The top FICO credit score is 850. Very few of us achieve that.
According to the creator of the FICO score (Fair Isaac Corporation), only .5% of consumers reach the exceptional score of 850. But the company’s recently released report shows more than 18% of us score between 800 and 850, which is the highest percentage since October 2008.
Do you need or care about having the highest credit score? Only if you plan to be borrowing significant sums. The higher your credit score, the better interest rate you are likely quoted if you are shopping for a home mortgage or car loan, for example. So having a high score can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over your lifetime.
Why would you otherwise care about a great credit score? Insurance providers can base your insurance premiums on credit scores, and employers also look at credit scores when hiring. And, your credit history follows you for a long time.
But don’t get obsessed with achieving 850, as it can be for a fleeting moment. Your credit score is constantly changing as you use credit cards and pay bills. To maintain 850 means you are constantly using credit, both installment loans (like a car loan) and revolving credit (credit cards). So forcing yourself to use credit to keep up a good score–rather than get out of debt and be debt-free–may not be an admirable goal.
You can see what appears on your credit history by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Seeing your history is free, but getting your actual score is not.