Q&A: Are you trying for a perfect credit score? Maybe you don’t need to

Dear Liz: My credit score fluctuates between 799 and 815. It used to be 850. I always pay my bills in full and on time, and keep the credit utilization low. The only comment I can find about why my credit score isn’t higher is that I lack a loan. I don’t owe any money and see no need to get a loan, so is there anything I can do to get the score back closer to 850?

Answer: Possibly, but there’s really no point in having a “perfect” credit score.

Most credit score formulas use a 300-to-850 scale. By the time your scores are in the mid-700 range, you’re typically getting the best rates and terms from lenders. Also, scores change all the time and vary according to the formula used. Even if you could achieve an 850 with one type of score, you might not achieve it with another score or keep that high number for long.

You typically need an installment loan such as a mortgage or car loan to get scores closer to 850. Borrowing money just to improve scores can make sense if you’re just starting out or trying to fix battered credit, but not in your situation.

If you’re determined to get higher scores, consider using even less of your available credit. Top scorers typically use less than 10% of the credit limits on their cards. The balance that matters for credit scoring calculations is typically your statement balance, so one way to reduce utilization can be making a payment right before the statement closes. Just be sure to pay off any remaining balance before the due date so that you don’t incur late fees.

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