Credit score over 850

by Karl
Updated: June 25, 2018

How it is possible to get a very high credit score over 850 (the upper limit of the FICO range)

If you’ve taken good care of your credit history for a long time, you can expect that your credit score will be near the top of the range. But what is the range? The normal answer is 300-850 but the full answer is that there are different ranges and some of them go much higher than 850.

I’m in the habit of monitoring my credit profile and I get my scores from several different sources. They are almost always in the high 700s depending mainly on how much of my available credit is being reported as in-use.

Credit score over 900

January 2018: I applied for a credit account, aware that the lender would do a hard pull of my credit file. The account was approved without any problems and they sent me a letter afterwards with a summary of their decision process.

To my surprise it showed my credit score was over 900:

Credit score is 926 out of 1000

The letter didn’t say where this score had come from but I could see that the only hard pull had been from Transunion. My scores attributed to Transunion always seemed to be within the expected range, i.e. with an upper limit of 850, so how was a high of 1000 possible?

Credit scores are not credit reports

Credit bureaus collect personal financial information and compile it into credit reports. Credit scoring is intended to be a way of summarizing reports to get a quick and easy-to-understand measure of a person’s creditworthiness.

There are many different ways of calculating these scores.

FICO

Bill Fair and Earl Isaac founded Fair, Isaac and Company in 1956 and launched their credit scoring system two years later in 1958. The company is now simply “FICO.”

FICO base score, 300-850: Since its inception, the FICO base score has become so well known to consumers that it is sometimes thought to be the only score. It is generally accepted that anything over 800 represents perfect credit.

FICO industry specific scores, 250-900: Different industries attach different degrees of relative importance to the various types of information on a credit report. FICO scores weighted according to these preferences fall into the broader 250-900 range. A good base score may translate into a higher industry specific score.

VantageScore

VantageScore was created as an alternative to the FICO system in a joint venture between the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

VantageScore 1.0 (2006) and VantageScore 2.0 (2010) used a range of 501-990 but have now been superseded by VantageScore 3.0 (2013) and VantageScore 4.0 (2017) which use the more familiar 300-850 range.

Custom scores

Lenders can calculate scores from credit files in any way that suits them. Larger lenders will have made special arrangements to obtain custom scores that most accurately distinguish their preferred types of customer.

This was obviously what had happened in my case.

More info

myfico.com is the official site for the FICO model and includes a free FICO base score estimator that seems fairly accurate and doesn’t require any personally identifiable information.

vantagescore.com is the official site for the VantageScore model.

Custom scoring methods are noted in “Credit Bureau Scores Aren’t the Only Important Ones” at blog.credit.com and described in more detail in “Scoring and modeling” at fdic.gov (PDF, 173 kB).

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