• First-Time Homebuyer Mortgage FAQ


    Applying for your first mortgage or home loan does not need to be a complicated task. Check out this overview for answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding first-time home buying and mortgages.

    What Should I Do About Current Debts?

    Many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of only focusing on saving up for the down-payment rather than paying off existing debts. Instead, consider eliminating your high-interest consumer and credit card debts before applying for a mortgage; doing so will provide you with a lower down-payment percentage.

    How Much Can I Afford?

    The best way to determine how much you can afford is to create a budget and analyze your financial situation. Consider checking out the current mortgage rates and researching the required down payment and closing costs to get a better idea of how much you’ll need to save. You may also consider getting pre-approved for a loan, which will help you determine how much money you qualify for and which homes are within your price range.

    What Are the Different Types of Loans?

    The most common types of loans include:

    ·  Fixed-rate mortgages: This type of mortgage offers an interest rate that stays the same over the entire term, which typically lasts 15 to 30 years. 

    ·  Adjustable-rate mortgages: ARMs offer lower initial interest rates but fluctuate over the term of the loan, meaning that when interest rates rise, the loan payments also rise.

    ·  Balloon mortgages: A balloon mortgage is similar to a fixed-rate mortgage, with lower payments for a fixed period of time. After this period, the entire loan balance is due.

    · Interest-only mortgages: Homeowners only pay the interest each month for a fixed term when they select interest-only mortgages.

    How Can I Apply for a Mortgage?

    While you can send in written applications, our credit union offers online applications for various types of mortgages. This is very beneficial, as it allows you to easily check on the status of your application.

    Let the mortgage representatives with GCS Federal Credit Union help you choose the best mortgage for your needs by calling (618) 797-7993. We also offer auto loans and checking accounts, among other financial services for the greater O’Fallon area.

  • GCS Hosts Food Drives!


    GCS Federal Credit Union will be hosting local food drives at their Granite City Main Office and Collinsville locations.

    June 4 through July 16, credit union and community members are encouraged to donate a canned good or nonperishable item to support their local community.

    All donations at the GCS Granite City location will benefit the Granite City Community Care Center.

    All donations at the GCS Collinsville location will benefit Collinsville, Maryville and Troy food pantries, as part of the 5th Annual Bank to Bank Food Drive.

    For more information about GCS, visit  myGCScu.com .

    Founded in 1941, GCS Federal Credit Union currently has assets of more than $312 million. GCS serves more than 39,000 members throughout Madison and most of St. Clair Counties in Illinois via 7 conveniently located branches, numerous ATM locations, and 24-hour account access through a telephone audio response system and PCU online banking.

  • GCS Sponsors Movie Nights!


    GCS Federal Credit Union will sponsor three movie nights this summer at Granite City Wilson Park.

    Everyone is invited out to join GCS under the stars for an evening movie on Sykes Field. Movie nights are FREE and start at dusk. Bring the lawn chairs, blankets and snacks for a night of family fun.

    2012 movie night dates:

    • June 8th showing: The Muppets
    • July 13th showing: Puss in Boots
    • August 10th showing: Voter’s Choice

    For more information, visit myGCScu.com or call 618-797-7993.

    Founded in 1941, GCS Federal Credit Union currently has assets of more than $312 million. GCS serves more than 39,000 members throughout Madison and most of St. Clair Counties in Illinois via 7 conveniently located branches, numerous ATM locations, and 24-hour account access through a telephone audio response system and PCU online banking.

  • Mortgage Rates: Why Now is the Time to Buy

    Mortgage Loan Application


    Most prospective homebuyers have put off applying for mortgage loans during recent years due to increasingly high mortgage rates and an unstable housing market. However, as of May 2012, the average rates for 15- and 30-year mortgage loans fell to historically low levels, making home-buying easier for individuals who qualify. Continue reading for more information on why now is the time to buy a mortgage loan with your O’Fallon credit union , GCS Federal Credit Union.

    All-Time Low Rates

    The current interest rates for 30-year mortgages have been steadily dropping over the past few months. In fact, the mortgage rate for 30-year fixed mortgages dropped from 4.05% to 3.97% over a two-week period this May alone. Similarly, 15-year fixed rate mortgages have also been at record lows with an interest rate of 3.2%. 

    Worldwide Market Shifts

    A recent article published by Mortgage News Daily attributes the declining interest rates to the political turmoil currently taking place in Europe. The article states that because mortgage rates are relatively removed from the current situation in Europe, this indirectly increases the interest rates in weaker countries while lowering the rates in stronger countries.  This not only makes it easier for first-time homebuyers to obtain a mortgage, but also offers substantially lower rates for individuals interested in refinancing their current loans.

    GCS Federal Credit Union has been providing mortgage loans, auto loans, checking accounts, and debit cards to O’Fallon, IL residents for the past 70 years. Our credit union accepts membership from anyone who lives, works, attends school, or practices religion in Madison and most of St. Clair counties. While we’re large enough to offer ultimate convenience, our credit union is also small enough to provide the individually tailored financial services and products you need. For more information on mortgage rates and other loans, contact us online or call (618) 797-7993.

  • Enjoy Your Memorial Day Weekend! Any Fun Plans?

    November 11

  • Tips for Banking Online


    The more you know about using online banking, the more flexibility you’ll have managing your finances. After signing up for online banking through GCS Federal Credit Union, bills will be easier to pay and your account activity even easier to monitor. Check out these useful tips for banking online to get the most out of this service.

    Pay Bills Online

    You can avoid late fees by accessing and paying your bills all in one place, online. If you need to pay a bill immediately in order to avoid an overdue fee or damage to your credit, you can choose to have the payment expedited. You can also sign up for paperless billing, which is a more eco-friendly way of receiving your bills through email instead of standard mail.

    Transfer Easily Between Accounts

    You can use your online banking account to transfer funds between accounts. Online transfers allow you to move money to and from your checking and savings accounts. This makes it easy to build up your savings as you receive paychecks or move funds around to make big purchases.  

    Practice Safe Banking

    Unfortunately, the risk of identity theft is ever-present, so you should be vigilant when it comes to online banking security. Create a strong password for your account. The best passwords are combinations of random numbers and letters and not your birthday or phone number. For added protection, update your firewall, install anti-virus software, and clear your browser history regularly. Be careful of fake emails claiming to be from your credit union.  

    Keep Track of Your Account Activity

    With online banking, you won’t have to wait for your statement to arrive in the mail to track your account activity. You can check it whenever you want, day or night. You can also print out your statement or save it to your computer for your records.

    Online banking from GCS Federal Credit Union, serving O’Fallon, gives you the tools to manage your finances conveniently. We also offer financing programs for auto loans. Call us today at (618) 797-7993 for more information about our membership services.

  • GCS Awards Nicole R. Thorp Scholarship

    GCS Federal Credit Union has recently awarded  the $1,500 Nicole R. Thorp Scholarship.

    Amanda Cornell of Staunton High School was this year’s recipient of the Nicole R. Thorp Scholarship. GCS was looking for applicants who actively volunteer in the community.  Nicole R. Thorp, who the scholarship is now named after, was a big believer in helping out where needed. 

    Candidates were also required to submit an essay explaining why saving and budgeting are important habits to develop.  GCS tries to guide youth in developing and reaching savings goals and wanted to hear how its teens have succeeded.

    GCS wishes Amanda the best of luck in the future.

    Founded in 1941, GCS Federal Credit Union currently has assets of more than $312 million. GCS serves more than 39,000 members throughout Madison and most of St. Clair Counties in Illinois via 7 conveniently located branches, numerous ATM locations, and 24-hour account access through a telephone audio response system and PCU online banking.


    GCS President/CEO, Mark Holshouser & Amanda Cornell

  • Understanding How Money Market Accounts Work

    Couple meeting with financial advisor.

    Money market accounts can grow your money. Account holders often use these accounts in place of or in addition to a savings account because they earn a solid rate of return often greater than that earned from a savings account. Read below if you want to know more about how a money market account from GCS Federal Credit Union works.

    Deposited Funds Earn Interest

    A minimum initial deposit of $2,500 will earn interest just like a savings account. The difference is that yield is higher and you can still use the account like a checking account, with some limitations.

    Different Tiers Receive Different Rates

    Generally, the greater the balance you maintain, the more dividends you’ll receive at a better rate. There are three tiers of account balances:

    • Tier 1 balances are between $2,500 and $9,999.99.
    • Tier 2 is $10,000 to $24,999.99.
    • Tier 3 is anything $25,000 or greater.

    The more you regularly deposit into your money market account, the more you will earn in interest.

    The Credit Union also Benefits from Money Market Accounts

    In exchange for these higher yields, the credit union uses this pool of money from several money market account holders to make loans at an interest rate that covers your yield. Each account holder’s funds are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

    Account Holders Receive Dividends

    Dividends are compounded at the end of each month. On the last day of the month, your account is credited with the dividend.

    Some Transaction Limitations Do Apply

    As with a checking account, there are transaction limitations. Money market account holders can make six withdrawals during any month. Of these six, three may be made in the form of a check. Checks have to be written in amounts of $300 or greater.

    All accounts at GCS Federal Credit Union , including money market accounts, are insured by the NCUA. If you’re interested in a new checking account, an auto loan, or a higher-yielding alternative to a savings account, call us today at (618) 797-7993.

  • Learn More About Saving Money and Online Banking with These Resources

    Woman Shopping Online

    A credit union’s first priority is its members. Check out these links about money, savings, online banking, and why your money might be better off with a credit union. 

    • More and more consumers are realizing the benefits of a credit union over a bank. Check out this article from MSN Money to see why converts are praising credit unions.
    • See why credit unions choose service over profits.
    • If you’re looking to be more eco-friendly, even when banking, check out these green banking tips for environmentally conscious consumers.
    • Paying bills online or through your online banking account has its advantages. Find out what they are by checking out this link from LiveStrong.com.
    • If you have a teen who is planning on taking up a summer job, teach him or her about the importance of saving money early . This article from Better Parenting has some tips.

    GCS Federal Credit Union accepts membership from residents of the Illinois counties of Madison and most of St. Clair. If you’re looking for something that’s better than a bank, give us a call at (618) 797-7993.

  • Reporting on National Bank Transfer Day

    Sometimes banks lose sight of their customers because of their profit-driven mindset. From the suburbs to the city, many American customers closed their major bank accounts on “National Move Your Money Day” which took place in November of last year.

    Organizers moved their funds to credit unions, attracted by the credit unions’ dedication to fairness. Credit union account holders are members, not customers, because a member’s deposits are considered his or her share of ownership. Watch this video to see how frustration with conventional banks led many Americans to make the switch from banks to credit unions.

    GCS Federal Credit Union has served the Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois for over seven decades. We’re proud to be a member-minded institution. Call us today at (618) 797-7993 for more information about our membership services.