If I may take a page out of Mint’s Facebook “fill in the blanks” for a moment. You are more likely to ________________ than to achieve a FICO score of 850. Who is actually scoring FICO 850? Is that even possible?
The published score range of the FICO score is 300 to 850. Having said that, the range really isn’t 300 to 850. The range is actually somewhere between 300 and 850. The actual range of the score depends on the variety and generation of FICO score being used to score your credit reports.
Many of you who have closed on mortgages over the past few years probably recall that you received a “credit score disclosure” document from your mortgage lender (a legal requirement since 2004). That document not only shows your scores but also in some cases shows the possible range of those scores. You may have notices that it’s not always 300 to 850.
The real maximum
The maximum score held by a U.S consumer is…834. There are consumers in New York, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who have achieved that score. There are also consumers who live in Kentucky and Minnesota who have FICO scores of 831. Pretty much every other state tops out at 830.
Keep a few things in mind. This is the generic FICO score and not the semi-customized version used by some credit card issuers and auto lenders. And, this is NOT any score you are given for free online. Some of the freebies top out at well over 900 and give the impression that you’ve got an impressive FICO score.
And while I’ve never seen a verified example of someone with FICO 850, we’re certainly getting closer to perfection than we are to utter disaster. We’re much closer to the top end of the published range than we are to the bottom end 300. In fact, all but only a few of the worst performing consumers are well over 100 points away from that imperfect FICO score.
The lowest score held by a U.S consumer is…387. That honor goes to a consumer living in the state of Virginia. That 387 is by far the lowest of the low. The second lowest is 404 (out of New York). There are also some 407s in Ohio and Texas.
The state with highest minimum score is Vermont, whose worst-ranked credit consumer has a 462. The state with the lowest maximum score is Arkansas, at 818.
The lowest average score is 657 and that honor goes to Mississippi. The highest average score is 717 from the state of Wisconsin. My home state of Georgia has nothing to brag about. We’re tied for fourth-lowest with an average score of 667. In fact, seven of the lowest scoring 10 states are in the South.
Who needs 850 anyway
I taught a credit bootcamp last week in Tampa and one of the attendees swore that she had seen an 846 FICO score and could provide proof. However when she showed me the credit report is was pretty clear that the four was actually a one and the score was an 816, which is a darn good score…but clearly not an 846.
So it seems like FICO 850 remains out of our reach, which frankly isn’t a big deal. You certainly don’t need FICO 850 to get what you want with a great rate. As long as you have 760s across the board at all three of the credit reporting agencies you’re in great shape can end your search for the elusive, non-existent 850.
John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of Mint.com or Intuit. Follow John on Twitter.