GCS Credit Union
GCS is a full-service financial institution serving the following counties in Illinois: Sangamon, Logan, Macon, Marion, Jefferson, Perry, Jackson, Williamson, Jersey, Macoupin, Montgomery, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Monroe, Washington and Randolph.

Rent or Buy? Tips for Making the Right Housing Choice

Although many people dream of home ownership, other people find that rental living is right for them. There is no right answer when you’re trying to decide between choosing a home mortgage loan and signing a lease. Because everyone’s situation is different, you can only consider which option is a fit for you. As you try to make this important decision, consider these factors while you weigh your options.

Consider When You Will Want to Move

If you are committed to staying in the area in which you are currently living, then buying a house could make sense for you. When you purchase a home, you will generally need to stay in it for at least five years in order to make back your upfront expenses on the house and get a return on your purchase. If you think you could want to move to a new area in less than five years or that there is a good chance you could be transferred because of your job, renting may make the most financial sense.

Add Up Your Down Payment Savings

Generally, to get the best possible terms on home mortgage loans, you will need a down payment of 20% of the purchase price of the home. Although you can find loans that require lower down payments, you will likely have to carry mortgage insurance until you reach 20% equity in the home. Mortgage insurance can be costly and will drive up your monthly payment considerably. Instead of making a low down payment, consider renting until you can save up more money.

Take a Hard Look at Your Job

If you’re satisfied in your career and have stable employment, then you could be ready to take on the responsibility of mortgage payments and the other costs of home ownership. However, if you’re planning a career change or think that your employment is at risk for any reason, you may wish to rent until you are on steadier ground.

Let the experts at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon explore your options for home mortgage loans and make the right financial decision for your personal goals. Talk to a credit union representative today by calling (618) 797-7993.

FAQs About Your First Credit Card

Getting your first credit card is exciting, but before you start charging, it’s important to understand how to manage it so it helps you build your financial future instead of becoming a burden on it. If you have questions about using your credit card, talk to a representative at your credit union, who can provide advice about using your card to build good credit. Here are the answers to some questions that may be on your mind about making the most of your first credit card.

How can I pick a good credit card?

The most important numbers to consider when you are getting a credit card are the limit and the interest rate. The card limit is the amount of credit you have available. You can only spend the amount of credit you have. As you pay for something with your card, your available credit is reduced, and when you make a payment, the available credit is restored. The interest rate is the amount of money you are charged for using the credit. The higher the interest rate, the more expensive the credit is. You are charged interest whenever you have a balance on your credit card.

When do I have to make payments?

Credit cards require monthly payments. You should aim to pay off your entire balance each month, to avoid paying interest. If you can’t pay the balance in full, you must pay at least the minimum payment required by your card company to avoid late fees and other penalties.

How does a credit card affect my credit score?

If you keep your credit card debt below 30% of your available credit and you always pay on time, having a credit card can make your score increase, because it shows that you can manage credit effectively. If your card is charged to the limit and you make late payments, a credit card can have a significantly negative impact on your score.

GCS Credit Union offers a Visa Rewards credit card with a competitive interest rate and many other benefits. To learn more about joining our credit union in O’Fallon or how to apply for a credit card, please call (618) 797-7993.

What Millennials Need to Know About Investing

One of the most common questions millennials have about their finances is whether they should be investing in the stock market. This video addresses that common question.

Although the stock market has been volatile in recent years, millennials have the benefit of time on their side, so they are better equipped to ride out market fluctuations and still come out on top. They can also take advantage of market dips to buy low when they decide to invest in stocks.

At GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, we help members of all ages make the right decisions about their financial goals, while offering convenient tools such as online banking and bill pay. You can learn more about membership by calling (618) 797-7993.

Understanding and Improving Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most important facets of your financial life. It determines everything from the rates you get on auto loans to whether you can qualify for a home mortgage loan. Despite its importance, many people don’t understand their credit scores and feel powerless when trying to improve them. Here is what you need to know about your credit score and what you can do to make it the best it can be.

Credit Scores 101

Your credit score is a three-digit number that helps lenders and other creditors, like landlords, get a picture of your financial history. Although the scoring can vary depending on which credit bureau is calculating it, scores typically range from 300 to 850. The higher your credit score, the better your financial history looks to lenders.

A long list of factors goes into determining your credit score. These include:

  • If you pay your bills on time
  • How much debt you have
  • If you have any financial judgments against you
  • The length of your credit history

Older late payments and judgments have less impact on your credit score than new ones. Generally, information is removed from your credit report after seven to 10 years, but some states have laws with different guidelines.

Improving Your Credit Score

The first step to improving your credit score is knowing what your score is and checking your credit rep

ort to see if there is any misinformation there that could be holding your score down, like accounts that aren’t yours or that are in good standing but that have been reported as overdue. You can petition the credit bureaus to remove this information, and your score may increase.

Paying your bills on time is an essential part of keeping your credit score up, so make sure you stay current or get caught up if you’re behind. Try not to use any more than 30% of the total credit available to you at any one time, as the ratio of your available credit to your debt also greatly impacts your score. Paying down debt will increase your score.

At GCS Credit Union, our staff is available to help our members navigate complex financial issues and make the right decisions for them. Get help with everything from opening a checking account in O’Fallon to using online banking by calling (618) 797-7993.

How GCS Credit Union Makes Money Management Convenient

At GCS Credit Union, we know that your busy life doesn’t always allow for the time to stop by one of our branches. That’s why we’ve created a range of services to make managing your money as simple and convenient as possible. Take control of your checking account, savings, loans, bill payments, and more from anywhere with convenience services from GCS like these.

Online Banking and Bill Pay

If you have an internet connection, then you have access to your credit union accounts 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Online banking and bill pay allow you to do the account management tasks you would do at your branch from your computer whenever it is convenient for you. Check your account balances, see your purchase history, view checks that have cleared, and make loan payments, all with a few clicks. Enrolling in online bill pay lets you set up multiple and recurring payments, so your payments are never late and so you can reduce the number of paper statements you receive. Online banking and bill pay are also more secure than paper account statements and billing, because your personal information never passes through anyone’s hands or sits unsecured in your mailbox.

Mobile Banking App

Take the convenience of online banking to go with the mobile banking app for your smartphone. In addition to all of the activities you can do from your online banking profile, you can make deposits remotely simply by snapping a photo of your check. Mobile banking is secure as online banking and is free to all members, though carrier rates may apply.

Nationwide ATMs

Forget the myth about credit union ATMs being hard to find. You can withdraw your cash without paying fees at more than 30,000 ATMs across the country. There are also 9,000 ATMs nationwide at which you can make a deposit.

Do you want to learn more about the convenience services at GCS Credit Union that you could be missing out on? Call (618) 797-7993 to find out more about all of the services at our credit union in O’Fallon.

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  • Monday 8:30am — 5:00pm
  • Tuesday 8:30am — 5:00pm
  • Wednesday 10:00am — 5:00pm
  • Thursday 8:30am — 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am — 6:00pm
  • Saturday 8:30am — 12:00pm