I've Stopped Chasing Perfect Credit. Here's Why

by Maurie Backman | Updated Feb. 23, 2022 - First published on Aug. 23, 2021

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It's been a long time since my credit score was a perfect 850. This is why I no longer care that it's lower.

I spent much of my early 20s walking around with perfect credit, but I didn't realize how strong my score was until I went and applied for an apartment rental. The management company ran my credit, and lo and behold, my score came back as a perfect 850.

At the time, that score made sense. I always made a point of paying every bill on time, and I never charged more on my credit cards than what I could afford to pay off by the time my bills came due.

I also got an assist in the perfect credit department from my parents, because they added me as an authorized user to one of their long-standing credit cards just in case I needed it for emergencies. Though I never used their card, being added as a user gave me a lengthier credit history than the typical 20-something, and so that helped bring my score up.

These days, however, my credit score is no longer perfect. In fact, it's been a while since I've been able to show off that 850. But to be perfectly honest, I don't care one bit.

When you stop striving for perfection

Attaining a perfect credit score is really hard -- namely because even if you're a responsible borrower, the mere act of applying for a new loan or credit card could bring your score down a handful of points. In fact, that's a big reason I no longer have perfect credit.

In my 20s, I had two credit cards -- one that I applied for when I went off to college, and my parents' card as a backup. At the time that I discovered I had perfect credit, it had been years since I had applied for another card. Since my existing credit card company was willing to raise my spending limit every time I asked for it, I didn't need another card.

On the other hand, over the past number of years, I have applied for different credit cards. In some cases, I've done so to capitalize on a sign-up bonus. In other cases, it's been to swap one rewards credit card for a better one. But either way, applying for those cards has caused some minor hits to my credit score, as has applying to refinance my mortgage, which I did last summer.

But here's the thing -- while having perfect credit may be a nice thing in theory, it really does very little for you in practice. Once your score reaches a certain level -- usually, in the upper 700s -- it doesn't really matter how much higher it gets from there. At that point, you're generally likely to get approved for the credit cards you want or snag the lowest interest rates when you seek to borrow money, and so there's no sense in chasing perfect credit and stressing yourself out in the process.

These days, my credit score tends to hover between the low 800s and the upper 820s. I could really work hard to bring it up a touch, but I don't need to.

If I apply for a new credit card with a score of, say, 815, there's very little chance of me getting denied on the basis of my credit score alone (some credit card issuers will deny you a card if you've opened another one with them too recently, but that's a different story). And so I won't be chasing a perfect credit score anytime soon, and if your score is strong already, then frankly, neither should you.

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