3 Reasons Not to Chase a Perfect Credit Score

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on June 4, 2021

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A person looking on as a waiter swipes a credit card in a payment tablet.

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Here's why going after perfect credit isn't worth the effort.

Credit scores range from 300 up to 850, which is considered perfect credit. If your score is close to 300, your chances of being able to borrow money or qualify for a credit card are pretty slim. On the flip side, the closer you get to that 850 mark, the more borrowing options you have. With a score of 850, you're likely to get approved for the best credit card offers and snag a low interest rate on a mortgage or personal loan.

Still -- working toward a perfect credit score of 850 isn't worth your while. Here's why.

1. It's hard to get

There are lots of factors that go into calculating your credit score, and sometimes, a seemingly innocent move could cause your score to drop ever so slightly. For example, simply applying for a credit card could take your score down five to 10 points. Similarly, paying off a loan could lower your score, though you'd expect the opposite to happen. In other words, you can be an extremely responsible borrower and still not get a perfect 850.

2. You might make yourself miserable

To get your credit score to 850, you may need to skip applying for new credit cards for many months. And that could mean giving up great reward programs or sign-up bonuses. It's not worth losing out on those perks when they could put cash in your pocket.

3. You don't need it

A credit score of 850 will give you a lot of borrowing options. But so will a score of 800. Once your score hits a certain level -- usually, the upper 700s -- it really doesn't matter how high it is or whether it's perfect. Someone with a credit score of 825 who applies for a credit card offer is just as likely to get approved as someone with an 850, all else being equal. Similarly, once your score gets into that upper zone, you're likely to snag the lowest interest rate available on a mortgage or personal loan. It's not worth stressing over a number that won't necessarily do much for you when your credit is already outstanding.

You might take pride in your credit score, so it's understandable that a perfect score is enticing. But rather than stress out over achieving that 850, you're better off focusing on keeping your score strong. That means paying all bills and installment loans on time, maintaining a very low credit card balance (or no balance at all), keeping long-standing credit card accounts open, and not opening too many cards at once. If you stick to that plan, not having completely perfect credit shouldn't impede you in the slightest.

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