Credit union cards might not get as much attention as popular cards from big issuers, like Chase or American Express. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth looking into. A card from a credit union can be not only an excellent option for those with lower credit scores, but also a finishing touch to a card enthusiast’s strategy.
I got a credit union card last month with good credit and some of the best credit cards already in my wallet. Now, it has potential to become one of the most valuable cards I have because of how well it matches my spending.
Read on to learn about credit union credit cards and their pros and cons and to see if this type of card could be a good choice for you.
Credit union card pros
Essential reads, delivered weekly
Subscribe to get the week’s most important news in your inbox every week.
Your credit cards journey is officially underway.
Keep an eye on your inbox—we’ll be sending over your first message soon.
The list of pros regarding credit union credit cards is long – see if any or all are appealing to you.
The fees and interest rates tend to be lower
Credit unions are member-owned nonprofit organizations, and the entire system works slightly differently from banks. Because of that, you may get lower interest rates as well as lower fees.
Annual fees, foreign transaction fees and late fees are also lower at a credit union versus a traditional bank. In fact, although 45% of traditional bank credit cards come with annual fees, only 10% of credit union credit cards do.
You may get great value from the card
It’s a misconception that only banks with large resources can offer generous credit card rewards and that credit unions can’t compete.
Of course, a credit union card isn’t likely to offer you premium benefits like airport lounge access or hundreds of dollars in statement credits. Still, if you like to earn cash back as much as I do, you may be surprised how much value credit union cards can provide.
Take the Affinity Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card that I have. I came across it while shopping for a credit card that would reward me for spending in bookstores (since being a bookworm can be an expensive hobby). What I got was more than just a great card for bookstores – it was the perfect finishing touch to my credit card strategy.
The Affinity Cash Rewards earns 5% back at bookstores, including Amazon.com (on up to $3,500 per month in purchases made at Amazon). Except for books, I do virtually all my shopping on Amazon. Imagine how excited I was when I got this card. This is an outrageously generous cash back rate, there’s no annual fee and no Prime membership is required.
Last year, I spent $2,168 on Amazon (I’m excluding grocery orders since I use the American Express® Gold Card for that). I also spend about $2,000 on books annually. If my spending stays the same, I’ll have earned over $200 in cash back with the Affinity Cash Rewards by my first-year card anniversary just in these two categories. But besides rewarding you for Amazon and book shopping, the card also offers 2% back at supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations and for eligible streaming and ride-sharing services, as well as 1% back on everything else. These cash back rates can put some popular rewards cards from major banks to shame.
Customer service will likely be excellent
One of the biggest advantages of credit unions is their focus on customers’ experiences.
This means you will typically receive excellent customer service and much more flexibility in terms of payments, because credit unions aim to support their customers and help them maintain financial stability.
Credit unions are local institutions that try to connect with a community, those who work for certain companies or have some specific mutual connection. As such, they focus on building trust and a brand within a community.
This, too, often translates to better, local customer service.
I was pleasantly surprised when I got my union credit card and received a call from the union’s customer service. It was a representative who had emailed me earlier letting me know she would be my point of contact in case of any questions. When she called, she asked me how my experience with the card was and whether I needed any help setting things up.
I have cards from some major issuers known for their great customer service, yet none of them were able to offer me this level of attention or a designated person I could contact.
You might find it easier to get credit
It’s usually easier for members to get credit at a credit union if their credit isn’t perfect.
This allows consumers with less-than-perfect credit an opportunity to get a quality credit card product even when more well-known cards might not be available to them.
Additionally, credit unions are more flexible with small businesses and their unique needs, such as gas cards for employees or multiple users on an account.
You may get a second chance if you get denied
Consumers with lower credit scores or even an average credit history can find it difficult to get a credit card from a bank. But if a credit union declines your application for a credit card, you can ask it to reconsider the decision.
Sometimes credit unions will grant your request and require you to enroll in financial education classes to make sure you learn to use it responsibly.
See related: How credit scores affect interest rates
Credit union cons
Most financial products come with some downsides, and credit union credit cards are no exception. Here are some things to consider before you apply for a card from a credit union.
Your other accounts are used as collateral
Perhaps one of the biggest downsides of using a credit union for a card is sometimes they may use a cross-collateralization system, which ties all your credit union accounts together.
For instance, if you have multiple loans at the same credit union and for some reason you can’t make a payment on one of them, it automatically gets secured by the other loans you have. Say someone put up a used car as collateral for a personal loan and they default on a credit card payment – that car could be repossessed to satisfy the credit card debt.
Luckily, that’s not always the case. It’s possible to get a credit union card without securing it with any collateral. Make sure to research various options and pay attention to terms to avoid getting a card on conditions you’re not comfortable with.
You must meet specific membership criteria
To get a credit card from a credit union, a customer must meet membership criteria. This can be a restriction on location, employment or a variety of membership eligibility requirements. For example, I was once rejected by a credit union in Dallas when refinancing my car loan because the union only serves U.S. citizens – no permanent residents (rude).
When you apply for a credit card at a bank, you usually don’t need more than the legal requirements, and your application depends only on your credit history and income.
On the other hand, many credit unions provide an option to become a member by paying a small fee if you don’t meet the membership criteria.
The application process may be lengthy
In my experience, getting approved by a credit union can be a bit stressful. I’ve dealt with this process three times – twice when trying to refinance my car loan and once when applying for a credit card – and each time has been a pain.
What takes five minutes when you’re applying for a card from a major issuer can take days and even weeks with a credit union. You can be asked to send your paystubs to prove your income and your utility bills to prove you live where you say you live, among other things. This slows things down considerably.
Customer service may not be available 24/7
Although a credit union may provide outstanding customer service, it might not be available 24/7.
For example, if you’re traveling and have a problem with your card, you might not be able to get in touch with the credit union’s customer service department right away.
See related: How long does it take to get a credit card?
While there are advantages to credit union credit cards, there are some downsides, too.
Membership can be exclusive, you’re not guaranteed card approval just because you’re a member, and the application process can be stressful.
On the upside, because credit unions don’t offer credit cards for a profit, members indirectly benefit from those credit cards – when credit unions make money, they can offer better interest rates, reduced fees and even valuable rewards.
Otherwise, credit union credit cards are just like big-bank credit cards.
You can use them for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances, and you must make at least the minimum monthly payment to keep your account in good standing.
In addition, most credit unions report your account history to Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, which is an extra incentive for making your payments on time as it can help you build credit.
Change has to start somewhere, and for many people that change is easier to make if the starting point has some meaning. It can be a birthday, an anniversary, or any other date with some symbolic weight. Most commonly, people choose the beginning of the new year.
If you’re looking for some New Year’s resolutions that will truly change your life, consider adjusting your financial strategy. Here are five things you can do in 2021 to take your money game to the next level.
Interest rates are at near-historic lows, which makes this the perfect time to refinance your debt. Refinancing means switching your loans from your current lender to a new lender in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate. Refinancing can save you thousands of dollars, depending on the original interest rate and total balance.
Â For example, letâs say you have a $200,000 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, and you refinance to a 3% interest rate. Your monthly payment will be $244 lower, and youâll save $31,173 in total interest over the life of the loan.Â
You can refinance auto loans, personal loans, and even student loans. However, if you have federal student loans, you may want to hold off on refinancing. Refinancing a federal student loan converts it into a private student loan. This means youâll give up extra perks and benefits like income-driven repayment plans and deferment and forbearance options.
Transfer Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt, you can pay less interest by transferring the balance to a new card with 0% APR on balance transfers. These special discounts usually last between 12 to 18 months, during which time you wonât be charged interest on the credit card balance.
For instance, letâs say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 17% APR. If you only make the minimum payments, youâll pay $1,223.61 in total interest. If you transfer that balance to a card with 0% APR for 12 months and repay the balance in that time, you wonât pay any interest.
There is often a small fee associated with balance transfers, around 3% of balance transfers. For example, if you transfer $5,000, youâll pay a $150 fee. That still leaves a net savings of $1,073.61 in the scenario outlined above.
Decrease Your Fixed Expenses
One of the best things to do for your budget in 2021 is to decrease fixed expenses like your car insurance, internet, cable, and cell phone. Call those providers and try to negotiate a lower rate.
Â Go through your transactions for the past few months and write down all the recurring subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DoorDash. Then, group them into categories like âfrequently use,â âsporadically useâ and ârarely useâ. Consider canceling anything you rarely use.
Â See if you can get a better deal on your most popular subscriptions. For example, if you and your significant other both pay for Spotify Premium, get a Spotify Duo account instead, and save yourself $83.88 a year.
Open a Better Bank Account
Most people are missing out on an easy way to earn money through your bank account. You could be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table if you still have a traditional savings account.
According to the FDIC, the current average interest rate on a savings account is 0.05%. Many high-yield savings accounts offer rates between .40% and .60%.Â
Letâs say you have $10,000 in a savings account with .05% interest. After one year, youâll have earned $5.04 in interest. If you moved that amount to a high-yield savings account with .5% interest, you would earn $49.92 in interest over that same time period.
If you’re not investing for retirement yet, this might be the most important financial resolution you can make. Thanks to the power of compound interest, you can start investing now and see huge growth by the time youâre ready to retire.
IRAs and 401(k)s are the two main retirement accounts. Anyone can open an IRA, while only those who have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) can open one.
Â If you’re not sure how to invest in your retirement account, consider hiring a qualified financial planner through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
If youâre not ready to work with a financial planner, you can use a robo advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront, which will create a portfolio based on your age, income, and expected retirement age. Robo advisors have low fees and are designed to help beginner investors.
How to Keep Financial Resolutions
First, start small. Pick one habit to change at a time. If you try to accomplish five goals at once, you’ll burn out quickly and give up.Â
When you decide on a resolution, break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to talk to a financial planner about investing, break it down into the following steps:
1) Research financial planners through NAPFA
2) Send introductory emails to three financial planners
3) Choose the one that seems like the best fit
4) Schedule a consultation
Give yourself a deadline to accomplish each of these tasks, and ask a friend to hold you accountable.
Another tip is to tie your resolutions to a bigger goal. Like dieting or starting a new exercise plan, changing your financial habits is hard. If you’re used to grabbing lunch with your co-workers every day, bringing leftovers from home instead will seem like a huge change.
The key is to imagine the future version of yourself who will benefit from the changes you make today. If your goal is to open and contribute to a retirement account, imagine yourself as a senior citizen living comfortably.
When youâre tempted to skip this monthâs retirement contribution to buy concert tickets, think about your future self, what youâd want for them and how they would appreciate your sacrifice. It can also help to remember some of the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much easier your life would be right now if you had made a different choice.
The post The 5 Best Financial New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you have bad credit and need a car loan, there are some challenges when compared to obtaining a standard car loan. However, pick your head up because there are a handful of great lenders that specifically tailor their programs to people with bad credit. We researched the landscape of lenders that can help you get a car loan even if you have a below-average credit score.
Based on our study, OneMain Financial and LightStream are two of the top lenders offering bad credit card loans. This is due to factors including loan options, requirements to qualify, and interest rates offered. Of course, we offer in-depth reviews of all the top lenders who offer bad credit car loans further down in this piece.
Apply now with our top pick: OneMain Financial
In this guide we also help you understand the factors that go into selecting the right auto lender, and how to get the best rate you can.
Most Important Factors for Bad Credit Car Loans
If youâre in the market for a bad credit car loan, there are a plethora of factors to consider and compare. Here are the main loan details we looked at in our study, and the ones you should prioritize as you select the best car loan for your needs.
Check your credit score. And understand what is in your credit report.
FICO scores under 579 is considered ‘poor’. But you may need a bad credit loan with a score as high as 669.
Interest rates and fees matter. These can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month.
Compare loan terms. Consider your repayment timeline and compare lenders with this in mind.
Getting prequalified online can help. Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Watch out for loan restrictions. Some lenders impose restrictions on what car you can purchase. Keep this in mind to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
The Best Bad Credit Car Loans of 2021
The best bad credit car loans make it easy for consumers to qualify for the financing they need. The following lenders made our list due to their superior loan offerings, excellent customer service, and reputation in this industry.
Car Loan Company
Best for Flexibility
Best Personal Loan Option
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
Best Loan Comparison Site
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Best for Fast Funding
Why Some Lenders Didn’t Make the Cut
While the lenders we are profiling are the best of the best, there are plenty of bad credit car loans that didnât quite make the cut. We didnât include any lenders that only offer auto loan refinancing, for example, since we know many people need a car loan in order to purchase a new or used car or truck. We also stayed away from bad credit car loans that charge outrageous fees for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Bad Credit Auto Loan Reviews
We listed the top companies we selected in our study above, but we also aim to provide readers with more insights and details on each. The reviews below highlight the highlights of each lender that made our list, plus our take on who they might be best for.
OneMain Financial: Best for Flexibility
OneMain Financial offers personal loans and auto loans with interest rates that range from 18.00% to 35.99%. You can repay your auto loan in 24, 36, 48, or 60 months, and you can use this lender to borrow up to $20,000 for a new or used car. You can apply for your auto loan online and from the comfort of your own home, and itâs possible to get approved within a matter of minutes.
While OneMain Financial doesnât list a minimum credit score requirement, itâs believed they will approve consumers with scores as low as 600. You should also note that auto loans from OneMain Financial come with an origination fee of up to 5% of your loan amount.
Sign Up With OneMain Financial Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: OneMain Financial offers a lot of flexibility in terms of your loan terms, including the option to repay your auto loan over five years. OneMain Financial also has pretty decent reviews from users for a bad credit lender, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: OneMain Financial charges some pretty high rates for its bad credit loans, and donât forget that you may need to pay an origination fee that is up to 5% of your loan amount. Their loans are also capped at $20,000, which means this lender wonât work for everyone.
Who Itâs Best For: This lender is best for consumers with really poor credit who need auto financing but canât get approved for a better loan.
Upgrade: Best Personal Loan Option
Upgrade is an online lender that offers personal loans with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a fixed repayment timeline. You can borrow up to $50,000 in an unsecured loan, which means you wonât actually use the car you purchase as collateral for the loan.
You can repay the money you borrow over 36 to 60 months, which makes it possible for you to tweak your loan offer to secure a monthly payment you can afford. Upgrade has a minimum credit score requirement of 620 to qualify, although theyâll consider additional factors such as your income and employment history.
Sign Up With Upgrade Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Upgrade lets you âcheck your rateâ online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it easy to shop around and compare this loan offer to others without having to fill out a full loan application. Also note that Upgrade has an A+ rating with the BBB.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Upgrade charges APRs as high as 35.89% for consumers with the worst credit, and an origination fee of up to 6% of your loan amount might also apply.
Who Itâs Best For: Upgrade is best for consumers with decent credit who need to borrow a larger loan amount. This loan is also best for anyone who wants an auto loan that isnât secured by their vehicle.
AutoCreditExpress.com: Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
AutoCreditExpress.com is an online platform that lets consumers with bad credit and even no credit get the financing they need. Once you fill out some basic loan information, youâll be connected with a lender who can offer you financing as well as a dealership in your area. From there, youâll head to the local dealership and pull the pieces of your auto loan together, including the purchase price of the car you want.
Sign Up With Autocreditexpress.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: AutoCreditExpress.com has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. This platform also makes it possible for consumers with no credit at all to finance a car, which is a welcome relief for people who are building credit for the first time.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: This website is a loan platform but they donât offer loans directly to consumers. This means you wonât have any idea on rates and terms until you fill out an application and get connected with a lender.
Who Itâs Best For: This loan is best for consumers with no credit or minimal credit history who cannot get approved for a loan elsewhere.
MyAutoLoan.com: Best Loan Comparison Site
MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site that makes it easy to compare up to four auto loan offers in a matter of minutes. You can use this website to apply for a new auto loan, but you can also utilize it to consider refinancing offers for an auto loan you already have. You can also use funds from this platform to purchase a car from a dealer or from a private seller.
Sign Up With MyAutoLoan.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Comparing auto loans in terms of their terms, rates, and fees is the best way to save money and wind up with the best deal. Since MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site, they make it easy to shop around and compare competing offers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Loan comparison sites connect you with other lenders who have their own loan terms and minimum requirements for approval. Make sure you know and understand all the details of loans youâre considering before you sign on the dotted line.
Who Itâs Best For: MyAutoLoan.com is best for consumers who want to do all their auto loan shopping with a single website.
Capital One: Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Capital One offers online auto loan financing in conjunction with a program called Auto NavigatorÂ®. This program lets you get prequalified for an auto loan online, then work with a participating dealer to coordinate a loan for the car you want. Capital One also lets you search available vehicles at participating dealerships before you apply for financing, making it easy to figure out how much you might need to borrow ahead of time.
Sign Up With Capital One Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Capital One offers the huge benefit of letting you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry to your credit report. Capital One is also a reputable bank with a long history, which should give borrowers some comfort. They have an A+ rating with the BBB and plenty of decent reviews from consumers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: You should be aware that Capital One auto loans only work at participating dealers, so you may be limited in terms of available cars to choose from.
Who Itâs Best For: Capital One auto loans are best for consumers who find a car they want to buy at one of the participating lenders that works with this program.
LightStream: Best for Fast Funding
LightStream offers online loans for a variety of purposes, including auto financing. Their auto loans for consumers with excellent credit start at just 3.99% with autopay, and even their loans for consumers with lower credit scores only run as high as 16.79% with autopay.
You can apply for your LightStream loan online and get approved in a matter of minutes. This lender can also send your funds as soon as the same business day you apply.
A minimum credit score of 660 is required for loan approval, although other factors like your work history and income are considered.
Sign Up With LightStream Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: LightStream offers auto loans with exceptional terms, and thatâs even true for consumers with less than perfect credit. You can also get your loan funded as soon as the same business day you apply, which is crucial if you need auto financing so you can get back on the road.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: With a minimum credit score requirement of 660, these loans wonât work for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Who Itâs Best For: LightStream is best for people with decent credit who need to get auto loan financing as quickly as possible.
What You Need To Know When Applying For A Car Loan With Bad Credit
Interest rates and fees matter.
If you think your interest rate and loan fees wonât make a big difference in your monthly payment, think again. The reality is that rates and fees can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month. Consider this: A $10,000 loan with an APR of 35.89% will require you to pay $361 per month for five years. The same loan amount at 21.99% APR will only set you back $276 per month. At 9.99%, you would pay only $212 per month for five years. The bottom line: Make sure to compare auto loans for bad credit so you wind up with the lowest possible APR you can qualify for.
Take steps to improve your credit score before you apply.
Itâs not always possible to wait to apply for a car loan, but you may be able to secure a lower interest rate and better loan terms if you can improve your credit score before you borrow money. The most important steps you can take to improve your score include paying all your bills early or on time, as well as paying down debt in order to decrease your credit utilization. You should also refrain from opening or closing too many credit card accounts in order to avoid new inquiries on your credit report and maintain the longest average length of your credit history possible.
Compare loan terms.
Some lenders let you borrow money for up to 84 months, while others let you repay your loan over 36 or 60 months at most. If you need to repay your loan over a longer timeline in order to secure an affordable monthly payment, make sure to compare lenders based on this factor. If youâre having trouble figuring out how much can you can afford, gauging affordability based on the monthly payments you can handle can also help in that effort.
Getting prequalified online can help.
Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it considerably easier to compare rates and shop around without formally applying for an auto loan. Getting prequalified with more than one lender can also help you determine which one might offer the lowest rate without having to fill out a full loan application.
Watch out for loan restrictions.
As you compare the lenders on this list, keep in mind that not all lenders extend loans for any car you want. Some only let you finance cars with participating lenders in their network, which can drastically limit your options and make it impossible to purchase a car from a private seller. If you hope to purchase a car from someone you know or a website like craigslist.org, you may want to consider reaching out to your personal bank or a credit union you have a relationship with.
Bad credit car loans donât have to be forever.
Finally, you should know that a car loan for bad credit doesnât have to last forever. You may need to borrow money for a car right now regardless of the interest rate and terms you can qualify for, but it may be possible to refinance your loan into a better loan product later on. This is especially true if you focus on improving your credit score right away, and if you use your auto loan as an opportunity to prove your creditworthiness.
How to Get the Best Rate
1. Check your credit score.
Your credit score is one of the most important defining factors that dictate loan costs. Before you apply for an auto loan, it can help you check your credit score to see where you stand. Your score may not be as bad as you realize, but it could also be worse than you ever imagined. Either way, it helps to know this important information before you start shopping for an auto loan.
2. Improve your credit over time.
If your credit score needs work, youâll want to take steps to start improving it right away. The most important steps you can take to boost your credit score include paying all your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization. Also, make sure youâre not opening or closing too many credit accounts within a short amount of time.
3. Check your credit reports.
Use the website AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Once you have this information, check over your credit reports for errors. If you find false information that might be hurting your score, take the steps to have the incorrect information removed.
4. Compare loan offers from at least three lenders.
A crucial step to get the best rate involves shopping around and comparing loan offers from at least three different lenders. This is important since lenders with different criteria might offer a lower APR or better terms than others.
5. Be flexible with repayment terms.
Also consider a few different loan terms provided you can afford the monthly payment with each. Some auto lenders offer better rates for shorter terms, which can help you save money if you can afford to repay your loan over 24 or 36 months instead of 60+.
How We Chose the Best Auto Loans
The lenders on our list werenât plucked out of thin air. In fact, the team behind this guide spent hours comparing auto lenders based on a wide range of criteria. Hereâs everything we considered when comparing the best bad credit car loans of 2021:
Interest Rates and Loan Terms: Our team looked for loans that offer reasonable rates and terms for consumers with poor credit. While higher APRs are typically charged to consumers with a low credit score, we only considered lenders that offer sensible rates that donât seem out of line for the auto loan market.
Ratings and Reviews: We gave preference to lenders who have decent reviews online, either through Consumer Affairs, Trustpilot, or another third party website. We also gave higher marks to lenders who have a positive rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Online Availability: Lenders who offer full loan details online were definitely given top priority in our ranking, and lenders who let you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report were given the most points in this category. But since not everyone wants to apply for a loan online, we also included some lenders that let you apply over the phone.
Approval Requirements: Finally, we looked for lenders that extend credit to consumers with low credit scores in the first place. Not all lenders offer specific information on approval requirements, but we did our best to sort out lenders that only accept borrowers with good or excellent credit.
Summary: Best Bad Credit Card Loans of 2021
Best for Flexibility: OneMain Financial
Best Personal Loan Option: Upgrade
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No credit: AutoCreditExpress.com
Best Loan Comparison Site: MyAutoLoan.com
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit: CapitalOne
Best for Fast Funding: LightStream
The post What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Austerity policies are nothing new. But talk about them in the news has recently escalated. In response to its ongoing debt crisis, the Greek government is preparing to implement austerity measures aimed at helping the country regain its financial footing. If you didnât major in economics or you have no clue what austerity means, read on to find out how this fiscal program works.
Check out our personal loans calculator.
Austerity: A Definition
Trust us, austerity isnâtas complicated as it sounds. Austerity is a type of economic policy that governments use to deal with budget deficits. A country faces a deficit whenever itâs using more money than itâs earning from tax dollars.
By taking on an austerity package, a government hopes to reign in its spending, improve the status of its economy and avoid defaulting on its unpaid debt. Governments usually take on austerity measures in order to appease their creditors. In exchange, these lenders agree to bail out countries and allow them to borrow more money.
If you look up the word austere in the dictionary, youâll see that it means severe, grave, hard, solemn and serious. Indeed, austerity is nothing to joke about.
Austerity plans normally involve increases in different taxes, (property taxes, income taxes, etc.) budget cuts or a push to incorporate both. Government workers could lose their jobs or see their wages and benefits either decline or become stagnant. Hiking up interest rates, adding travel bans and keeping prices at a fixed level could be other strategies put in place to reduce spending.
Naturally, austerity measures typically arenât viewed in the best light because they mean that there might be fewer government programs available to the public. Aid for veterans and low-income families, healthcare coverage and pensions are some of the benefits that normally take a hit when a countryâs using an austerity package. Government services that arenât eliminated might not be as comprehensive or as beneficial as they once were.
As you can see, in an austere environment, conditions are tighter overall. Historically, austerity has been implemented in the US during tough times including World War I, World War II and the Great Recession of 2008.
Greeceâs new austerity package â which government lawmakers finally accepted in July 2015 â will feature less government funding, higher taxes and cuts to pension plans. As a result of this deal, the country was allowed to begin talks with its creditors about a third bailout.
Related Article: All About the Greek Debt Crisis
The Problems With Government Austerity
Experts on the economy tend to go back and forth about how effective austerity can be. Some believe that instead of turning to austerity, the government should pump out more money and borrow as much as possible if an economy is on the rocks.
From a political standpoint, austerity is often controversial and results in riots and demonstrations. Anti-austerity protests erupted in Greece, where quite a few folks say that past austerity programs have only made social and economic conditions worse.
Beyond slowing down the economy, an austerity bill can cause a country to remain in its debt crisis, particularly if itâs in the midst of a recession. As fiscal austerity decreases spending, GDP can go down while unemployment goes up. Consumers can get nervous and stop spending and investing their own money.
In short, austerity policies can make life even more difficult for people who are already struggling. Thatâs why governments tend to turn to them as a last resort if other strategies arenât working.
Why Austerity Might Not Be So Bad
Notable European creditors have argued that austerity can be beneficial to a countryâs long-term economic state. For instance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has previously reported that austerity has done more damage than anticipated. But the European Central Bank released a paper saying that austerity has been helpful, at least for some of the weaker eurozone countries.
In fact, austerity has helped strengthen the economies in European countries like Latvia and Iceland. Although Spainâs unemployment remains high, its economy is in better shape overall. Ireland has made considerable progress as well toward rebuilding its economy.
Proponents of austerity policies say that they can make investors feel more optimistic when a country is being run more responsibly. Austerity has the potential to bring a shrinking economy back to life as everyday citizens invest in the private sector instead of relying on support from the federal government.
Try out our free investment calculator.
The US used austerity measures between 2010 and 2014. Not only were our policies harsher than those employed by the governments in the UK and other European nations, but our economy fared better than theirs.
The point of austerity is to tighten the governmentâs belt, bring a countryâs debt back down to a more manageable level and stimulate an economy that has stopped growing. Countries generally try to meet these goals by cutting spending and raising taxes.
The debate over whether austerity works continues but one common theme has emerged. Timing matters. Some critics suggest that cutting too much too quickly during a recession can be painful. When introduced more slowly, however, (or when the economy is doing very well,) austerity measures can turn things around.
Credit card balances edged down in December, even as consumers engaged in holiday shopping, as uncertainty about a second round of stimulus checks extended to the latter part of the month.
Consumer revolving debt â which is mostly based on credit card balances â was down $3 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in December to $975.9 billion, according to the FedâsÂ G. 19 consumer credit reportÂ released Feb. 5.
In December, credit card balances were off 3.6% on an annualized basis, following Novemberâs revised 0.8% dip and Octoberâs 6.7% drop, which came on the heels of Septemberâs 3.2% annualized gain.
The Fed also reported that student loan debt outstanding for the fourth quarter rose to $1.707 trillion, from the third quarterâs $1.704 trillion. And auto loan debt outstanding gained to $1.228 trillion, from the third quarterâs $1.219 trillion.
Total consumer debt outstanding â which includes student loans and auto loans, as well as revolving debt â continued to grow and rose $9.7 billion to $4.184 trillion in December, a 2.8% annualized gain.
For the entire year, credit card balances were down 11.2%.
Card balances had been growing before the coronavirus impacted consumer spending and bank lending in 2020. They dipped below the $1 trillion mark last May, for the first time since September 2017.
See related: 51% of consumers accrued more debt duringÂ the pandemic
ABA sees brighter days ahead for credit availability
The American Bankers Association reports, based on input provided by chief economists of large North American banks to its credit conditions index for the first quarter of 2021, that credit conditions (both credit quality and availability) have rebounded from their lows of last summer.
However, all three components of the index (the headline credit index, the consumer credit index and the business credit index) remain below 50, which is not a robust index reading. It indicates that while bank economists expect credit conditions to remain âsoftâ in the coming six months, they are less pessimistic than they were in September 2020 when the ABAÂ conducted its last credit conditions survey.
The consumer credit index component of the survey gained to 45.3, its highest level since mid-2019. Economists are optimistic about both the availability and quality of consumer credit compared to September. They expect credit to be more available to consumers in the coming six months, although a small majority expects credit quality to decline.
âAlthough credit quality is still expected to worsen over the first half of the year for both consumers and businesses, the overall outlook for credit markets has improved significantly since the summer and fall,â said Rob Strand, ABA senior economist. âAs widespread inoculations against the virus and new fiscal stimulus measures help heal the economy, banks will continue to work closely with policymakers, consumers and businesses to ensure that affordable credit remains available and recovery strengthens.”
Fed reports easing of credit card lending standards in fourth quarter
According to the Fedâs senior loan officer opinion survey on bank lending practices for January 2021 (which is based on input related to the fourth quarter of 2020), a âmoderate net share of banksâ reported that they had eased up on credit card loans.
As a result, a âmodest net share of banksâ also hiked up their credit limits on credit card accounts. And a âmoderate net share of banksâ reported that there was higher demand for credit card loans during the fourth quarter.
As for the outlook, a âsignificant net share of banksâ is expected to ease up on their standards for credit card loans. They are doing so in anticipation of an improvement in their loan portfoliosâ credit quality, as well as a hike in their tolerance for risk.
Also, the New York Fedâs survey of consumer expectations for December 2020 finds that consumers are less concerned about the possibility of missing a minimum debt payment in the coming three months. The average perceived probability of this occurrence dipped to 10.5% for December, from Novemberâs 10.9%.
See related: What happens when you miss a credit card payment?
Jobs edge up in January
The New York Fed survey also finds that on average fewer consumers expect the unemployment rate to be higher a year from now, with this probability declining to 38.9%, from Novemberâs 40.1%.
While the average perceived probability of losing a job in the coming 12 months rose up a bit to 15% (mainly on account of those without a college degree), respondents were also more likely to leave their job voluntarily. However, they were less optimistic about landing a new job if they lost their current ones.
The U.S employment situation was about stable in January, with the economy adding 49,000 jobs, the government reported Feb. 5. âThe labor market continued to reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,â according to the Department of Laborâs employment report media release. The unemployment rate dipped 0.4 percentage points to 6.3% and average hourly earnings were up $0.06 to $29.96. Also, the job numbers for both November and December were revised down, with November down 77,000 jobs (to 264,000) and December losing an additional 87,000 jobs (to minus 227,000).
In his daily email commentary, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted, âCoupled with the -159K net revision, this is a significantly softer report than expected, at least in terms of payrolls. Bulls will cite the large and unexpected drop in the unemployment rate, but two-third(s) of the decline was due to a 405K drop in the size of the labor force â a sign of discouragement â while household employment rose 201K.â
He added that âthe labor market was frozen at the start of the year, and is completely dependent on the pace of reopening, which in turn is contingent on the speed and sustainability of the fall in hospitalizations.â
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
If left unchecked, extensive amounts of credit card debt can cripple your finances. The good news is there are many ways to handle debt, though each requires a dedicated effort on your part. But if you can manage to consolidate credit card debt, you will reduce your burden relatively quickly. In the process, youâll avoid the exorbitant interest rates that accompany most credit cards. Below we take a look at some of the most effective techniques you can use to make this goal a reality.
Find Out Your Credit Score
Before you can work on improving your credit and minimizing your debt, you have to know where you currently stand.
Many credit card issuers allow cardholders to see their FICOÂ® credit score free of charge once a month, so check out if any of your cards include that free credit score. The three major credit bureaus â TransUnion, Experian and Equifax â also give out free annual credit reports. If thatâs not enough, websites like Credit Karmaâ¢ and Credit Sesame provide a free look at your credit score and reports as well.
It is vital to review your credit report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure the accuracy of the information. If you find errors be sure to let the credit bureau in question know so the issue can be eradicated as soon as possible.
Zero Interest Balance Transfer Cards
Although it might seem counterintuitive to apply for another credit card to lessen your debt, a zero interest balance transfer card could really help. These cards typically include an introductory 0% balance transfer Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for six months or more. This ultimately allows you to move debt from one account to another without incurring more interest. However, once the introductory offer concludes, any leftover balances will revert to your base APR.
These offers arenât totally free, though. Most cards also charge a balance transfer fee thatâs usually between 3% and 5% of the transfer. Even with this initial payment, you will almost always still save money over leaving your debt where it stands currently.
If you want to consolidate credit card debt, here are three different balance transfer credit cards you could apply for, with varying introductory interest rates and transfer fees:
Balance Transfer Credit Cards Card Intro Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Chase Slate 0% APR for first 15 months; then 16.49% to 25.24% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $5 or 5% of each transfer, whichever is greater Citi Double Cash Card 0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening; then 15.49% to 25.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater BankAmericardÂ® credit card 0% APR for first 15 billing cycles; then 14.49% to 24.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater Take Out a Personal Loan
The thought of taking out another loan probably doesnât sound too appetizing to consolidate credit card debt. But a personal debt consolidation loan is one of the speediest ways to rid yourself of credit card debt. More specifically, you can use it to pay off most or all of your debt in one lump sum. That way, your payments are all merged into a single account with your lender.
The APR and length of the offered loan and the minimum credit score needed for approval are the main factors that should go into your final decision on a lender. By concentrating on these three components of the loan, you can map out what your monthly payments will be. As a result, you can more easily implement them into your financial life.
Applying for a personal consolidation loan can have a detrimental effect on your credit. Unfortunately, most institutions will run a hard credit check on you prior to approval. However, many online lenders donât do this, which might ease your mind depending on the severity of your debt situation.
These loans are available through a wide variety of financial institutions, including banks, online lenders and credit unions. Here are a few examples of some of the most common debt consolidation lenders:
Common Debt Consolidation Lenders Banks Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank Online Lenders Lending Club, Prosper, Best Egg Credit Unions Navy Federal Credit Union, Unify Financial Credit Union, Affinity Federal Credit Union Auto or Home Equity Loan
If you own assets like a home or car, you can take out a lump-sum loan based on the equity you hold in them to consolidate credit card debt. This is a great way to reuse money you paid toward an existing loan to take care of your debt. When paying back your auto or home equity loan, youâll usually pay in fixed amounts at a relatively low interest rate. Even if this rate isnât great, itâs likely much better than any offer youâd receive from a card issuer.
Equity loans are technically a second mortgage or loan, meaning your house or car will become the loanâs collateral. That means you could lose your house or car if you cannot keep up with your equity loan payments.
Create a Budget
To build a budget, you first need to figure out your approximate monthly net income. Donât forget to take into account taxes when youâre doing this.
You can then start subtracting your variable and fixed expenses that are expected for the upcoming month. This is where you will likely be able to identify where youâre overspending, whether itâs on food, entertainment or travel. Once youâve completed this, you can begin cutting back where you need to. Then, use your surplus cash to pay off your debt one month at a time.
It shouldnât matter if youâre dealing with substantial credit card debt or not. A monthly spending budget should always be a part of how you manage your finances. While this is likely the slowest way to eliminate debt, itâs also the most financially sound. At its core, it attempts to fix the problem without taking funding from an outside source. This should leave very little financial strife in the aftermath of paying off your debt.
Professional Debt Counseling
Perhaps since youâve found yourself in serious debt, you feel like you want professional help getting out of it. Well the National Foundation for Credit CounselingÂ® (NFCCÂ®) is available for just that reason. The NFCCÂ® has member offices all around the U.S. that are certified in helping you consolidate credit card debt.
These counselors wonât only address your current financial issues and debt. Theyâll also work to create a plan that will help you avoid this situation again in the future.
Agencies that are accredited by the NFCCÂ® will have it clearly displayed on their website or at their offices. If youâre not sure where to look, the foundation created an agency locator thatâll help you find a counselor nearby.
Borrow From Your Retirement
Taking money early from your employer-sponsored retirement account obviously isnât ideal. Thatâs means borrowing from your retirement is a last-ditch alternative. But if your credit card debt has become such a handicap that itâs affecting all other facets of your life, it is a viable option to consolidate credit card debt.
Because you are technically loaning money to yourself, this will not show up on your credit report. Major tax and penalty charges await anyone who has trouble making payments on these loans though. To make matters worse, if you quit your job or are fired, youâre typically only given 60 days to finish paying it off to avoid incurring a penalty.
Tips To Consolidate Credit Card Debt
If you take the time to come up with a budget, donât let it go to waste. While you might find it tough to stick to, especially if youâre trying to cut back, it is the best way to manage your money correctly. Even if a budget becomes habit, stay vigilant with where your money is being spent.
Although a financial advisor will cost money, he or she might be able to help you keep your finances in check while ultimately helping you plan for the future as well. However, if this isnât an option for you financially, stay on track with your NFCCÂ® debt counselorâs plan.
There are so many ways to gain access to your credit score that thereâs virtually no excuse for not knowing it. It doesnât matter if you do it through one of the top three credit bureaus, FICOÂ® or one of your card issuers. Just remember to pay attention to those ever-important three digits as often as possible.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
Do you keep a close eye on your personal finances? Or maybe youâve never given them much thought. Either way, itâs time to start paying more attention to your credit score. Your credit score can control a lotâwhat loans you qualify for, the credit cards that are available to you, etc. To keep on top of it all, itâs important to check your credit score. But how often can you check your credit score, exactly?
You know what they say: knowledge is power. Find out how often you can check your credit score below so you can arm yourself with knowledge about your personal finances.
The Difference Between Your Credit Score and Credit Report
Before looking into how often you can check your credit score, it’s important to understand the difference between a credit score and a credit report. They can be easy to confuse, so you might think theyâre the sameâbut theyâre not.
Your credit report is a detailed document about your credit history. It shows active and past accounts, whether you paid on time and how much credit you’ve used compared to open balances. Other information might include names of your past employers if you’ve ever included them on a credit application, as well as negative records such as collections accounts and bankruptcies.
Your credit score is a three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, that’s calculated based on all the information in your credit report. There are many credit scoring models, including popular models such as FICO and VantageScore.
While credit scoring models all work toward the same goalâproviding an overall picture of how likely you are to pay your debtsâthey do so with slight variations in the formulas. That means your credit scores might vary between these models.
You also have more than one credit report. Not every lender or business reports to all three of the major credit bureaus, for example. So the information in your credit file can also vary slightly. That also means that you have different credit scores, too.
How Often Can You Check Your Credit Score for Free?
Here’s where the difference between credit score and credit report comes in. You can get your free creditÂ report from each of theÂ three major bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com.
Usually, the reports are available once every year. Which means you could get a look at your credit information every four months by spreading out your requests for each of the bureaus. However, due to personal financial stress related to COVID-19 and to help consumers best manage credit and finances during this time,Â AnnualCreditReport.com and the three credit bureaus are making reports available weekly through April 2021.
Unfortunately, a free credit report doesn’t mean a free credit score. When you order your report you get the detailed information in your file. You don’t get the score the bureau might show lenders when you apply for credit. To get regular access to your credit scores, you typically have to pay for it.
Reasons to Check Your Credit Report and Score
So why do you need to keep tabs on your credit score and credit report? Here are a few reasons:
Keeping a regular eye on your credit report helps you identify inaccurate negative items that might be dragging down your score. The faster you catch and challenge the accuracy of these items, the more likely you’re able to prove they’re not correct. The credit bureaus have to remove them if they can’t be proven correct.
Checking your credit report regularly helps you see whether suspicious activity is occurring, which can indicate that you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud. Again, knowing and acting early can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Knowing your credit score and how it moves up and down over time can also help you understand whether there might be issues with your report. If you see the score moving in a negative direction and aren’t sure why, you can investigate further.
You might want to check your credit before you apply for a loan, especially one with greater qualification requirements such as a mortgage. That way, you can fix any possible issues before a lender evaluates you for approval.
You may also want to ensure there aren’t any surprises on your report before you apply to rent an apartment, get auto insurance quotes or send your resume in for a job opportunity, as some of these opportunities can depend in part on your credit history.
If you’re working to improve your credit history and score, you may want to see that your efforts are having a positive impact.
How Can You Get Your Credit Score?
You might have access to your credit score via your credit card provider. If this is a benefit you get as a card holder, you can typically see the score by logging into your credit card account online or via a mobile app. The downside is that this is only one possible version of your score.
You can see another version of your score by signing up for Credit.com’s Credit Report Card. You’ll get a score that updates every 14 days as well as information about the five major factors that go into determining credit scores and how you’re faring with each.
If you want to get more bang for your buck, it might be time to look atÂ ExtraCredit. Youâll get access to five useful services, includingÂ TrackIt, which will give you a look intoÂ 28Â of your FICO Scores.Â
How Many Points Does Your Credit Score Go Down for an Inquiry?
Requesting yourÂ own score or credit report doesn’t impact your score at all. That’s because this is considered a soft inquiry. OnlyÂ hard inquiries impact your credit score. Hard inquiries occur when a lender pulls your credit to evaluate you for a loan or other credit.
So, whether you’re requesting your credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com or investing in a service such as ExtraCredit, get as much information about your credit as you can. It won’t hurt your score to do so.
Sign up for ExtraCredit today!
The post How Often Can You Check Your Credit Score, and How Do You Get It? appeared first on Credit.com.
Generally speaking, it takes seven to 10 business days to get a credit card once youâre approved. The specific amount of time can vary as many factors throughout the process affect how fast you receive your card. Getting approved can happen in a matter of seconds or days, depending on what kind of card you apply for. Whether you apply online or in person may also affect how fast youâll receive your credit card in the mail.
How Long Does It Take to Get My Card in the Mail?
The longest step in getting a credit card is waiting for it to come in the mail. Shipping time frames can vary depending on which credit card you apply for. Here are the average time frames of many popular credit card companies today:
American Express: seven to 10 business days
Wells Fargo: seven to 10 business days
Discover: three to five business days
Capital One: seven to 10 business days
Bank of America: seven to 10 business days
Chase: three to 5 business days
Citi: seven to 10 business days
Unfortunately, the time it takes for the credit card to go through the mail can be impacted by many factors out of your control. You may get your card sooner than stated above, or later if there are external mail carrier issues.
How to Get a Credit Card Right Away
Unfortunately, most credit cards arenât made available to you the same day you apply. Even though you can get approved for a card almost instantly, you must still wait for the card to come in the mail. However, credit card companies sometimes offer options to help speed up the process.
Most banks offer expedited shipping if you need your card delivered faster than usual. Depending on what type of card and bank you apply with, they may charge you an extra fee for this option. Some banks will make things easier for you by giving you your credit card number right after approval. This allows you to start making purchases while waiting for the physical card to arrive. American Express typically allows this with all of their cards to increase their user satisfaction.
What to Do If You Havenât Received Your Card Yet
If you notice that you havenât received your card after some time, reach out to your bank or credit card company. By reaching out, you minimize the risk of the card getting lost or stolen. Your bank may also be able to provide you with a temporary card while they sort everything out. Not all lenders, but if they do they may charge you an additional fee.
How To Apply for a Credit Card
To get a credit card, you must first apply either online or in person for approval. Receiving the credit card itself and waiting to be approved are two separate steps. Therefore, the time it takes to receive your card can vary from person to person.
What Do Creditors Look for in Applications?
Credit card applications typically ask for your personal information as well as your financial background. To determine your financial background, theyâll ask for your Social Security number and source of income.
Your Social Security number will allow the creditors access to your credit report. After close evaluation, youâll either be approved or declined for the card. When looking at your report, creditors typically pay close attention to data such as your debt-to-income ratio, hard inquiries, and any delinquent accounts you may have.
Your debt-to-income ratio refers to how much of your cardâs limit is spent. Consistently using too much of your limit may cause creditors to view you as more of a high-risk borrower. Similarly, too many hard inquiries can make you seem risky. Finally, a delinquent account is another red flag. This shows that you may not have been paying off your credit card bills on time. Lenders wonât be as willing to approve you for a credit card if you have a history of account delinquency, as itâs not a good sign for them that youâll be a reliable borrower.
Some credit card companies pre-approve users who they think may be a good fit based on a soft version of their credit report. A soft version of your report gives lenders a glimpse of your financial background, but wonât affect your credit score. When your report shows that you meet a few requirements, theyâll send a card in the mail for you to use if you apply. Receiving the card in the mail doesnât mean that you are automatically approved. It just helps speed up the process of getting a credit card. Pre-approving users is a way companies market their cards to users, in hopes of them applying later on.
How to Build Credit With a Credit Card
When you use a credit card, you build credit simultaneously. The way you manage and use your card can have either a positive or negative effect on your credit score.
How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?
If this is your first time using a credit card, then you are most likely building credit from scratch. Building a credit score doesnât happen overnight. It usually takes about six months or so to build enough credit to have a credit report. Beginning early can be of great benefit to you down the line. A major factor in the calculation of your credit score is the length of your credit history. The longer youâve spent building your credit, the more of a positive impact it can have on your score.
Ways to Keep Your Credit Score Healthy
When using a credit card, it can pay off in the long run to follow some best practices. You can do this by having a good understanding of what exactly factors into your credit score. The following are good habits to establish for maintaining a healthy score:
Make on-time payments to avoid a delinquent account.
Aim to only use 30 percent of your credit limit at a time to show you can manage your card wisely.
Avoid applying to too many cards or loans in a short time, as it can result in a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries can be the reason you are getting declined for your financial requests.
Stay on top of monitoring your credit score and report, so you can identify any mistakes before itâs too late to fix.
While the most common time frame for getting a credit card is seven to 10 days, it can vary from person to person. If this seems like a long time, try reaching out to your bank. They may be able to expedite shipping or give you access to your credit card number in advance. Each credit card lender is different, so itâs important to do your research before applying. Take a look at our guide on the best credit card offers to help start your search.
The post How Long Does It Take To Get a Credit Card? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Whether you are about to head to college (no matter what your age may be), if you have a child who is about to attend college, or if you know someone who is about to experience this, then this article is for you.
When I was around 17, I applied to several different colleges, but one mistake I made was that I didn’t even give community college a thought.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to going to community college, like thinking it is for those that can’t get into a “regular” college, for those that don’t have enough money, or for those that have no other options. When, in fact, these are all far from the truth.
And, sadly, I bought into these myths and thought I was too good for community college. If you want to save money in college, community college is a great way to do that.
The stigma about going to community college is absolutely ridiculous.
And, I was a young kid, so, of course, I let other people’s opinions get to me. And, I thought everyone was right!
It isn’t just kids that believe those myths about community college, as even adults (parents or returning learners) buy into those myths.
Well, that is a big mistake!
For many people, community college should be their first choice.
College costs are increasing, and they’re not going to stop anytime soon.
According to College Board, the average yearly tuition and fees for a:
Private four-year college is $32,410.
Public four-year college for out-of-state students is $23,890.
Public four-year college for in-state students is $9,410.
Community college, on the other hand, is just $3,440.
Those tuition differences are huge, and just look at how much you could save if you did only your first year at community college!
For many people, going to college means taking out loans, and according to a student survey done by Nerdwallet, 48% of undergrad borrowers said they could have borrowed less and still have afforded their educations. And, 27% regretted going to a school that required them to take out loans to afford their tuition.
I know this regret personally.
I only spent one summer semester taking classes at community college, where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved over $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.
Yes, I could have saved that much money!
Whether you are in college already or if you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.
Today, I want to talk about common myths I hear about community college, so that I can persuade more people to give it a shot. It can save you so much money, and is a great option for a lot of people.
Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?
FAFSA Tips So That You Can Get The Most Financial Help For College
Learning How To Survive On A College Budget
How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500
How Blogging Paid Off My Student Loans
16 Best Online Jobs For College Students
Here are common myths about attending community college:
But, all of my credits won’t transfer.
This is the top reason (and myth) I hear for not attending community college.
If you take the correct steps, the credits you earn at a community college will transfer.
If you decide to go to a community college first, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will accept all of your credits. It’s an easy step to take, so do not forget to look into this! You should take this step before you sign up and pay for any classes at the community college so that you are not wasting your time.
My four-year university made it easy and had a printed list of what transferred from the local community college – it’s seriously that easy! I’m sure many universities do this as well.
When I took classes for college credit in high school and at the community college, I made sure that all of the classes transferred to the university in which I was getting my degree from.
I have heard too many stories about people not checking this ahead of time and wasting years by taking classes that didn’t transfer, which means you are wasting time and money.
Make sure you get it in writing and talk to your college counselor as well about this. They can help you determine which ones will transfer and provide you proof of transferability.
Also, know that by accepting transfer credits, your four-year university is basically saying “these community college credits mean the same thing here.”
Community college won’t actually save me that much money.
I want to repeat, the average yearly tuition and fees for a:
Private four-year college is $32,410.
Public four-year college for out-of-state students is $23,890.
Public four-year college for in-state students is $9,410.
And, community college is $3,440.
As you can see, college tuition is a significant amount of money, and it is a drastic difference between four-year institutions and community college.
Now, the problem here is that many people “afford” college by taking out student loans, so the amount of money you are paying for college isn’t an immediate thing that you “feel” – because it’s all debt!
Note: If you are a parent and you are thinking about taking on debt to put your child through school, please, please, please consider having them attend community college first. Please, also read Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?
The classes won’t be as good.
I’ve heard this community college myth over and over again. Many people think that the classes won’t be “good enough” for them. That is usually far from the case, though. Your first two years, no matter where you go, are most likely going to consist of very generic classes or classes that are similar, if not the same, as ones at the four-year college you are thinking about attending.
It’s usually not until the last two years, after you get those beginner classes and electives out of the way, that your classes really begin to matter for your degree.
And, if you’re afraid you really need more of those beginner classes from a four-year college, I recommend at least taking a summer semester or two at your community college for elective classes. There are usually lots of elective options at community college, and you can at least take those at a more affordable rate. That is exactly what I did – one summer while I was attending my four-year college, I enrolled at the community college for a bunch of electives. I was able to easily, and affordably, knock out a bunch of electives.
My degree will be worth less coming from a community college.
When you graduate with a four-year degree, the school name on your diploma will be the name of the college you graduated from. It won’t say, “graduated from here but took some classes at community college.” This is because your community college credits transferred (if you followed the step above).
So, no worries here.
Nowhere on my college degree does it say that I took some classes at the community college.
Did you attend community college? Why or why not?
The post I Thought I Was Too Good For Community College appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.