit with an average credit balance of around $13,000 (excluding mortgage balances). Their average use of revolving credit tends to be relatively low compared to their available credit at 4.1%.

  • Most have established credit histories, with the average age of their oldest account being 30 years old.

  • They are not all immune to seeking and opening new credits. About 10% had one or more inquiries in the past year and about 1/4 opened one or more new credit accounts in the past year.

While it’s true that having a high FICO® score can increase your access to more affordable credit, paying close attention to trying to have a “perfect” FICO® score of 850 won’t really change the way lenders look at you against other high-scoring applicants. Instead of focusing on a perfect credit score, you can focus on achieving a high FICO® score by paying your bills on time and improving your payment history, keeping credit card balances low, and not asking for credit only when needed.

* The FICO® Score versions of the automotive industry and bank cards have a slightly wider credit score range of 250 to 900.

How FICO can help you understand the FICO score: