man checking his credit score online

Making the Jump from Good to Excellent Credit

Having a FICO score of at least 800 is enough to become a member of the “excellent credit” club in the Tar Heel State. Everybody can join, but only a few make the cut. “Club members” get to enjoy exclusive perks, including a rock-bottom mortgage rate and low-premium car insurance in Charlotte.

If your base FICO scores already crossed the 670 mark, you still have a long way to go to attain the highest level of creditworthiness. Fortunately, you can get there quickly if you follow these simple, effective strategies:

Set Your Bills on Automatic Payment

Punctual payment accounts for 35% of your credit scores, which is the highest amount of the weighted factors FICO algorithms take into account. If you take care of your bills one by one manually every month, your odds of missing a payment are great.

FICO hates being late more than not covering the entire balance monthly. Although missing the due date once will not ruin your otherwise impeccable positive payment history, there is no room for error if you are to reach the excellent credit score range.

Maintain a Sub-30% Credit Utilization Rate

If you love paying with plastic, make sure you keep your usage below 30%. FICO pays attention to both of your total and per-card credit utilization rates, so make sure you use your credit cards evenly and do not go overboard.

Contrary to popular belief, only revolving accounts affect credit utilization. In other words, any other debt you carry outside your credit card balances has no impact on this credit score component.

Ask for a Higher Credit Limit

A surefire way to minimize your credit utilization without making spending cuts is to increase your credit limit. If you have not received any boost in a while, all you need is to ask your credit card issuer. But then again, you have to make sure you can defend your request. Having a spotless payment history and getting a raise are sufficient justifications.

Watch Out for Credit Report Errors

Credit score report with calculator and organizer book

A single inaccuracy on your credit report can keep you from officially reaching 800 FICO score points. It is imperative to review your credit reports regularly to ensure that everything is accurate. If you find something wrong, file a dispute accordingly.

Keep Your Oldest Credit Accounts Alive (for as Long as Possible)

When it comes to credit management, wisdom comes with age. That is why FICO values your older active credit accounts more than your newer ones, for they highlight your wealth of experience in managing your finances.

If you close an account, either by paying off a loan or canceling a credit card, it will have implications to your FICO scores. An inactive account tagged as “paid as agreed” will stay in your credit reports for up to 10 years from the date it was closed. It immediately lowers the average age of your credit accounts, and you will lose your payment history from it when it finally disappears.

Adopt these best practices strictly. If you succeed, you will enter the excellent credit tier before you know it.