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Coronavirus Update

UPDATED: March 30, 2020 

As we continue to make every effort to support our members and assist with their financial needs, our contact center is experiencing a very high call volume. Members may experience longer wait times. The following are additional options available to assist you:

  • Effective March 30, 2020 and until further notice,  a maximum of three (3) skipped payments per loan, per year and no more than three (3) consecutive skipped payments are allowed.  Information regarding skipping a qualifying loan can be found on our Skip a Pay page.
  • Fast Pay is available to make a quick, secure auto or other loan payment. To make a payment to your Scient credit card visit here
  • Secure messaging in Online Banking is available to send a secure email message thru your online banking account to a service representative for reply. You can also check your balances, transfer funds, make loan payments, and more, within online banking, from your desktop or mobile device 24 hours a day.  

 

Your financial safety is our main concern. Be aware, scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. 

  • Remember, Scient Federal Credit Union will NEVER request sensitive information from you through email. And, if you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a request, please contact us for verification before providing any personal or account information.
  • Stay informed by following The Federal Trade Commission page regarding Coronavirus scams.
  • Visit our Blog page for up to date articles relating to potential scams.

 

Please note:  Delays may be experienced during the mortgage loan process.  Currently, there is limited access to the necessary resources to process these loans.  We are diligently working to process all applications and appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times. 

As part of our continuing efforts to keep our staff and members safe, the following steps will be implemented:

  • Starting Thursday, March 19, the Colver Ave. branch lobby will be closed.
    • The drive-up lane will remain open for all transactions. Click here for current drive-up hours. 
    • Wire transactions are available via online banking or the drive-up.
  • The New Haven Postal Branch lobby will remain open normal hours

 

Please be assured that Scient like so many other companies, is taking extra precautions to keep our staff and members safe during this Coronavirus (COVD-19) national emergency. 

What you can do

Use our electronic services whenever possible.  We ask that if you are sick and still need to visit a branch that you use the drive up instead of the lobby.  If you are not sick, you can avoid potential contact with people who may be sick by considering alternatives to visiting our branches at this time.  Note – our Pfizer campus building 220 branch has been deemed non-essential by Pfizer, and accordingly will remain closed while the emergency continues.  Here are a few banking suggestions to consider:

  • Use Online Banking. It’s a free and easy way to check your balances, transfer funds, make loan payments, and more, from your desktop or mobile device 24 hours a day. With our mobile app, you can even electronically deposit checks. You can download our app here.
  • Use Fast Pay to make a quick, secure auto or other loan payment. To make a payment to your Scient credit card visit here.
  • Use our network ATMs. We have an ATM at both our Colver Ave. and New Haven Postal branches, where you can withdraw cash, transfer funds, and make cash or check deposits. Transactions are posted the same business day. We’re also a member of the Co-Op Network, which allows you surcharge-free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs nationwide.
  • Use our Colver Ave. HQ branch night drop to make your deposit. It will post the following business day.
  • Use our Audio Banking System to check balances, transfer funds, and make loan payments. Dial 877-860-6928 and select option 1 to begin. Directions on how to enroll in audio banking can be found here.
  • Some of you may have your work income disrupted by the emergency, you may want to use our Skip-a-Pay service to skip your loan payment for a month or apply for our loan assistance program. If making payments becomes very difficult, please contact us at 877 860 6928.
  • Call us at 877 860 6928. Our Contact Center can handle almost any banking need, or will transfer you to someone who can.

 

What we’re doing:

To start,  we’re actively monitoring the emergency and following all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in term of staff hygiene at work.  In addition, we ‘re increasing our electronic channel transaction limits to give you more flexibility in remote access, and will make sure our ATMs stay up to meet your cash withdrawal needs.  For our branch users we have enhanced our daily cleaning procedures with an end-of-day disinfectant wipe-down, including our Colver ATM. 

We will of course continue to closely monitor the situation and updates will be posted to our web site. We appreciate your patience and cooperation with our changes as we do our part to keep our staff, members, their families and our communities as safe and healthy as possible during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Your Scient Family

3 Keys to Keep Your Money Safe From Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission is taking extra measures to warn people of scammers that will use tactics to try and take your personal information. It’s important to remain aware of the current scams and schemes in order to protect yourself from fraudsters looking to take advantage of your vulnerability.

In order to stay vigilant and less susceptible to fraudsters, we want to share this information to help you avoid getting taken advantage of. The most current scam fraudsters are capitalizing on are the checks the U.S. might be sending American taxpayers. These scammers are looking to trap people into giving their information in order to take your money and capture your sensitive information such as social security numbers as well as card and account information.

To help combat this, we’ve put together a few tips to help you identify and fight these fraudsters should they try and take advantage of you:

  1. Any money from the government will be in the form of a check and will not be immediate. Anyone who claims this money will be made immediately available is a scammer.
  2. If you have to pay anything upfront before you receive anything, it is not legitimate. There are no fees and no hidden charges. Anyone who says otherwise is a scammer.
  3. The government won’t call and ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card information. Anyone who does is a scammer.

If you receive any communication from someone with the above claims, The Federal Trade Commission urges you to report it and provides guidelines on how to do so. The FTC is also an invaluable resource to stay informed and knowledgeable of current scams and schemes. If you stay informed, you can combat fraudsters trying to steal from you.

Your privacy and protection are important to us. Feel free to reach out to us if you receive communication from an entity claiming to be from our credit union to verify its legitimacy. Thank you for all you do to make our organization great and we wish you all physical and financial wellness. If you need assistance, please feel free to reach out to us to discuss your options.

Remember: Scient Federal Credit Union will NEVER request sensitive information from you through email. And, if you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a request, please contact us for verification before providing any personal or account information.

6 Reasons Your Money Is Safe

Along with the mad dash to buy all the toilet paper stores can stock, some members have asked about the need to withdraw cash from the credit union.

The fact is, the need for cash withdrawals during this crisis has no basis in fact. Unlike overextended banks that caused the Great Recession, the current financial crisis was caused by the reaction to the Coronavirus outbreak, not a systemic banking problem. 

There is a perception and rumors churning within social media that there could be an issue with the credit or debit systems, but there is no validity to that concern. Putting it under your pillow at home is not safe. It’s more prudent to take it as you need it.

During this time, please keep these things in mind when it comes to your money: 

  1. Our credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. All deposits are insured up to $250,000. This means that you will not lose a dime of money that is federally insured. 
  2. The Federal government has declared credit unions an essential business. While we’ve had to adjust our standard operations, our credit union is ready and able to assist you with whatever needs you may have. It’s our priority to ensure you receive the level of service you’ve come to expect from our credit union; even in an ever-evolving capacity.
  3. You incur more risk if you withdraw your money. Cash is much harder to recover if at all in the event of loss, theft, or any other unfortunate circumstance. Keeping your money in the credit union to withdraw as needed is much safer than keeping in your home or carrying on your person.
  4. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that frequently handled items be cleaned as a precautionary way to help ward off the virus. Cash cannot be easily washed and has passed through many hands which makes it less than optimal to have in abundance on your person.  
  5. If you do not pay your bills through automatic draft, you will have to find alternative ways to ensure your payments are satisfied. 
  6. With our online services, you are able to keep a pulse on your account and an eye on your money digitally from wherever you are. With these digital offerings, you don’t have to be tied to keeping your money on your person at all times to ensure its safety. We have many services available to you.

During this time of uncertainty, it’s natural to feel pressure to make quick decisions. We’re here to help you maintain a sense of peace regarding your money. It’s tough to know what is coming, but you can rest assured that we have your best interest in mind and will do anything we can to help you during this time. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out. We wish good health and financial wellness for you and your loved ones as we navigate this together. 

Remember: Scient Federal Credit Union will NEVER request sensitive information from you through email. And, if you’re ever concerned about the legitimacy of a request, please contact us for verification before providing any personal or account information.

COVID-19 Scams

No question – the past few weeks have been insane as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re seeing things unfold that most of us haven’t experienced before. Entire cities have shut down, people are being quarantined, and credit unions are being forced to find different ways to serve members.

While we’ve seen the best in humanity from Dollar General setting aside the first hour they’re open to serve the elderly to multiple restaurants providing meals for kids who are out of school, we’ve also seen scammers who are exploiting people’s Coronavirus fears.

Scams you should be aware of

Android malware and ransomware

Android devices in particular have been left vulnerable to malware attacks allowing scammers to spy on you through your smartphone camera, listen to you through the microphone and go through your text messages. The scammers, suspected of operating in Libya, send out text messages with a link promising an app that will allow you to track the Coronavirus. Once you click on the text message, the malware installs itself on your phone.

DomainTools, a Seattle-based security research team, has discovered that Android users are also the target of ransomware that threatens to erase their phone. Much like malware, users are promised an app with a real-time COVID-19 tracker. The app is actually poisoned with ransomware called CovidLock that denies users access to their phone by changing the locked- screen password. It requests $100 in bitcoin within 48 hours or the phone’s contacts, pictures and videos will be erased. It also threatens to publicly leak social media accounts.

Scammers impersonating organizations

The FBI, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO) are investigating multiple claims of scammers who are sending out emails impersonating these organizations and spreading incorrect information about COVID-19. The WHO is among the most-impersonated organization in the scam campaigns. Fraudsters pretend to offer important information about the virus in an attempt to get potential victims to click on malicious links. Typically, such links can install malware, steal personal information, or attempt to capture login and password credentials.

Exploiting charitable giving

Another common type of scam going around is an attempt to tug on the heart strings and attempts to get the recipient to help fund the vaccine for children in China. Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Officials at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have served cease-and-desist letters to retailers who are trying to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by selling fake or misbranded products claiming to combat the disease directly.

How to protect yourself

Even though there are lots of ways to get taken advantage of, there are also lots of ways to protect yourself.

  • Don’t click on links from any sources you don’t know. It could download viruses on your computer or device.
  • Be aware of emails claiming to be from a government organization. If you receive an email from the WHO or CDC, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, go to the website to verify the information.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be wary of giving your personal information. Legitimate organizations will not ask for any of the following:
    • Full social security number
    • Account or card numbers
    • One-time password
    • PIN information
    • Usernames or passwords
    • Payment through Bitcoin, money cards, gift cards, etc.

While it seems that this unfortunate epidemic has come upon us most unexpectedly, there are fraudsters out there quickly taking action and prepared to hustle unsuspecting, innocent people. If you aren’t sure of the legitimacy on a certain request, take extra steps to verify to ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself, your sensitive information, and your money. You can also keep yourself updated by following the Federal Trade Commission’s page here.

Your privacy and protection are important to us. Feel free to reach out to us if you receive communication from an entity claiming to be from our credit union to verify its legitimacy. Thank you for all you do to make our organization great and we wish you all physical and financial wellness through this trying time.

Wedding Planning on a Budget

So, you’re engaged! Congratulations! You’re probably over the moon and full of stars in your eyes and have visions of wedded bliss. 

You’ve been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve got your Pinterest boards, a planning notebook, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But, have you put a price tag on any of those ideas and visions? 

$35,329

That’s the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon! After hearing this sky-high number, you’re probably ready to simplify the process, save money, and elope. However, It’s absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without spending well over what you can afford. Simply prioritizing your must-haves, creating a budget, and allocating your money accordingly will go a long way in planning for the big day.

What’s important to you?

Before you can create a budget, there are a few things you need to decide. First, determine what kind of wedding you want. What do you see when you think of your big day? A country club wedding and reception? An elegant downtown loft? A backyard barbecue? 

Once you answer this question, have the budget talk with everyone contributing to the wedding. When you start talking money, make sure you talk about more than the total amount you’ll spend. For instance, break down the wedding budget into categories – ceremony, reception, decorations, etc. – and decide what you’ll spend in each category. 

Now that you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to determine the most important and the least important items on your checklist. Is there anything you can cut altogether? Sit down with your fiancé and determine what you both REALLY want and let that vision guide your budget. 

Track your spending

First things first, leave some room in your budget. No matter how down-to-the-penny it may be, unexpected expenses are going to pop up. Your budget will evolve over the planning process, so be prepared by giving yourself a little bit of a cushion. 

If you Google, “wedding budget worksheet,” you’re going to find a bunch of different options. Find what works best for you. This could look like an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Sheet, or one of the thousands of templates on wedding planning websites. Regardless of your template, tracking your spending throughout the entire process will be imperative. You’ll be able to ensure you’re staying well within the lines of your budget. Plus, it serves as a great guide or list to see what you’ve paid for, how much you’ve paid, and how much you have left to cover. 

There are apps. Use them!

There are a few fantastic wedding-related apps that are free or inexpensive. Use them! Most of those sites have the option to create free websites, invitations, and save-the-dates. Get started with these suggestions:

  • ZolaZola has everything you need in one place. They have a great selection of templates for you to design your wedding website for free! Your website is crucial for keeping your loved ones informed by sharing information about travel arrangements and relaying the important details of your day. You can also build your registry, design and order invitations or save-the-dates and manage your guest list.
  • ThumbtackPhotographers, DJs, bands or florists – no matter what service you’re looking for, Thumbtack will have it. This app allows you to browse services in your geographic region to compare prices, check out reviews and even talk directly to the vendor. 
  • WeddingHappyAre you a list maker? WeddingHappy is the app for you! It is the ultimate to-do list. It’s a great app that will help you manage your wedding-related tasks, payments coming up and vendors you’re working with. 

Your wedding day will be one of the most amazing days of your life! Don’t let money and budget-related stress take that away from you and your significant other. There are a lot of options out there to make this day incredible no matter your budget.

Once you have a set budget, financing your big day might be the best option for you. Talk to us. At Scient Federal Credit Union, we have options like personal loans, lines of credit and low-rate credit cards that could be exactly what you’re looking for. Let us help you make the big day one you’ll never forget!

4 Best Budgeting Apps

Budget. Did you just get cold chills reading that word? It’s not a popular word, and it’s certainly not a popular idea. Typically, the idea of a budget is enough to take away any sense of fun you have when thinking about spending your money.

But, it doesn’t have to be. There are several benefits to creating a monthly budget.

When you have a budget in place, you instantly:

  • Make your money work for you
  • Assign each dollar in your account a job
  • Gives you 100% control of your money
  • Allows you to track your expenses
  • Relieves some of the stress that finances can bring
  • Helps you create a “safety net”

There are obvious benefits to creating and maintaining a budget, and there are just as many tools to help you budget as there are benefits.

So, where do you start?

First, figure out how much you make each month. Then, figure out how much you spend. Once you figure out what you’re bringing in vs. what you’re spending, you can start creating specific categories for your money. This is where you get to tell your money what to do.

Now, you’ve got a basic budget in place. You know what you’re making, what you’re spending, and your money has a specific goal. But, how do you keep track of all that information in a manageable way?

Budget apps! The great thing about budget apps – not only do they keep track of your budget, but you can take it with you everywhere you go.

Check out some of the best budgeting apps for 2020.

  1. Wally — Get the intimate details of all your financial activity in an easy-to-digest template. Categorize spending destinations, set goals, and create charts. Wally provides you with the full picture of your account in a simple and colorful template. Easy to look at and easy to understand, Wally makes tracking and analyzing your financial habits easy.
  2. Acorns — You know how it’s hard to overcome the mental hump of setting money aside? Well, Acorn removes that struggle from the equation. By rounding up each of your transactions to the nearest dollar, it puts the funds into an investment portfolio. This app looks out for “future you” and makes sure you always have a few acorns hidden away for a rainy day.
  3. Mint – Create budgets, track bills and receive a free credit score when you use Mint. But, it’s the budgeting feature that really makes Mint shine. It allows you to link your credit union, loan and credit card accounts and then uses the information from those accounts to suggest budgets for you based on your spending. Mint takes it a step farther by breaking that spending down into categories like “entertainment,” “food and dining” and shopping. The best part? You’ll be able to see how much you can save by cutting back in each category.
  4. Mvelopes – A popular budgeting method is the envelope system, a style of budgeting, where you put cash in envelopes for different spending categories and when the envelope is empty, your budget category is spent for the month. This is great for people who mind a cash system, but for people who use credit and debit cards, this is challenging. Enter Mvelopes; an app that makes it easy to follow the cash style budgeting in a digital world.

Of course, while you’re downloading apps, make sure you’re using our app. At Scient Federal Credit Union, our app allows you to check your balances, transfer money, check your spending and deposit checks remotely. Still have questions about budgeting and financial planning? Talk to one of our member service representatives and let us help get you on track.

What’s the Difference Between a Tax Credit and a Tax Deduction?

“Just write it off.”

“Go ahead and deduct it.”

“I think there’s a tax credit for that.”

Although you might have heard or even uttered one of the sentences above, have you ever wondered what it actually means? While both tax deductions and tax credits can save you a significant amount of money on your taxes, they work in significantly different ways.

What is a Tax Deduction?

A tax deduction is a result of a tax-deductible expense or exemption which reduces your taxable income. A common tax deduction on your federal income tax return is the standard deduction. An example of how this works: If your income was $50,000, your standard deduction (if single or married filing separately) would reduce your taxable income by the 2018 standard deduction of $12,000, so your taxable income would now be $38,000.

What is a Tax Credit?

Unlike tax deductions, tax credits are subtracted from your tax liability (not taxable income). A common tax credit is the Child Tax Credit. If you have a qualifying child, you can take a credit of up to $2,000 per child against the taxes you owe in 2018. If you have a total federal income tax liability of $3,500, the Child Tax Credit for one child would reduce that tax liability to $1,500.

Is a Tax Deduction Better Than a Tax Credit?  Is a Tax Credit Better Thank a Tax Deduction?

If you were ever faced with a hypothetical choice between a $100 tax deduction and a $100 tax credit, you would most likely prefer to receive the credit. Unlike a tax deduction, a $100 tax credit reduces your tax dollar-for-dollar ($100). On the other hand, a tax deduction reduces your taxable income by $100. The resulting amount of tax you save depends on your marginal tax bracket (in everyday language: your tax bracket). If you are in the 24% tax bracket in 2018, a $100 tax deduction reduces your taxes by $24. On the other hand, a $100 credit would reduce your taxes by $100.

TurboTax Has You Covered

Don’t worry about trying to figure out which tax credits or deductions you should take, or if you should itemize or take the standard deduction. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers to get you the biggest tax refund. As a credit union member, you can save up to $15 on TurboTax federal products. Click here to access TurboTax and your savings!

The Benefits of Charitable Contributions

We all know the saying, “It’s better to give than receive.” Giving makes us feel good, right? And we usually don’t think about what’s in it for us.

But, what about charitable giving? Depending on the amount of your charitable contributions, you could be in for a sizeable tax benefit. As a matter of fact, if you factor your charitable donations into your budget, it will allow you to be more generous and lead to strategies that could improve your financial planning long term.

With tax season just around the corner, let’s take a look at some benefits of charitable giving and what can be deducted.

That altruistic feeling

Whether we donate to them or not, we all have causes near and dear to our heart. If you’re an animal lover, the ASPCA commercials probably tug at your heartstrings. If helping kids is where your passion lies, then charities like St. Jude’s and the Shriner’s Hospital probably resonate with you. Regardless of where your loyalties lie, we all love the feeling of helping other people. Scientific studies have even shown that charitable giving activates pleasure centers in the brain.

Tax benefits

Charitable donation deductions actually allow you to lower the amount of taxable income. Of course, you can’t donate to just any organization. In order for donations or gifts to qualify, they have to be recognized tax-exempt organizations. Typically, religious organizations, veterans’ organizations and community organizations qualify as tax exempt.

Have you made any donations to state, federal, or local governments for public purposes, like donating to rehab a public park? You can deduct those donations. You can also deduct any expenses you incur as a volunteer for a qualified organization or if you donate a qualified vehicle.

What does this mean for you?

Let’s be honest. Taxes, deductions, and tax law can be overwhelming and difficult to understand if you don’t speak that language. It’s always a good idea to sit down with a qualified financial planner to come up with a plan for donating to charities. Your financial planner can help you figure out what types of donations work for you and your future plans. They can also help you find organizations that share the same goals and ideals as you. If you’d like to speak with a Financial Planner, Rick Hoskins of Scient FCU would be happy to sit down with you.

Also, if you want to make charitable giving a recurring activity this year, look at setting aside money in a Scient Savings Account. That way, you can save smaller amounts at a time to make it easier to give back vs one lump sum all at once.

While you shouldn’t donate funds just for your benefit, if you happen to be donating anyway, there’s no harm in deducting the amount on your taxes. No matter which way you decide to give or which charity you choose, giving back to organizations that do good feels good.

If you’re looking to speak with a Financial Planner, Rick Hoskins, of Scient FCU would be happy to book time for a consultation. You can email Rick to reserve time.

Meal Planning on a Budget

The beginning of a new year is a great time to change up your diet in a way that fits your budget. Meal planning is popular among those who desire to eat healthy while maintaining a healthy budget. While there are many resources available for recipes, we have a few tips on how to make the most of your meal planning options.

Plan your shopping trips and meals in advance.

Take some time to look at the grocery store circulars or online deals to see what is on sale for the week. Once you know what meats and seasonal fruits and vegetables are being offered at a good price, you can research recipes to maximize your meal planning options for the season. These prices tell you how much they are by amounts so you can compare with your recipes to determine your budget before you’re in the store.

Check out meal planning resources via a Google search and on sites like Pinterest. There are meal preps and plans available from home cooks and more popular sources like Food Network. Be willing to try new recipes and look into meat-free recipes to conserve your funds. There are plenty of cost-effective options that can be a good source of protein.

Choose different recipes with the same meat.

Whether you’re making meals for a family or you’re making lunches for yourself, buying in bulk is always best. If you’ve found a few recipes for chicken that you think you’ll like, buy the chicken in bulk and freeze what you don’t use right away. This will keep your meat fresh and ready for when you’re ready to use it. For example, you could use chicken for the following meal planning recipes:

  • Chicken Burrito Bowls
  • Teriyaki Chicken Bowls
  • Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice

With the money you save on supplies, you will be able to allocate elsewhere for something you want and possibly didn’t have the funds for originally.

There are so many different choices that make meal planning flexible and customizable depending on your particular preferences and tastes. Make sure to mix it up so your tastebuds won’t get bored since this is easy to do with meal prepping.

Choose recipes that require a limited number of ingredients.

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re looking at what sounds and looks good for meals. Make sure to get recipes that have either a limited number of ingredients or items that you need to buy. If you find recipes that have common dried spices that you have in your kitchen, this could work as well and help you branch out and try different recipes and combinations.

Branch out and experiment with flavors that you’re confident will work well together.

Keep track of all your transactions and budget with a Scient FCU Checking Account. Use these tips and tricks and you will be well on your way to being a savvy meal planner that works for your tastebuds as well as your budget.

Which Credit Card Rewards Are Right for You?

Believe it or not, there isn’t a “one size fits all” credit card rewards program. For every card on the market, it seems like there are a million different ways to earn rewards.

With all the options, the research can be overwhelming and you might not know where to start. We’ve come up with a few ways you can choose the right credit card rewards program.

Is a rewards card right for you?

That’s the first question you need to ask yourself. A rewards card isn’t right for everyone. Here’s a handy checklist to run through to help you decide whether or not a rewards card is a good fit for you:

  • You have a good credit score. Most card issuers are looking for consumers who have a FICO score of at least 670. Of course, a higher credit score will help you get a lower interest rate, but a that mid-600 range will get your foot in the door. FYI, the higher your credit score, the more lucrative rewards programs you’ll have access to.
  • You can pay off your balance every month. Rewards card usually have a higher-than-average interest rate. When you carry your balance over each month, you could end up paying more in interest charges than you earn in rewards.
  • You can maximize the value of your rewards. A rewards card can cost you money if you don’t maximize your reward-earning potential. If you don’t earn enough points, you can actually lose money if your card has an annual fee.

Now that you’ve determined you could benefit from a rewards card, let’s talk about choosing the card with the program that best suits your lifestyle and spending habits.

Choosing the right card

There are three main things to consider when choosing a card: your spending habits, personal preferences and credit score. If you don’t look at your spending habits and personal preferences, you could end up spending a lot of money and racking up rewards that aren’t right for you.

Let’s say you have a large family and your primary expenses are groceries and gas. It would make sense for you to have a credit card that offers bonus rewards on those purchases. But, if you’re single, have a small grocery budget or don’t have a car, those rewards wouldn’t make sense.

Use your cards for everything

The more you use your card, the more rewards points you’ll rack up. But, don’t let that be an invitation to start spending money on things you don’t need. Instead, use your credit card in the place of cash or your debit card whenever possible.

Start looking for everyday situations where you can use your credit card instead of another payment method – gas, groceries, food, etc. But, always make sure you only spend what you can pay off every month.

What if a rewards card isn’t for you?

Rewards cards aren’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe your credit score isn’t in the right range for a rewards card, or maybe you’re not interested in using your card to gain rewards. Maybe you’re looking for a credit card for emergencies only. If that’s the case, we can help you. We have a number of credit card options, and some have super low APRs, great rates on balance transfers and low rates on cash advances.

We can help you find the card for you. Check out our website, stop by and talk to us or give us a call so we can answer your questions.