• Can Closing a Checking or Savings Account Hurt Your Credit?

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    Because checking accounts and savings accounts are not credit accounts, closing them will not impact your credit. However, keep in mind that closed banking accounts may show up on banking reports, so your closed account could impact your future ability to open new accounts.

    GCS Credit Union is committed to helping all of our members understand credit and other parts of managing their finances effectively, so that they can reach their goals. To learn more, contact our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-799.

  • Should You Consider Getting a Personal Loan?

    If you’re considering making a large purchase, a personal loan could help you finance the expense. These kinds of loans are installment loans, which means that you will receive a lump sum and then repay it through monthly payments, until you have completely paid it off. Unlike auto loans or home mortgages, personal loans aren’t for anything in particular, and you can generally use them for anything. However, as with any kind of loan or credit you get, it is important to consider the terms and your ability to pay it back before signing for a personal loan. Is a personal loan right for you? These are some of the signs that you should consider getting one.

    You have high-interest debt that you want to consolidate.
    If you have high balances on credit cards, a personal loan could be a good solution to get your bills under control. Most personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards, so by getting a loan to pay off all of your credit card balances, you can save a significant amount of money on interest expenses. If you’re paying on multiple cards, then consolidating your debt in this way will also streamline the process of paying off your cards, since you’ll only have to make a single payment going forward. However, resist the urge to drive your balances back up once you zero out your credit cards.

    You’re planning a home improvement project.
    Home improvement projects can be great investments, since they can add value to your home. However, financing them sometimes means running up big credit card bills with high interest rates or borrowing against your home. A personal loan allows you to avoid these scenarios and pay for your project with an unsecured loan with lower rates than your credit cards.

    You have considered how to repay it.
    In order to stay in control of your finances, avoid borrowing any money you haven’t made a plan to repay. Be sure you understand the terms of the loan up front, so that you can plan for repayment accordingly.

    If you’re interested in applying for a personal loan, contact GCS Credit Union. We offer competitive rates and can help you find the best loan for your needs. Call our credit union in O’Fallon today at (618) 797-7993.

  • What You Need to Know About Purchasing a Second Home

    Have you ever dreamed of owning a vacation home? A home mortgage loan from a credit union can make that dream a reality. However, there are several important factors you’ll need to consider. The location of the second home is a crucial factor. Make sure that you enjoy the destination enough that it makes sense to buy a second home there. And since it isn’t your primary residence, you’ll need to find a real estate agent who is familiar with the neighborhoods in the area.

    Mortgages for Second Homes

    Qualifying for a mortgage for a second home can be tricky if you’re still paying off your first home. You might consider talking to the credit union about refinancing your first house in order to take advantage of lower interest rates or a lower monthly payment. The money you’ll save can help you qualify for a second mortgage. Be sure to factor in closing costs and private mortgage insurance (PMI) in your budget.

    Additional Costs of Maintaining a Second Home

    Since you’re already a homeowner, you’re familiar with the typical costs of maintaining a house. You’ll need to factor in utilities, maintenance, and repairs. Be aware that the cost to maintain a second home is typically higher than the maintenance expenses for a first home. Since it isn’t your primary residence, you’ll need to pay a property maintenance service to check on the home while you’re away.

    Tax Implications of Owning a Second Home

    You might want to rent out your second home when you aren’t using it. This can help offset the additional costs of maintenance, not to mention pay off that second home mortgage loan. However, it’s a good idea to talk to a tax advisor before you turn your second home into a profitable business. You’ll need to pay taxes on the rental income.

    If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home, you can get the personalized financial guidance you need at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. Meet with our financial planner to discuss your financial situation and find out how much home you can afford. We offer highly competitive home mortgage loans with flexible, customizable terms. Call (618) 797-7993.

  • Tips for Saving Money on a Tight Budget

    Saving money is a subject that is deceptively complicated. Of course, everyone knows that it’s important to save money. But how much money should you save? And how can you save when your budget is tight? It’s important to have a reasonable plan. If you have trouble designing a budget that allows for savings, consider talking to a financial planner at your credit union branch.

    Cutting Your Transportation Costs

    The transportation category in your budget likely includes allowances for auto insurance and fuel. One way to reduce your costs is by shopping around for less expensive car insurance. Talk to an independent insurance agent about this. You can also lower your current premiums by taking an approved defensive driving course. You’ll need to submit proof of completion to your insurance company. In addition, work on maximizing your gas mileage to reduce the number of times you fill up the tank. Ease off on the gas well ahead of stop signs and stoplights, accelerate slowly, and stick to the speed limit.

    Planning Your Meals

    Meal planning is a smart activity that can simultaneously save you money and reduce your stress. Make a weekly meal plan the day before you typically go to the grocery store. Write a shopping list based on that meal plan, and don’t give into the temptation to make impulse purchases. You can get more mileage out of your ingredients by using leftovers in the next night’s meals. For instance, if you have a rotisserie chicken on Monday, you can make chicken enchiladas with the leftovers on Tuesday. Reducing food waste is an effective way to reduce your grocery budget.

    Automating Your Bills

    You can set up automated bill pay through your online checking account at the credit union. Many companies offer fee reductions if you set up automated payments. These include insurance companies and phone service providers. Remember to transfer the money you save to your savings account!

    GCS Credit Union can help you save more money and maximize your savings with free checking accounts, cash back programs, and savings accounts with competitive rates. If you aren’t yet a member, call our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-7993 for help getting started.

  • Getting the Most from Online Banking

    Not all that long ago, online banking was a new idea that many people were hesitant to try. But these days, it’s considered a necessity. Between rushing around at work and meeting your obligations to your family, it’s tough to find the time to get to a credit union branch to manage your savings and checking accounts. GCS Credit Union understands. We’ve made our online banking experience as easy and hassle-free as possible, because our members are important to us.

    It can be particularly helpful to set up your bill payments in advance. Just log on to your account and schedule your payments to ensure they are received on time. Or, set up a one-time payment if you prefer, without having to deal with the hassle of mailing a check.

    You can get the benefits of online banking in O’Fallon when you become a member of GCS Credit Union. Call (618) 797-7993 if you have any questions for our member representatives.

  • How to Manage Multiple Credit Cards


    It’s generally not a good idea to have lots of credit card accounts open because this can encourage your debt to spiral out of control. If you’re having trouble getting out of debt, consider talking to a financial planner at your credit union. You can also watch this featured video to get some valuable tips on managing multiple credit cards.

    This video recommends a few apps that you can use to manage you credit cards, such as Mint. It’s always a good idea to set up notifications or email alerts so that you won’t miss a due date, as this will negatively affect your credit score. You can also commit to paying off the balance for the card with the highest interest rate first to save money in the long run.

    If you’re a GCS Credit Union member, you can easily apply for a Visa credit card with a low interest rate, no annual fee, and a valuable ScoreCard Reward Program. Visit one of our credit union branches in O’Fallon or give us a call at (618) 797-7993 if you have any questions.

  • What Are Some Misconceptions About Credit Unions?

    Credit unions offer a range of benefits that banks do not, but misconceptions about how they work keep away many people who could reap the rewards of membership. If you haven’t considered credit union membership because you think that it’s not for you, you could be making your decision based on outdated or mischaracterized facts. Here is a closer look at some of the common misconceptions about credit unions and the real facts behind them.

    Misconception: Most people can’t qualify for credit union membership.

    It is true that credit unions have membership criteria. As such, there are likely to be credit unions for which you do not qualify. However, the sheer number of credit unions means that almost everyone can qualify for membership in at least one. Many credit unions also offer membership to the family members of people who qualify, so even if you don’t qualify on your own for a particular credit union, if you have a family member who does, you may still be able to join.

    Misconception: Credit unions have limited services.

    Credit unions are non-profit institutions, so they tend to spend less on marketing efforts than banks do. This has created the perception that banks have lots of high-tech services to offer their customers and credit unions do not. In reality, most credit unions offer the exact same services as banks, from loans to mobile banking, and they often provide these services at better rates. You won’t be limiting your access to financial services by joining a credit union.

    Misconception: Credit union locations are hard to find.

    Credit unions frequently have fewer physical locations than large banks, but that doesn’t leave customers high and dry. Most credit unions are part of a shared national network that allows members to easily perform banking services, no matter how far they are away from their home base.

    Find out more about the benefits of credit union membership by contacting GCS Credit Union. We offer an extensive collection of services, including checking accounts, online bill pay, and auto loans. You can learn more about joining our credit union in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • What Are the Benefits of Direct Deposit?

    Are you still taking paper checks to the credit union to cash on payday? If so, then you are missing out on all of the benefits of direct deposit. Even people who are resistant to direct deposit tend to become full converts after switching to this payment method. Whether you are an employer who is not yet offering direct deposit as an option to employees or an employee who hasn’t yet made the switch, here are some of the benefits on which you could be missing out.

    Direct deposit is convenient.

    This benefit is the one that convinces most people to make the switch to direct deposit. For employees, what could be more convenient than waking up on payday to find that the money is already in your checking account? For employers, it takes several steps out of the process of doing payroll. There is no need to print and distribute paper checks for every pay cycle. Instead, you authorize the payment amounts, and your employees get their pay, on time and much more efficiently than with traditional pay procedures.

    Direct deposit saves money for employers.

    In addition to the cost-saving benefits of improved payroll efficiency, distributing salaries by direct deposit saves money for employers in other ways. The cost of printing checks can be significant, and with direct deposit, employers no longer need to invest in the paper, printers, envelopes, and inks associated with a paper payroll. It also eliminates the cost of replacing lost or stolen checks. Often, credit unions offer incentives to employers for using direct deposit that can translate into savings as well.

    Direct deposit is safer for employees.

    Even with the best of intentions, losing a paycheck or having a paycheck stolen is a real possibility. For employees, direct deposit means protecting a paper paycheck—and the personal financial information on it—is no longer an issue. Your pay goes safely and securely into your account each pay cycle.

    GCS Credit Union is committed to making financial management convenient and secure for our members through direct deposit, online banking, and mobile banking in O’Fallon. Get the answers to all of your questions about our services by calling 618-797-7993.

  • How You Can Get Rewarded for Using Your Credit Card

    At GCS Credit Union, our Visa Rewards Credit Card offers the convenience of shopping with credit combined with the chance to earn valuable rewards. Our credit card comes with the low-interest rates you expect as a credit union member, plus a 25-day grace period on purchases and no annual fee.

    Our Visa card comes with membership in the valuable ScoreCard Reward Program. Each dollar you spent is worth one point. Points can be cashed in for travel, merchandise, and other rewards via GCS. The rewards can be easily managed online at any time, so you can see exactly where you stand and work towards building up points to cash in for your chosen reward. These rewards come in addition to all of the other great card benefits, from auto rental waiver insurance to emergency card replacement.

    If you’re a current GCS Credit Union member, contact your local branch or apply online for our Visa Rewards credit card. If you’re not yet a member, you can contact our credit union in O’Fallon for more information about membership and all of our financial products by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • How Couples Can Have Better Communication About Money


    When couples combine their finances, it can cause some challenges as they adapt to each other’s financial management habits. By working together toward a common goal, they can make the most efficient use of their credit union accounts and services.

    Watch this video to learn how couples can have better communication about their finances. The key is to discuss things as soon as possible in the relationship and to continue to keep the door open to communication about checking accounts, auto loans, and more.

    At GCS Credit Union, we have all of the financial tools you need to reach your joint financial goals, from our Visa Rewards credit card to our home mortgage loans. For more information about our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.