How To Improve Your Credit Score To 800 And Higher

805 Credit Score Financial SamuraiIt took 14 long years and many false hopes, but I finally broke 800 on my credit score back in September, 2013! It’s 2015 now and my 800+ credit score has remained steady.

The last time I checked my credit score before 9/2013 was when I refinanced by primary home mortgage in the spring of 2012 before I left my job of 11 years. My TransUnion credit score actually came back at a dismal 697 because there was a late $8 electricity bill charge my tenants did not pay from three years ago. As a result, my bank said they would not go through with my refinance after I had waited for 80+ days already.

I was able to fix my credit score in 10 days after I told my local utility company to write a “clear credit letter” to my bank. My credit score thankfully jumped back to 797 within three months and my refinance was complete. What is scary about the whole thing is that I had successfully refinanced another property in 2010 with no signs of an impending hit due to the $8 late payment. This is why I urge you to check your credit score once a year to make sure there no errors, especially if you are planning to refinance or take out a significant loan.

My latest credit score check came due to my application for the Discover credit card I plan to use for all my travel related expenses. I’m on a 10+ weeks a year travel mission from now on and it just makes sense to sign up for a card that provide bonus miles and points for every dollar spent. So it was with great surprise through the application process that my credit score is now 805.

In this article I’d like to highlight the main attributes of determining one’s credit score and my thoughts on how I was able to finally break 800. Hopefully this post will give you helpful first person insight.


credit-score-breakdownThere are five main components that determine your credit score: Payment History (35%), Amounts Owed (30%), Length Of Credit History (15%), New Credit (10%), and Types Of Credit Used (10%). The weightings of each component are rough estimates that depend from person to person. For example, someone who just started taking out credit may have a lower percentage weighting in the Length Of Credit History component vs. someone who has used credit for over 30 years.

Let’s discuss each category.

Payment History (35%) 

A lender wants to know whether you’ve been a good creditor or a bad creditor with other financial institutions. The longer you can demonstrate you’ve consistently paid a lender on time, the higher your score. The more you’ve been late or have not paid, the lower your score. If you are first starting out, lenders will base your creditworthiness on your occupation and debt levels. They understand everybody has to start somewhere and most are willing to lend with an initial small credit line.

My story: Over the past 10 years I have never missed a mortgage payment because they are on autopay. I also never missed a student loan payment for the four years post business school because they were also on autopay. I was determined to pay my student loans on time because the government provides a rate reduction incentive after 12 consecutive months of on-time payment.

I have actually missed credit card payments around seven times over the past 14 years because I simply forgot or was traveling when my payment was due. The most recent example was my August 2013 credit card bill for $5,000+ because I was too busy watching the US Open in NYC! I found out I was late when my credit card was declined for a $20 lunch and I had to pay cash. The good thing is that I simply called my credit card and had them reverse the $25 late fee. There was no penalty on my credit score, but I did have to pay the prorated 1 month interest on $5,000 worth of charges. More reading: Will A Late Credit Card Payment Affect My Credit Score?

Amounts Owed (30%) 

The goal is to figure out how much credit is too much for a given borrower. When a high percentage of a person’s available credit is being used, it may signal that the borrower is overextended. The credit scores want to determine: 1) the amounts owed on all accounts, 2) the amounts owed on different type of accounts e.g. credit cards, mortgages, car loans, student loans etc, 3) whether you have balances, 4) how many of your accounts have balances, and 5) how much of the installment loan do you still owe vs the original amount e.g. car loan.

Owing a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad creditor. But owing a lot of money on multiple accounts which are maxed to the limit show credit risk which may negatively hurt your credit score. Lenders don’t want to lend more money to people who are already using up all their line of credit.

My story: In the past I had mortgages, student loans, a car loan for one year, and zero revolving credit card debt. My only debt now are my mortgages. I purposefully try to keep my primary mortgage at around one million dollars because I think that is the ideal mortgage amount for tax benefits based off my income. One million dollars is a high absolute amount, but it is manageable based on my net worth. This amount helps buttress the point that owing a lot of money doesn’t mean you are a bad creditor.

I used to have an AMEX corporate card that had a $100,000 credit limit. The most I ever spent was around $65,000 one year I was traveling around like crazy and the bills were always paid on time. Now I’ve got a personal credit card with a $35,000 limit, but I only charge less than 10% of the limit on average a month and always pay it off.  I think it really helps my credit score that I’ve never come close to ever maxing out my credit card limits.

Finally, although my student loan re-payment schedule was for 10 years, and later extended to 20 years for financial arbitrage reasons. I ended up paying off my business school loans within four years because I was just sick of having student loan debt. Paying off a loan relatively early helps prove your credit worthiness.

Length Of Credit History (15%)

The general math is that the longer your credit history, the higher your credit score all things being equal. Credit score companies will ascertain the age of your oldest credit account, your newest credit account, and the average age of all your credit accounts to get a big picture. Another variable is the frequency by which your credit accounts are used.

My story: I think the length of credit history is the main variable which put me over the 800 credit score. For the past 14 years I’ve demonstrated myself as a good creditor who paid on time on amounts big and small for various types of credit. I have not taken on any new significant loans over the past eight years and have instead reduced my debt levels over time.

It’s important to highlight that my overall income took a big hit over the past 16 months since I left my day job. A higher debt-to-income ratio poses a risk to people wanting to get new credit. However, I was grandfathered into my existing lines of credit so institutions aren’t going to be taking away access. I postulate that if I continue paying all my bills on time with a lower income level, then I may look even more creditworthy to lenders if my debt stays constant or declines. Getting more new lines of credit will probably prove difficult if my income stays the same.

New Credit (10%)

If you open up multiple new credit lines in a short period of time, research shows you are of higher credit risk. The theory is that there may be an emergency cash crunch you are facing that encourages you to open up new lines of credit with the risk of not paying them off.

My story: I’ve never applied for new credit more than twice a year because I’ve always been wary of opening up new lines of credit too quickly. The biggest temptation is when I go to a retailer and they ask me to apply for a store credit card to get an immediate 10% off my purchase. I’ve succumbed to such temptation when I spent about $1,200 at Banana Republic for a suit and work clothes. I also opened up a Home Depot credit card to get the same 10% discount while doing a $5,000+ landscaping project several years ago. I closed both accounts after 12 months. These two retail credit cards probably hurt me at the margin. But the credit amounts were so small as a portion to my income that I don’t really think it mattered much.

Types Of Credit Used (10%)

Credit score evaluators will consider your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts and mortgage loans. More is not better, just like only having credit card and a mortgage isn’t better.

My story: I’ve had basically every type of common loan there is as I’ve entered new stages of my life. The types of credit used follows a typical pattern for consumers who graduate from college, get a job, go to graduate school, buy a home, and potentially have children. My story is nothing special and this 10% weighting should probably have full weighting because my types of credit used are not ringing alarm bells.


Before I had a 805 credit score, I thought that anything above a 760 credit was all the same: excellent. After all, the average credit score for an approved mortgage applicant is 762 and what loan is going to be bigger than a mortgage? Now that my credit score is over 800, I want to whimsically start my own club 800+ club. We’ll give ourselves secret handshakes, have secret pass codes to the world’s hottest establishments, and tell each other old war stories.

Of course I’m joking, but with employers and even online dating sites scrutinizing credit scores more now, credit scores are no longer just for borrowing money at a low interest rate. By focusing on on-time Payment History and a manageable Amount Owed you are 65% of the way there. The remaining three variables will naturally just come over time so you shouldn’t worry about doing anything different or special. Here’s to optimizing your credit profile!


Check your free credit score now! I highly recommend signing up for Credit Sesame, a company that provides free unlimited daily credit scores, free monthly credit reports, free 1-Bureau credit monitoring and alerts, free analysis of all your credit and loans, and free $50K identity theft insurance and ID restoration help! Unlike other “free” credit score companies who hope you forget not to cancel before their free 30-day trial is up, there’s no need to give Credit Sesame your credit card information.

A credit score is important when trying to get the best loan terms possible for a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan. Because of a delinquent $8 electric bill payment my tenant didn’t pay, I unknowingly had a credit score in the 600s that almost torpedoed my mortgage refinance! Finally, it’s simply a great idea to have constant monitoring to get a complete financial picture. You just never know with so many credit report errors and identity thieves out there. Sign up for your free credit score with Credit Sesame today. 

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Fully updated on 6/26/2015

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. says

    I have not looked at my score in a while because I know it will be good but not great. I am the consignor for student lines of credit that both of my sons have. Oldest son was not following all the rules last year and I know that it caused problems.

    His student line of credit is for $15,000. He would take it right up to the $15,000 and then when the monthly interest was added it would put him over the authorized limit. There were some sternly worded emails and some angry Skype conversations to get that straightened out. I threatened to sell his Archie comic collection if it happened again.

    • says

      Sell that Archie comic collection! What’s he using the $15,000 student line of credit for btw? If for living, then all is forgiven perhaps?

      One of the things that really made me more aware of money growing up was having a sit down heart-to-heart with my parents who made me realize they were not wealthy and that they had to work for decades more. That really motivated me to stop being so careless with their money and wanting to make more so they wouldn’t have to work as much.

      • says

        He is on the Dean’s list and gets scholarships to help with tuition but he has rent and food and books. He works year round but I cannot help him very so the LOC has paid his rent and bought him a car he needs for his job. He eats like a king because he is on the Paleo diet and he never misses an opportunity to attend an event with friends.

        He will graduate with 40K of debt and it all his to deal with.

  2. nbsdmp says

    Wouldn’t an even greater accomplishment be a credit score of “zero” because don’t ever borrow and you don’t ever need to ever borrow money again? Best thing would be that you could care less about some arbitrary rating that doesn’t take net worth and earning ability into consideration…food for thought.

    • David M says

      Do you happen to be a follower of Dave Ramsey?

      I “borrow ” monthly on my credit cards and pay it off in full. Yes this not going to mark me millionaire but it does allow me to fly for the us to Asia in business of
      R first class.

      • nbsdmp says

        I was a follower without really knowing about him…I’ve been debt free for over a decade now, but came across his radio show about 4-5 years ago. I don’t 100% buy into everything he says, but the premise is pretty damn sound. Like you I “borrow” using my credit card monthly but have never had a balance or paid interest…that is one way I disagree with Dave, but I think what Dave is trying to get across is discipline. I guess my point (even for guys like us who pay it off in full every month) on the credit score is who cares if your score is a 150 and your card carries a 47% interest rate if you have the cash and discipline to only buy what you can actually pay for. Credit allows people to inflate their lifestyle, in turn credit artificially inflates the value of assets around us. It is the system that we have so we have to play by it…but if there was no credit a 1,200 sq. ft house in Pasadena or SF would not cost $1M. Fact is less than 1% of the population make over $300k year that it takes to be able to truly afford that kind of mortgage. It is supply and demand I get it…but way too many people are living beyond their means and trying to appear wealthy IMO.

        • David M says

          Thanks for taking the time to reply – much appreciated!

          I agree with everything you say. I also was a follower without knowing it – I have been listening to his podcasts for a year now.

          I agree with him about debt and overspending. Don’t agree with him as much on the investing side of things.

          I agree with the living beyond the means – I make good money but have never had cable, have a prepaid cell phone, an 8 year old car that I paid cash for, 1 7 year old television, etc.

      • nbsdmp says

        No problem Dave M…I’m truly a story of what Dave talks about when he says live like no one else so you can live like no one else in the future. I delayed gratification until I achieved a certain amount of wealth that I thought I knew I was “covered” before I started to indulge a bit. Now because I was frugal I have a lot of fun…paid for home on the water in position “A”, boats, cars, toys, etc. Funny thing is I bought almost all of my “luxury” items at huge discounts from people who originally purchased them with credit but got in trouble because they tried to live a lifestyle they truly could not afford. Cash is king, don’t be afraid to use it though when opportunity presents itself…& like Sam says, you need to make sure to have a little fun along the way too!

  3. says

    Nice job breaking 800 on your credit score! I’m not there yet. I’m still in the 700s but I think I have a shot maybe a few more years down the road to get there or close. It’s funny to think about dating sites looking at credit scores. I wonder if people try to fake their own numbers. I try to check my credit report about twice a year.

  4. Ken says

    Do you recommend paying off 4% interest student loans or sticking that 13k into Lending Club where I can get 12% return? I have a high credit score (over 780) if it matters.

      • Ken says

        The remaining balance on my student loans is 13k with a $160/month payment so a little under 7 years left. My current Net Annualized Return on LC is 13.xx%. I’m sure that will drop to 11% or so once people default.

        • David M says

          Sure things are the way to go – IMHO!

          Take the cash pay off your student debt – THEN – starting investing into Lending Club.

          As Dave Ramsey would say – “Would you go and borrow $13K so as to invest $13K into Lending Club. You are leaving risk out of the equation”

  5. JT says

    Stuck at around 750 +/- 20 points. All accounts paid on time, and utilization is always low, but I don’t have any diversity in open accounts. No installment accounts, but its interesting to think I might have a higher score if I had $10,000 in student loans.

    Since Credit Karma gives me a C in average account age, I’m just going to guess that time is one of the biggest factors I’m missing. Old age is a high price to pay for excellent credit.

    • Debidokun says

      My average age score is a D and I’m much older than you. I open and close account all the time so my length of accounts is 2 years 6 months eve though I have had credit cards for about 25 years.

      Better to OT have the $10,000 in student loans!

        • David M says

          Lots of churning but still 791 – I’ve got no complaints.

          I just want to: 1) keep my score over 750 and 2) gets lots of sign up bonuses but NOT pay annual fees. So far so good!

  6. says

    It’s a drag, but you’re right, the reality is a lot hinges on a good credit score. I am also (just barely) over 800–that’s how I originally got a good mortgage rate, and then a year ago, got a great refinance rate on my home.

  7. says

    Mr PoP is an 805, and I trail by about 30 points, mostly because of my one late student loan payment. That should fall off my record in about 6 months, so I will be curious to see if I get a sizable jump then.

    But mostly we take the view that beyond a certain point credit scores don’t really matter much, so we rarely think about them when we do financial moves since we’re generally pretty responsible and our numbers have always indicated that.

  8. Suzette M. Hays says

    Credit counselors say that’s especially true for credit cards. Unlike installment loans that are capped at a set amount, “revolving accounts are a little more of a wild card because you could go out and charge that up if you wanted to,” says Wallis. Others agree. “Credit cards carry a high risk for many individuals. This can allow them to overextend very quickly,” Jiron says. Being overextended can hurt your score: FICO data show that maxing out a credit card can lower your credit score by as much as 45 points. So if you’re tempted by the thought of going on a charging spree with your new plastic, adding another card to your wallet may not be wise.

    • Debidokun says

      Adding a new card would be wise – more cards means more credit limit $ and thus the percent of utilization after the shopping spree will be lower if you have a new card.

      I pay off my cards monthly and if by chance I make some big purchases I will pay of the charge before the monthly billing statement – my utilization is usually around 1-2%’every month.

  9. Kyle says

    Sounds like it is time to churn some credit cards for sign up bonuses. I’ve gotten over $3200 worth of flights, hotels and statement credits so far this year just from cards I signed up for in March and June. My credit score is still over 750.

  10. Debidokun says

    Just checked my score is the highest it has been during the 3 years or so I have been checking – 791. It fluctuates between 750 and 780 or so.

    Why does it fluctuate so much – credit cards. I usually get 4-6 new cards a year. And at the end of the year I cancel the cards after getting lots of great sign up bonuses.

    My average length of credit is 2 years and 5 months even though I have had credit cards for over 25 years. What is keeping my average UP – a few city thank you point cards I have had for 10 years or so- no annual,fee on those cards.

    Getting to 800 is not a goal of mine – keepin my score over 750 so li can get sign up bonuses is!

    • says

      Any desire to write a post for me on your credit card churning strategy? 4-6 new cards a year is unheard of in my world of just one personal (now two for travel) and one corporate. If it was up to me, I’d rather just have one b/c I don’t like having too much stuff in my wallet.

      Your strategy and the pros and cons really is fascinating so I’d be interest in a read! thx

      • David M says

        Not sure how long a post I could write.

        The long and short of it is, I get the card spend at least the $$$ needed to get the bonus and keep the card for a year – then cancel when the annual fee comes due. REPEAT AGAIN!

        I have had the United Chase CC about 6 times and the Delta Amex card at least 4 times. The CC companies are happy to give the card again as they hope you will end up paying interest and late fees. Not going to happen in my instance but I’m happy to let them hope!

  11. Debidokun says

    Please repeat after me – I will never again consign on anyone’s debt!

    Never heard of anything good happening due to consigning on debt.

  12. says

    Go figure.

    I’ve never paid too much attention to my credit score as it’s been in the 700s as long as I’ve ever paid attention to it. But I didn’t realize credit scores could be higher than 800.

    Learn something new every day.

  13. says

    The biggest drag on my score right now is my credit inquiries (8). Also, my average account age was dragged down this year by churning a few cards. Still, mid 700s isn’t bad. Once a few of my newer accounts are closed and the inquiries drop off, maybe I’ll climb into the high 700s. I already have a mortgage though, so at this stage I’m kind of passed caring about my score. It was nice to get approved for a good rate on the mortgage, but my excellent credit score doesn’t put money in my pocket every month.

    One day when I have some time maybe I’ll join you in the 800 club, but until then I’ll just keep growing my nut!

    • says

      I think you’ve still got to care b/c you might want to refinance that mortgage sometime, and you never know. The importance of the credit score is going up, not down.

      Why may I ask do you have 8 credit inquiries? thx

      • says

        Multiple credit card applications, a mortgage, a new cell phone or two, opening bank accounts at all the major military friendly banks (to review them)… it all kind of added up in the past year. Hopefully the hard credit pulls will start dropping off soon!

  14. says

    I check my credit report at least once a year to make sure it’s clean and nothing is out of sorts. I’m not sure what my credit score is today as I am focused on debt repayment and have been close accounts. It was in the mid 700 at one point, I’m sure it has fallen now.

    • says

      Yes, checking to make sure the credit report is clean is important! Around 25% of credit reports have errors and that’s pretty scary. Mine had a $8 error that crushed my score by 100 points and nearly derailed my 100 day mortgage refinance!

  15. says

    We recently remortgaged our rental property and noticed that we fell a bit short of 800. I’m sure I could get it boosted with some deliberate effort, but I’m not sure why I’d need to at this point.

    • says

      If you successfully refinanced at a rate that is saving you money, getting an 800 is not needed. It’s more a novelty as anything over 760 should be treated very similarly. Hope this post helps all types of folks looking to better understand and improve their credit score at any level. Cheers

  16. says

    I think you SHOULD start an 800+ club! Ha, That brings back memories of high school. Mine had a “1200 club” where everyone who scored that or higher on the SAT made it in. The prestige was amazing. Everyone else was so jealous of us and our 1200 club T-shirts. Only 70% of the members were roughed up by the other students.

  17. says

    Excellent writeup. Last time I checked I was just below 800 (somewhere in the 780-790 range) about a year ago. Any experience with using Credit Sesame to check your credit score for free and if it’s different from what you get from the actual credit card bureaus?

    • David M says

      I use credit Karma and it works great – love it! On credit Karma it now says the score is coming from Trans Union – one of the big 3 – I would assume the score I see is exactly the same as a REAL Trans Union score.

    • David M says

      I used Credit Karma and it works great. It says the score is from Trans Union – one of the big 3 credit bureaus – I would assume the score I get is the same score I would get from Trans Union.

  18. mary w says

    My credit score has been over 800 for at least 12-15 years. I’m much older than you so my length of credit history is better. My primary cc and department store card are both from 1995.
    I try to keep hard inquiries to a minimum. I hate it when you buy a new car, playing cash and they still pull your credit.
    I use auto-pay for as much as possible. For credit cards I have it set up to just pay the minimum payment in case there is ever a problem.
    Slow a steady wins the race to a 800+ credit score.

  19. Jason says

    I know I’ve been at 800+ at some point, but I’ve been hitting up the mortgage lenders pretty regularly, so with the taking on of so much new debt, I have to expect a hit. I’m now in the mid-700s.

    I don’t see the point in obsessing about the credit score too much. It seems a sport that’s oriented more toward the “anti-debt” crowd. IMHO, if you can get done what you need to get done without penalty, credit-wise, then you’re ok. Is there really much difference between a 780 and an 800?

  20. Fat Chance says

    I think I posted my 813 score when you had a post regarding Pefect Score v Perfect grades a while back. Here it is over a year later and my score has dropped to 787. I paid off my mortgage. I have 0 debt. I am a WAY better credit risk than I was before but my score is lower. Funny how that works.

    The biggest ding on my scopre is credit history (closed some old cc accounts and no 12 year mortgage account and now my average is 6 years)…

    And credit usage. If I used my credit cards sparingly, I get a good score. I stop using them for a year, my score dropped 20 points.

    To each his own, but I am done working on my credit score. I have no interest in using credit or paying interest to ‘artificially’ raise my credit worthiness. Instead, I would rather never borrow money again. My only financial goal in 2013 was to not use credit cards or borrow money. It has been tough, but I am about 99% succesful so far (left my debit card in the car when shopping once or twice). And to the guy who posted above, I never really saw any added benefit when I had 813 compared to high 700s. It was not like my interest rates were cut in half.

    Sam do you ever use CreditKarma? That is what I have used to track my score for free.

  21. says

    One of the few rewards for a long credit history is I have had a 800+ credit score for as long as I can remember. In fact, I had a 860 score when I took out my line of credit. I even asked the bank about it. Their explanation was you can exceed the normal 850 score under some circumstances. It did not give me a better rate though. I was lumped in with the 800’s. So much for being special!

  22. Small town Oregon says

    After your article post I pulled my transunion, equifax, and experien credit reports. I average 817 between the three, I was shocked at making the 800 club. 10 years out of college, where I had made some “just ignore the bill until collection threats” decisions. I have five active accounts: 1) Our home mortgage 2) Rental mortgage 3) Alaska Airline credit card 4) Banana Rep. cc 5) 0% financed Ford Truck payment. Of course credit cards never carry a balance.

    We recently purchased a Ford truck to tow some recreation toys and be our farm truck. What are your thoughts on 0% financing for vehicles? Pay off early or pay to term of the loan? It’s my first new vehicle, although it’s a 2012 bought from a friend who recently purchased a dealership. Got it for a deal, everyone says that….

    • says

      I’m all about my 1/10th rule for car buying. So if the Ford truck cost 1/10th your annual income with a 0% interest rate, then all is good.

      If not, then perhaps it’s not the best use of your money.

  23. Jay says

    Welcome to the club.

    818 baby (29 y/o)! My wife is 17 points shy of 800. It will soon drop but for good reasons. Picking up a $800-900K mortgage (pending how much we put down) in one of your fav spots (Oahu).

      • Jay says

        Military guy not making much but saving where i can! Always saved the majority of my income and invested most of it (P2P). Never had any debt but have used my credit cards monthly for the past 4 years and just pay them off at the end of the month. A year ago i married a beautiful woman who has the same financial habits and we just moved to Oahu a few months ago.

        You actually influenced our decision to get this nice house on the golf course with your $1M ideal mortgage. We got the lot for $924K in April. The house is not even finished building and similar lots are selling for $1M+. The market here right now is insane as you may know. You have to enter lottery drawings for a chance to buy a new home. We got lucky. Our real estate agent owes you a cut of their commission!

        Let me know next time you come out here


        • says

          Ok! Well the total commission is probably around $50,000. He has to split it with his company so he’s left with $25,000. I’ll take $8,000 and we’ll call it a day!

          Remind me what you do out in Oahu again? Buying a $1 mil home at 29 is rare out there!

        • Jay says

          Sounds fair to me!

          I am active duty and my wife is DoD contractor but she just took an offer for a gov civilian job. She is also a reservist. I feel like you about this place. I want to retire here. I am trying to make it my last duty station by staying here for 9 years, retire, and work a 2nd career.

          It is rare. All our future neighbors are older but i hope it means we sre doing something right. Like you have said, interest rates are still relatively low, so we pre-qual’d easy. Neither of us have any debt whatsoever, no kids, and high FICOs. We got it Ewa Beach which is cheaper than closer to town. They are building the leeward side up a lot and have a lot of new housing developments. Some of the places we went had up to 30 people on a waiting list to buy the same lot. You need another property here! We are interested in getting a second down the road.

  24. ahp999 says

    I recently checked my Transunion which was a 793. I can already tell why and researched it my self why I am shy of a 800 still. 1) I have not had diverse accounts, I have only had credit cards (about 15 total, and about 8 active now). 2) My oldest credit card is about 12 years old, but I have hurt the overall age of my accounts by adding more credit cards to the mix in the past 1 to 3 years. Which dropped my average age of accounts to about 4 and half years.

    I have always paid all bills on time and in full. I think with more time and by doing what I am doing. It should go over the 800 mark. Right now, just to raise my score with diverse accounts. I do not think its a good idea to go get a auto loan for a car I don’t need, or take on a mortgage for a home I do not need. So I am happy where I am at for now.

  25. Squid4Life says

    It took me 8 years after it dropped to 350 after missing payments on my credit cards because I went off to boot camp. Today I enjoy my 800+ credit score with a mortgage, investments, brokerage account, 401k, 457, TSP, a Roth and rental income We opened two businesses last year that are doing well. I do have a few retail cards, a black card, :) and a few bank cards. They have served me well. It took years of discipline to get here and I have always been frugal. I make in the six figures from my regular job. I drive a Honda that I bought cash up front. My child attends public school with her friends. Neither my family nor my friends know how much I make or my net worth. There would be a lot of hands asking for money if they knew how much I make.

  26. fern says

    A few years ago I discovered how lucrative credit card churning could be. In 2013, I earned $1400 in cash back from various credit card offers. I cancel most within 6 months of earning the bonus, although I still have way more credit cards (about 10) than I need. However, after paying off my only remaining debt, my mortgage, last summer, i have wondered if having extra revolving debt potential might help compensate for not having any installment debt.

    Whenever I cancel a credit card, my credit score dips a little, but soon comes back. I’m typically at about 775 and can’t seem to break past that to 800. I’ve had 2 general purpose credit cards for many years, but the rest of them are a year or less old. I also have a few retail credit cards.

  27. Kevin says

    I’ve been in the 800’s for several years now. It has been hovering around 830’s for last few months and when I looked at DiscoverCard today, it showed 849 so it looks like I’m one point away from the maximum. The main change over the last few months is that I’ve started spending on most of my idle cards and haven’t applied for a new card in a year or so.

    However, I would gladly have it drop thirty points to get a $300 in credit card promotion when signing up for a new card.

  28. Kevin says

    Thanks! :) Other than a moment of bragging rights, I think there is little difference between a score of 750 vs 849. I tried to lower my car insurance rates with Esurance the other day and there was nothing they could do to lower it so I still find myself switching car insurance companies every 6 months for the best rates.

    Also, if I apply for credit card and don’t list employment, I will still get declined most likely.

    BTW, high score and income are not related because I haven’t been employed for about 11 months out of the year so it may be possible to reach 850 without being employed.

    I simply pay my bills on time. I never borrow on credit cards and don’t use my credit card utilization.

    There is no silver platter treatment for 849 credit score. You don’t get an award or special deal when signing up for credit card or going to hotel. It is just like everyone else.

  29. Nina says


    I just checked my credit today and I’m at a 769 for 2 companies and a 777 for 1 company. I just paid off my car loan, have about a bajillion dollars left in student loan money (the real number hovers around $175k – currently 28, graduated from grad school 4 years ago), and no credit card debt. I think the only things left to do to increase my credit scores is to wait for time to pass and to buy a house. :T I played with the credit calculator thing and it said that, even if I keep my credit usage low (<15%), pay off all my loans, AND have a mortgage, my score will only increase to 792. T_T' Whyyyyyy…

    Just a question – could paying off my loans too quickly negatively affect my credit score? Once those are done, I'd be just down to one credit card and (hopefully by then) a mortgage. My boyfriend and I are in debt pay down mode, snowballing our student loans like crazy, and will hopefully be done with both his student loans and my student loans in a little over 4 years. If I'm left with just one revolving debt card and no installments, will that hurt me instead of help me?

    PS – I'm a newbie to your site, but I've been stalking for about 2 hours now and am hooked. O_O So addicted…

  30. Art says

    Except for a home mortgage, you should pay cash for everything. Have an +800 credit score is cool, but you’re still blowing perhaps thousands away over the life of your loan — money that could be in your wallet. Concentrate on being debt-free instead of being a perpetual slave to lenders.

    • Kevin says

      Hi Art,

      That is great advice assuming no opportunity costs. However, the stock market has averaged over 8% return per year since the 70’s. Paying thousands of dollars in interest to a lender every year is a great deal if you are earning higher than that with invested dollars. Some of these 30yr loans are around 3-4% interest which is a super deal for those that invest.

  31. Credit Kangaroo says

    If you are checking your credit score regularly, I’d recommend making sure that you’re actually looking at a FICO score. Otherwise, the score you’re looking at could be way off from the “real thing.”

    Some credit cards offer FICO scores on monthly statements for free, like Discover. Barclays and Citi also offer scores.

    Be wary of buying a credit score if it doesn’t explicitly say “FICO.”

    Rather than focusing on your score, I recommend focusing on learning the ins and outs of your report and how that affects your score. Your real reports ARE available for free annually.


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