• Why You Should Choose Direct Deposit for Your Social Security and Federal Benefit Checks

    Just a few short decades ago, account holders had to visit their financial institutions in person and wait in line in order to withdraw money or deposit a check. Thanks to ATMs, very few people visit the teller’s window to get cash, and thanks to direct deposit you no longer have to wait in line in order to get funds from checks into your account. Social Security and other federal payments are particularly convenient when delivered by direct deposit. Here’s why:

    Direct Deposit Summary

    Your Benefit Funds Are Available Immediately
    Unlike personal checks, which take time to clear, direct deposit funds post to your account immediately, and you can schedule automatic bill payments based on the date that your benefit checks post so that you’ll never make a late payment again. You also don’t have to wait for the mailman on the day your benefits are due to arrive.

    There Is No Risk of Loss or Theft
    Any time you receive a physical payment, whether it is cash or a check, there is a risk that it may be lost or stolen before you can deposit it to your account.  Social Security payments  no longer come as checks, but as a Direct Express® debit card, which can also be misplaced or stolen.

    You Will Be Paid on a Set Schedule
    Direct deposit makes it easier to plan out your monthly budget, because you can rest assured that the money will be in your bank account by the start of business on the same date every month. You will never have to take time out of your day or go out of your way to visit your credit union—you can just use your debit card or write checks as soon as the money shows up in your account.

    At GCS Credit Union, direct deposit is available to any of our customers with  checking accounts . If you need help setting this service up, call us now at (618) 797-7993 and one of our associates will be glad to help you.

  • A Student’s Guide to Being a Savvy Credit Card User

    Credit cards are a great way for students to build up just enough credit to give them an edge with their post-graduate financing needs. However, caution and discrepancy need to be used at all times, as a simple mistake could easily put you in debt or leave a blemish on your credit. Read on to learn more:

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    Identify Your Needs
    “There’s no free lunch,” the old saying goes, and that certainly holds true with student credit cards.  Credit card funds  are not prepaid cash; they are loans that must be paid back on time. Student credit cards are much better used for smaller purchases, like food, toiletries, or textbooks. This makes it less likely that you will exceed your credit limit, or spend too much and struggle to pay it back.

    Pay on Time and in Full
    Every purchase you make on your credit card and pay back on time goes towards keeping up your credit score, which is essential to securing loans for automobiles, graduate school, and houses. If you fail to pay your bills on time, not only will a mark go on your credit score, but you will also need to pay interest as a penalty. Penalty interest can add up quicker than you might think: if you receive a credit card bill of $200 and only have $150 to put towards it, many companies will charge you interest on the $200–not the $50 shortfall.

    Avoid Opening Multiple Cards
    While getting your first credit card may be exciting, resist the urge to get another. Lenders sometimes get nervous when they see a student with limited income take out too many credit lines, as this can easily result in a huge amount of debt. As such, your second card may come with stiffer penalties such as higher interest rates.

    At GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon, we offer a number of  credit cards designed with students in mind . Our credit lines can easily be adjusted to keep your spending in check, while still helping you build a sparkling credit score. Call us today at (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Retirement Savings Basics: IRA

    One of the most popular ways to save for retirement is by taking out an Individual Retirement Account , or IRA. With IRAs, retirement savers deposit a portion of their yearly salaries (usually up to $5,000) into the account, where it accrues interest without being taxed. These tax benefits come with heavy restrictions and limitations as to what you can and can’t do with the funds. Most notably, you will incur stiff penalties if you withdraw any cash from your IRAs before you reach the age of 59 and a half. There are numerous types of IRAs, including personal accounts, employer-sponsored accounts, those with differing deposit limits, and other variations. Your financial advisor can help you decide which one is best to suit your needs.

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    If you are considering taking out an IRA, make sure to set up an appointment with an advisor at GCS Credit Union. We will be happy to help you analyze your finances and determine which IRA can best help you  meet your retirement needs . Call (618) 797-7993 to schedule your consultation today.

  • ATM Cards vs. Debit Cards

    Many misinformed consumers use the terms “debit card” and “ATM card” almost interchangeably. However, a breakdown of the terms reveals that they are actually quite different.

    This video seeks to clear up the confusion by explaining how ATM and debits cards are different. The only real similarity between the two is the fact that both take funds from your checking account. Their biggest differences can be found in their specific functions. Watch the video to learn more.

    We offer prime  checking accounts  here at GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon, complete with overdraft protection and courtesy pay option. Learn more about how to open a checking account with us by calling (618) 797-7993 today.

  • Closed-End Personal Loan Basics

    When taking out a personal loan, you have several types to choose from. Out of these types, one of the most common and easiest to work with is the “closed-end loan.” All of the specifications and details surrounding a closed-end personal loan —such as the amount being borrowed, interest rate, and timeframe for repayment—are fixed and agreed upon in advance, meaning that as soon as the contract is signed, there is no further negotiation. Closed-end loans are best-suited for one-time expenses, such as medical bills, a single mortgage payment, or a major purchase. Once you have yours, you can expect fixed payments every month, which make it much easier for you to set a budget.

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    We offer a variety of closed-end  personal loans  here at GCS Credit Union, ranging from $500 to $15,000 and at terms suitable for just about any borrower. Best of all, we do not charge any fees! Call our finance team at (618) 797-7993 to start your application today. 

  • What Is Involved with Switching to a Bank to a Credit Union?

    In today’s uncertain economic times, many people are reconsidering their loyalty to banks as their fees and interest rates continue to rise. Credit unions are great alternatives to banks , but many consumers are unaware of what to expect from such a switch. Read on to find out how you can benefit from enrolling with a credit union instead of a bank:

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    Fewer Fees
    Banks engage in many high-risk activities such as bad-credit loans and trading, and these often result in failure. Because of this, banks are constantly looking for new ways to get their customers to cover these losses, including  debit card charges , ATM and overdraft fees, and interest rates as high as 650% on some short-term loans. Credit unions, on the other hand, are not out to make money off of you. From them you can expect reasonable interest rates, minimal fees, and much more flexibility in negotiations.

    Better Customer Service
    Banks deal with huge numbers of customers per day, and unfortunately, many have yet to figure out how to maintain good customer service across such a wide network. Credit unions are much more tightly-knit, community-oriented, and compact. They do not have a shareholder board that they need to impress with consistently higher profits every quarter. This ensures that customers at credit unions will be treated to good service at all times.

    Better Mortgage Terms
    Banks have been very strict about their mortgage lending since the housing bubble burst and subsequent recession back in 2007 and 2008. Credit unions were less affected by the crisis, and continue to offer one coveted benefit that most banks will not even consider: waiving the 1% origination fee, which can lead to thousands of dollars in savings.

    If you are considering switching from a bank to a  reliable credit union , look no further than GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon. Our Switch Kit makes it easy to transfer your accounts and funds over to us and start reaping the benefits right away. Call (618) 797-7993 to speak with a member of our team.

  • What Are the Differences Between Banks and Credit Unions?

    Banks certainly aren’t the most popular financial institutions in America right now, which is why credit unions are reporting major surges in popularity. It is surprising that credit unions are only just receiving this type of notice, as they have long held many significant advantages over banks.

    This video discusses the main differences between banks and credit unions. As the host explains, it comes down to the “three Os”—ownership, objectives, and operations.

    GCS Credit Union offers its customers in the O’Fallon area and beyond all the perks of a credit union that big banks could never offer. To get started transferring your bank accounts over to us, call (618) 797-7993 and ask to  speak with an account representative .

  • Four Reasons to Choose Direct Deposit for Your 2012 Tax Refund

    When tax season comes to a close and refunds are distributed, many people prefer to receive their refunds via snail mail. However, direct deposit is now being offered as a faster alternative to mailed refunds. Learn more about why refunds are best received via direct deposit by reading below:

    Direct Deposit Confirmation

    Convenience
    When you have your refund mailed, you receive a check that must be endorsed and deposited at the bank. Since everyone in the United States receives their refunds at roughly the same time, you can expect to wait in a long line of other refund depositors at the bank. Rather than put yourself through the stress of waiting, you can  have the refund deposited directly  into your account.

    Security
    Every year, the U.S. Post Office returns thousands of refund checks to the IRS as undeliverable mail. Many more are lost or stolen before they ever reach the recipients’ residence. With direct deposit, you never have to worry about your check falling into the wrong hands. Your funds are transferred directly into your account, with no chance of anyone intercepting them.

    Speed
    Sometimes the mail isn’t delivered as fast as you need it, especially when you have to wait for refund checks. You’ll never have to wait anxiously for your mailman again when you sign up for direct deposit. As soon as the IRS processes your funds, you will have instant access through your debit card.

    Options
    The IRS allows you to specify multiple accounts into which you want them to deposit your refund. A paper check would require you to fill out multiple deposit slips at the bank, which is a time-consuming and meticulous task.

    If you live in the O’Fallon area, consider having your 2012 refund placed into a  GCS Credit Union  account. We offer great dividends, exceptional APYs, and access to a friendly staff that can help you with all of your banking and finance needs. Learn more about what we offer by visiting our website or calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Learn More About Your Financial Security by Clicking Through These Links

    GCS Credit Union can help you build financial security. We offer members a wide array of financial services, from checking accounts to auto loans. To find out more about our member benefits, call our O’Fallon, Illinois location at (618) 797-7993.

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