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    What Your Credit Score Really Means

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Your credit score may only consist of three little numbers, but its impact is difficult to overstate. A poor credit score can stop you from getting services you need, from an auto loan to a new apartment. If your credit could use some work, your credit union can help you devise a plan to increase your score through smart budgeting and paying down debt. However, the first step is understanding your score. Here are the facts you need know: 

    What Is a Credit Score?
    Your credit score is essentially a grade for your past financial behavior. It is used as an indicator of the risk of loaning money or extending credit to you. The most commonly used credit score is your FICO score. This score ranges from 300 to 850. Higher scores suggest that, in the past, you have paid credit cards, loans, and other payments on time. A lower score usually indicates that you have fallen behind on payments or defaulted on a debt.

    What Goes Into My Credit Score?
    Several different factors are considered when your credit score is calculated. Two of the most important are your bill-paying habits and your credit-to-debt ratio. When a lender reports that your account is past due, your credit score will take a hit. Your credit-to-debt ratio compares how much of your available credit you are using. If your credit cards are all charged to their limits, you are using all of your available credit; this will lower your credit score, since such behavior suggests you could be having financial problems.

    Why Does My Credit Score Matter?
    Credit scores have many applications, and lenders rely upon them heavily. Your credit score will determine if you get a loan and what the interest rate on that loan will be. If your credit is poor, expect to pay higher interest on loans.

    One of the benefits of being a GCS Credit Union member is that we see you, not your credit score, when you apply for an auto loan, checking account, and more. Let our O’Fallon credit union help you build and maintain a good credit score. Stop by or call us today at (618) 219-8600. 

    Ways You Can Keep Your Financial Information Safe Online

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Shopping online is convenient, but it also comes with some inherent risk. If you’re not careful about how you do business on the internet, your financial information could be in jeopardy. The good news is that protecting yourself only takes a few simple steps.

    Start by making sure your wireless network at home is secure and password-protected. Never conduct any financial transactions on an unsecured, public wireless network. When you shop, make sure the website has adequate payment security, or use a third-party processor like PayPal. Never respond to emails requesting financial or personal information from you, even if they appear to be from your credit union. These are likely phishing scams. Avoid storing sensitive information, like account numbers and passwords, in your online organizing system or calendar.

    Do you have questions about how to keep your GCS Credit Union account information safe? Talk to a representative at our O’Fallon credit union about using our online banking system safely. You can also find out more about our checking accounts, debit cards, and other financial products by calling (618) 219-8600.

    How to Convince Your Kids to Get Serious about Financial Responsibility

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Financial responsibility is one of the greatest lessons you can teach your children. You don’t have to wait until your kids are entering their teen years and getting their first jobs to start talking about money. Even very young children can grasp basic concepts about saving and budgeting. At GCS Credit Union, we support parents’ efforts to create fiscally savvy kids with our range of youth accounts. Here are some ways you can convince your kids to get excited about managing their money: 

    Set Long-Term Goals
    When your kids save up their money for special purchases and then actually get to go out and buy what they wanted, they learn that saving money comes with rewards. Help your kids pick out something special that they want, and then work out a savings plan to get to that goal. The trick is to not bail them out if they veer off-course along the way. For instance, if one of your kids is saving for a scooter but dips into his or her money for a new video game, let him or her experience the feeling of missing out on getting the scooter as quickly as anticipated.

    Choose Age-Appropriate Savings Methods
    For young kids, a piggy bank is a great way to save money, because it allows kids to watch their progress with savings. By age 10, kids are ready to handle the concept of saving money in a credit union account that earns interest. Be sure to count piggy bank money or check account balances regularly to show how their savings are growing.

    Be an Example
    Your kids will emulate your spending habits, so involve them in your financial decisions. Show them some of the bills. Ask them to help you do price comparisons on big-ticket items. Take them with you when you visit the credit union.

    At GCS Credit Union, we want all of our members to find financial stability for life. This is why we offer a variety of accounts and products, including checking accounts, debit cards, auto financing, and more. Learn about our O’Fallon credit union services, including incentives for kids, by calling (618) 219-8600.  

    Tips for Talking to Your Kids about Money

    Last updated 8 months ago

    One of the most important things that parents can teach their kids is how to manage money, but it can often be difficult to know where to start. This video offers suggestions for ways you can teach lessons about money management to your children to help them become financially responsible adults.

    In the video, you’ll learn that it is never too early to start talking about money with kids. You can turn nearly anything into a lesson in finance, from a trip to a fast food restaurant to the spare change in your pocket. Most importantly, don’t shy away from discussing financial matters in front of your children so they understand the value of money.

    GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon has several youth-oriented account services that can help you impart financial lessons to your kids. To learn more about all of our credit union services, please call (618) 219-8600. 

    A Closer Look at Auto Loans

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Few people have enough money to pay cash for a car. Instead, they choose to get auto loans. Auto loans are specially designed by lenders to finance the purchase of a vehicle. At GCS Credit Union, we offer competitive rates on auto loans and work with several O’Fallon-area car dealerships on financing deals. Before you take out an auto loan, it helps to understand how these loans work. Here is what you need to know: 

    Why Choose an Auto Loan?
    Why can’t you just get a personal loan to buy a car? You can, but it isn’t in your best interest. Auto loans are designed to be used for car purchases and have terms and interest rates that are set up accordingly. By choosing another loan option, you may end up paying for your car longer than you actually own it, and increased interest rates can make the car cost more.

    How Are Auto Loan Rates Determined?
    When you apply for an auto loan, one of the biggest factors is your credit score. If your credit score is on the low end, your interest rate on the loan will be higher. Some lenders also charge higher interest rates on loans for used cars. The term of your loan, or how long you plan to spread out your payments, also factors into your interest rate. The longer the repayment period, the higher the rate will be.

    Why Get an Auto Loan at a Credit Union?
    Although you can apply for auto financing through a dealership, there are many advantages to getting your auto loan through a credit union. At your credit union, you won’t have the pressure of a dealership salesperson trying to upsell you on features. Your credit union can also help you decide if you’re getting a fair price for the car. Last but not least, credit union auto loans are simple-interest loans, unlike dealer loans, which front-load interest. Simple-interest loans are easier to pay off early.

    Before you go car shopping, get pre-qualified for an auto loan at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. Apply online or call (618) 219-8600 to learn about our rates. 

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