NJ has one of the highest rates of perfect credit scores — How to join the club
New Jerseyans with a perfect credit score: They're not quite as elusive as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but they're certainly hard to find.
Considered the "unicorn of the financial world," according to Experian, a perfect 850 FICO score is attainable and makes up a little more than 1 percent of all FICO scores nationwide.
And New Jersey, the credit reporting company says, is among the states with the highest percentages of these seemingly impossible scores.
Their analysis of fourth quarter 2018 data finds that 1.58 percent of FICO scores were flawless in the Garden State — the sixth-highest rate, and just 0.18 points behind first-place Hawaii.
Paul Oster, president of credit repair and credit management firm Better Qualified in Eatontown, said while achieving the perfect score is possible, "it's really not necessary." But you do want to join at least the "700 club" to reap some financing benefits.
"Basically in today's environment, anybody above a 740 is going to get the best terms and conditions, and the lowest interest rates possible," Oster told New Jersey 101.5.
To reach that mark, Oster said, one needs a good amount and mix of credit products, and, of course, a history of on-time bill payments. A 30-day late payment, he said, could drop one's credit score by up to 100 points.
Oster said consumers longing for a perfect or near-perfect score should pay special attention to their utilization ratio — the ratio of credit limits to credit balances.
"That ratio needs to be below 30 percent," Oster said.
The Experian analysis found U.S. consumers with perfect scores have more lines of credit and less average debt than those with an average FICO score of 701. People with a score of 850 carried an average of 6.4 credit cards, compared with the national average of 3.8 credit cards.
Income is not a barrier to the perfect score, the analysis suggests. In the fourth quarter of last year, more than a third of perfect FICO scores were held by people with an estimated average annual income of $75,000 or less.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.