Credit Score Improving Your Score

5 Habits to Get 800+ Credit Score

Joining the ranks of the credit elite with an 800+ credit score can do much more than provide bragging rights.

A higher credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates and other terms from lenders, saving you thousands of dollars on an auto loan, home mortgage, credit card interest, or any other type of financing. Investing the savings — which can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars — can result in close to $1 million over a lifetime.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Getting a perfect credit score may be extremely difficult, but there’s really not much of a difference between getting 780 or 800+ credit score. A score of 780 or more will get you the same interest rates as someone with a perfect score.

To get into the 800+ credit score club, you’ll have to follow some of the best credit habits for a long time. Here are five ways to get into the elite club:

1. Pay your bills on time — all of them

Paying your bills on time can improve your credit score and get you closer to an 800+ credit score. It’s common knowledge that not paying bills can hurt your credit score, but paying them late can eventually hurt also.

[pull_quote align=”left”]”I think a lot of people don’t really understand that there isn’t a bill that’s really too small,” says Thomas Nitzsche, a certified credit counselor.[/pull_quote]”I think a lot of people don’t really understand that there isn’t a bill that’s really too small,” says Thomas Nitzsche, a certified credit counselor and financial educator with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, and the owner of an 800+ credit score.

If a bill goes unpaid long enough and the debt is sold to a third-party collection agency, that will be reported to credit bureaus, Nitzsche says. But being late can lead to fourth-level reporting parties, such as online searches, that credit bureaus can become aware of.

From late utility bill payments to magazine subscriptions or even $10 medical co-pays that people don’t think are important enough to pay on time, all bills should be paid on time.

“Any bill I get is treated as a serious situation,” he says.

Payment history counts for 35% of a credit score, says Katie Ross, education and development manager for American Consumer Credit Counseling, a national financial education nonprofit group.

2. Don’t hit your credit limit

If you want to get into the 800+ credit score club, be sure that you don’t use your credit card up to its full limit. Use no more than one-third of your credit limit if you don’t want to hurt your credit score, Nitzsche says.

For example, if your credit card has a limit of $9,000, don’t have a balance of more than $3,000.

Ideally, credit card utilization should be 10% or less. Jennifer Martin, a business coach, says she has a credit score of around 825, and that she tries to keep her spending to no more than 10% of a credit card’s available credit.

Outstanding debt accounts for 30% of a credit score, Ross says.

“If you are overextended and close to your credit limit this indicates overextension and you need to work at getting your credit card balances well below the limits,” she says.

3. Only spend what you can afford

Don’t use a credit card to live beyond your means, or to roll over the costs of everyday expenses to the next month, Nitzsche recommends. This will only lead to spiraling debt that will be difficult to get out of.

People with an 800+ credit score don’t apply for more credit than they can afford and don’t spend more than they earn.

While using a credit card for everyday expenses is OK if you can pay the credit card bill off in full each month, while gaining awards points in the process, don’t let the accumulation of points convince you to spend more, Nitzsche says. And if you’re running to your credit card when your car, refrigerator or something else breaks down, start an emergency fund to pay for such repairs.

Bill Balderaz, president of Fathom Healthcare, has an excellent credit score and attributes it to his family living below their means. “As our income rises, we keep our spending flat,” Balderaz says.

They also pay off all credit card bills each month, pay off their vehicle loans early, and have paid off their mortgage early to help get them to an 800+ credit score.

Their excellent credit score has allowed them to get the most preferred loan rate. After three houses and eight vehicles, Balderaz estimates they’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars on loans by getting the lowest loan rates.

4. Don’t apply for every credit card

Too many credit inquiries in a short period of time can hurt your credit score.This can be difficult to avoid during Christmas, when it seems that every department store is offering you a discount for signing up for its credit card.

Applying for new credit card accounts can account for 10% of your credit score, which isn’t a huge number, but it can be enough to push you into the 800+ credit score club.

[pull_quote align=”left”]”Living debt free or with as little debt as possible has enabled us to save for retirement, get the best rates on loans, and be prepared for unexpected expenses as they arise,” says Holly Wolf, owner of an 800+ credit score.[/pull_quote]Holly Wolf, who with her husband has a credit score in the 800 range and is a chief marketing officer at Conestoga Bank, says she doesn’t open a lot of credit cards and often closes cards she may have opened to get a store discount.

“Honestly, this isn’t a lifestyle to which most folks aspire,” Wolf says. “The need to have a ‘nice car’ a ‘big house’ and all the accoutrements of prosperity over having a high credit score. Living debt free or with as little debt as possible has enabled us to save for retirement, get the best rates on loans, and be prepared for unexpected expenses when they arise.”

5. Have a credit history

You not only want a good record of paying your bills and credit cards on time, you also want a long history of doing so. The older your credit accounts are, the better your credit score will be. You want to have credit accounts that have been open for 10 years or more.

Length of credit history accounts for 15% of a credit score, and closing old accounts can affect your credit score, Ross says.

What 800+ credit score can mean

The advantages of having an 800+ credit score are huge. Ilene Davis, a certified financial planner with an 800+ credit score, says she did a calculation on the mortgage payments for a $300,000 home loan for various FICO scores.

If the difference between payments for borrowers with the highest and lowest credit scores were invested at 6% a year, at the end of a 30-year mortgage the borrower with the highest credit score would have accumulated around $750,000. That’s a chunk of money worth improving your credit score for.

About the author

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the Bay Area who specializes in personal finance. He has been a writer and editor at newspapers and websites, including AOL's personal finance site, WiseBread, Bankrate, LearnVest, AARP and other sites. Follow him on Twitter at @aaroncrowe, or at his website,


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  • I’m trying to raise my score. I’ve paid all credit cards down I know this is going to help tremendously. However I do have some late pays that are scarring my report. We are closing on our house tomorrow but have some rental properties we still have mortgages on. My concern is will paying my mortgage off early make my credit score go down more???? Ugh!!!

    • check out, they are elite credit repair guys who helped helped a lot of people with bad credit. is your credit card over utilized? they can cut down your utilization. is your autoloan the problem or are you trying to get a mortgage? whatever it is, they are experienced and savvy enough to adequately help you find lasting solution to whatever the issue may be

  • Hello, I am wondering if a debt consolidation loan is a good or bad decision to make? My family has come into some hard times and started using our credit cards more and more to get by. So we were going to start looking into a debt consolidation loan so that we can pay everything off and just put that money into paying 1 loan instead of multiple. Will this be a good idea or not? Thank you.

    • Hi Christa,

      Getting a debt consolidation loan is a good choice for some people, and a bad choice for others. If you are a good candidate and you understand the process, you can save money and have the convenience of only making one payment every month. You will need to do your homework before you make a decision–you can start with this helpful article:

      Make sure you check back in to let us know what you decide to do!


  • I’ve been successful over the past few yrs. getting my credit score up. But over the past two months, due to varied reasons, one been loss of husband’s job, 3 credit card payments were late. I have caught up and this next cycle bills will be paid on time. How or can I repair the damage?


    • Hi Gail,

      Sorry to hear that you have had some difficulty in the last few months. It’s great that you are already back on track, and thinking about how to keep your credit score going up.

      First, you will want to verify that these late payments are actually showing up your credit report. If they are not showing up, then they are not hurting your score. If they are showing up, you may benefit from contacting your creditor with what is called a Goodwill Letter, basically asking them to cut you a break for making a one-time mistake.

      You can find out more about how to use Goodwill Letters by watching this video:

      Good luck, and please check back to let us know how it goes!


  • I don’t understand why home mortgages and auto loans don’t show on credit reports. I paid my mortgage 5 years early and never late. The same with auto loans.
    Is there a reason for this?

    • Hi Shirley,

      It is strange that you are not seeing these items listed on your credit report, but lenders are not actually required by law to report mortgages or auto loans. You also may want to check that you have reports from all three credit bureaus, because your lender may have reported to one and not the other two.

      Unfortunately there is not much you can do to add these items to your report, but if you compile all of your annual credit reports and statements that show your that you are current with your mortgage payment, you can present these to a lender and have a better chance of getting the best rate.

      Hope this helps!


  • We pay our regular bills, mortgage’s, and credit cards ontime, but what if you have Medical bills in collections. When your able to now start paying on them, I was told by a mortgage lender that I should ask the collection office to send me a letter saying if I pay the bill off in full(without any discounts) that they will not send a bad report to the credit bureau. Is this true? What can we do about something like this?


  • Last fall I paid off and closed 2 credit cards. I had an excellent record with them but just wanted to downsize the amount of credit cards I had. I have heard conflicting reports about closing crdit cards. Some people say you should close them others say you should pay them off but keep them open. I am confused. Did I do the right thing or not?

  • I’m a little confused on the car loan repayment. I understand paying on time and more than the minimum, but recently I learned that there’s no big benefit to paying off a car loan early. I was told that once you do pay off the car loan, you don’t have an open account in good standing. And that lowers a credit score. Thoughts?

    • Hi C.P.,

      It helps your credit score to have older, open accounts in good standing. That being said, there are other factors that help your credit score as well. Since everyone’s finances are different, you will have to decide if the best option for you is having your car completely paid off or keeping the loan open for longer to build up your credit history.

      Here is another article that explains the different factors that contribute to your credit score in more detail:


  • I understand the value and importance of paying your bills on time, and that significantly past due items can wind up in collections, affecting your credit. And I understand that late payments on credit cards go on your credit report. But I have never seen an entry on my credit report saying I paid my electric bill a week late in March. I don’t see how paying your bills on time affects your credit score at all, since they do not appear on your credit report, except if you are so behind they go into collections.

    • Hi Tejan,

      Thanks for reaching out. You are right, paying a small electricity bill one week late will probably not have a negative affect on your credit report. However, paying bills on time saves you from paying additional late fees, and of course helps you avoid having your account sent to collections, which WILL end up on your credit report.

      I think the focus here is that it’s important to pay all of your bills on time to develop good financial management skills, and avoid getting further into debt or being overwhelmed by past-due bills. I think one of the keys to improving your credit developing good habits that will ensure you don’t get into trouble.


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