Amanda Polnicki, Author at Common Trust FCU

Drive a Good Bargain: How to Get Your Best Auto Loan

Congratulations—your car search has come to an end and you’ve settled on a shiny new vehicle to call your own. Whether you choose to invest in the luxury or base model, neither decision will make a difference if you don’t have the cash to fund your new purchase. That’s where an auto loan comes in—to provide you with the money needed to buy a vehicle outright and avoid hefty dealership fees or interest rates. From purchasing a used vehicle for your newly-licensed teenager to budgeting for a better model, here are the top five strategies to finding an auto loan to fit your needs.

Search Around

Before you start test-driving potential models, always search around for running averages for interest rates, loan terms, and repayment options. Don’t go into the deal blind, and know what to look for to detect potential scams or hidden fees. Around the holidays or new year, loan promotions may be available with low-interest rates and flexible repayment options. Ask around—friends and family may know about discounts or promotions with their local bank. Give potential lenders a call to make terms a little clearer and ask any questions you need to get started. 

Understand Your Financial Standing

Before you even think about setting foot in a bank or credit union, understand your current financial standing to know what to expect before the conversation starts flowing. Important things to research are your credit score, credit report, and financial history. Knowing the range of these numbers can help you to understand what kind of rates you’ll be presented with when you start discussing. Some lenders will offer a discount, lower-interest rates, or a more flexible repayment period if you are in good financial standing. You may even get pre-approved if your credit is insufficient, eliminating the need for hard-inquiry credit-checks entirely.

Read All the Terms

When you sit down with a financial advisor to review terms, be sure to read all the fine print. Avoid loans that present surprise fees or interest charges, and stick to those that have a non-fluctuating period of repayment. Points like these will allow you to rest easy knowing that nothing will change over time and leave you underwater. Before signing anything, make sure you are fully aware and understand what you’re agreeing to.

Ask Away!

When it comes to anything financial, never be afraid to ask questions. This is a long-term investment, so make sure all terms and statements make sense and are clear in your brain. Financial advisors and advocates are here and want to help you make the best decision. If they’re a little sluggish in making your contract easier to read and understand, it may be time to find a new source of funding. No matter how silly the question may seem, don’t be afraid to perk up and ask—it could be the difference between short-term funding and a lifetime of debt. 

Not sure where to start looking for your ideal auto loan? For President’s Day, Common Trust is proud to be offering an auto loan promotion to get you in the front seat of your dream car. With a rate of 2.99%, you can focus more on enjoying your new ride and less on technicalities and fine print. Don’t miss out—this exclusive offer is only available until March 31st. Give us a ring or reach out via email today!

Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner, newly self-employed or testing out a side-gig, TurboTax has you covered on tax tips, deductions, and tax forms for your business income. Common Trust Federal Credit Union breaks down a few ins and outs.

Common Write-Offs

  • Rideshare Driver – Car repairs, insurance, mobile phone, even bottled water you provide for your fares.
  • Freelance Designer – Studio rental, tools & supplies, design association fees, home office space.
  • Real-Estate Agent – Marketing materials, mileage, home office space, even portions of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
  • Consultant – Training courses, computer and software, business travel, mileage driving to see a client, heading to a meeting, or going to work from another location.

TurboTax Self-Employed Has You Covered

TurboTax helps you get every self-employed tax deduction and dollar you deserve.  Get expert help on-demand, find industry-specific tax deductions – and get your biggest possible refund, guaranteed. As a credit union member, you can save $15 on the TurboTax Self-Employed product, PLUS you get a one-year complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed* to effortlessly track expenses, jobs, and mileage throughout the year. Click here to access TurboTax and your savings!

When you are ready to start working on your taxes, click here to access TurboTax and your savings!

How to Switch Credit Cards and Save Money While Doing It

We’ve all done it. You open a credit card and the rates look great at an initial glance—because you’ll never miss a payment, right? A big purchase comes around and you find yourself in a little more debt than you anticipated. That’s when your interest rate hits hard, each time increasing your already-unpayable balance to even higher levels. What should you do when credit card debt gets a little out of hand? In this blog, we’ll focus on how to successfully switch credit cards, and transfer your credit card balance, in order to both lower your interest rate and save you money.

What Are My Options?

Here is a short list of things you can do when you find yourself faced with an overwhelming balance:

  • Dip into your savings account. One way or another, the debt has to be paid or it will naturally accumulate interest via the rate you and your credit company agreed upon. This is typically the primary option since you won’t have to deal with any fees or interest rates from new loans. Understandably, however, you may not have the cash on hand to pay the balance and it’s not a practice you’d want to make a regular habit of doing.
  • Pay off the debt with a loan. This type of loan is designed to pay off your credit card debt and allow you to make payments according to a flexible repayment plan. The interest rate will be drastically lower than your credit interest rate, allowing you to pay off the principal balance much faster. That said, it’s always important to read the terms thoroughly and ask questions—some debt payoff loan promotions may have a maximum loan amount or a slew of extraneous fees.
  • Transfer the balance to a lower-rate card. This debt consolidation option is typically the most cost-efficient. But it really depends on who you choose to work with. Big banks often have low or even 0% APR offers, but they’re almost always for a limited time and change to a high-interest rate after a couple of months. By contrast, some credit unions, like Common Trust, will give you an ongoing rate that never changes, so you can rest easy and budget accordingly. The rate will be much lower than that which you are currently paying, so you’ll be able to pay off your debt quicker. Promotions can also impact the rate you’ll receive, ultimately saving you even more money.

Transferring Your Credit Balance

So, you spent too much at the annual outlet sale and found yourself in some serious debt. Time to panic, right? Wrong. While there is a bounty of debt-eliminating options you can resort to—including a Debt Payoff Loan or Debt Consolidation Loan—a balance transfer credit card is typically the smartest, safest option.

To reap the benefits of a transfer balance credit card, you’ll start by filling out a card application. As with all big steps, be sure to ask as many questions as you need to finalize your decision. Make sure to double-check that there aren’t any drastic opening or closing fees, surprise rate increases, or any other types of random costs. In order to be approved for the new card, you may be subjected to a soft inquiry credit-check to be sure you make your payments on time and aren’t a huge credit risk. The bank will then pay off your credit card company for the current balance, and in exchange, you’ll owe the same balance with a comparably-lower interest rate. It’s that simple!

Changing Future Habits

After the dust has cleared and you’ve made the final payment to your Credit Balance Transfer account, you’ll likely want to re-think the way you manage money so you avoid future debt pitfalls. Making a resolution to manage and spend better is an optimal preventative measure to any type of debt.

The key to a healthy credit score and credit report is managing your money in a productive way and staying out of debt. Try to avoid spending money that you don’t have, and keep frivolous purchases to a minimum. Doing so will allow you to keep track of balances and ensure no line of credit is getting out of hand. Don’t open too many credit cards (even if the incentive is really great)—managing multiple accounts can lead to missed or late payments and breed into skyrocketing interest balances once again. If you do have multiple accounts open, checking in with Credit Karma every once in a while will help to manage all balances and keep them in check. Though this may not be the end-all to any financial hardship, it’s a huge step in the right direction.

Struggling to keep up with credit card debt? You’re in luck! Until March 31, 2020, Common Trust is proud to be offering our Credit Card Balance Transfer promotion. With a rate of 6.99% that stays fixed until your entire balance is paid off, you can focus on paying off your principal debt balance and not worry about having to get it done in a stressful, limited time period. This offer only lasts a few months, so don’t miss your chance to live debt-free—give us a ring or reach out via email today!

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