May 5, 2020
The current global crisis is a time of widespread uncertainty, and many businesses are making changes to their operations and staffing. If you are experiencing a reduction in hours or even a sudden job loss, GLCU counselors are here to help! Here's some useful information about how to use financial products during a hardship.
Some questions you may want to consider:
- Could you refinance a home or auto loan to get a lower monthly payment?
- Could a small personal loan help with monthly expenses?
- Would a no-fee balance transfer card make it easier to pay off your debt?
- Would increasing your credit limit on an existing card give you more financial flexibility?
Savings accounts allow you to put money away for emergencies and goals to better prepare for the future. Some of the features of savings accounts you may want to consider are the access to cash, availability of online and mobile banking, savings incentives, and interest rate. It is essential to know that in this time of crisis, your savings may not be enough on their own to cover your expenses. In that case, you can turn to other products, like personal loans and credit cards, to help. Lenders will evaluate your credit score and credit history, including existing debts, to determine what loan terms you qualify for—the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate.
Credit cards can also be a good option for financing larger purchases, provided that you can make the minimum payment on time each month. If you have a credit card, you may be able to ask your creditor to increase the credit limit if you have a long history of on-time payments. You may also be able to use a balance transfer card to consolidate several debts onto one card with 0% interest for a set period. According to Bankrate, most balance transfer cards have a 0% interest rate between 15 and 21 months, and this makes it possible to pay off debt without incurring interest. It is vital to exercise caution when using credit, as you can end up taking on more debt instead of paying it off.
Having a good credit score can help you get the lowest rates on a personal loan or credit card. Even if your score is less than perfect, improving it may help bring your interest rates down. Raising your score may not be a quick process, but making on-time payments, keeping credit utilization low (ideally under 30%), and paying more than minimum balances creates long-lasting good financial habits.
You can access your credit score from each of the three bureaus once a year at annualcreditreport.com. You can also check your score for free each time you log in to GLCU’s Online Banking using Savvy Money.
In this time of widespread economic hardship, you may find yourself needing new financial products, or using the existing financial products differently. As long as you keep track of your income, expenses, and spending, and don’t take on more debt than you can manage prudently, you shouldn’t worry.
For more information about the options available to you, handling credit, managing debt, or housing-related concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a housing and financial counselor at GLCU. Contact our team at 224-252-2620 or housing at glcu dot org