Real Estate

Having a FICO credit score of 800 or higher isn’t just good, it’s considered exceptional and can open financial doors for consumers. But what does it take to build that level of creditworthiness?

Analysts at LendingTree, an online loan marketplace, examined credit reports of more than 100,000 LendingTree users to provide insight into what type of effort it takes to earn credit scores of 800 or higher. It’s no surprise that those with exceptional credit have solid habits, including paying their bills on time every month.

Interestingly enough, having an 800 credit score is great to aim for but isn’t essential for most loans. “Generally speaking, once your FICO Score hits 750 or 760, you’re pretty much going to get the best terms on most any loan that you apply for,” says Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst. “At that point, an 800 credit score is really little more than gravy.”

Here are key takeaways from the report:

  • People with credit scores of 800 or higher pay their bills on time every month. This aligns with payment history being the most important factor of a credit score. In comparison, residents of the 100 largest U.S. metros generally have an average of six late payments on their credit history.
  • Average credit limits for those with 800-plus credit scores are down dramatically since 2019. The average credit limit for these consumers is $58,514, down from $71,353 when LendingTree researchers last analyzed this topic. Baby Boomers have the highest average limits.
  • Consumers are only using a sliver of their credit limits each month. The average credit utilization ratio for people with credit scores of 800 or higher is 5.7%. In contrast, people in the 100 largest U.S. metros tend to keep their utilization rates between 16% and 33%.
  • The oldest active account for those with 80o-plus scores averages nearly three decades. Those with scores of 800 or higher have had an open account for an average of more than 27 years, though plenty of younger consumers have high scores.
  • Consumers with 800-plus credit scores have average debt in the six figures. They have an average debt of $138,154, owing average monthly payments of $1,064. The average debt is highest among Generation Xers, the generation of Americans born between the mid-1960s and early-1980s.