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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

Tiny’s Grill: A Community Pillar

March 6, 2018

Outside front view of Tiny’s Grill, using First Source Business Services, Players of Utica in background

Making Business Personal

Joanne “Jo” Gerace, Owner/Manager of Tiny’s Grill in Utica, has been a First Source Member for more than 25 years, and as a small business owner, knew that First Source was the perfect place to do her business banking.

Jo’s Story

Joanne Gerace smiling in front of sports memorabilia photos on wall inside Tiny’s Grill
 Joanne Gerace

Joanne Gerace has lived a fascinating and storied life, and many who know her only from Tiny’s Grill may be surprised by her many adventures. The Utica native is an avowed sports fanatic, has worked for the New York Yankees organization, helped the Utica Blue Sox become a successful and profitable business (as eventual General Manager), and then re-launched a local business, Tiny’s Grill, more than 27 years ago. It was something she had always wanted to do. Reviving an older, traditional business fit her well. Tiny’s Grill has been a Utica staple since 1931. The original site was at the Whitesboro circle (where the Utica Aud now stands). Tiny’s moved to the current State Street location—where the Oneida Grill once stood—and Joanne Gerace took over in 1990. 

“I had revived Jazz in Utica by bringing in local and world-class jazz musicians and artists,” says Gerace. “I was also very connected to local professional and amateur sports teams, so we sponsored and hosted them at the Grill. I have always been very community oriented, involved in many local community boards of directors and community projects, from the St. Patrick’s Day parade to downtown Utica projects.” Jo is a member of the Chamber of Commerce (Tiny’s Grill is a previous winner of the Business of the Year award), as well as a member of the auditorium authority since 1984, YWCA Woman of the Year, a Utica Sports Hall Of Fame founding member, a mentor to budding women entrepreneurs, and more. She has worked to make Tiny’s Grill a mainstay in the area. In addition to the iconic life-sized Blues Brothers statues flanking its sign outside, the restaurant is known for its sports and music memorabilia—with many photos signed by the pros—and its traditional Christmas display, including what she believes is the largest collection of nutcrackers in the state (and country)!

 

Tiny’s and First Source FCU

Jo knew she wanted to bank with someone that shared her love of community and embodied all of the wonderful gifts that Utica has to offer.

In her words: “I do both my personal and business banking with First Source, and have for as long as I can remember. They have always been wonderful with the service I receive and their generosity to the community. I have savings, checking, business savings, and business checking, as well as credit card merchant services. We are very happy with everything. The merchant services portion really makes my business run smoothly at the point of sale. It’s important to me to have those aspects of my business run smoothly so I can focus on my customers. First Source makes it easy.”

 

Gerace says she has stayed with First Source for many reasons, primary among them that she always receives personal attention, and good experiences with her banking and the staff. “There have been many people working with me over the years, and I have always had a good relationship with every one...great customer service!” She adds that, as a downtown business, she has easy access to the South Utica branch, including drive-up services. And now, she does the bulk of her banking online; it’s easy and convenient, letting her work around her unique schedule.

“First Source has made it a priority to help our business,” Jo says. “Great customer service, good rates, and many services for a business to take advantage of.” She has recently worked to update Tiny’s Grill, and hopes to use First Source Business Services to keep them running profitably for many years to come.

First Source Business Services

First Source provides a full suite of Business Services, including Merchant Services for POS with Central Payment, Human Resources Management and Scheduling with ADP, Accounting with Quickbooks, business checking and savings accounts, business credit cards and lines of credit, as well as a multitude of business lending options.

Live Smarter

Want to learn more about First Source Business Services? Make an appointment today to meet with one of our Business Services Representatives about managing your business smarter.

Get started

 

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.
 

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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