SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct.18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- myFICO®, the consumer division of FICO (NYSE: FICO), the company that invented the FICO® Score, today revealed key habits and behaviors of individuals who have some of the highest credit scores in the nation – a FICO Score greater than 7851. The FICO® Score ranges from 300 to 850 and higher scores can help borrowers save thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.
"Higher credit scores can be the key to achieving some of life's most important dreams: buying a new car, owning a home, putting a child through college, or taking a dream vacation," said Anthony Sprauve, credit score advisor for myFICO. "The good news is that by understanding and consistently practicing behaviors that can lead to high credit scores, anyone can become a FICO High Achiever."
High Achievers Share Common Habits
More than 50 million individuals – which is approximately 25 percent of all individuals with credit scores – fall into the category of credit score "high achievers," and they exhibit strikingly similar credit habits regardless of background and life experience. Overall, high achievers keep low revolving balances relative to their available credit, don't max out their credit cards, and consistently make payments on time.2
"A high FICO Score is absolutely possible for anyone to achieve over time," added Sprauve. "That's why on myFICO.com we offer a free educational roadmap that can be used by individuals to help them make the best decisions for themselves as they pursue their goals, and to learn directly from real people who've tackled similar challenges and succeeded."
Using Credit and Paying it Off
While it may come as a surprise, high credit achievers are not debt-free. They typically have multiple credit cards with balances; however, they also tend to manage their accounts responsibly even if they have had mishaps along the way.
- High achievers have an average of seven credit cards including both open and closed accounts.
- High achievers have an average of four credit cards or loans with balances.
- One-third of high achievers have total balances of more than $8,500 on non-mortgage accounts; the remaining two-thirds have total balances of less than $8,500.
- 96 percent of high achievers show no missed payments on their credit report, but of those who do, it happened four years ago, on average. Less than 1 percent of high achievers have an account past due.
- Even some of those with a sterling FICO® Score may have had some bumps along the way. Approximately one in 100 high achievers has a collection listed on their credit report and approximately one in 9,000 has experienced tax liens or bankruptcies.3
- FICO high achievers have a well-established credit history and seldom open new accounts. Their oldest credit account was opened an average of 25 years ago and their most recent credit account averages 28 months old. Overall, their average credit account is 11 years old.
Because payment history is the largest portion (35 percent) of an individual's FICO® Score, managing credit responsibly over time plays a large part towards improving one's credit score. This includes paying at least the minimum amount on all credit cards every billing cycle. "Missing payments will lower a person's FICO Score, but if that happens, establishing or re-establishing a good track record of making payments on time will generally improve a person's score," said Sprauve.
Many people have achieved a high FICO® Score without using credit cards at all. However, in some cases, using a credit card for an occasional small purchase can indicate responsible credit management and may actually be slightly better than not using credit cards at all. High achievers often keep balances low and only use an average of seven percent of their available revolving credit.
"While people with a high FICO Score are not perfect, their consistently responsible financial behavior usually pays off over time," Sprauve added. "In a challenging economic period, the fact that we all have a chance to be high achievers is very good news. The lesson from these high achievers is that it's never too late to rebuild and score high."
Why Are Credit Scores So Important?
Credit scores help lenders estimate credit risk and a person's likelihood to repay loans, and can affect how much money a lender will offer and at what terms. Higher credit scores empower individuals by helping them realize their goals at potentially lower costs.
The FICO® Score is based only on information contained in an individual's credit report and does not take into account personal attributes such as race, gender, age, marital status, salary, employment history or address. FICO considers both positive and negative credit report information within five general categories. The percentage weight of each category is based on its importance to the scores of typical consumers. For particular groups—for example, people who have not been using credit long—the relative weight of these categories may be different.
"Because a high FICO Score is typically achieved over time and takes into account dozens of variables, there are no 'quick fixes' for rapidly improving scores or repairing bad credit," said Sprauve. "Practicing good credit behavior consistently over time and regularly checking your credit report for errors can be instrumental for achieving a high credit score, which can lead to better loan terms and lower interest rates. Achieving good credit health is a long distance event, not a sprint."
For additional information on FICO® credit scores, or participate in the free user forums for peer-to-peer advice and support, visit myFICO.com.
1 High achievers analysis was completed using April 2012 data and FICO® 8 Scores from a leading consumer reporting agency.
2 Figures contained within this release are rounded averages based on data provided by a leading credit bureau.
3 By law, negative information must be removed from credit reports after seven years, except for tax liens and Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
myFICO® is the consumer division of FICO, the company that invented the FICO® Score, a credit risk score which serves as a de facto credit score used by the vast majority of lenders in the United States. myFICO offers informative free credit educational information that helps people understand actions they can take to achieve and protect their overall financial health. www.myfico.com
FICO (NYSE: FICO) delivers superior predictive analytics solutions that drive smarter decisions. The company's groundbreaking use of mathematics to predict consumer behavior has transformed entire industries and revolutionized the way risk is managed and products are marketed. FICO's innovative solutions include the FICO® Score — the standard measure of consumer credit risk in the United States — along with industry-leading solutions for managing credit accounts, identifying and minimizing the impact of fraud, and customizing consumer offers with pinpoint accuracy. Most of the world's top banks, as well as leading insurers, retailers, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies, rely on FICO solutions to accelerate growth, control risk, boost profits and meet regulatory and competitive demands. FICO also helps millions of individuals manage their personal credit health through www.myFICO.com. Learn more at www.fico.com. FICO: Make every decision count™.
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