A Look at the Essential Types of Credit Cards

According to NerdWallet, the average American household has about $15,252 of credit card debt—but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Credit cards can help your credit score when used responsibly, but not all of them are the same. The fine print and perks like rewards points, special APR on certain purchases, and even just having an open account for several years can improve your credit score and help you save on everyday expenses. So how do you find a good balance of credit cards without overwhelming yourself with payments? GCS Credit Union is here to help you find out. 

Black woman using credit card and laptop

Rewards Cards

Rewards cards from outlets such as Target or Sam’s Club generally don’t reflect as much on your credit report than cards from a bank or credit union, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t provide you with great savings. These cards generally come with higher interest rates and annual fees, so only use them at stores you frequent for your daily needs to maximize credit rewards .

Bank Credit Cards

Obtaining a credit card from your bank or credit union is a reliable way to build up a solid credit history with a competitive interest rate, plus it’s easier to pay off a balance with a lender that also manages your accounts. Since credit unions are not for profit, they can generally offer more competitive interest rates and exclusive membership benefits.

Low-Interest Card

Even with judicious financial planning, chances are an emergency will come up where you simply don’t have enough flexibility. A low-interest credit card with a low, fixed APR (10% or below) can provide some much-needed breathing room. They aren’t easy to qualify for without a good credit history, but using a portion of your savings or tax return to open a secured credit card can help boost your FICO score.

From responsible financial planning to competitive credit offers, GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, IL has been helping families throughout Illinois get the most out of their savings since 1941. To learn more about our membership advantages, including our low-interest mortgages and auto loans, call (618) 319-8600 or visit us online to find a location nearest you .

What to Do if Your Identity Is Stolen

16.6 million Americans age 16 or older were victims of identity theft in 2012 according the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and losses totaled about $24.7 billion. Identity theft can take months or even years to resolve, making it difficult to open new accounts or credit lines. Below is a brief look at how to prevent identity theft with GCS Credit Union

Identity theft in word tag cloud

Identifying Identity Theft

Identity theft often isn’t as obvious as a few major transactions or several new credit cards under your name; thieves will often charge small, innocuous transactions over a long period of time. Keep track of calls from debt collectors or the IRS, but do not give out personal account info or your Social Security number to anyone over the phone.

Immediate Steps

If you do notice signs of identity theft, it’s important to act immediately. There are three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—but you only have to contact one of them to place a fraud alert on your file (you will have to provide proof of identity in this case). Submitting an identity theft report requires several steps: submit a complaint to the FTC, print out the Identity Theft Affidavit, file a police report, and attach your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to a copy of the police report.

Follow-Up

Order your own up-to-date credit reports—you are legally entitled to one after placing an initial fraud alert—and dispute any errors promptly. Resolving identity theft will take a lot of phone calls and paperwork, so it’s important to keep up with deadlines and submit all necessary requests on time. Create a timeline and keep everything neatly organized, especially original documents. Also log the dates and numbers of each phone call.

GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon, IL takes pride in maintaining long-lasting relationships with our membership through friendly service and expert financial advice. Contact us at (618) 797-7993 to learn more about our financial services and exclusive membership benefits, or visit us online to find a location nearest you in Madison, St. Clair, Jersey, Macoupin, Montgomery, Bond, Clinton, Washington, Randolph, and Monroe counties.

Spotlight on the GCS Prime Time Club

GCS Credit Union is a community of financial experts committed to helping our members get the most out of their savings. To that end, we’ve created the GCS Prime Time Club as one of our many exclusive services.

Spotlight (4 point)

The GCS Prime Time Club is designed to provide our senior members with valuable discounts, bonus rates, and free services. Eligible members who are at least 60 years of age with an open checking account and a minimum deposit of at least $60,000 will automatically receive our prime .25% bonus rate on share savings accounts. We offer free basic checks, teller checks, and notary services to meet all of your financial needs without any hassles or hidden fees. And when you do find yourself away from home, we also cover all foreign ATM fees so that you’ll always have access to your money wherever you are.

GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon, IL has been serving the Madison, Montgomery, Monroe, and the surrounding communities since 1941, and we continue to value our members’ best interests above all else. To find out more about the advantages of banking with GCS Credit Union , follow the link or contact us at (618) 797-7993 with any questions.

GCS Member Discounts

GCS Credit Union has always focused on giving as much to the rest the community as much as possible, which is why we offer a wide range of exclusive benefits to help members save on popular products and services—many of which they already use! This short clip covers just a few discounts available to all of our credit union members.

Every member of GCS Credit Union is eligible to receive discounts through the Invest in America Program. Still haven’t done taxes? Take advantage of discounts on TurboTax to get the refund you deserve, then kick back and relax with discounted DirecTV services. And with even more discounts on Sprint and Dell, back-to-school shopping will be that much easier at the end of summer.

This is just a brief look at our exclusive membership discounts . Follow the link to learn more, or contact us at (618) 797-7993 to find a location nearest you in Madison, St. Clair, Jersey, Macoupin, Montgomery, Bond, Clinton, Washington, Randolph, and Monroe County.

Do You Qualify for Membership with GCS Credit Union?

Approved Loan Application by Mail

There are a lot of benefits of becoming a member of GCS Credit Union. Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for membership within our credit union. In order to join the GCS family, you must live, work, or go to school in the following counties in Illinois: Madison, St. Clair, Jersey, Macoupin, Bon, Clinton, Washington, Randolph, and Monroe. Businesses are eligible for an account so long as they are established in those counties. Members of approved employee groups are eligible for membership, as are members’ spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, brothers, and sisters.

To see if you qualify for membership with GCS Credit Union , visit our website or stop by and see us in O’Fallon, IL today. If you have questions about our financial services or membership in our credit union, call us at (618) 797-7993. 

Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

If you’re ready to say goodbye to public transportation, buy your very own car and enjoy the freedom of going anywhere, anytime. But if you’re a first-time car buyer, the entire process can seem like a daunting task. From finding the right car to applying for auto financing , there are a lot of steps you need to take before you drive away from the dealership in a car of your own. To help streamline the process, and make it a whole lot less scary, here are some tips for buying your first car. 

Woman buying a car

Apply for a Loan

Before you start visiting dealerships or building your dream car online, apply for an auto loan at your credit union to determine how much you will have to spend on a new or used car . If you are not yet a member of a credit union, know that these financial institutions typically offer better rates on car loans than traditional banks. And if you have a troubled financial history, a credit union will be more willing to work with you than a big bank.

Do Your Research

After you get pre-approved for auto financing, go online and start browsing vehicles at dealerships in your area. Knowing how much you have to spend, you can narrow down your search based on price alone. Make a list of 10 vehicles you want most, and read online reviews to learn the ins and outs of each model before you take them for a test drive.

Be Patient

Although you may be anxious to get on the road and enjoy the freedom of owning your very own vehicle, be patient in your search. Don’t purchase the first car you test drive, and don’t always purchase from the first dealership you visit. By shopping around and taking your time, you will be confident that you are getting the best deal on the vehicle you really want.

If you are starting the process of buying your first car, GCS Credit Union can help. Located in O’Fallon, IL, we offer great rates on auto loans for our members . To learn more about our auto financing rates, visit our credit union or call us at (618) 797-7993. 

Membership Benefits at GCS Credit Union

It pays to be a member at GCS Credit Union. No, really, it does! In addition to the personal service and outstanding rates we offer, our members have access to tons of great discounts with the Invest in America program. As a member, you’ll save money on FTD, TurboTax, Dell, Shop America, and more. Listen to this short clip to hear about these benefits and how you can take advantage of these and other discounts. 

If you’re ready to ditch your bank and join our credit union, call us today at (618) 797-7993. You can also visit our website to learn more about our financial products and services, including auto loans and checking accounts. You can also visit our branch in O’Fallon, IL if you have any questions for us. 

How to Teach Your Teenager About Money Management

You’re smart with your money; you stick to a budget, you pay off your bills on time, and you belong to a local credit union . If you have teenagers, they probably don’t manage their money quite as well as you do. To set up your children for a lifetime of financial success and independence, take time to teach them how to be smarter about money. Here are a few ways to make sure that your teenagers learn the lesson about money management. 

Young people putting money in piggy bank

Put Them on a Budget

Instead of putting $20 bills in your teen’s hand when he or she walks out the door, give them a weekly or monthly allowance and teach them how to limit their spending and live within a budget. Be prepared to say no when your teenager asks for more money after they spend all of the allowance. This is a great teaching experience, as they will learn what happens in the real world when spend over your limit each month.

Reward Them for Saving

Talk to your children about the benefits of paying themselves. Start by recommending that your children put away at least 10 percent of any money they earn from work. If your teen doesn’t have a part-time job, recommend instead putting away 10 percent of the allowance each week. Tell your child that you will match his or her contributions each month to hammer home the benefits of saving for a rainy day. 

Warn Them About Excessive Debt

Nearly everyone has debt, but there is a point where enough is enough. Be straightforward with your teenagers about the dangers of carrying excessive debt, and explain to them how difficult it can be to repay high-interest credit cards or auto loans.

If you want your children to be smart with their money, start by being smarter with yours. GCS Credit Union is a full-service, member-owned credit union in O’Fallon, IL. We can help you and your teens plan for a successful financial future. To learn more about our credit union , please call us at (618) 797-7993.