Financial Education

Credit Score Basics

Jul 14
2020
woman pays by credit card for online purchase on a tablet computer.

Credit sounds like a mysterious, looming entity that can affect our lives in big ways. We rely on credit to buy a house, handle emergencies, and for long-term financial security. It can be a great financial tool, but unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about your credit score and what you can do to improve it. Check out our tips on maintaining and improving your credit score!

Credit sounds like a mysterious, looming entity that can affect our lives in big ways. We rely on credit to buy a house, handle emergencies, and for long-term financial security. It can be a great financial tool! Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about your credit score and what you can do to improve it. The biggest thing you need to know is that the subject of credit is not black and white. A certain credit score will not automatically qualify you for whatever kind of loan you need, and it takes careful thought and maintenance to stay in a situation where you have positive credit. You never really stop working on your credit, which can be great because you are never too young or too old to build your credit!

Payment History (35%)

The biggest factor in your credit score is payment history. This weighs in at a hefty thirty-five percent of your total score. To keep this positive, it is extremely important to make payments on time; any payments that are past due more than thirty days will report on your credit. Your payment history, the number of accounts that are paid as agreed, as well as the number of past due items and the length of time they have been past due will all appear on your credit report. The best way to increase your score in this area is simply to pay on time! More weight is placed on recent payment activity so even if your payment history hasn’t been great in the past, you can make a significant impression by setting a new precedent going forward.

Amounts Owed (30%)

The total amount owed makes up a large part of your credit score as well. This includes not only the number of accounts that hold balances, but the proportion of credit lines used, as well as the balance of any installment loans. To increase your score, work on paying down revolving balances and avoid opening new accounts until you have paid down a significant portion. For credit cards, a balance of fifty percent or less of the credit limit is ideal. Open new accounts or lines of credit as needed rather than taking advantage of specialty offers when they arise.

Length of Credit History (15%)

The length of credit history accounts for a smaller portion of your credit score, but is still significant. This is simply the amount of time since accounts have been opened and the time since there has been any account activity. You may have heard the advice to close old credit cards and lines of credit that you don’t use anymore, but if there’s no annual fee, it’s better to leave it open! Having nothing owed but all that credit available to you is good for your credit score. Closing it could immediately dock your credit by several points. If you don’t want the temptation, you can simply cut up or shred the cards for these accounts so you aren’t tempted to use them!

Types of Credit Used (10%)

Though not common knowledge, types and diversity of credit used also factor into your credit score. For instance if your credit report is made up of a variety of credit cards, you should think about adding an installment loan to vary credit type a little. This tells a lender that you are reliable in paying back an assortment of different kinds of debt. Likewise, if you have only had installment loans in the past, getting a credit card can increase your score over time as your demonstrate your ability to be responsible with a revolving line of credit.

New Credit (10%)

If you have a number of recently opened accounts, or are shopping around for the best rate and having your credit pulled again and again, it can negatively affect your credit. Inquiring about your credit too often can also affect your score as well, and you generally want to avoid pulling credit more often than every six months to one year.

It’s great to know that credit isn’t a mysterious, immovable number, but rather like a living organism that responds to care and attention. The first step to improving your credit score is to know your credit score. Lucky, Idaho Central has you covered with our free My Credit feature! You can check your credit score each time you log into eBranch without impacting your score! You can also view your full credit report, monitor for unusual activity, get alerts for changes to your credit, and more.

As always, our loan officers at Idaho Central are happy to help you create a plan to build your credit and answer any questions you have. We are proud to say that with credit builder productscompetitive rates, and a rewards program, we have something suitable to fit every need.

Financial Education

Business Merchant Services

Jul 09
2020
credit card merchant services

Idaho Central Credit Union is excited to announce our recent partnership with First Data® to provide business merchant services to businesses. As a merchant service provider, we provide businesses with the necessary requirements to accept credit cards, debit cards, and other forms of electronic payment, including Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay®, tap-and-go cards, and more. WhatRead more

Idaho Central Credit Union is excited to announce our recent partnership with First Data® to provide business merchant services to businesses. As a merchant service provider, we provide businesses with the necessary requirements to accept credit cards, debit cards, and other forms of electronic payment, including Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay®, tap-and-go cards, and more.

What are the benefits of business merchant services?

Business merchant services offer low credit card processing rates that allow you to provide the convenience of accepting all major payment types. Whether you own a local bake shop or a chain of restaurants throughout the nation, credit cards are a major way of making transactions across the globe, and business merchant services can help you earn more by offering the best solution for customer to make payments, making processing more efficient and profitable.

Being able to take major credit cards is not the only benefit of business merchant services, however. Part of our partnership with First Data includes analytic systems where you are able to see your customers’ spending patterns and geographic range, and even analyze what products or promotions you can run to increase your sales and satisfy your customers. It can also show data on how you are performing compared to your competitors. That way, you can do some market research on how to be more competitive.

With such great data, another way our business merchant services can help you is to see what   kind of marketing effort would give you the best results. It’s a full-cycle service that creates multiple wins at once. Analytics that shows customers’ preferences and their buying behaviors can help you create marketing campaigns that speak directly to them.

What are the different Point of Sales (POS) Systems?

Idaho Central partners with First Data, who uses Clover POS systems. Clover has 4 major POS systems: Clover Station, Clover Mini, Clover Flex, and Clover Go. Clover Station is an all-in-one POS and payment system, where you are able to accept all major payments, including chip cards. It also makes it easy for customers to sign on a 14-inch HD screen, and more. On the other hand, Clover Mini has the convenience of being small, which takes up less space on your reception desk, and still accepts all payment types. It’s perfect for smaller businesses and those that have limited space. Clover Flex is even more compact than Clover Mini, and it’s a perfect fit for sole proprietorship businesses and entrepreneurs that are always on the go. Clover Flex lets you take major payments by connecting a small device via cellular and WiFi. This small device even offers tap-and-go payments, and has a 5-inch HD screen that shows just enough information for your customer’s order. This small device even includes an embedded printer, barcode scanner, and camera that fits all your needs. Last, but not least, Clover Go is an all-in-one handheld POS and payment system that accepts not only chip and swipe card payments, but contactless payment as well. If you want to use your phone instead of the screen on the POS system device, this is the most compact device that can take your business transactions to the next level.

Bottom Line

We are so excited to continue to provide excellent customer service to our business members, and very excited to introduce our new partnership with First Data. If you are interested in learning more about the merchant services that we offer, please contact our Merchant Service Manager and Business team.

Financial Education

How Does Culture Impact a Company?

Jun 10
2020
Company Culture

Company culture is a hot topic, and it has become a significant factor new hires consider when deciding where to work. As a business owner, it can feel daunting to hear about how important company culture is, but left to wonder what exactly it is, and how it affects your business. Company culture is formedRead more

Company culture is a hot topic, and it has become a significant factor new hires consider when deciding where to work. As a business owner, it can feel daunting to hear about how important company culture is, but left to wonder what exactly it is, and how it affects your business.

Company culture is formed by many different factors, and includes company vision, values, norms, beliefs, assumptions, habits, and more. It’s a pre-existing condition that each company has, and yet it is also something that is continuously evolving. Each employee brings their own culture to contribute to the existing culture, whether good or bad. Here are a few important elements that make up company culture:

Vision, Values & Mission Statement

One of the easiest ways to get your employees on the same page is to have a clear vision, company values, and a mission statement. What is more important than having these, however, is to actually demonstrate these things each day. It is important to have these easily accessible to employees and ensure managers often discuss how each team can implement these into their work. Once established, the company values are also easy to apply to the hiring process. Knowing clearly what the company’s vision, values, and mission statement are will help hiring managers identify individuals that have similar values and vision. Hiring employees who are a good culture fit will make the onboarding process easier, and empower them to add value to the existing culture.

Trust

Trust is essential when it comes to company culture. Trust is a critical part of building healthy professional relationships and culture in a company. We all want to have reliable co-workers that will pull their weight; what’s even better are co-workers that you can work collaboratively with. After all, you see your co-workers as much as you see your friends and family, if not more. Trust helps build those relationships and makes work a fun, accepting environment where employees can feel safe and have the desire to be present and productive. In the end, trust can help companies build a culture that empowers employees to perform at their best, ultimately generating more profit.

Education & Learning

Continued education and learning is another critical part of a positive culture. John C. Maxwell, an American author who primarily focuses on leadership, has said, “Growth is the greatest separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to a personal growth.” It doesn’t matter if it is professional development, on-the-job education, or any other kind of learning, if employees are learning they are improving themselves. By doing so, employees feel more fulfilled because of their ownership and growth, which helps the company to retain more skilled people to contribute to the mission. It’s a win-win scenario that supports an important part of company culture. Because of this, many companies are offering more and more incentives for continued learning, including tuition reimbursement, online libraries with a variety of books, and incentives for certain job-specific certificates. Investing in your employees is investing in your company.

Employee Engagement

A healthy, impactful company culture won’t be sustainable without employee engagement. Employee engagement can range from involvement with important decisions, team building activities, employee reviews, diversity and team belonging, and more. These are important ways to help each employee feel valued for who they are within the company, and to be able to take ownership of building the company together. As employees contribute their ideas and see their ideas being implemented, they become more invested in the company and its success.

Bottom Line

Many companies offer similar perks and benefits, including competitive salary, health insurance coverage, paid time off, and so forth, but that isn’t the only thing that can set them apart. Having a strong, positive company culture is something that can make all the difference with their employees. A culture where employees can feel safe, happy, and free to express themselves is one perk that not all companies can offer. As Idaho Central’s CEO, Kent Oram, has said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Having great strategies to execute is important, but having the right people that will execute them is even more important. After all, a strategy without someone invested to execute it is just a dream. That said, it might be time to take a step back and assess your company culture to see what you can do to create an amazing culture that attracts top talent.

Financial Education

How to Protect Yourself from Scams

Jun 02
2020
How to Protect Yourself from Scams

When it comes to avoiding fraud, it can feel like being scammed is inevitable. Your spam inbox is full of attempts to trick you, every other phone call you get is just another request for your information, and it seems like everyone has a story of how they were recently involved in a new, scaryRead more

When it comes to avoiding fraud, it can feel like being scammed is inevitable. Your spam inbox is full of attempts to trick you, every other phone call you get is just another request for your information, and it seems like everyone has a story of how they were recently involved in a new, scary scam. It can start to feel like you are always being warned of a new scam popping up, ready to take advantage of you.

Be skeptical, not worried.

Though it’s easy to be scared of falling victim to fraud, the remedy for your worry is to be informed. You don’t need to know the details of every scam out there in order to stay safe.  Knowing what to look for and how to protect yourself is the best way to defend yourself against fraud.

How do I know if this is a debt relief offer or a scam?

Debt relief and loan forgiveness are very enticing offers for many people as we navigate our current economy.  While there are companies out there who may offer products to help during this hard time, use these tips to take a closer look at what they are offering.

  • Are they asking you to pay a fee for assistance?
  • Do they promise immediate relief or forgiveness of debt?
  • Are they using official-sounding words in their company name, such as “federal” or “national”?

Though these offers may seem like the answer you’ve been looking for, they often offer unrealistic results, and then leave you in the same, if not worse, financial situation as before. If you are in need of help during this time, please remember that Idaho Central is offering borrower assistance programs.

How do I identify fraudulent deposits or checks?

Searching for a job or supplemental income in our current economy can be stressful. It can be made even more stressful when trying to weed out which offers are valid, and which ones might be too good to be true. Here are five red flags to look out for to be sure any offer or payment is legitimate.

  • Are they asking you to pay a fee for certification, training materials, or other expenses before you begin working?
  • Are you expecting a payment in this amount from this individual or organization?
  • Are they asking you to wire money or asking for your credit card information?
  • Is the payment equal to the agreed upon amount?
  • Are they asking you to cash a check and forward a portion of the money somewhere else?

How do I stay safe online?

Practicing every-day safety in your internet usage will help protect you against most threats.

  • Do not respond to unsolicited spam emails.
  • Understand the risk of using unsecured or public wireless networks.
  • Only open attachments and links from trusted senders.
  • Secured websites will have an icon of a locked padlock that typically appears right next to the URL in the address bar. Don’t enter your personal or credit card information into a website if that icon isn’t present.
  • Never provide your credit card information in an email, text, or over the phone.
  • Always log directly into the official website for a business, instead of linking to it from an unsolicited email.

How do I protect my loved ones?

Your friends and family are important to you, and it’s important to help them stay safe as well. Keep them informed about any scams, and help them know and put into place best practices to keep their identity and money safe.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, millennial’s are 25% more likely to report losing money to fraud than adults age 40 and over. However, their median individual reported loss is much lower than what other age groups report. Elder Abuse is another threat to be on the lookout for, as the NCOA (National Council on Aging) estimates that approximately 1 in 10 Americans, aged 60+, have experienced some form of Elder Abuse, including financial abuse. One study estimates that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to the authorities. Help protect the people you love by bringing awareness to potential scams and how to avoid them.

Slow down.

Many scams capitalize on simply creating a sense of urgency. Slow down and really evaluate what is being presented to you. Take your time to verify anything that may seem off, trust your instincts, and don’t commit to or take action on something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

As always, please remember that Idaho Central would never send you an email with a link asking you to provide login credentials, security questions, or any other personal information. Always go directly to www.iccu.com or use our app to login and access your online banking. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you ever have questions or concerns; Idaho Central can help you identify scams or fraud, and help you with the next steps needed to protect yourself.

Financial Education

How to Open a New Account at ICCU

Apr 24
2020
Couple talking to credit union teller

For some, the thought of opening a new account at a financial institution can seem daunting.  However, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help put your mind at ease. At Idaho Central Credit Union, we strive to make the process of opening an account fast and easy.  Here is all you need to know.

We are continuously humbled that so many Idahoans trust us with their daily balance and we refuse to let a single member down. If you live or work in Idaho you likely qualify for membership. Becoming a member is simple and takes just minutes. In fact, you can join online right now. Once you’re a member, you will immediately begin enjoying the full benefits of membership with Idaho’s top credit union. It’s a small change now that can make a big difference later.

For some, the thought of opening a new account at a financial institution can seem daunting.  However, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help put your mind at ease. At Idaho Central Credit Union, we strive to make the process of opening an account fast and easy.

What do I need?

To open an account at Idaho Central, you need only four things:

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Number
  • 2 emergency contacts
  • Deposit

How much does it cost?

  • To become a member: $5 (One-time fee, at initiation only)
  • Savings account: $25 (This amount stays in your account to keep it open).
  • Checking account: $100
    • This money can be used immediately, a $100 deposit is necessary to open the account.
    • Starter accounts require only $50 deposit. That means that anyone under 18 years old can open a checking with $50.
    • Checking can be opened as young as 12 years old.
  • Credit card: $0 (No deposit necessary.)
  • Other loans: TBD
    • If you are taking out a personal, auto, RV, home, HELOC, or other type of loan, you can work out how much you pay upfront to determine your monthly payments.

How do I know if I am eligible for membership?

  • If you live or work in Idaho or Washington, chances are you can become a member. You can find more details about eligibility on our website here.

What if I have bad credit or no credit at all?

  • We have products specifically set up for those who may have had credit hiccups in the past or who have never had an account before, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do to get you set up.

Where do I sign up?

  • Click here to become an Idaho Central member today.

Idaho Central Credit Union is proud to have been acknowledged as one of America’s top-performing credit unions seven years running. That’s a streak we look forward to keeping alive.

As the premier credit union in Idaho, our members receive industry-leading products and services while also enjoying true Idahoan customer service. We’re proud to have called Idaho home since 1940.

We’re excited to be running a new member promotion from April 23, 2020 through May 31, 2020! Read the details here.