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If you’re trying to improve your credit after a financial hardship, checking your FICO score every month is a great way to gauge your progress. It’s encouraging to see that your hard work is paying off. It’s also a good way to spot credit mistakes when you make them and adjust your habits accordingly.

Your FICO score is determined by the information on your credit report. If you fall victim to identity theft or a credit reporting error, this will eventually be reflected in your FICO score. You should check your three credit reports at least once a year. You have three FICO scores, one from each of the major credit bureaus; Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. If you get a credit card that gives you free access to your score, the information is provided to your issuer from only one of the three bureaus.

Your FICO score is instrumental in how financial institutions view your credit-worthiness. An excellent FICO score can get you the better rates on personal loans, mortgages and automobile loans. If you want a credit card that offers you free travel or cash back you need to have a better than average FICO score. Good credit is needed for securing an apartment, getting a job and a new cell phone.

credit score chart

Pay off you debt and increase your credit score

Your FICO score isn’t static. You can improve or damage it by how responsible you are with your finances. The factors that affect your score the most are late or missed payments and how much credit you’re using to how much credit is available to you. Length of credit history also affects your score so keep your oldest accounts open unless you have a good reason to close them. Negative remarks stay on your credit report for 7 years. The good news is that negative remarks affect your score less and less as they age.

Why do we need to see our FICO score?

It’s important to note that FICO scores are what most lenders in the United States use when they’re deciding whether to extend credit to you. It’s easy today to check your credit score as many credit card issuers now offer this information for FREE every month to their card holders.

The following credit card issuers provide customers with free FICO credit score access:

American Express

Your Experian FICO score is available by logging into your account and they can access their score on the right side of the screen.

Bank of America®

Get access to their free FICO score with online banking.

Barclaycard US

Your TransUnion FICO score is available for free on your monthly statement, either online or by mail. Barclaycard will inform you of changes to your credit score via email alerts. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, AAdvantage Aviator Personal Cards and Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard offer this feature.


Equifax FICO scores are available by logging into your account with certain Citi-branded cards, including the Citi ThankYou Preferred, Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and Citi Prestige.


Slate credit card customers have free access to their FICO score on a monthly basis. They can see the reasons behind their score and view a summary of their credit report information. They also get helpful suggestions on ways to manage your credit health.


TransUnion FICO score appears on each of your monthly billing statements that include Discover It, Open Road, Motiva, Miles by Discover and Escape by Discover.

Chase Slate is the best credit card for balance transfers.


Ecuadorian woman handing credit card to clerk in clothing shop

A great way to improve your FICO score is to transfer higher rate balances from your credit cards to one credit card. Chase Slate® is the best card as it offers a $0 introductory 60-day balance transfer fee from when you open your account. Most other credit cards do not waive this fee and charge you a fee of 3% to 5% of the amount you transfer. The average amount transferred is $7,500 so you would be paying an additional fee of $225 to $375 making Chase Slate your best choice for a transferring a balance. The duration of the 0% Intro APR for 15 months gives you more than a year to pay off your transferred balance and you’ll also have a 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases. The variable APR rate after the introductory period ends can go to as high as 23.24%. With this go to rate, make sure you have a good financial strategy to not carry a balance.

Overall, Chase Slate is a great credit card for building your credit. The 0% introductory rate can help you improve your payment history and credit utilization – major factors for improving your FICO score. You’ll be saving money on interest, your minimum payments will be lower and making on-time payments is something you can maintain. Your entire payment will be going toward the card’s balance instead of paying interest on your interest. Managing your payments with a calendar set for paying off the transferred balance is highly recommended so that you don’t get slammed with interest from your balance that was transferred.

Chase Slate gives cardholders peace of mind with No Penalty APR so paying late won’t raise their interest rate (APR).

excellent credit score

The other alternative to lower interest rate is to consolidate your debt.

Many debt consolidation loan companies offer interest rates much lower than credit cards and traditional loans, giving consumers a way to pay off debt and save money in interest. Many of the leading personal loan companies offer fixed rates ranging from 5.99% to $29.91%, depending on credit worthiness.

Lower combined monthly payment.

Another important benefit of debt consolidation is a more manageable monthly payment. With lower interest rates come lower payments, which can be much more budget friendly. Plus, paying less each month can give you a little extra cash at the end of the month to put toward your savings.

Only one payment due date to remember.

Even those of us who are responsible with how we manage our debt can fall behind on payments simply because there are too many payment due dates to remember. By streamlining your bills into one fixed monthly payment, you can stop juggling due dates, making it easier to pay your bills on time.

Fixed repayment schedule.

When you’re trying to get rid of debt, it helps knowing that there’s a definite date when your loan will be repaid. Revolving credit card accounts are just that – revolving. With many personal debt consolidation loans you can choose to repay your loan in 3 years or 5 years – a few offer even more flexible repayment terms. That gives you a clear plan for getting rid of the debt in the timeframe you choose.

Boost your credit score as soon as you consolidate your debt.

A debt consolidation loan can increase your credit score by an average of 21 points. Once you obtain your loan and pay off your revolving debt you’ll see an increase in your credit score. 21 points can take you from fair to good, or good to excellent.

There are many ways to improve your credit score. The most important are to always pay your bills on time and pay off more than the minimum due. By dedicating yourself to becoming debt-free, you will be rewarded with a credit score that is well deserved.

chase slate card frontapply button

  • Chase Slate named “Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers” three years in a row by MONEY Magazine.
  • $0 Intro balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Free Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard.
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won’t raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply.
  • $0 Annual Fee

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 intro during first 60 days

Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

Ongoing APR
13.24% to 23.24% variable*

Annual Fee

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.