• Understanding Your Credit Report

    Your credit report is a snapshot of your financial history. It’s an important document that is used to create your credit score, which is then used to determine your credit worthiness in a number of different settings.

    Watch this video to learn about what is on your credit report and how that information is used. The information on your report shows how you handled all of your financial accounts for the past seven to 10 years. It can be used by your credit union, other lenders, rental companies, insurance companies, and much more. 

    GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, IL will use your credit report when you apply for credit cards and loans . If you’re concerned about your score or interested in tips for improving it, talk to one of our credit union’s financial experts. Call us today at (618) 797-7993 to learn more about our services. 

  • What Teens Need to Know about Credit Scores

    Credit scores may seem like a distant concern for teens, but in reality, the time to start learning about them is now. By teaching your teens about credit, you can help them prepare for a healthy financial future. At GCS Credit Union, our representatives are here to help you support good financial habits in your teens. Here are some things teenagers should learn now about credit scores

    Shopper with credit card

    Credit Scores Matter

    Start by conveying the importance of credit scores to your teens. Let them know all of the different ways your credit score affects your life, from your credit cards to auto financing. Help them understand that credit scores can stand in the way of making big purchases, like a new car, and that they can make borrowing much more expensive.

    Building Credit Takes Time

    Make sure your teens understand that they don’t start with a high credit score that is then impacted over time by how they use credit. People with no credit are usually granted a mid-range credit score and then must use credit wisely if they want to increase their score. Talk to your teen about strategies for slowly building credit so that they are in a good position when they are ready to make a big purchase. Using a credit card wisely, paying bills on time, and having another form of credit, like an installment loan, can help establish credit history .

    Mistakes Can Haunt You

    Just as it takes time to build good credit, it takes time to erase credit slip-ups. Make sure your teens understand that something as simple as paying a bill a little late can follow them for the next seven to 10 years by dragging their credit scores down.

    Use the financial tools at GCS Credit Union to help your teens learn to manage money. From our checking accounts and debit cards to our auto loans, our credit union has financial products to support healthy money habits. Get more information by calling our credit union in O’Fallon, IL at (618) 797-7993. 

  • Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?

    Refinancing is something most homeowners consider at some point during the life of their mortgage. If you refinance at the right time, you could save a significant amount of money. This video explains more. 

    Mortgage refinancing can save you money in a few different ways. One is to shorten the life of your loan. Cutting a 30-mortgage to a 15-year one could save you tens of thousands of dollars. You can also save money by rolling debt consolidation into your refinancing.

    At GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, IL, we can walk you through the pros and cons of refinancing your mortgage and help you make the best financial decision for you. Be sure to also ask about our credit union’s other financial products , including auto financing and debit cards. Call us today at (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Mortgages

    Selecting a home mortgage is likely to be the biggest financial decision you will make during your life. It is essential to understand the terms of your mortgage so you can make smart decisions about managing it. At GCS Credit Union, we offer competitive loans on our mortgages and are always available to answer members’ questions about their loans. Here is a look at some of the questions we hear most often. 

    finance concept

    What Exactly Is a Mortgage?

    “Mortgage” is simply a term for a loan given to purchase property. Mortgages are used by private homebuyers as well as commercial buyers to finance the large purchase price of properties. Mortgages generally have longer repayment periods than other types of loans—usually 15 or 30 years. There are two main types of mortgages: fixed-rate and adjustable . With fixed-rate mortgages, your interest rate is locked in for the life of your loan, unless you refinance. Adjustable-rate mortgages have rates that periodically fluctuate over the course of the loan.

    What Do Credit Unions Consider When Approving Mortgages?

    Many different factors go into approving mortgages, including your credit score, income, and employment. Mortgage lenders look for clients who have high credit scores and reliable employment with a stable income that is high enough to comfortably cover the cost of the monthly mortgage payments. All of these factors will also influence the size of mortgage you can get and the interest rate you will pay on your loan.

    How Do I Apply for a Mortgage?

    The best way to start the mortgage process is to sit down with a representative at your credit union to discuss the application and find out exactly what you will need. Most lenders require tax records, proof of income, and other financial and personal documents. It may also help to check your credit score so you know exactly where you stand.

    Make an appointment with a mortgage representative at GCS Credit Union to get started on your mortgage application today. Our O’Fallon, IL credit union has a full range of financial services, from checking accounts to auto loans. Find out more by calling (618) 797-7993. 

  • How to Use Your Personal Line of Credit

    If you need additional money, but would like more flexibility than a personal loan provides, a personal line of credit could be the answer. Your line of credit will be a pre-approved amount your credit union has agreed to let you borrow that you can access and pay on as you see fit. Draw money when you need it and work on paying it down when you don’t. A personal line of credit offers true financial freedom. 

    Lock and credit card

    With your line of credit, your credit union will make a specific amount available to you, but won’t pay it out in a lump sum like a loan. You can use as much or as little of that money as you want, up to the full amount. You then make monthly repayments. You can never borrow more than your pre-approved amount, but you can borrow from and repay your line of credit multiple times.

    Find out which of GCS Credit Union’s loan products is right for you by talking to a representative at one of our O’Fallon, IL credit union locations . For more information, call (618) 797-7993.

  • Say Goodbye to Budget Concerns with These Savings Tips

    Sticking to a budget can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple, painless tricks you can use to take control of your budget without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. GCS Credit Union offers a long list of financial products that can help you manage your spending and savings. Here are some tips to help you say goodbye to money worries as painlessly as possible. 

    Making your money grow

    Set Up Automatic Savings

    When your paycheck hits your checking account, the urge to spend it can be strong, even if you intend to move part of the money to savings. Before you know it, you could end up going through your money before that transfer to savings actually happens. To prevent this, consider having a portion of your pay automatically deposited into your savings account . If the money never enters your checking account, you won’t miss it, and your savings will likely grow faster than they would if you tried to manage your own transfers.

    Slow Down on Impulse Buys

    Impulse purchases can quickly drain your funds. If you see an item you want, give yourself a cooling-off period before you buy it. If, after waiting a few hours or even a few days, you still really want the item and it can fit into your budget, purchase it. If you realize that you don’t really need the item, you’ll have saved yourself from mindless spending. Remember that small impulse buys add up. That cup of coffee might not seem like much money, but treat yourself a few times a week, and that spending will quickly pile up.

    Give Yourself Some Breathing Room

    Unexpected expenses can rock your budget, so try to insulate yourself from the shock. In addition to your savings, leave yourself a cushion in your checking account that can be used to cover these surprise expenses.

    At GCS Credit Union, our checking accounts , loans, and savings accounts are all designed to help our members achieve financial stability. Our representatives are here to help you build a better financial future. Find out more by calling us in O’Fallon, IL at (618) 797-7993. 

  • How to Financially Prepare for Your Child’s Future

    There’s no getting around it—kids are expensive, and their needs only increase as the years go on. That is why the time for preparation is now. It’s never too early to start financially preparing for your child’s future, and GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, IL can offer the help you need. Here are some tips for making smart financial decisions now that will pay dividends in your child’s future. 

    Saving is fun if you think of your goal

    Reconsider Saving in Your Child’s Account

    Creating a savings account for your child is a good way to teach him or her about the importance of putting money aside, but don’t make your child’s account the place where you save money for his or her future education expenses. Having a large amount of money in savings could impact your child’s ability to get financial aid for college. Use your child’s savings account for smaller amounts that you can use as a teaching tool.

    Try a 529

    529 college savings accounts work similarly to IRAs. They allow parents to save money tax-free for education expenses using a number of investment options. You can be aggressive with investments when your child is young to go after big returns, and then shift to more conservative investments when college time is drawing near. Because this money belongs to the parents, it doesn’t have the same impact on financial aid qualification as saving the same amount of money in an account in the child’s name.

    Resist Trying to Trick the System

    Some parents erroneously believe that if they don’t save at all for college, their child will get the maximum amount of financial aid. In reality, parental income plays a large role in financial aid, so even if you don’t have savings, you’ll still be expected to make tuition contributions.

    The financial counseling services at GCS Credit Union can help you devise a strategy for saving for your child’s future. We can also help guide your financial decisions, from applying for auto financing to getting credit cards. Set up an appointment with a representative to learn more about our products and services by calling our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-7993.