Q&A: When credit scores are fine

Dear Liz: I was once told that the reason my credit score wasn’t higher was an insufficient credit history. Now I am doing what you have recommended by charging a monthly security alarm service to one credit card, a weekly church donation to another and satellite TV to a third. All are paid off each month. I checked my credit score recently and read that the reason my score isn’t higher is that I now have too many cards with balances. My score is around 860 but the comment concerns me. Should it?

Answer: Most credit scores are on a 300 to 850 scale. If your score is at or near the top of that range, you’re doing fine. Scores over 760 or so generally get the best rates and terms from lenders (the cutoff is often 740 for mortgage lenders). Higher scores just get you bragging rights.

The services that provide you with credit scores often give you automated reasons why your scores aren’t higher. Those messages can be helpful when you’re trying to build or rebuild credit. The higher your scores, though, the less helpful those messages seem to be. Even if you could fix the “problem” they’re pointing out, there’s no guarantee your scores would increase.

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  1. Mikael Hansen says

    A typo? “My score is around 860”

  2. When it comes to credit card approvals then a higher credit score even above 800 can make a slight difference. For mortgages or auto loans your right the cut off line is usually at 740.

    • Liz Weston says

      I’m not aware of any credit card issuer that requires an 800+ score. Some home equity and auto lenders have 760 as a cutoff.