Archive for the ‘ credit reports ’ Category

Credit Scores Explained in (Exactly) 250 Words


What credit scores are: Three-digit numbers expressing the likelihood you’ll repay someone who lets you use their money (like a loan or credit card).

Who has a credit score: People who have been listed on an account that was reported to any of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. An account can be a student loan, car loan, credit card, credit-builder loan or maybe rent. It represents something you are obligated to pay.

Where the number comes from: Data is collected by the credit bureaus, which get the information from lenders, credit card issuers and public records. Then it is weighted to produce a score, typically on a 300 to 850 range. Higher is better. There are hundreds of scoring models, so most consumers have many credit scores.

How do I get started?

  • If someone with good credit makes you an authorized user on an account that’s reported, that can help.
  • Student loans and sometimes car loans can be relatively easy to qualify for.
  • Credit-builder loans and secured credit cards are made for people building credit or re-establishing credit.

What should I do to boost my credit?

  • Pay all bills on time, every time.
  • Use your credit cards lightly — that is, don’t use more than 30% of your credit limit on any card.
  • Keep old accounts open unless you have a good reason to close them (like high fees).
  • Apply for credit sparingly.
  • Consider having both installment (level monthly payments for a set period) and credit cards.

The article Credit Scores Explained in (Exactly) 250 Words originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Understanding your credit score doesn’t have to be difficult. For additional information regarding credit scores, click here.

Members 1st is here to help you to achieve your financial goals and assist you through all of life’s moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

Tips to Fix Your Finances


Unless you’re born into it or inherit it, most of us have to work for the money we need. Some of us work more than one job to make it all come together. Sometimes we have to borrow money for the things we want or need like a home, car, wedding, or to finance an education. Sometimes people take on more debt in terms of credit cards and loans than the amount of money they bring in to make the payments.

Bob Marquette, our President & CEO, was recently featured on FOX 43’s “Fixing Your Finances“. He discussed how credit score works, why a good credit history impacts your ability to obtain a loan, and provided tips on how you can improve your own credit score.

Looking to fix your finances? Check out Bob’s segment by clicking below:

FOX43 Blog Post

Friendly reminder – Check Your Credit Report Annually

You are entitled to a free copy  of your credit report every year. It’s important to check your credit report regularly for accuracy, discrepancies, fraudulent activity, and identity theft. And federal law requires Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the big three consumer credit reporting companies, to provide you  with a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Get your free credit report today.

Need additional help? 

We offer our members access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath Financial Wellness.  As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

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2015 Financial Resolutions – There’s still time


couple with billsWe’re one month down, 11 more to go and 2015 will be a wrap. It’s still early enough in the year to review your finances and set goals. If you haven’t made your financial resolutions yet, here are seven tips that can help you achieve financial success.

  1. REVIEW YOUR BUDGET. List your recurring monthly expenses and compare them to your monthly income. Make adjustments or cuts where necessary to prevent dipping into your savings or using your credit cards. For helpful hints on budgeting basics, download our free brochure on budgeting.
  2. COMMUNICATE. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, but it’s very important to talk with your partner about where you stand financially (debt included). Knowing where you are helps you know where you want to be. Learn how to manage money as a couple or when you find yourself suddenly single by reading our free brochure, “His, Hers, Mine & Ours.”
  3. PAY DOWN DEBT. If you have numerous credit card balances, tackle the one with the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum amount required on all of your other balances. Also consider transferring your higher rate card balances to your Members 1st VISA®, which could save you money.
  4. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND. Most specialists suggest saving three to six month’s salary in case of an unexpected setback or job loss. Start by putting aside a little from each paycheck now.
  5. AUTOMATE YOUR LIFE. Utilize the Bill Payer feature of Members 1st Online. It’s simple to set up recurring payments to ensure that you’re always paying your bills on time, every time.
  6. THINK BEFORE YOU BUY. Do you really need that item or is it something that you simply want?
  7. MEET WITH A FINANCIAL PLANNER. Our team of Investment Services representatives can help you develop a customized financial plan that will help you feel confident in your goals.* You may schedule a free consultation at any of our branch locations.

If you need additional assistance, we offer free access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath, a financial management program. Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years. As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

 

 

 

*Registered Representative of INVEST Financial Corporation (INVEST), member FINRA/SIPC. INVEST and its affi liated insurance agencies offer securities, advisory services and certaininsurance products and are not affi liated with Members 1st Federal Credit Union or Members 1st Investment Services. INVEST does not provide tax or legal advice. Products are: • Not FDIC or NCUA insured • Not Bank or Credit Union Guaranteed • May lose value including loss of principal.

Free Credit Reports Available


lock and keyboard

You can request a free credit report once a year from each of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You’ll want to review your report regularly and make sure that your information is correct and current. Also, check for these signs of identity theft: errors, suspicious activity, or accounts/addresses that you don’t recognize.

If you notice any alarming discrepancies, make sure to place a fraud alert on your file by contacting all three credit reporting companies:

Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228 to request your credit report today.

 

Lose Some Debt Weight in 2015


So many bills!

 

Do you have multiple department store or gas cards that you never use? Do you pay annual fees for cards that never see the light of day?  Maybe it’s time to clean out your wallet and lose a little debt weight this year. Here are some tips:

PAY. If you have numerous credit card balances, tackle the one with the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum amount required on all of your other balances. When that one
is paid off, consider rolling that amount into the next highest credit card balance (old amount plus the minimum payment required).

TRANSFER. Consider transferring your higher rate credit card balances and loans to a Members 1st VISA®, which could save you money! Take advantage of our 1.90% APR VISA® Balance Transfer option. Call (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040, visit a branch or log into Members 1st Online » Card Services » VISA® Balance Transfer. This offer is available on balance transfers received through June 30, 2015.*

CHOOSE. Figure out which card you’ve had for the longest amount of time. Make sure to keep this card open, since lenders often see borrowers with short credit histories to be riskier than those with long credit histories. Determine one or two cards to utilize regularly and leave the rest at home. If you have a card that has a low-interest rate or offers rewards, it may be best to keep it open. It’s alright to close those credit cards that you’re no longer using, as long as they don’t have balances and you have other cards.

FOLLOW UP. If you choose to close a credit card, make sure to send a letter to the issuer sharing your decision. Double check your credit report to see if the card is reported as “closed.”

*The 1.90% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on Balance Transfers using the specific form or online submission is a “Discounted” rate that will be in effect from the time of the posting of the balance transfer to your card account for six consecutive billing cycles afterwards, which will be considered the promotional period expiration date of that specific balance transfer. After the expiration of your “Discounted” rate the remaining unpaid portion of the original balance transfer request will be subject to your normal APR as outlined on your monthly statement based on the specific Members 1st FCU credit card selected. Consumer Cards (Business Cards are ineligible) may have up to 10 individual balance transfers open at any given time period. If you default through becoming 60 days or more delinquent we may increase your APR on the balance transfer and other balance amounts as defined within the cardholder agreement and disclosure, which is provided upon card issuance and available online at http://www.members1st.org. All payments received on your account in excess of your minimum payment requirement will be applied first  to the highest rate balances, secondly to the lowest rate balances and finally  to new purchases. All rates are effective as of January 1, 2015 and this offer may be withdrawn at any time. Other restrictions or conditions may apply. You may not pay off your current Members 1st loans or lines of credit by using this balance transfer option. For current rates, fees and other cost information, please reference the Visa Balance Transfer disclosure or contact the Members 1st FCU Card Services Group at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035. We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

 

Medicare Advantage Enrollment Is Coming!


Are you on Medicare? Don’t forget– the Annual Enrollment period is coming up soon! From October 15 – December 7 you have the chance to make changes to your Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) or Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Plan (Medicare Part D) for the following year. There are many reasons why a different Prescription Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan could be a better fit (perhaps your health has changed). Since premiums and benefits for most plans are changing for 2015, you may want to take a moment to evaluate if your current plan will best meet your needs for the coming year.

If you’re concerned about your choices and need some guidance, Members 1st Insurance Services can help. Call me at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6269. I’ll help you better understand your Medicare options, help you find a plan that fits your budget and lifestyle, and ensure that you’ll avoid any late enrollment penalties.

 

Guest Blogger: Ben Lausch, Health Benefits Specialist, Members 1st Insurance Services (reprinted from the September/October 2014 edition of Avenues)

Organize Your Finances in Five Easy Steps


File-Folder-$$Do you know your net worth? Do you know how much you spend each month…and on what? Do you know how much you can expect from your pension plan or Social Security when you reach retirement?

If you answered “no” to at least one of these questions, you’re not alone. The majority of Americans don’t have an accurate pulse on their finances. Some people may feel they don’t have time to organize their finances. For others, the thought of doing so is too overwhelming. They may not know where to start, so they just never try.

Even so, it’s important to know where you stand financially and where you’d like to be in the future. Then, you can enjoy those short-term gains, while still being on track to meet your long-term goals.

Here’s a five-step action plan to help you take control of your money:

Set up a financial filing system. This can be as simple as making sure that all the bills you receive in the mail get put in the same spot every month. It also includes setting up a budget so you know your monthly income and expenses.

Gather important records. Look through your records to identify missing information. For example, if you need an estimate of your Social Security retirement benefits, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213. Also, make sure to gather copies of your health, disability, life, homeowners and vehicle insurance policies. You’ll also want to keep a copy of your credit report with these documents. You can request a free credit report yearly at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you find any discrepancies, correct them immediately. Keep all of these records in one place and update the old copies with the new documents each year

Size up your situation. Add the estimated current value of all assets, including your home, car, personal property, savings, investments and retirement accounts. Next, add all liabilities, including mortgage, credit card balances and any other outstanding debt. Then subtract liabilities from assets to figure out your net worth.

From there, make a list of income and expenses by reviewing paycheck stubs, your checkbook register and credit card statements from the past year. Finally, track spending for a month by saving all of your receipts or recording cash purchases in a notebook. A spending plan form or a money management software program helps organize spending by category.

Chart a course. Once you know your net worth and you’ve developed a baseline for your monthly spending habits, the next step is to set financial goals – both long-term and short-term – and figure how much money you’ll need for each. Create a targeted saving and spending plan that meets your needs using your list of income and expenses. For a month or more, track actual spending to see how you’re doing, making adjustments as necessary.

Brush up on money-management basics. This can include developing a budget, being diligent at balancing your checkbook and even visiting a financial advisor.

By taking these actions to organize your finances, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach your short-term goals. Plus, you’ll feel peace of mind knowing you’re working toward your long-term plans.

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