Dear Dr. Don,
Will my FICO score be higher if I increase my credit card limits? I pay my balances off in full each month and have no credit card debt. The credit card I use the most has a $12,000 limit. I estimate my FICO score is very close to or over 800.
-- Corny Cumulate
While you can get free annual copies of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com, you have to pay to get your credit score. Bankrate has partnered with myFICO.com to provide a free FICO score estimator. If your credit score is over 780, there's not any real need to try to micromanage the score into the 800s in order to get a lower interest rate on a loan.
That's because with a credit score over 780, you already have an "A" credit rating. Other than bragging rights at a cocktail party or a family reunion, I don't see the point of trying to bring your score into the 800s. By the way, I'm in the camp that considers this kind of bragging gauche.
FICO credit scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850. The table below shows how these scores are distributed across U.S. consumers with credit histories.
Increasing your credit lines will improve the ratio of your credit used to credit available, but will also result in your creditors doing a "hard pull" on your credit reports to evaluate the decision to extend additional credit.
Over the near term, those inquiries may result in reducing your credit score, but it won't have a major impact. Nonetheless, my advice is to stand pat.