Would You Rather Have A Perfect Credit Score Or Perfect Grades?

The Perfect Credit ScoreThe corollary between straight A’s and a perfect credit score is beautiful.  With straight A’s in high school, the chances of you getting into a top university with a merit scholarship increases drastically.  After all, how many valedictorians do you see go to Chico State?

With straight A’s in college, you’ll be invited back to interview at all your favorite companies and undoubtedly get a job so long as you aren’t some derranged lunatic with crazy eyes!  With a nice job usually comes nice pay and a nice bank account years down the road.

Five years out of college at your wonderfully rewarding, high paying job, you develop a fantastic credit score of 800.  It’s not the perfect credit score of 850, but it’s 60-80 points higher than the level which is considered “Excellent” (720-740).  When you go to apply for a car loan, the dealer offers you 0% financing on that hard to get 2013 BMW 335is coupe.  When you look for an apartment in a hot job market, landlords actually call you back and give you one month free rent in order for you to be their tenant!  And when you live in a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood, sexy ladies and beefcakes take notice and want to get to know you more!

Which do you choose?

ARGUMENTS FOR A PERFECT CREDIT SCORE

With a perfect credit score of 850 you can:

* Borrow money for the lowest rate possible, and potentially even get a cash back offer when buying a car.

* Have your choice of apartments to rent in a hot rental market like San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, and Paris.

* Employers who run background and credit checks will be blown away by your score and likely entrust you with more financial responsibility, which therefore means more money and longevity.

* You will have a leg up in applying for jobs in the finance, consulting, law, non-profit and medical industry which gives out advice and relies on trust.

* Graduate schools will likely be impressed with your maturity and give you the nod.

* You will never get denied for a mortgage refinance 90 days into the process like I almost did.

* 37,000 Valedictorians graduate every year.  You think there are 37,000 newly perfected credit scores?

* Ladies and gentlemen will love you!

ARGUMENTS FOR PERFECT GRADES

With a perfect 4.0 GPA you can:

* Have a higher chance of getting a job that you actually want to do given your demonstration of smarts and discipline.

* Fulfill one of four key metrics to getting into the best graduate schools.  The other three metrics being GRE/GMAT scores, work experience, and letters of recommendations.

* Actually learn and retain more than others in school who got lesser grades leading to better unknown benefits down the road e.g. You speak eloquently about European history at a cocktail party with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who shares your same passion.  He invites you to work for him and provides you an ex-pat package in Paris where you then meet your future wife.

* Never lose arguments with your slacking kids when they complain that grades don’t matter.

* Girls and boys in high school and college will love you!

* Random strangers will befriend you so you can do their homework.

CONCLUSION – A PERFECT CREDIT SCORE WINS

Perfect grades just gets you in the door and is soon forgotten once you are in.  A perfect credit score on the other hand accompanies you for life, constantly being tested, checked, and poked.  Only about 18% of Americans have FICO (Fair Isaac Corp) scores of between 800-850 and less than 1% have perfect scores.  As a result, having a perfect credit score is way more important than having perfect grades.

If you can’t have both good grades and a good credit score, have at least one.  Just don’t be a dummy and have poor grades and poor credit scores.  Your life will be infinitely harder than necessary because nobody will give you a chance.

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Regards,

Sam

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.

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Comments

  1. eemusings says

    Agreed: your grades are only good for a very short period of your life. Show me the MONEY (or the credit).

  2. says

    I don’t think having a perfect 4.0 or credit score are important. I know I’ve talked to employers and they are always weary of the 4.0 kid and think that they aren’t well rounded and might not work out well. I graduated with a 3.9 something and think that actually helped me!

    As far as the perfect credit score it just doesn’t matter. I haven’t heard of someone denying a person for credit because their score is 849 instead of 850. Heck I bet if you have a 800 it will be extremely rare you are turned down or don’t get the best rates.

    As far as which one I’d rather? I’d rather have the perfect 4.0 and a 820 credit score because the grades will help me get the best, highest paying job I liked the most and I’ll still get the best rates as far as credit goes.

    • says

      Agreed that the quest for perfection is over-rated. I have neither and am quite satisfied with my existence.

      Also not sure what a “corally” is, but you might consider a corollary instead. And, since we’re going down this path, I would be curious to know if there is a correlation to higher GPA in high school and credit score. My hypothesis is the answer is yes.

  3. says

    Someone with a 4.0 GPA I’ve always considered them book smart with limited street smarts. I’m more about the cash, and that’s what can set you apart from the average, so I’lll go with the credit score.

  4. says

    I agree with Eddie and Lance: having a good GPA can relate well to some jobs but there are others where life and work experience will teach you far more than you ever learned in school. A high credit score is nice but I’m pretty sure you made it sound a little nicer than it really is. While you may have access to all of those luxurious things (apartments in the stated cities and the BMW) it doesn’t mean you could actually afford the payments for them.

    • says

      As a landlord, if I saw a perfect 850 credit score on the application, I would be SALIVATING! If the person seems normal, and has a reasonable savings cushion, they are in!

      When you have an 850 score, you don’t want to mess it up!

  5. says

    I would definitely say credit score wins. A perfect GPA doesn’t really mean anything and doesn’t mean you’ll be a good worker or anything.

  6. says

    I really don’t think a credit score or GPA are that important. Grades are not important at all once a person finishes school. A good FICO score is only important if one plans on borrowing money. I personally do not care about my past GPA or FICO score!

    With that being said, I do use a credit card for my basic expenses and pay it in full every month. I do this to keep my credit current so I do not get penalized for not being a debt slave. I know that there are instances that someone may check my credit and it will benefit me to keep my score over 800. At the same time, I’m not willing to jump through hoops to have the highest FICO score possible. I think it’s stupid when someone’s score goes up or down if they close accounts, pay them off, etc. I’m not playing that game with them.

    • says

      Ah, but this is the magic Genie scenario where you don’t have to go through hoops at all.

      At my age, a perfect FICO score HANDS DOWN! I might even be so obnoxious as to put it on my LinkedIn profile. Hey, why not, since people put their GPA on their resumes.

  7. Pasadena says

    They’re not mutually exclusive, so why choose ?

    If you want to live in Paris, forget the credit score. They have no idea what THAT means, and won’t care. I don’t know for London or Hong-Kong though :)

  8. FatChance says

    Ah, the perfect credit score. I used to work pretty hard at this. I got to a 813. Then I paid off my house and all my debt and started putting money in the bank. Now I do not need to borrow money, EVER AGAIN (hopefully). Wierd thing is now my credit score has dropped to 779. This is because on of the main driving factors of a high credit score is length of credit. To get to an 850 you need to be in debt for like 15-30 years. I have no idea why anyone smart enough to get a 4.0 would want to be in debt for decades to get an 850.

    4.0 wins. (I had neither 4.0 or 850)

    • says

      813! Nice! I don’t know anybody who has an 813 or higher, so now I do, kinda.

      I don’t think one has to be in debt for 15-30 years. One just needs to use things like a credit card for a long period of time. Nothing wrong w/ paying it off every month. I highly prefer using a CC to cash.

      • Jess says

        I also have an 813! My husband wins though with an 819. This is very advantageous in our situation, since we’re trying to refi. Closing costs are waived if your score is high enough.

        • says

          Nice! You guys are a power credit score couple!

          However, don’t be too convinced by bankers who are “waving” your closing costs b/c of your high credit score. It may be partly the case, but the costs always come out somewhere, such as in a higher mortgage rate.

  9. says

    The further and further you get into your career, the less your grades matter. Your credit score, on the other hand, will always matter, so I’d go for the perfect credit score.

  10. says

    I have had a credit score of 850 and was not treated any differently when my score was just 800. I think it is very black and white. Either it is over X or not. At 850, the bank should pay me to take the loan and that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, I protested a rate when I had 850 and it fell on deaf ears. Their response was you got the best rate which was the same for the lowly 800 score borrower. Grades have a very limited benefit until you have experience.

    • says

      No way, really?! I don’t believe it Larry! Send me a picture!

      What was your secret? How old were you when you got it?

      I would think as a teacher, you’d like your kids to have perfect grades.

      • says

        Actually the bank told me my FICO score was higher than 850! I asked them how can that be and they said it can happen. That is when I asked for a better rate. I even wrote a letter to the president of the bank. I learned that the bank packages these loans and sells them off. It is over as soon as they do that! There is is no extra credit (no pun) for a perfect credit score. You are either above or below a particular level.

        If I were a big public company like Apple, commercial banks would bend over backwards to get my business with below prime interest rates. As an individual, I have a lot less leverage, but I use what I have to get the best deal I can.

  11. says

    Luckily, these aren’t exclusive. You can get a 4.0 and then still get an 850 later. Heck, I’d imagine that someone who got a 4.0 is more likely to have a 850 than someone who got a 3.0, but that’s just a guess. Either way, neither needs to be perfect. In most cases, a 3.8 is good enough, just like a credit score of 800 is good enough.

  12. says

    A perfect GPA will open more doors than a perfect credit score. With a perfect GPA, your credit score will likely be meaningless as you’ll be able to pay cash for everything.

  13. Virginia says

    I’d vote for perfect grades even though I agree they don’t matter much after your first couple of years working. They could help you get into a better college and that does impress people, even 20 years later.

    I think most folks get the best rates when they have credit scores around 750 or higher. People seem to treat the gap between 3.9 and 4.0 as much bigger.

  14. says

    I could make the case for either one as they both have merits. I think if I had to choose I would go with a better credit score as it can help you determine so many things later on down the line. If it weren’t for good credit, I would not be able to rent an apartment in this lagging economy, have a no interest credit card (that actually pays me back for using it), or be able to take out a loan for a home or whatever in the future. Grades do help you with your career but there are plenty of people who did badly in school and now are financially secure. I would never discount the importance of doing well in school, though.

  15. says

    I personally would choose the perfect credit. Like you stated only 1% and that is a league of its own.

    As for there being a correlation I don’t think so. I think this has more to do with knowledge and understanding. I was taught to get good grades and nothing about credit and credit score. Imagine my surprise when I go to college and get offered my first credit card.

    I wouldn’t mind having 800+ and 3.75 or higher great combo.

  16. Chris says

    Neither. Because neither one makes you a better person.
    It is a combination of knowledge on how to use either that is important.
    For instance, I’ve worked with people who have multiple degrees and even PhDs, that can’t comprehend basic mechanical skills that I learned by actually working in the trades. The ability to comprehend how to use covariance calculations and even matrix calculations or how to figure out various biomedical engineering parameters is moot, unless they are guaranteed to receive a higher salary than someone who has the ability to learn quickly on the job.
    Likewise, I have also worked with engineers who have all the levels of knowledge, and appreciate the knowledge that they have and retain.

    A similar argument can be used to explain why a female who performs the same tasks for a given job, should receive the same amount of compensation as her male counterpart.

    As for a correlation between bad grades & bad credit scores. Again, that depends upon where one is in their life. I went from great credit scores, down to dismal scores, and back up once again (literally 800’s currently). My GPA was dismal at best, however what I lack in GPA, I more than make up for in ability to learn and retain.

    • says

      I donno. What’s up with the roller coaster on your credit score?

      Why did you have a dismal GPA? Do you think there is a correlation with people who don’t pay for the education and those who do poorly in school?

  17. says

    I got up to 827. Couldn’t figure out what to do with it, other than open a business line of credit.

    Didn’t need a car, didn’t want a mortgage, didn’t need to move from where I was living. So it just sat there.

  18. Mysterious Guy says

    Long time lurker here.

    I only want to post an observation here.

    Perfect GPA vs. perfect credit score is not a fair comparison mainly because the value of perfect GPA is so inconsistent. Everyone knows what a perfect credit score is. What’s a perfect GPA? A perfect GPA in Harvard, great! A perfect GPA in community college… not so great. A perfect GPA in elementarily school, well, that’s a start.

    A perfect credit score has one standard that everyone conforms to, for better for worse. A perfect GPA has too many standards that the value of it is pretty meaningless, which is why after the first job nobody holds GPA much weight.

  19. says

    Perfect grades in college may give you a few bonus points on the resume, but really won’t even be the deal-breaker that decides if you get hired or the next guy. Your confidence and the way that you handle yourself in the interview will be a much bigger factor. Even on paper, your extracurricular activities and real-world experience might end up being a larger factor than your grades themselves. And of course, once you have that first job, the details of your education will take a back seat for the rest of your career.

    In high school, grades mean a bit more.. because “perfect” grades can mean an academic scholarship, and/or admission to a top tier university.

  20. says

    Hey Sam! Me again! I’m glad I stopped back by because this is yet another really clever article with some great correlations. But, seriously, can I have both? I was seriously such a nerd in high school and college and well, let’s be honest, that hasn’t changed, lol. But, I suppose now at this stage in my life the perfect credit score is definitely superior for the reasons you listed and also because my grades totally don’t matter anymore!
    Thanks again for the enjoyable read!
    Best,
    Cat Alford
    aka
    Budget Blonde

  21. says

    I’ve never played the “Would You Rather” game with credit scores and grades, but it’s pretty fun. I was a goody goody in school and strove for great (if not perfect) grades, but who actually cares about that? Not really anyone besides me. And I guess my parents did. A perfect credit score really can open more doors, although remember that employers can’t check your SCORE just your REPORT. Though I suppose a perfect credit report would look pretty good, too.

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