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How Do I Get A Credit Score Above 700? Everything You Need To Know

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2019 data from Experian finds the average American credit score recently hit a record high of over 700. This number indicates Americans are getting better at managing their bills and credit, but for those just getting started, or those who have less-than-ideal credit, you probably have questions like:

  • What does having good credit mean?
  • How can I improve my credit score?
  • What does having good credit get you?
  • How can I get my credit score to 700 or higher?

700 is an excellent credit score goal, and for those exploring how to hit this 700-score milestone, below is everything you need to know to join the "700 club."

What Is A 700 Credit Score?

The term "credit score" is widely used interchangeably with the term "FICO® score."  There are different types of credit scores out there, and the FICO® score is one of many, but essentially a credit score (or FICO score) is the same thing:

A method lenders use to assess the credit-worthiness of borrowers.

Credit scores fall on a range between 300 to 850, with 300 being the lowest and 850 being a perfect score. On this spectrum, a 700 credit score is on the higher end and means the potential borrower has good credit and is considered to be very credit worthy.

What Goes Into Determining A Credit Score?

The building blocks of any credit score (whether it is a FICO® or something else) are pretty much the same.

For the most part, here is what goes into making up your total personal credit rating:

Infographic showing the breakdown of your credit score.

Payment History (35%)

The largest portion of a credit score is payment history: how often you make on-time payments to your current debts. Lenders want to know if you have a habit of making loan and credit card payments on time.

Credit Utilization (30%)

Credit utilization is how much of your available credit is being used at any given time.

For example, if you have $20,000 in total available credit between your credit cards and are using $15,000 of your credit limit, this is a total credit utilization of 75%.

General financial best practice is to keep your credit utilization at 30% or below, but recent reports from CNBC recommend keeping utilization at 10% or below for an excellent credit score (750 and above).

Lenders look at credit utilization to determine if you have a healthy relationship with credit: do you carry balances each month or are you paying your obligations back in full?

Length Of Credit History (15%)

The longer you’ve been using credit (and keeping those lines of credit open) the higher your credit score will be. Having a long credit history shows lenders you’re not new to borrowing and have a history of repaying what you owe.

Credit Mix (10%)

There are different types of credit: credit cards and installment loans like auto loans, student loans, and mortgages. Lenders want to see a mix of credit because it indicates you have experience with different types of credit and can handle each responsibly.

New Credit (10%)

Any time you apply for a type of credit, card, loan or otherwise, it triggers an inquiry on your credit report. Lenders like to see only a handful of inquiries at a time because lots of inquiries in a set period could indicate financial trouble.

How Many People Have A 700 Credit Score?

Credit scores fall into ranges, which is what lenders use to determine which interest rate to offer you on items such as mortgages and personal loans.

  • Exceptional: 800+

  • Very Good: 740 – 799

  • Good: 670 – 739

  • Fair: 580 – 669

  • Poor: 579 And Below

The average credit score in America is 703, according to 2019 data from Experian. The same study found 59% of Americans have "good" credit and the average age to reach a 700 score is 54.

While this data may seem to indicate it takes a consumer until mid-life to achieve "good credit" status, the average Millennial has a credit score of 668, which means they aren’t far off from having a 700 credit score themselves, and with a few good credit moves can easily achieve a 700.

Infographic showing credit score ratings.

Is 700 A Good Credit Score?

A 700 credit score is considered a good score! Consumers want a good credit score, because good credit means you get the best interest rates. While interest rates are specific to each lender, every lender offers the most advantageous interest rates to those with better credit. To a lender, a higher credit score means those borrowers are lower risk and thus more likely to repay their debts.

It’s also important to maintain healthy credit as most mortgages have minimum credit score requirements.

  • A conventional loan typically requires a credit score of at least 620
  • An FHA loan requires a minimum credit score of 580
  • A VA loan requires a credit score of at least 620
  • A USDA loan requires a slightly higher minimum credit score of 640

With a 700 credit score, a borrower would have access to any mortgage option they wanted.

How Can I Get A 700 Credit Score?

To hit 700, you don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be "good" in every category that comprises this credit rating.

You can hit a 700 in a variety of different ways, but if your credit is currently low and you want to get a 700 credit score, you’ll have to work at improving your credit.

The good news is that you can always work to make your credit score higher. The bad news is that sometimes it takes time to do so. For example, if you have more than three hard inquiries, you may want to wait before applying for new credit to limit new inquiries on your credit report, or wait for an existing inquiry to "roll off," which can take up to 24 months.

There are ways to see faster score improvements: an individual can pay down balances to lower debt-to-income and credit utilization ratios and see an improvement within just a few months.

Since credit utilization makes up the largest percentage of your score, the less debt used out of the total amount available to you, the higher your credit score will be.

For the other components of a credit score: limiting new credit applications, having a nice mix of credit (credit cards and installment loans) and keeping your oldest lines of credit open and active will all have positive impacts on your score.

Since these items in total only account for 30% of your overall score, it is more important to pay off debt and pay on time than to worry about your credit mix and opening new lines of credit, but it all counts.

Use Our Debt-To-Income Calculator To Find Your DTI

How Much Can I Borrow With A 700 Credit Score?

An improved credit score does not increase the amount you can borrow, as you will only be allowed to borrow up to a certain amount of your income.

The biggest indicators for how much a consumer is allowed to borrow is having a low debt-to-income ratio and the amount of the down payment. The larger your down payment, the more you’ll be able to borrow. Additionally, the lower your debt-to-income or housing payment to income ratio, the more you’ll be able to borrow.

A 700 credit score does dictate how much you’ll pay for debt, which means you’ll pay less for what you do choose to borrow over time, which can account for thousands of dollars in savings over a lifetime.

What Can I Get With A Credit Score Of 700?

In a broader economic sense, having a good credit score means you won’t be turned down for important milestones like financing for a car or a home, a job, or when a landlord checks your credit in order to assess if they should rent an apartment to you.

Having a 700 score also offers the following benefits:

Increased Savings

A good credit score can also save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Let’s use buying a home as an example. Interest rates are set by the Federal Reserve and dictate the price at which banks can borrow money from the government.

The banks then turn around and set the "price" of how much it costs for consumers to borrow money.

  • For someone who has a "fair" credit score of 650, a $200,000 mortgage at 3.77 percent will cost $134,261 in interest alone over thirty years.
  • At today’s rates,* someone with a 700 credit score will pay 2.94 percent interest on a $200,000 mortgage and pay just $101,578 over the life of the loan. This means even a 50 point difference in credit score will save someone over $30,000 over thirty years.
  • This equals a savings of close to $1,000 each year, just for having a higher credit score.

*Rates accurate as of August 17, 2020.

More Buying Power

Did you know that having good credit and a lower interest rate can increase the buying power when it comes to a big ticket item such as a mortgage?

A higher credit score means you’ll get a lower interest rate, which means you can get more house (or car, or whatever you desire) for your hard-earned money.

Let’s use mortgages again as our example as interest rates on a home mortgage affect the monthly payment. Recent data from The Mortgage Reports finds with each .0125% change in interest rates your home buying power can either increase or decrease.

For example, say you only have $1,500 each month to spend on a housing payment. With a $5,000 down payment and 4.25% interest rate, you could afford around $310,000 worth of house in your area.

By shaving off 1 percentage point, a home buyer with $5,000 down and a 3.25% interest rate could buy a home closer to $340,000 and still keep their monthly payment at $1500.

Now imagine the savings and increased buying power across everything a consumer finances in their lifetime: private student loans, personal loans, auto loans and more. When put in this context, a 700 credit score actually gets you a lot!

 

How Do You Measure Up?

Infographic chart of "Average Credit Score By Age"
Infographic illustration titled "Top Credit Performing States"

Data taken from 2019 FICO® Score

Final Thoughts

Research quoted on CNBC finds those with 760 scores and above receive the best rates, so the interest rate savings above a 760 are minimal. For those getting started, or those with low or thin credit profiles, 700 is the best major credit score milestone to strive for, but it still leaves room for further improvement in the future.

Since time is often required for factors of a credit score (length of credit history, history of on-time payments, waiting for inquiries to roll off the report), 700 is a great starting point and often the gateway to an even higher credit score down the road if an individual is willing to be patient.

While waiting for scores to improve, a baseline 700 score will ensure access to most types of credit and lower rates than those with credit in the 6 to 700 range.

With that said, maintaining good credit and keeping it free of errors is always a great approach. For those on the bubble between credit score ranges, those between fair (580 to 669) and good (670 to 739) credit should strategize on how to improve credit quickly to reap the biggest benefit.

Keep this in mind: any work done to improve your credit in the short term will pay big in savings for the future.

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