You don’t need me to tell you how important a good credit score is. If your score is a cellar-dweller, you know that it can be nearly impossible to get a credit card or a loan approved, and this makes life pretty tough. It’s not just that you can’t hit the mall whenever you feel like it — you might not be able to stay afloat during a small emergency, either.
On the other hand, I would argue that your goal shouldn’t just be a decent credit score. You should be shooting for the stars.
You want to crack the 800-point threshold.
Is that possible? Definitely. I did it, and so did my husband (we may or may not have a little competition going in this regard). In fact, at any given time, about 10 percent of Americans have hit the magic number, so it’s a worthy goal that could be closer than you think.
Having a super-high credit score is definitely worth it — and not always for the most obvious reasons. Here’s what being in the 800+ club could mean for you:
1. Better Credit Card Rewards
It’s no secret that your interest rates are lower when you have good credit — that’s most people’s biggest incentive. But did you know that there are actually different versions of popular credit cards out there? For example, Capital One offers two versions of their popular Quicksilver card. QuicksilverOne and Quicksilver both give 1.5% cash back, but Quicksilver also offers a $100 signing bonus and no annual fee. Can you guess which one is for people with excellent credit?
Almost every credit card company has different versions of their rewards cards that are tiered by credit score eligibility. The better your score, the better the rewards and bonuses.
2. Credit Card Churning Opportunities
Being able to get your hands on the very best credits cards with ease means you can deploy them strategically to earn maximum rewards. Credit card churning can help you fund big-time vacations practically for free if you open a bunch of travel rewards cards with super signing bonuses. For example, if you get 50,000 bonus points just for opening the card, you might already be halfway to that vacation. Then all you have to do is shift all your spending — everything from groceries to utility bills — to that card for a few months to earn as many points as possible, and you’re ready to cash in for free flights. Cancel the card before the annual fee comes due if you need to, and open a new card for even more bonus points. Spouses who each open their own instead of sharing can double their bonuses.
This is not something you want to try at home if you don’t trust yourself to stick to your budget and pay off your balance in full every month, so proceed with caution. But my guess is that if you have the kind of credit score that lets you get these kinds of signing bonuses, you probably already know that.
3. Easy-Peasy Background Checks for Rental Properties
If you rent and want to boost your odds of getting into that amazing new building, your credit score can help. Many landlords pull your credit report to get a sense of how good a risk you are — will you be able to pay the rent on time? They’re definitely interested in your bill payment history. If you have a top score, you can usually sail through the background check with no trouble, which makes moving at will a whole lot easier.
4. Ace Your Next Job Interview
Likewise, some employers will pull your credit report as part of a comprehensive background check on job applicants. This might feel kind of unfair, and you should know that they don’t actually get to see your numerical score. Still, they can read your credit report, so they’ll know when you fail to pay your bills on time. Having a good score generally means a spotless credit report, which to a potential boss is shorthand for being a responsible, excellent employee.
5. Pay Lower Insurance Rates
Did you know that in most states, insurance companies are also allowed to factor your credit score into their insurance risk evaluations? They look at certain aspects of your credit picture to calculate what’s known as a credit-based insurance score. This new number can mean higher or lower rates, depending on whether you look like a responsible person or not. The higher your credit score, the more you might save on those premiums.
6. Leverage Low Interest Rates for Investment Properties
Rich Wall Street bankers do this all the time: they borrow money at a low rate to invest it somewhere else for higher returns. If you have an A+ credit score, you can do this on a smaller scale, too. Use the power of your great credit score to get ultra-low rates on a mortgage that will allow you to buy a second property. Whether you choose to be a full-time landlord or an Airbnb member renting out space in a vacation home, you can earn income by collecting rent and use it to pay the loan. As the property value rises, so will your net worth. You can continue to earn income through rent, or you can sell for a profit and reinvest the money for more rental properties. No matter how you play it, having a high credit score can give you the leverage you need to make this type of real estate investment pay off.
Having a great credit score can be a huge advantage in your life, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to check your credit report for errors and do whatever it takes to boost your numbers. So re-commit to paying those bills on time and being responsible with your credit cards, and you can crack the 800 ceiling in the near future.
Once you do, what will you do with your new secret super powers?