• Understanding the Real Impact of Student Loans on Your Credit Score

    Student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the U.S., and more people are defaulting than ever before. Student loans impact your credit score differently than other kinds of debt, so it is important to understand the ramifications before you borrow.

    This video explains the impact of student loans on your credit score. Each individual loan you take out over the course of your education appears separately on your report, which can have a negative impact on your score. Student loans can’t be discharged during bankruptcy and are subject to special reporting rules that keep negative information about your loan repayment history on your report for longer than other kinds of debt.

    GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, IL is here to help you make smart financial decisions about paying for your education.  Find out more about our credit union services  by calling (618) 797-7993. 

  • Excellent Reasons to Have and Use a Credit Card

    When it comes to credit cards , you may have heard story after story about credit card debt and what credit cards can do to your credit score. In reality, credit cards are not all bad news. There are some great reasons to have a credit card and even better reasons to use it. If you’ve been considering applying for a credit card, consider these benefits of having plastic in your pocket.

    Credit card background

    It Can Improve Your Credit
    Yes, credit cards can  improve your credit score . It all comes down to using them responsibly. A big part of your credit score is your credit-to-debt ratio. This figure is the amount of credit you have available to use versus the amount of credit you are currently using. The more credit you have in your name, the better your credit score will be. It’s true that having a lot of credit and using it all will drag down your score, but you can open a credit card, use it sparingly, pay off your bill each month, and reap the rewards.

    You Get Bonuses
    When you need to make purchases, why not get rewarded for doing so? Many credit cards come with reward programs, from cashback bonuses on purchases to airline points you can use to buy tickets. If you make a purchase with your credit card and then pay it off right away, you won’t pay any more than if you had used your debit card, but you’ll get a little more bang for your buck.

    Some Purchases Require Credit Cards
    Even though your debit card may look like a credit card, it doesn’t always act like one. Rental car companies and hotels in particular require credit cards. In some cases, these companies will accept your debit card, but they may pre-authorize your account for hundreds of dollars to be sure the money is there to cover any potential damage to the car or room. That can put a big dent in your vacation spending money.

    GCS Credit Union  can help you find a credit card with a great interest rate and explain how to use it responsibly. We also offer debit cards, auto financing, and much more. Call our O’Fallon credit union today at (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • How Does Direct Deposit Work?

    If you do all your banking with a friendly neighborhood credit union, opening an account or depositing a check can actually be fun. However, like most people, you probably want to avoid the hassle of long lines whenever you can.

    If you have a checking or savings account with GCS Credit Union, you can save yourself a trip by opting for direct deposit. Rather than getting your check from your employer and depositing it yourself, you can have your employer deposit it straight into your account with. Activating direct deposit isn’t just fast and convenient; it also eliminates the risk of checks getting lost in the mail. Also, since your checks pass through fewer hands, direct deposit allows you to enjoy a higher level of financial privacy.

    Electronic bank account

    If you have any further questions about debit cards, checking accounts, or direct deposit, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. If you live in or around O’Fallon, IL, allow us to take care of all your banking needs—including  auto loans , home loans, and retirement accounts.   

  • What You Need to Know Before Purchasing Your First Home

    If you’re tired of renting and are ready to start building equity, it’s time you had a conversation with your credit union about investing in real estate . Before you get serious about the home-buying process, you should discover common mistakes made by first-time homeowners and how to avoid them. Here are a few important things you should know when looking for a home:  

    Hands with keys- Handing over the keys -

    What Kind of Home You Want
    When you start the home-buying process, you will likely have an image of the ideal home in your mind. Though you won’t find a property that exactly matches the home of your dreams, you should find something with similar qualities. Make a list of all the must-have features—i.e. good school nearby, 3 bedrooms, backyard—and only look at homes that fit the bill. As you tour potential homes, be sure to keep location in mind.

    What You Can Afford
    While it would be nice to buy a home that satisfies all your requirements, it’s important to  be realistic about what you can afford . Before you start looking, work closely with a real estate professional and decide on a price range. Remember to factor insurance, taxes, utilities, and maintenance into the total cost of ownership. Knowing your price range will narrow the scope of your search and prevent you from the disappointing realization that you can’t afford a certain property.  

    How You’ll Handle Financing
    If you’re like most first-time homebuyers, you can’t afford to pay cash for a home. To give yourself a head start in the home-buying process, you should consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage and discussing your financing options with your lender. You should decide how much you can pay in down payment, whether you want a 15 or 30-year mortgage, and whether you want a fixed or adjustable rate.

    GCS Credit Union  can answer all your home-buying questions and help you realize your dream of becoming a homeowner. We can also help you buy a new car with our auto financing services, or provide basic banking services—checking accounts, savings accounts, etc. Call us at (618) 797-7993 or visit our website to find out more. 

  • Make Home Buying Easier by Downloading This App for Your Android Device

    Buying a home is no easy feat, and finding a home is even trickier. If you’re trying to find the home you want your kids to grow up in, you’ll need all the help you can get.

    One great way to start your house hunt is to download the Real Estate & Homes app by Trulia. This app allows you to adjust search filters so you can easily find homes that fit your criteria. It also allows you to save certain properties, find open houses, and even calculate a mortgage estimate.


    Once you find your dream home, GCS Credit Union will help you finance it. We can also help with  auto financing , retirement accounts, and other banking services. Call us at (618) 797-7993 for help securing your finances.  


  • Insider Tips for Buying a New Car

    Buying a car is a notoriously difficult process. You may need to test drive a dozen or more vehicles before you settle on the right one; then, it’s time to negotiate a fair price with your dealer. To avoid being taken advantage of, you should work with your local credit union and familiarize yourself with a few insider tricks:

    Happy couple near new car

    Sell Your Old Car Yourself
    Many dealerships will offer to trade in your old car and use its value to help defray the cost of your new vehicle. While trading in your vehicle may be convenient, it’s unlikely that your dealer will honor the vehicle’s full market price. To get the most out of your old vehicle, experts recommend selling the vehicle yourself, then using all or some of the money for a down payment on your new vehicle. 

    Research Vehicle Value
    Dealerships sell vehicles for slightly more than their retail price in order to make a profit. Some dealerships assign a sticker price that is well beyond the vehicle’s invoice with the hope that the consumer will pay full price and be none the wiser. To avoid falling into this trap, you should research the precise market value of the vehicle you wish to buy. You might negotiate for $200 above the invoice price and work on an agreement from there.  

    Seek Financing Elsewhere
    If you can’t buy the vehicle outright, don’t finance with the dealership. Even if you negotiate a great initial price, the dealership may try to stick you with a high-interest auto loan. To find an interest rate you can live with, you should get an  auto loan from a third-party lender . A local credit union is a great choice, as large corporate banks, like dealerships, are out to make a profit.

    To learn all about fair and easy auto financing, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. Our O’Fallon credit union is dedicated to providing straightforward and reasonable banking services—from checking accounts to retirement planning.  Visit our website  to find out what we can do for you and your family.

  • Why Your Money Is Safer at a Credit Union

    With the recent global financial collapse still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s no wonder that so many people are hesitant to do business with large corporate banks. If you count yourself among them, you should consider opening a checking or savings account with a credit union .

    GCS Credit Union doesn’t gamble with your money. We don’t participate in sub-prime mortgage lending or put vast amounts of money into commercial loan ventures. Even if another financial crisis were to occur, you can rest assured that all your accounts are insured for up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Also, credit unions like GCS are more closely regulated than banks; each year, federal examiners and accountants take a thorough look at our practices to make sure we’re providing our O’Fallon clients with the best banking services possible.

    money 12

    If you’re ready to make the switch to a credit union, come by  GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon, IL . Your money is safe with us, whether you put it in a checking account, savings account, or retirement account. Call us at (618) 797-7993 to learn more.  

  • Helping Your College Student Follow a Budget

    College provides numerous opportunities for young adults—perhaps the most important of which is learning to live independently. As a parent, you should do your best to let your student take control of their own life; still, there’s nothing wrong with providing sound advice every once in a while. Here are a few tips for helping your college student stay on solid financial ground :

    college student smiling

    Encourage Dorm Room Cooking
    One of the biggest expenses of college life comes from meals out and cups of coffee between classes. Instead of allowing your student spend hundreds of dollars at restaurants, give them the tools they need to make delicious meals at home. Together with a modest meal plan, a microwave oven, a crockpot, and a coffee maker can  help your student save a ton each month

    Beware the Dangers of Credit Cards
    Having your college student get and use a credit card is great for building credit, but credit card use can easily get out of hand. Some college students see credit as “free money,” and use their cards irresponsibly. Once your student starts using a credit card, have a discussion about credit card debt and encourage your student to pay off the full balance each month.

    Find Transportation Alternatives
    While it may be nice for your student to have the freedom of their own vehicle, the cost of gas, maintenance, parking, and insurance can take a huge bite out of their budget. Instead, you might get your student a new bike or offer to pay for public transportation. If your student must have a vehicle, opt for a small, fuel-efficient model.

    Another great way to help your college student take care of their finances is to have them forge a great relationship with their credit union. At GCS Credit Union, we’re always eager to help college students with checking accounts, auto loans, and other important banking services. Have your college student  contact our O’Fallon office  at (618) 797-7993 or visit our website to find out more about debit cards, credit cards, and personal loans.