How to Become a Member of the 800 Credit Score Club
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Last Updated: September 24, 2017
We have all heard that popular song "All About the Bass" — well we are here to tell you it is "All About the Credit Score." If you are fixing your credit, chances are you have seen your credit score and it is not good. According to CNN Money, the average U.S. credit score is now 700 — the highest average credit score since FICO began tracking 12 years ago. Even though the average credit score may be slowly creeping up, there is still a very small percentage of Americans who are in the "800 or higher" club. Want to become a member of this exclusive club? Membership includes great interest rates on loans, great deals on credit cards, and piece of mind knowing you will be approved for just about any type of loan. Being in this club also means you have extra money to save because you are paying lower interest rates. Keep reading and learn how to get a credit score of 800 or higher and become a member of the 800 club.
Get Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores
The Huffington Post revealed nearly 30 percent of people surveyed did not know their credit score. In addition, nearly half of the people surveyed earning less than $30,00 annually did not know their score at all. You need to know your score before you can start to increase your score. It might cost you a few extra dollars, but when you request all your credit reports make sure to get your scores. Keep in mind that each credit reporting agency will have a different score for you so it is a good idea to also get your score from FICO.com. Now you will have a starting point with which to work from and you will have your credit reports so you know where you need to improve.
Look for inaccurate or damaging information and be prepared to challenge this information with the credit bureaus and creditors. Eliminating this negative information is the first step to increasing your credit score. Delinquent accounts, bankruptcy or other issues can have an impact on your score for up to 10 years. So try your hardest to get these blemished off your credit reports.
Establish a Long Credit History and Pay Bills on Time
Maintaining and managing old accounts is the best way to improve your creditworthiness. The ideal credit history is 10 years or longer. Keeping your older accounts open and active is the best way to increase your credit score. Remember that credit card you had way back when? Well, don’t close that account just because you don’t use it anymore. In fact, if you still have the card associated with that account, use it a few times each year just to shake the cobwebs off of it. Keeping that account in use and paid off will go a long way to helping get you to the 800 club.
Along with using those old credit accounts, make sure to pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit utilization ratios low. According to FICO, 35 percent of your credit score is based on payment history and another 15 percent is the length of your credit history. These two important aspects of credit use make up almost half of your credit score!
Monitor Your Credit Card Usage
Most of us think of credit cards as a bottomless bank account. That is not how the 800 club members view their credit cards — they think of credit cards as a tool and use them sparingly. They keep their credit utilization ratio at 10 percent or less and they always pay their bills on time. Think of it this way, if you have 2 credit cards with $1,000 credit limit on each, that is $2,000 of available credit. You will want to keep your balances at $100 or less on each card or better yet, pay them off each month to avoid accruing interest. Careful use and monitoring of your credit cards will go a long way to increasing your credit score. When you look at what goes into your credit score, 30 percent of it is determined by how much you owe. So, keeping that debt ratio low will jack up your score in no time flat.
Diversify Your Credit Accounts
Diversity in your choice and use of credit accounts makes up 10 percent of your FICO score and those in the 800 club know how to use different types of credit. You need to have a good mix of credit cards, personal loans, auto financing, and mortgages to show creditors you are able to manage multiple accounts. Now, if you do not have some of these types of account, don’t go all gang-busters and apply for them at once. Apply for these loans gradually to avoid placing too many hard credit inquiries on your credit report. As we have said in some of our other articles on repairing your credit, slow and steady wins the race and this could not be truer when trying to increase your credit score.
If you have a low credit score and you want to add some of these types of accounts to your portfolio, a great place to apply for these is at your local credit union. Credit unions are a bit more relaxed in their lending practices and they offer those with less than perfect credit the chance to obtain personal or auto loans at competitive interest rates. Once you establish a good rapport with a credit union, getting additional types of credit from them will be easier in the future. You can also try some smaller, local banks, too, as they offer a bit more personalized service compared to the big box banks like Chase or Bank of America.
Cut Your Spending and Lower Your Liabilities
We feel these two tips go hand in hand — kind-a like peas and carrots. Budgeting your money and living a bit more frugally are the sure fire ways members of the 800 club got into the 800 club. Budgeting is a vital part of credit health and keeps you on the steady course of financial stability. Although income is not factored into your credit score, 800 club members know the importance of living within their means and don’t allow comfort of living to interfere with the credit score aspirations. Those in the club don’t try to "keep up with the Jones’s" and they make big ticket purchases only when they have the means to pay for them. Plain and simple, don’t buy a Mercedes if you have a Volkswagen budget.
In addition to living frugally, members of the club limit and lower their liabilities. Protect you credit score in the following ways:
- Limit Co-Signed Accounts: Allowing a friend or relative to rely on your credit score is kind, but it could also backfire and damage your credit. Be careful who you help and limit the number of times you offer to help someone. You don’t want to spread your good credit too thin.
- Limit or Eliminate Bad Credit Cards: Many lenders offer lines of credit to people with bad credit and you might have one of these types of cards in your possession from years gone by. If so, try to negotiate a better interest rate with the bank or just pay it off all together and cease using it for purchases. We know we said use old credit but we mean use old GOOD credit cards. Bad ones won’t do you any good in the long run.
- Lower Your Liabilities: As we have mentioned before, lowering the amount of money owed is a vital part of what goes into calculating your credit score. So, before you take out a loan to buy that fancy car, make sure you have paid off some other smaller loans first. Piling up more debt on top of debt is not what members of the 800 club practice in their financial affairs.
Gaining membership to the elite 800 club is not out of reach and you can join those lucky few that have an excellent credit score by following our tips. It might take a few years to get there, but when you do, it will be well worth of all the work you put into increasing your credit score. Remember, it is a slow and gradual process so make sure you committed for the long haul. Your financial outlook and bank account will be happy you did.
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