• The Top Five Factors That Contribute to Your Credit Score

    factors contributing to credit score

    Whether you like it or not, playing the credit score game is sometimes necessary to get the things that you want in life. Even if you have enough money to make major purchases like a home or car, your credit score is actually a bigger factor than whether or not you can afford them. The good news is that even if your credit score isn’t high enough now, there are some things you can do to boost it up. In order to learn how to improve your credit score, you need to know which five factors contribute to that credit score the most.

    Payment History – 35%

    Making all your payments on time every month is the most important thing you can do to improve your credit score. The good news is that it’s easy to do as long as you have the money, but the bad news is that it takes time to build up your score by paying on time. Some ways to make sure you pay on time include automatic bill pay and/or using a detailed budget. If you think a payment may be late, contact your creditor to try to work out an arrangement. Over time your score will improve based on making on-time payments.

    Credit Utilization – 30%

    Your credit utilization ratio is defined as the amount of credit you’ve used vs. the amount you have available. That means that if you have a credit card with a limit of $5,000 and a balance of $500, you’re using 10% of your available credit on that particular account. The best way to increase your score in this area is to pay down your debts so you have more available credit. Another trick is to request an increase on your credit lines so that you have more available to you and can lower your utilization ratio. This means asking for more credit without actually using it.

    Length of Credit History – 15%

    Like your payment history, the best way to build up the length of your credit history is simply by playing the waiting game. You may not want to close your oldest credit account which is factored in as well as the average age of each of your accounts. Paying off the balance of a relatively new account and closing it can help your credit utilization and shouldn’t hurt, and may actually help, the average length of your credit history.

    Credit Mix – 10%

    Your credit mix score benefits from having a diverse mix of open accounts including credit cards, a mortgage, an auto loan, etc. Just be sure you don’t go crazy opening new accounts because this is only 10% of your credit score, and too many inquiries may hurt you (see next entry).

    Inquiries – 10%

    The amount of new accounts that have been opened, or applied for, in the last six to 12 months makes up 10% of your credit score. Avoid applying for too many new accounts in a short period of time. You can try asking for an increase on your line of credit on an existing credit card rather than opening a new one, for example.

    GCS Credit Union is here to help you improve your credit score. We invite you to become a member and meet with one of our representatives who can help you with a customized solution. Just give us a call at (618) 797-7993 today to get started.

  • Four Brilliant Money Moves to Make in Your 30s

    saving money in your 30's

    Getting your finances in order has always been a good idea, but it wasn’t until the debut of Cardi B that “makin’ money moves” became a thing. While she may have ended up being a one-hit wonder, making brilliant money moves during your 30s is something that positively impacts you for the rest of your life. Now’s the time to get your financial house in order to propel you to wealth and security during your 40’s and beyond.

    Getting Out of Debt

    If you’re still in debt, it’s time to get serious about cleaning up the mess. The good news is that you’re not alone, the average 30-something in America has about $40,000 worth of debt. A lot of that debt comes from student loans, which is a hot button issue for the 2020 presidential election. Credit card debt is also a serious issue in America and is one of the biggest obstacles in growing your wealth. The average interest rate on credit cards is 16.7% which means you’re paying way too much to rent money.

    One effective way to get out of debt is to make a list of all your debts from smallest to largest and work the snowball method. That means paying off your smallest debt first and paying the minimum on all the rest. Once the first debt is paid off, you can now apply what you were paying on that debt to the next smallest until that one is eliminated, and so forth. Continue to do this until you’ve paid off all your credit cards, student loan, auto debts, etc. You don’t need to pay off your mortgage, but if you can, that’s always a plus. Another way to help manage and get out of debt is a consolidation loan from GCS Credit Union.

    Cleaning Up Your Credit

    Somewhere along the line, someone decided to create credit scores to determine how worthy you are to borrow more money. The problem is, one of the only ways to increase your credit is to borrow more money, which doesn’t help you get out of debt. The first thing you should do is to sign up for a free credit report and score and then enroll in a credit monitoring service. Assess the damages and report any incorrect information to the major credit bureaus. If you don’t have enough open accounts you can open a credit card through GCS Credit Union, even if you don’t plan on using it (be sure to pay off the balance each month if you do use it). Paying down your open credit card balances will also raise your credit score so the previous tip for getting out of debt can also help you here.

    Building Your Emergency Fund

    Once you’ve paid off your debts and cleaned up your credit, the next step is to build up your emergency fund. Hopefully, you already have something in there, but if not, it’s not too late. Some experts claim you should have three to six months’ worth of expenses saved, but others recommend up to a year’s worth. More than 60% of Americans don’t have enough to cover an unexpected $1,000 emergency, so you can see why this is so important. The fewer payments you have, the easier it is to squirrel away money. A savings or money market account from GCS Credit Union are great places to save money so you can access it in case of an emergency while accruing interest.

    Planning for the Long Term

    Your 30s is the time that you’re supposed to be all grown up, and that means planning for your future. Getting out of debt, having a good credit score, and building an emergency fund are all good steps to take. After that, it’s time to focus on your future which includes making retirement plans and investing your money wisely. If your company offers a 401(k) match, you should take advantage of that as much as you can. Owning a home can be a good investment in your future as can increasing your income by advancing your career. It may be a good time to adjust your insurance coverage including adding life insurance to take care of your family after you’re gone.

    If you’re in your 30s it’s time to get serious and make money moves to get you where you want to be in the next decade and beyond. GCS Credit Union can help you get to where you want to go and get your finances in order. Visit your nearest location or give us a call today at (618) 797-7993, we would be happy to discuss all your options with you.

  • Can Closing a Checking or Savings Account Hurt Your Credit?


    Because checking accounts and savings accounts are not credit accounts, closing them will not impact your credit. However, keep in mind that closed banking accounts may show up on banking reports, so your closed account could impact your future ability to open new accounts.

    GCS Credit Union is committed to helping all of our members understand credit and other parts of managing their finances effectively, so that they can reach their goals. To learn more, contact our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-799.

  • The 411 on Your Credit Score

    Your credit score has an enormous impact on your ability to get approved for loans and credit and the interest rates you’ll pay. Despite the fact that credit scores are so important, many consumers are confused about what they mean and how they are calculated. When you are a credit union member , you always have access to financial advice to help you understand your credit score and what you can do to improve it. Here is a look at the basic information you need to know about your credit score.

    What is a credit score?

    Your credit score is a three digit number that is calculated based on your past financial behavior. Lenders use it to determine the likelihood that you will repay loans or manage credit cards responsibly. If your credit score is low, you may struggle to get approved for things like auto loans or mortgages. The higher your score is, the more likely you are to get good interest rates on loans and other financial products. Scores range from 500 to 850.

    How are scores calculated?

    Credit scores are calculated based on a number of pieces of information about your past financial management that is contained in your credit report. The most important factor in your credit score is the number of late payments you have on your report, followed by how much debt you currently have. Other factors that are considered when calculating your credit score include the mix of credit types you have, the length of your credit history, and how many new accounts or requests for credit checks you have made.

    How can I keep a good score?

    The best way to keep a good credit score is to pay your bills on time. You should also aim to keep your credit card balances to less than 30% of your total available credit. Avoid applying for new credit that you don’t need.

    At GCS Credit Union, we’re committed to the financial health of the members of our credit union in O’Fallon. If you need help managing your credit, make an appointment to talk to one of our team and find out about our credit and loan services, including our Visa Reward credit card . Contact our credit union today by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Paying Down Credit Card Debt

    Outstanding credit card debit may hang over your head and weigh you down; it can also make it difficult to get favorable rates on auto and home mortgage loans. Watch this video clip for tips on paying down credit card debt.

    Debt can be overwhelming, but handling it the right way can help you come out on top. If your credit cards carry different interest rates, consider paying off the ones with higher rates first; this will allow you to save some money as you work on paying off your cards with lower rates.

    If you would like additional tips on paying down credit card debt, contact GCS Credit Union or visit our website. Our credit union in O’Fallon is happy to offer a plethora of services including home mortgage loans and online checking accounts. Give us a call at (618) 797-7993 to learn more about us today.

  • Reaping the Benefits of a Personal Loan

    Although it is not always preferred, borrowing money makes sense in many different cases. Before heading to your credit union to apply for a personal loan, it is a good idea to think about what you might use it for. Keep reading to see how you can reap the benefits of a personal loan.

    Getting Out of Debt

    A personal loan can be extremely helpful when it comes to getting out of debt. Living in debt can be crippling; it can prevent you from getting favorable interest rates or even qualifying for loans, and it can make it difficult to keep food on the table while paying off your lenders. Fortunately a personal loan can help you break free from your debt. Since these loans typically feature fixed repayment periods, you can rest assured that you will be debt-free once you have finished your monthly payments.

    Improving Your Credit Score

    Your credit score is important for a number of reasons, and it is often used to determine the interest rates that a lender can offer you. Incurring more and more debt and making late payments can hurt your credit score, which can then leave you with little flexibility when it comes to interest rates on loans. A low credit score may even keep you from obtaining a mortgage. You can use your personal loan to build your credit by making your payments on time.

    Saving Your Funds

    There are plenty of ways a personal loan can help you save money in the long run, but what can it do for you in the short term? You might be able to refinance a steep interest rate using your personal loan, allowing you to pay a smaller total and still end up with zero debt.

    If you would like to learn more about what you can do with a personal loan, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. Our credit union in O’Fallon specializes in a multitude of services from auto and home mortgage loans to online banking and bill paying. Visit our website to learn more about us.

  • Are You Ready for Your First Credit Card?

    Just like your first car or your first night out without a curfew, a Visa rewards credit card can offer you a new sense of freedom. However, this freedom must be used responsibly. Read on if you are wondering if you are ready for your first credit card.

    When used properly, your first credit card can help you build credit and prove your trustworthiness and reliability. When used improperly, on the other hand, it may get your credit started on the wrong foot. Having a credit card means regularly paying off your debts, and you must have a steady source of income in order to make these payments. You may be ready for your first credit card if you already have experience in making regular payments; the process is similar to paying towards your cell phone bills, monthly rent, or student loans.

    Does it feel like it is time for your first credit card? Call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993 so we can set you up with a Visa rewards credit card. We also offer checking accounts and auto loans in O’Fallon. Feel free to visit our website or stop in and meet with us for more information.

  • Signs a Home Equity Loan Is Right for You

    Financing a home addition may be difficult if you have nothing but your checking account to work with. If you own your home and work together with your credit union , however, this type of financing may be right for you. Here are a few signs that a home equity loan is right for you.

    You Own Your Home

    If you want to celebrate the fact that you own your home by adding a new pool, deck, or other home addition, you might be able to use your house itself in order to finance the project. As a homeowner you can talk to your credit union about securing a home equity loan, which is like a mortgage except it is not intended to pay for your house. Instead, you receive a check from your credit union with a fixed interest rate and term that you can use for anything you want. This means that your new pool or deck may suddenly become affordable.

    You Have a Single Expense

    New pools and decks are examples of singular expenses, and these one-time purchases may warrant the use of a home equity loan. If you had something else in mind that might require a series of payments, you might be better off with a home equity line of credit rather than a home equity loan. With the single payment that your home equity loan offers, you can spend it and start paying it off immediately.

    Your Credit Is Subpar

    A home equity loan considers your home collateral, so factors like credit score and history are not as important as they are when it comes to getting a mortgage. As long as you have your home appraised and prove your income, you can overcome a shaky credit history and obtain the funds you need.

    For more signs a home equity loan is right for you, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. Our credit union in O’Fallon is committed to providing online checking accounts, home mortgage loans, and a range of other services. Feel free to visit our website for more information about our credit union today.

  • Tips for Managing Your Credit Score

    Your credit score is just a three-digit number, but it can have a huge impact on your life. Whether you have good credit, bad credit, or no credit at all, it’s important that you take steps now to manage your credit score going forward. How well you take care of your credit score now will affect many important aspects of your life later on, such as your ability to get an affordable auto loan or home mortgage loan in O’Fallon . These tips will help you take control of your credit for good.

    Tips for Managing Your Credit Score Monitor Your Credit Report
    According to a recent study by Credit.com, approximately half of all people with a credit report have never seen it or had not looked at it for more than a year. If you want to take control of your credit score, you need to start by monitoring your credit report more closely. You are entitled to one free copy of your report annually, and there are services that allow you to track and monitor your credit report in real time for a small monthly fee.

    Limit Your Credit Usage
    The more credit you use, the riskier you look in the eyes of creditors. To effectively manage your credit score, try to limit your credit usage as much as possible. This means you should pay in cash whenever possible and reserve your credit card for emergencies or purchases that you intend to aggressively pay back. The lower your debt-to-income ratio, the higher your credit score will usually be.

    Stay on Top of Monthly Payments
    One of the easiest ways to manage your credit score is to pay all of your debt obligations on time and in full each month. Creditors will report late payments and nonpayment to the various credit bureaus, which will end up on your credit report and may lower your score as a result.

    GCS Credit Union offers all of the tools you need to take control of your finances. We can also help you secure a competitive rate on a personal loan or credit card if you’re in the process of rebuilding your credit. To learn more about our member services, visit any one of our branches or call us at (618) 797-7993. You can also visit our website to see our current loan rates.

  • What Goes on Your Credit Score?

    If you are looking to apply for a home mortgage or auto loan in O’Fallon, you will want to check your credit score first. Better scores can lead to more favorable loans. Watch this video to find out what goes on your credit score.

    Paying your bills on time leads to a higher score, as does the possession of a reasonable amount of outstanding credit and debt. A longer history of positive credit is preferable, although brand new credit may not necessarily hurt your score. While an abundance of credit cards can be bad, a variety of credit is good for your score.

    Would you like to know more about your credit score? Call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. We are proud to serve the O’Fallon area with a variety of online banking services as well as checking accounts and auto and home mortgage loans. Feel free to visit our website or stop by today.