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Monthly Archives: August 2019
Why get your credit card from a credit union?
In today’s market, there’s no shortage of credit card options, so it can be difficult to decide which one is the smartest choice. It’s always wise to shop around for the best deal, which, more often than not, is your local credit union.
Same function, better features
Why should you consider a credit card from a credit union over a big bank issued credit card? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Better rates. Credit union credit cards carry an average annual percentage rate that can be several percentage points below those offered at big banks. In fact, federal law prohibits federal credit unions from charging interest rates higher than 18%. Big banks have no restrictions on the amount of interest they can charge their credit customers.
Lower fees and penalties. In addition to lower APRs, many credit unions waive balance transfer fees, and levy significantly lower over-limit, cash advance, and late payment fees. With all of your options, be sure you’re aware of the fees before you sign on the dotted line. One misstep could be especially costly.
Generous grace period. Credit unions typically extend a five-day grace period for late payments in comparison with one day at big banks, and most will give you a second chance before raising your interest rate. Over time, an increased interest rate adjustment can amount to a substantial penalty if you carry a balance each month.
Rewards programs. The same incentives provided by big bank credit cards are also offered through credit union credit cards. If points, travel, or gift cards are what makes you happy, you won’t have to sacrifice your favorite perks. Most of those bonuses come from the payment processor, like Visa or MasterCard, not from the card issuer, so rest assured your refund protection and car rental insurance can very possibly remain intact.
A strong competitive edge
Credit unions are able to offer more customer-friendly options and conveniences because they are owned by their members. They are not-for-profit organizations and, therefore, don’t need to maximize their revenue. In fact, profit on credit cards is used to provide lower mortgage rates and higher savings account rates to its members. In today’s cost-conscious market, their consumer-focused service and competitive products have earned them a substantial edge over the traditional big banks where profit is a top priority.
Financial Literacy: Adding up the benefits of starting young
It’s never too late to start your financial education, but the earlier, the better. From counting coins in kindergarten to planning for your retirement years, managing your finances is a critical part of your financial security — regardless of how much money you have.
Financial literacy now
A 2015 National Capability Study published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), reported that two-thirds of Americans could not pass a financial literacy quiz that included basic questions about financial risk.
It also concluded that when age-appropriate personal finance topics, like budgeting, interest rates, and debt are incorporated into a school’s curriculum, it positively impacts the decisions, saving, and spending habits in adulthood.
Benefits of financial literacy
Basic financial literacy helps people become self-sufficient and achieve financial stability. This includes being able to save money, distinguish the difference between wants and needs, manage a budget, pay their bills, buy a home, pay for college, and plan for retirement. Literacy helps them create a realistic roadmap that will take them through their daily lives making good financial decisions.
Financial literacy also empowers people. With any lack of financial education, anything that resembles credit, interest rates, or investments is intimidating and leaves individuals at a disadvantage. We’re not saying you need to be a financial guru, but knowing how interest rates work, the difference between stocks and bonds, and the factors that impact your credit rating, for example, motivate consumers to ask questions and seek out their best options. It also decreases their stress level. When people are well versed in the state of their finances, they have the information they need to take action, modify their investment portfolio, or continue with their current strategy.
Understanding your finances helps reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Some tactics are easy to believe, especially when they’re coming from someone who seems to be knowledgeable and well intended. A basic level of financial education will help people recognize the red flags and, at the very least, talk with a trusted advisor before making any commitment.
Why it pays to start early
With any educational plan, you’re continually building on the information you’ve learned in the past. It’s the same with your personal finances. You need to know how money works before you spend it, and that takes time and practiced application. Too many of us have learned the value of a dollar a little too late in life or what it means to be drowning in a sea of debt.
Early education allows individuals to develop a healthy relationship with money. They learn the importance of earning, saving, and managing their debt, which leads to becoming a financially responsible adult. They’ll have the knowledge it takes to wisely decide how they’ll pay for college, a car, or even a mortgage and know the consequences of debt accumulation, budget-busting purchases, and high-interest predatory lenders. You shouldn’t have to experience a financial misstep to benefit from it. Start teaching financial responsibility when kids can still be kids and when they’re grown-ups, they’ll know no other way.