Credit Card Archives - Common Trust FCU

What Is Considered a Good Credit Score?

Highlights:

  • Credit scores are calculated using the information in your credit reports.
  • Credit scores generally range from 300 to 850.
  • Different lenders have different criteria when it comes to granting credit.

What is a Good Credit Score?


It’s an age-old question we receive, and to answer it requires that we start with the basics: What is a credit score, anyway?

Generally speaking, a credit score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 850. Credit scores are calculated using the information in your credit report, including your payment history; the amount of debt you have; and the length of your credit history.

There are many different scoring models, and some use other data in calculating credit scores. Credit scores are used by potential lenders and creditors, such as banks, credit card companies, or car dealerships, as one factor when deciding whether to offer you credit, like a loan or credit card. It’s one factor among many to help them determine how likely you are to pay back the money they lend.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s financial and credit situation is different, and there’s no “magic number” that may guarantee better loan rates and terms.

Although ranges vary depending on the credit scoring model, generally credit scores from 580 to 669 are considered fair; 670 to 739 are considered good; 740 to 799 are considered very good, and 800 and up are considered excellent. Higher credit scores mean you have demonstrated responsible credit behavior in the past, which may make potential lenders and creditors more confident when evaluating a request for credit.

Lenders generally see those with credit scores 670 and up as acceptable or lower-risk borrowers. Those with credit scores from 580 to 669 are generally seen as “subprime borrowers,” meaning they may find it more difficult to qualify for better loan terms. Those with lower scores – under 580 – generally fall into the “poor” credit range and may have difficulty getting credit or qualifying for better loan terms.

Different lenders have different criteria when it comes to granting credit, which may include information such as your income or other factors. That means the credit scores they accept may vary depending on that criteria.

Credit scores may differ between the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) as not all creditors and lenders report to all three. Many creditors do report to all three, but you may have an account with a creditor that only reports to one, two, or none at all. In addition, there are many different scoring models available, and those scoring models may differ depending on the type of loan and lenders’ preference for certain criteria.

What Factors Impact Your Credit Score?

Here are some tried and true behaviors to keep top of mind as you begin to establish – or maintain – responsible credit behaviors:

  • Pay your bills on time, every time. This doesn’t just include credit cards – late or missed payments on other accounts, such as cell phones, may be reported to the credit bureaus, which may impact your credit scores. If you’re having trouble paying a bill, contact the lender immediately. Don’t skip payments, even if you’re disputing a bill.

 

  • Pay off your debts as quickly as you can.

 

  • Keep your credit card balance well below the limit. A higher balance compared to your credit limit may impact your credit score.

 

  • Apply for credit sparingly. Applying for multiple credit accounts within a short time period may impact your credit score.

 

  • Check your credit reports regularly. Request a free copy of your credit report and check it to make sure your personal information is correct and there is no inaccurate or incomplete account information. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. By requesting a copy from one every four months, you can keep an eye on your reports year-round. Remember: checking your own credit report or credit score won’t affect your credit scores.


You can also create a myEquifax account to get six free Equifax credit reports each year. In addition, you can click “Get my free credit score” on your myEquifax dashboard to enroll in Equifax Core Credit™ for a free monthly Equifax credit report and a free monthly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score, based on Equifax data. A VantageScore is one of many types of credit scores.

If you find information you believe is inaccurate or incomplete, contact the lender or creditor. You can also file a dispute with the credit bureau that furnished the report. At Equifax, you can create a myEquifax account to file a dispute. Visit our dispute page to learn other ways you can submit a dispute.

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!

5 Steps to a Debt-Free 2020

The holiday season is a great time to buy sentimental gifts for all of your family and friends. Unfortunately, this also means spending much more than you typically do during the rest of the year. After the holidays are over, you can be left with a lot of debt. With 2020 in full stride, has your debt got you down? Here are 5 steps to a debt-free future.

1. Minimize Your Spending

When debt is growing each day from high-interest rates leading to even higher balances, it can become a serious hindrance to your mental health. Try to minimize spending during this time of repayment. The more you add on to your principal balance, the more money you’ll end up having to pay in the long run. Only buy the things you need, like groceries, gas, utilities, and bills of course. If needed, try to stay away from any stores or places that may lead you to splurge. Don’t highly restrict yourself, but don’t spend frivolously either.

2. Take Advantage of a Low-Interest Loan

If your debt is getting out of hand, it may be time to consider paying it off with a lower-interest loan in order to prevent tacked-on interest payments. Since most credit cards usually rest around a 20% APR interest rate, that’s a lot to save over time. Act quickly when you realize the interest rate on your credit card is starting to rack up, and start searching for a debt payoff loan that works best for your needs. Either way, you’ll likely be paying around 10% less on a loan than in credit card fees.

3. Credit Balance Transfers Are Your Best Friend

Another quick alternative to lessen the blow of built-up debt is a Credit Card Balance Transfer. Similar in savings to a loan, this is when you transfer your higher-interest balances onto a lower-interest credit card and pay a lower rate until your balances are paid off. Over time, this solution will save you loads of money and help you make more payments on your principal balance rather than mountains of accumulating interest.

4. Save, Save, Save!

In this instance, you may not have been prepared for the oncoming holiday debt. Make it a New Year’s resolution to start saving more in preparation for big spending. It’s nice to not think about your funds when continuously swiping your credit card, but it’s even nicer to have a large nest-egg to fall back on when you’re in need. 

Open multiple savings accounts to track these goals and save up enough to shower your friends and family with the gifts they deserve. The incentive for planning ahead is a higher interest rate, meaning you’ll have even more money when the terms are up. Select the type of account that works best for you, and start stockpiling those pennies! With this easy step, you’ll be ready for any financial hardships or random splurging. 

5. Steer Clear of Future Debt

We understand how hard it is to stay out of future debt. It’s easy to grab a whole new wardrobe while scouring the racks of Nordstrom, or a funky piece of furniture at that cute antique shop on the corner. Try to build the habit of saying “no” as you move into the new year. 

If you absolutely must buy that thing, make sure you have a reputable and low-interest credit card at your side. And if you find yourself in another financial sinkhole, don’t hesitate to pay off debt with lower-interest loans before the interest starts accumulating. If you have a hard time staying true to your spending limits, try constructing a budget and sticking to it. Staying out of debt will have a long-term benefit on both your credit report and score.

Holiday debt lingering a little longer than intended? It’s time to find a solution. Our team is highly knowledgeable in financial planning and can help you get back on track. With low-interest rates and a wide variety of flexible products, a better financial future is right around the corner. Don’t let the pressure of debt bring you down – give us a ring or reach out via email today!

Risk or Responsible: Your Quick Guide to Credit Reports & Scores

 In the tumultuous world of finances, different numbers and scores can start to blend together into one confusing blob. Thankfully, there is a bounty of helpful guides and articles to help you differentiate between contrasting numbers and their meanings. In this week’s blog, we’ll discuss the main differences between Credit Reports and Credit Scores—and how to maintain them. 

While the words “Credit Report” and “Credit Score” are sometimes used interchangeably, there is one main difference between the two.

Your Credit Score illustrates how much of a credit risk you are to lenders. It is a numerical value most commonly scored between the ranges of 300 and 850 (we’ll delve deeper into what constitutes a “great” score a little later).

Your Credit Report is a record of your credit and lending history. This includes payments, debts, number and types of accounts you’ve had, and so much more.

Why Should I Maintain Them?

If the chance to be labeled “excellent” on your credit score isn’t incentive enough, it’s important to note that having a score above 700 usually leads to lower interest rates and more member perks. Having a good credit score isn’t just a financial title. It can help save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. You won’t be hit with high-interest rates and can negotiate loan terms more freely. Plus, having a great credit score can instantly make you eligible for bigger loans and higher credit limits, ensuring that you never have to cough up the full payment amount for any big purchases. You’ll automatically get better rates when signing up for things like insurance, and approval for apartments or leases will be a breeze.

Do I Need to Look at Both?

The short answer—yes! It’s important to stay up-to-date on both your credit report and credit score. Doing so will allow you to know how lenders will assess your financial responsibility before approving or denying things like loan requests or opening a new credit card. Sites and apps like Credit Karma provide free access to your credit score and will send you copies of your credit report upon request. You can check as often as you need, or want, and it won’t negatively impact your score. Conversely, if you are trying to raise your credit score, monitoring your credit report will allow you to see what may be impacting it and how to take preventative measures in the future. 

It is important to note that checking both your credit score and credit report regularly can help prevent fraud. Always be sure to analyze for anything that looks faulty or incorrect, and if anything seems out of place always reach out for further information. Your credit score is one of the most important things you have in your possession and can make or break anything from purchasing a pair of boots to purchasing your first home. 

What Is Used to Calculate Your Credit Score?

This aspect of credit is where both credit scores and credit reports cross paths. There are a few main aspects of your credit report that impact how your numerical credit score is calculated. Although it is important to note that each credit-reporting system utilizes their own unique formula to calculate your score, generally it is made up of the following:

  1. Payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. If you have not historically made your credit card or loan payments on time, your score will naturally go down.

    Tip: To keep your score in tip-top shape, you should make a point to schedule all payments before the due date. Doing so will also save you money – say good-bye to accumulating more and more debt via hefty interest rates!
  2. How much you owe on your accounts makes up 30% of your credit score. Especially if you don’t make payments on time, you may see a dip if you continuously rack up debt on your open accounts. Do you really need those sparkly heels?

    Tip: Try to avoid accumulating too much debt on credit cards or loans at any time.
  3. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score. The longer, the better. This portion illustrates that you have been financially responsible for longer, and are more-likely-than-not going to continue making payments on time and are thus less of a risk.

    Tip: Even if you haven’t used your high school credit card in years, keeping it open can help lengthen your credit history. 
  4. Opening new cards is a significant factor in the equation. In fact, 10% of your score is based on new credit, and how many accounts you have opened recently.

    Tip: even if a $100 best buy gift card or low APR is at stake, don’t open too many new credit cards at once. Not only are they hard inquiries, but doing so categorizes you as a credit risk and can quickly lower your score. 
  5. Multiple lines of credit and being able to maintain them can positively impact your score by illustrating that you are financially responsible. 10% of your credit score is based on existing lines of credit. Do you have a variety of accounts? Do you have multiple accounts?

    Tip: explore ways to maintain multiple lines of credit (without opening a bunch of credit cards at once). Successfully managing multiple accountscar loans, credit cards, school loans—can yield major positive dividends for your score.

Keeping the above factors in good standing is crucial to maintaining your credit score. Don’t fret if you have an off-month, though. One missed payment won’t completely diminish your score. And if you happen to have a few mishaps, you’ll be relieved to know that they do eventually fall off your report. Just keep making on-time payments and maintaining your credit lines—eventually, your score will fully recuperate!

What’s a “Good” Score?

Your FICO® credit score falls into five general categories:

  • BAD: 300 – 560
  • POOR: 560 – 650
  • FAIR: 650 – 700
  • GOOD: 700 – 750
  • EXCELLENT: 750 – 850

Not instantly listed as “Excellent” or even “Good”? Not to worry.  Over time, as long as you keep up with your payments, your score is sure to pick up.

Got Credit Q’s? Looking to open a new line of credit? Have questions about your credit score, report, or just need some quick credit advice?  We’re here to help. At Common Trust, we thrive on helping our members successfully manage their credit in every way, from HELOCs to car loans to credit cards and everything in between. Give us a call today or shoot us a message and we’d be happy to chat. We look forward to hearing from you!

When to Use a Credit Card vs. Debit Card

Most people have at least one debit card and one credit card in their wallet. Although both cards can be used in many of the same places, it can be difficult to determine which card is best for each transaction. When you use your credit card, you may earn points, but your debit card won’t charge you interest. Which do you choose? Here are some tips to help you decide.

3 Major Differences Between Credit & Debit Cards

Where the Money Comes From
A debit card is backed by the money in your checking account. You can only spend what you already have. When you use your debit card it’s like using cash because you must have funds available in your account or the transaction will not go through. With a credit card, you have a pre-approved spending limit and you can use the card repeatedly until you reach that limit, regardless of how much money is in your bank account. Of course, you will have to pay that money back eventually. It’s like you’re making a promise or taking out a small loan every time you use a credit card.

Proof of Payment
Depending on the amount of the purchase, you may be required to provide a PIN or signature to complete the transaction. Typically, a PIN is used for a debit card. This can be set up by your bank or you may have access to change it anytime you want. It’s important to remember this number and never write it down. If someone else finds it, they can use your card and drain your bank account. With a credit card, you will not have a PIN but instead, you’ll be required to provide a signature. This signature states that you will pay the bill when it’s due.

Limits of the Card
Both types of cards have limits but in different ways. Since a debit card takes money out of your checking account, you can only spend as much as you already have. If you overspend, it may pull money from your savings account and you could be charged a fee. This is called an overdraft. Most banks will give you the choice to allow an overdraft to happen with a fee, or to cancel the transaction before it goes through and avoid the fee. Think about your own spending habits and decide what’s best for you. With a credit card, you will be charged interest for every month you carry a balance. This is where most people tend to get in trouble. They charge more than they can afford to pay off in a single month, carry a balance, and then owe more due to the interest.

When to Use Which Card

When deciding which card to use, consider your personal spending habits, the pros, and cons of each card, and the purchase in question.

A debit card is the ideal method of payment for daily purchases or small transactions. Groceries, gas, and movie tickets are all easily paid for with a debit card and are items you likely would have otherwise paid cash for. You don’t have to worry about paying it back or accruing interest, and this is also a good choice if you’re likely to get into credit card debt that you’ll have a hard time paying back.

Online purchases are more easily refunded or refuted if on a credit card. Car rental and hotel reservations may come with additional costs when you return the vehicle or check out. Many credit cards come with reward options such as cashback, earning points towards flights, and more. It may be more beneficial to purchase gas and groceries on your credit card if you earn extra points for them that you can save up for a rainy day.

Credit & Debit Cards from Common Trust

Think you’re ready for a new credit or debit card? At Common Trust, we offer both low-interest credit cards and hassle-free debit cards for our customers, as well as great tips for learning how to make the most of each card. If you’d like to learn more about these offerings, please don’t hesitate to contact us today by calling 781-933-2600 or visiting commontrust.org. We look forward to helping you achieve financial happiness.

Pay Down That Debt! Transfer Your Credit Card Balance in 3 Easy Steps

The bills are piling up, late fees are drowning your principal payments, and too often you let those collection calls roll to voicemail. It’s time to consider a faster, more cost-effective way to manage your debt!

Credit card balance transfers allow you to pay off numerous debts by consolidating them onto one card with a lower interest rate. This gives you the breathing room to catch up with payments and begin to repair your credit score.

Completing the transfer scenario can be tricky, though. At Common Trust Federal Credit Union, we’ve consolidated this into 3 simple steps to reduce your debt and get started on the path to financial freedom.

1. Log current balance and interest rate info

If you’re looking to disrupt the status quo, you have to start by knowing the status! Spend some time researching your current balances, payoffs, and interest rates, and keep this information on hand. This will help you plan what kind of credit card balance transfer plan will work for you and will set the foundation for how to obtain the help you need.

2. Find and apply for the right balance transfer card

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to paying off debt, even with credit card balance transfers. It’s critical you choose a card that best fits your immediate and long-term financial needs. The fine-print terms and conditions are the first place to start your research: Is there an interest-free period, and how long does it last? How quickly must the debt transfers be made? Is there a transfer fee? Once you have the answers you want, it’s time to apply for the card.

3. Pay off your debt

Once approved, call your new card company and initiate the transfers — then watch those debt numbers shrink! With the right solution in place, you will be paying off large chunks of debt while making affordable payments toward your principal balance. The plan only works if you work it, so make sure your monthly budget factors in your payment. Missing even one payment can immediately end interest-free periods and cost you more in the long run. Take the time to educate yourself on good credit behaviors to ensure you are starting fresh and can stay ahead.

Our loan experts are here to help! Explore the opportunities available today with Common Trust Federal Credit Union’s Credit Card Balance Transfer program. Through June 30, 2019, you can get rates as low as 6.9% until your credit card balances are paid off — plus the rate is good on purchases, advances, and balance transfers. Visit our credit card balance transfer promotion page or stop by the branch to learn more.

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