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Tips For First-Time Credit Card Users

August 18, 2020

Responsible young man using a credit card.Credit cards are a powerful financial tool and as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” If you are looking to get your first credit card, these tips can help you use it in a smart, financially-sound way. If you abuse your credit card, intentionally or unintentionally, you could find yourself in financial distress.

Credit cards can help build your credit score. Good credit scores can, in turn, allow you to access better loans and mortgage rates, higher limits on future credit cards and more. Credit cards can also damage your credit score if you use them unwisely. Avoid maxing them out, always pay your monthly statement on time and pay more than the minimum if you can. Try to pay in full whenever possible.


1. Consider Becoming An Authorized or Joint User First

Not comfortable with having your own credit card yet? See if a relative will let you become an Authorized or Joint User on their card. If you become one, you will be issued a card with your name on it but the primary cardholder will be held accountable for charges and payments. Some credit card companies may report credit activity for you as the Authorized or Joint User, and if the card is being used wisely by all parties, you could earn good credit yourself.


2. Treat It Like Cash

If you don’t have the money now or won't in the near future to pay off the purchase, you may not want to put it on your card. You'll increase your risk of accruing interest and expanding what you owe. This can put you into debt which can be hard to get out of and hurt your credit score.


3. Pay The Balance In Full Or Close To It Every Month

Make sure you pay off your purchases at the end of every billing cycle. This way, you’ll avoid paying interest, possible late fees and avoid damage to your credit score. Making only the minimum payments will cause the interest to really add up, costing you more money in the long run.


4. Use It To Build Your Credit

When you pay off your balances every month, you establish a positive credit history. You demonstrate to credit agencies and lenders that you can handle the responsibility of credit. This will become important when you want to buy a car, rent an apartment, or buy a home. Your credit score shows how financially responsible you are and is used by those checking to predict your future responsibility. On the flip side, late or consistently missed payments can damage your credit score, making you a higher risk to future lenders.


5. Always Check Your Statements

Unfortunately, credit card fraud is a very real thing. Check your statements every month to make sure there aren’t any unrecognizable charges. If you see a purchase that you didn’t make, report it to the credit card company immediately.


6. Avoid Scams and Fraud: Don’t Share Your Info With Anyone

Credit Cards are private and one way to help you avoid fraud is by never sharing your card information with others. Don’t let others use it, even close friends or family members. Beware of phishing scams where someone calls pretending to be the credit card company and asks you for personal information to “verify who they’re speaking with”, such as the security code on the back or your billing zip code. Your credit card company will already know this information and will not call you asking for it.


7. Look For A Good Rewards Program

A rewards program is designed to give card holders everything from merchandise to miles and even cash back, just for using that card. While cards for first-time users may not have a breadth of rewards available, it can’t hurt to look. Every card’s rewards formula is different, so make sure you understand what your rewards options are before you decide.


Pay Smarter

With a First Source credit card, you get the purchasing power of Visa®, for safe and secure transactions thanks to the EMV chip technology. We offer great options like non-variable rate cards and variable rate cards with reward options.

Learn more about our credit card options and benefits to see if one is right for you. If you‘re ready to start the application, click “Apply Now.” If you have more questions, feel free to give us a call at 315-735-8571.

Apply Now

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness Program.

Posted in: Credit Card

Back-to-School Shopping

July 26, 2019

Earn rewards, including cash back, when you shop

As much as we try to make the most of summer and delay the inevitable, back-to-school shopping is upon us. Make the most of your spending by shopping with a credit or debit card that pays you back! Using reward cards gives you a little something back in the process.

First Source offers both credit and debit cards with rewards. They’re powered by Visa®, yet serviced locally. Our variable rate credit card offers reward points you can redeem for cash back, travel, retail items, gift cards, and more. Our Only One Checking debit card offers rewards such as cash back rebates and ATM fee reimbursement, as well as online and travel coupons.

When you prepare for your back-to-school needs, make sure to earn something back with the power of Visa and the support of First Source.

Ready to shop but don’t yet have these cards? Make an appointment, and Shop Smarter.  

Learn More
 

Posted in: credit cards, rewards, Visa

Credit Card vs. Pet Loan

April 21, 2017

Which is better for paying your pet’s medical costs?

How are credit cards and loans different?
When you need to finance a serious pet medical expense, your first choice might be to consider a credit card. One of the most popular is a care credit card for healthcare, that can also be applied to pet medical costs. Your second option might be a personal loan, though at First Source, we have a loan that’s even more specialized: a Healthy Pet Loan, designed specifically for pet care financing.  

Credit cards are good for expenses you can ideally pay off within a month (without incurring interest charges, based on rates which can vary widely between cards). Personal loans were designed for a wider array of financing where the rates and terms may not be the ideal choice for this specific need. The Healthy Pet Loan, because of its tailored design, lets you borrow with a generally lower interest rate and favorable loan terms. 

Credit vs. Loan Terms
Generally, on the payment due date of your credit card, you’re required to make a minimum monthly payment, and if you don’t pay the entire amount in full, you’ll start to accrue interest charges. And these are calculated based on the average daily balance for the month, not the ending balance. After a single month’s carryover, the amount you owe grows as time goes on, and the interest keeps being added on. Depending on how long you take to pay it back, the total you pay may be much higher than what you financed, and you may not know how much until the end of your payments. The credit card is also considered “revolving debt”—you are limited to how much you can put on the card, and your available limit depends on how much you spend and how much you repay each month.

A Healthy Pet Loan is paid back in installments; you get the money all at once, and make equal, pre-determined payments over a specific period agreed upon in your loan terms when you are approved. Your payments—the same amount every month—will include principal and interest. There are no surprises. 

Conclusion
Because there are many factors that influence interest rates, a credit card, if it has a low-enough interest rate, may be the right option. If you qualify though, a Healthy Pet Loan is generally a smarter way to pay for expenses like pet surgery, pet medical bills, and other qualifying pet health expenses. With good credit, your interest rate may be lower, your payments will be consistent, and you’ll have much less worry making predictable payments each month. Since it may not be a simple decision, we can help you decide what’s best for you.

Not sure what expenses qualify for coverage? 


Learn more about a Healthy Pet Loan

 

When you have pet medical expenses, make the smarter choice: a Healthy Pet Loan.
 

Is a Rewards Credit Card Right for You?

October 17, 2016

Customer paying for their order with a credit card in a cafe.
There are many credit cards to choose from, and the type you choose will be affected by a number of factors, including your personal and financial goals. We’d like to keep it simple, and give you a few factors to consider before deciding if a rewards card is right for you.

A rewards card is simply a card that gives you something back for using the card. Everything from airline miles to merchandise and even cash back can be yours for using your card. Every card’s rewards formula is different, so make sure you understand what your rewards options are before you decide. Many people have no plans (or desire) to earn or use rewards, and shouldn’t apply for this type of card. Keep it simple!

Other factors include your credit history and credit score, which may qualify (or disqualify) you for a particular card. A high credit score and clean credit history tend to allow you many more choices, including lower rates and costs for a rewards card, while the converse can limit your selection of cards. At First Source, we can analyze these factors for you, and see if you qualify for the card you want.

Finally, if you already own a credit card (or a number of cards), you should take a clear-eyed look at your payment history. If you tend to pay off your full balance every month, a rewards card with a variable interest rate will be a positive addition to your wallet. If you tend to carry balances forward and pay interest charges every month, a low-fixed-rate card without rewards may be more practical.

Consider your goals and plans, then make an appointment at your local branch to let us help you make your decision. We look forward to helping you make a smarter, more rewarding choice!

Posted in: Blog Posts

Credit Card Tip #2: Read the fine print

August 12, 2016

Credit card promotions definitely have their benefits, but remember to check the fine print. Balance transfers at 0% are great, but check to see how long you have to pay it off at that rate (it could be only a few months). Also note that 0% is only on the amount transferred; any new purchases fall under the card’s normal APR. And pay attention: find out which purchases get paid off first if you make a payment—the 0% or the standard APR ones.

Posted in: Credit Card

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