"Welcome to 850 City, where everyone has a perfect credit score."
You won't find 850 City on a map, because it doesn't exist. No city is full of consumers with perfect credit scores – but you can find members of the perfect score club spread throughout the nation.
According to data from the credit reporting agency Experian, 1.2% of consumers with a credit score rate a perfect 850 score on the 300-850 FICO scale. Hawaii has the highest concentration of perfect credit score consumers, with 1.76% of the population qualifying. Four more states claim at least 1.6% of their population with an 850 score – Minnesota (1.70%), Connecticut (1.65%), Virginia (1.63%), and Maryland (1.60%).
The remaining states in the top ten are New Jersey (1.58%), Massachusetts (1.52%), Wisconsin (1.52%), Colorado (1.45%), and New Hampshire (1.45%).
California is tied for 12th place at 1.44% – but, when broken down by metropolitan area, California cities claim the highest percentage of perfect scores. The top five metropolitan areas are all in the Golden State, led by the San Luis Obispo/Paso Robles area at 2.27% of the population.
The Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura area near Los Angeles has the next largest percentage of perfect scores (2.15%). The Bay Area claims the next three spots with Santa Rosa/Petaluma (2.13%), San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara (2.03%), and San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont (1.99%).
Most consumers with a credit score of 850 reside to the North and along the West Coast, while the South and Southeast have the lowest percentage. From Texas and Oklahoma to the East, only one state has more than 1% of their population with perfect credit (North Carolina at 1.03%).
Mississippi has the lowest percentage of perfect credit scores by far, at 0.51% of cardholder accounts. Eight states have less than 0.8% of their population with perfect credit scores – Texas (0.77%), Oklahoma (0.69%), Louisiana (0.68%), Arkansas (0.77%), Alabama (0.78%), Tennessee (0.77%), Kentucky (0,79%), and West Virginia (0.76%).
What makes the South prone to lesser credit scores? It could be a collective debt burden. A separate CreditCards.com survey from late 2018 found that nine of the ten states with the highest debt loads were Southern states. A higher-than-average debt load doesn't necessarily prevent you from achieving a perfect credit score, but it does make the task more difficult. If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, join MoneyTips and use our free Debt Optimizer tool.
How do people get a credit score of 850? We've already ruled out where you live as a major factor. It doesn't take a lot of money, either – according to Experian, just over 8% of consumers with perfect credit scores made less than $25,000 per year and nearly 20% made less than $50,000.
Perfect credit scores are achieved through spending control and fiscal discipline. Experian found that people with perfect credit scores had more open credit accounts than the average consumer but owed less than half of the amount of money.
You make the most impact by paying all bills on time and using a small portion of your available credit (keeping your credit utilization low). Those are two of the most important credit score factors.
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Other factors include using credit regularly but sparingly, keeping total debt low, maintaining old accounts in good standing, and not applying for more credit sources than you need. Combine these practices with a realistic budget and the willpower to stick to it, and you're on your way toward a higher credit score.
With a suitable budget and financial discipline, you can raise your credit score to new heights. Maybe you'll achieve that perfect score and earn a trip to 850 City, where the credit scores are the highest and the interest rates the lowest you'll find anywhere!
You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.