• What Students Need to Know About Opening Their First Checking Account

    A first checking account is a great opportunity for students to learn about fiscal responsibility and smart money management. At GCS Credit Union, we offer a Student Success Account Package , which includes both a checking account and a savings account for students aged 14-23. These accounts feature a number of benefits, including a personalized debit card and rewards for things like getting straight As for the school year. If you’re a student considering your first checking account, here is what you need to know.

    Not all checking accounts are created equal.

    Before you open an account, it is important to review the benefits of all of the accounts offered by your credit union to determine which one is the best choice for you. Depending on your age, you may be limited to a certain kind of account that requires your parents to share ownership, but if you are over 18, you can likely choose any account that is offered. Be sure to pick an account that offers you the most benefits for the lowest fee. For instance, if you can’t maintain a specific minimum balance, look for a no-frills, free account.

    Checking accounts require proactive management.

    Even if your debit card has a credit card logo on it, you cannot spend money you don’t have in your checking account without consequences. If you write a check or complete a debit card transaction without enough money in your account, you will be charged overdraft fees, which can be costly. To use a checking account, you have to be proactive about checking your spending and deposits and knowing exactly how much money you have before making any transactions.

    Transactions don’t always clear immediately.

    Using online banking is a great way to see your checking account balance, but you should always track spending and deposits using a paper ledger or app to have an idea of your true balance. Because checks and transactions may not clear right away, it could look like you have more money than you really do when you check your balance.

    GCS Credit Union is invested in helping our young members build healthy financial habits. You can learn more about our checking accounts in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Setting Personal Savings Goals

    Many people dread the thought of saving money as much as they do going on a diet because it sounds like it is about deprivation. In reality, saving is just a way to leverage your money so that it gets you the things you really want. How much money should be going into your credit union savings account each month? Watch this video to learn more.

    There is no specific amount that everyone should save. The amount depends on your personal goals. Decide what is important to you and how much money you need to put aside to achieve. You can reach those goals by cutting out spending on things that aren’t adding any value to your life. You may be surprised by how easy it is to cut mindless spending.

    At GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon , our savings and checking accounts and other credit union products are designs to help you reach your financial goals. Find out more about how we can help you by calling (618) 797-7993 today.

  • A Quick Look at Home Equity Loans

    If you have a major expense you need to finance, the solution could be as close as your home. Every time you make a mortgage payment to your credit union, you build up equity in your house. This equity can be converted into a loan with friendly terms that you can use for big purchases, without touching your savings account.

    Home equity loans can be offered as a single lump sum payment, or they can be offered as a line-of-credit, or HELOC, which you can use a little at a time for long-term projects. With favorable terms and tax-deductible interest, a home equity loan could be the perfect way to cover the costs of a wedding, tuition, home improvement project, or other major expense.

    If you’re interested in learning more about home equity loans and other lending options, contact GCS Credit Union. We’re pleased to offer a complete range of banking services, from checking accounts and auto loans to online banking and credit cards. Find out more about our credit union in O’Fallon today by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Comparing Money Market and Savings Accounts

    Once you’ve decided to make saving money a priority, you have to choose the right type of account to help you reach your goals. Two common types of accounts that credit unions offer are money market accounts and traditional savings accounts. Both offer benefits to savers, so the trick is picking the right account for your needs. Here is a closer look at these common saving accounts to help you choose the best one for you.

    Money Market Accounts

    A money market account is a specific type of savings account. The benefit of a money market account is that it typically offers a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. It also usually comes with the ability to write checks directly from the account, unlike a traditional savings account. The trade-off is that there is usually a minimum balance to open the account, and you have to maintain a higher balance to avoid fees. A money market account is still insured in the same way it is in a traditional savings account.

    Traditional Savings Account

    Traditional savings accounts typically don’t require any minimum balance to open, and they either have no minimum balance requirements or have very small requirements. The trade-off with this kind of savings account is that it usually pays lower interest rates than a money market account.

    Choosing an Account

    Is a money market account or savings account right for you? There is no one-size-fits-all solution. If you are able to open your account with a larger balance and maintain that balance, then you could reap the rewards of the higher interest rate of a money market account. Alternatively, if you have a smaller amount of money, you could avoid fees while earning interest, albeit in a lesser amount, by having a traditional savings account. For most people, the right kinds of savings products change throughout their lives.

    Let the committed financial experts at GCS Credit Union help you make the right choices about savings accounts, checking accounts, and much more. You can learn more about all of our credit union accounts in O’Fallon and get information about becoming a member by calling (618) 797-7993.