by The Ascent Staff | Nov. 16, 2018
Having a credit score over 800 is a great achievement, but don't expect a blue ribbon and an award ceremony. A credit score is only beneficial to the extent that you use it.
Here's how a score above 800 can help you when it comes to three major banking products:
If you have a high credit score, there are a few ways to use it to your advantage. The first thing you should do, if you have any outstanding debt at all, is to consider refinancing your loans.
If three years ago you got a 5% mortgage rate because you had a 680 score, it's probably a good time to explore whether refinancing your mortgage could save you money. Banks won't go out of their way to let you know that you can qualify for a lower mortgage rate thanks to your improved credit score. You'll need to do some rate shopping on your own.
Even smaller loans can be refinanced, saving you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. Banks and credit unions are happy to refinance car loans and personal loans at lower rates to win your business, which can reduce your monthly payment and save you money on interest over time.
The financial benefits of having a good credit score aren't just limited to people who have existing debt or people who need to borrow money.
Credit cards are one of the few financial products that offer prime borrowers not just lower interest rates, but cash rewards. As the industry becomes more competitive, credit card companies are rolling out cards for people with excellent credit that carry new cardholder bonuses worth hundreds of dollars.
Travel cards are especially lucrative. The three travel cards that score best in our rankings at The Ascent offer combined new-cardholder bonuses that add up to at least $1,325 when redeemed for travel. That goes a long way toward covering the average American family's vacation budget. A Money Magazine survey found the average family spent about $1,600 on summer vacations.
Notably, travel rewards don't always have to be redeemed for large travel purchases. Some cards allow for cash redemptions (albeit at a lower rate), and "travel" can include redemptions for Uber gift cards or car rentals, for example.
Of course, cash-back cards have their perks, too. The cash-back cards we rank the highest at Fool.com have combined new cardholder bonuses of $500 for new cardholders in addition to high rewards rates on an ongoing basis. It's all about relative value, though. One travel card sign-up bonus program offers points that convert to $500 in cash after meeting the minimum spending requirement. Depending on the program, a travel credit card can offer more immediate cash value than a cash-back credit card.
Credit scores show your creditworthiness at a single point in time, and thus your score will rise and fall as banks send updated information about your financial accounts to the three major credit bureaus each month.
To keep your excellent score, you really only need to do two things:
If you do these two things, the rest is really just a rounding error. An 800 credit score shouldn't be taken for granted. One mistake -- like a 30-day-late payment -- could send your score down 100 points or more. It should go without saying that once you've made it over 800, keeping your score in this elite range should be the No. 1 goal. Keeping a score above 800 is much easier than it is to bring a bad score back up to 800.
As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.
But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases into 2022, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.
That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.
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