If you've recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be looking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card…
dos and donts of credit repair Dos and Don'ts of Credit Repair

If you've recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be looking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card payments, have an outstanding judgment against you or have even been frauded or victimized by identity theft.

Whatever the cause of the fall in your score, you're probably looking for ways to get it back on track. Tread carefully! There are lots of dishonest opportunists looking to make a quick buck off your pressing need. Don't become the next victim of a credit repair scam. In fact, there's nothing a credit repair company can do for you that you can't do yourself.

This probably has you wondering how to untangle the legitimate steps you should be taking now from the pointless and costly actions. Look no further! Our handy guide of credit repair dos and don'ts will help get you on the road to improving your credit score.

Do: Determine your actual credit score

If a recent credit application of yours has been denied, don't take it at face value - find out why it happened. The three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - are each required to provide you with a complimentary copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. To order yours, visit or call 1-877-322-8228.

If you've already requested a report from each of the agencies in the last 12 months, you can still get one free of charge; you are entitled to a free report whenever a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment. To qualify, just request a report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.

Do: Review your report and dispute any errors

Once you receive your report, review it for inaccuracies. If you spot any fraudulent purchases or erroneous information, you'll need to dispute them in writing. In your letter, identify every item you are disputing and the reasoning behind your claim. Include copies of documents that support your stance and ask that the errors be removed or corrected. It's best to send your letter by certified mail so you can ensure the credit reporting company actually received it if that is necessary. Also, keep a personal copy of your letter and all supporting documents for your own records.

You'll also need to dispute the charge with your actual creditor, taking the same steps you did above.

Don't: Expect any quick fixes

Anxious as you may be to improve your score, know that there is no "quick fix" for creditworthiness. Enhancing your score takes time, lots of hard work and creating and sticking to a realistic debt repayment plan.

If your credit score is poor, you may be bombarded with promotional material from credit repair companies that promise to increase your score by 100 points in less than a month. If you think these claims sound too good to be true, you're absolutely right. There are some legitimate credit repair companies out there, but as mentioned, there's nothing they can do for you that you can't do on your own - and without paying their hefty fee.

Do: Take steps toward fixing your credit

If you've determined that your credit report is accurate, you'll want to take a careful look at the habits that may be leading to your unfavorable score.

Are you timely with your credit card payments? If you're consistently late, consider setting up an automatic bill-pay system so you never forget to make a payment. Are you making headway on your debt? If you're paying your bills on time but your debt is not going anywhere, it's time to rethink your spending habits. Don't shop with credit cards; use only debit or cash. Look for ways to trim your expenses, like couponing wherever possible, planning dinner menus around sale items, and finding cost-free ways to relax instead of blowing money at a restaurant or on retail therapy.

Are your monthly bills unmanageable? If you can't make it through the month and still meet all of your minimum payments, your debt may need an overhaul. Consider debt consolidation, in which your debt is transferred to one low-interest account, or a balance transfer to a card that has an interest-free period. Be aware, though, that lots of open credit is not considered favorable by creditors; close as many accounts as you open - but leave your oldest one open as it shows a longer period of credibility.

Also, no card is interest-free forever. When the introductory period ends, you may be hit with higher than usual interest rates. Alternatively, you can contact your creditors and work out a more reasonable payment plan.

If these options don't sound feasible, try finding ways to increase your income instead, using all extra cash exclusively for paying down your debt.

Don't: Expect to see any changes immediately

Don't fret if you've made strides toward fixing your credit and haven't yet seen an increase in your score. Creditors will only report to the credit reporting agencies on a periodic basis, usually once a month. It may take upward of 30 days or more for your account to be updated and your score to improve.

Financial literacy is no joke for U.S. families. Only Bosnia has a lower percentage of young people who know their financial A,B,C’s, according to global survey of parents conducted by VISA.
Five Tips for Raising a Financial Whiz Kid

Our friends at WalletHub have put together helpful information on how to achieve success in teaching your kids about finance. Odysseas Papadimitriou is CEO of the personal finance websites WalletHub and CardHub.

Financial literacy is no joke for U.S. families. Only Bosnia has a lower percentage of young people who know their financial A,B,C’s, according to global survey of parents conducted by VISA. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the future when the folks who overspent their way into a recession and have continued to rack up debt throughout the recovery have such a low opinion of their own offspring’s preparedness for financial independence.

But while financial literacy is clearly no laughing matter, it is overlooked far too often. Only 17 states require the topic in public high schools. Parents and teachers across the rest of the country often look to one another to fill the void, only to allow the subject to slip through the cracks – if it’s ever on their radar to begin with.

The burden, ultimately, is all of ours to share. We all certainly have a vested interest in the financial know-how of all of our fellow citizens, regardless of age. And while there has been some debate regarding the effectiveness of formal financial literacy programs, a new study from the education company HigherOne found that “students who received financial literacy education in high school scored significantly higher than their peers on financial knowledge questions and are significantly more responsible when it comes to money.”

Attitude and behavior, the study indicates, are just as important as knowledge of specific facts. That’s where well-informed parents can make the biggest impact. With that in mind, here are a few tips for grooming a financial whiz kid.

  1. Make Sure to Get a Nap In: A recent study from the University of Arizona not only found a direct link between napping and early cognitive development, but also showed that children who napped were better able to apply previous lessons learned to new situations than non-nappers. That is a crucial aspect of critical thinking and, by extension, financial literacy. The details may change, but problem solving is timeless.
  2. Make It Fun: The Trojan Horse technique works wonders when it comes to teaching kids. If you make something fun, they’ll engage with it and maybe even learn something along the way. In that vein, the assortment of money-related apps and games that are available can be a great way to introduce responsible financial values to young children.
  3. Lead By Example: Academic research has also shown a direct link between the spending habits of parents and those of their children. That should come as no surprise. Kids are notorious mimics and they study everything their parents do. But it does mean that one of the biggest favors you can do your kids is to be financially disciplined yourself. If you need some pointers, there are plenty of great resources online. You could even enroll in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) if you’re really gung-ho.
  4. Get Their Hands Dirty: People learn best when they can actually do things themselves. Mistakes are also an inevitable part of the process. As a result, it’s best to give your kids practice when the stakes are still low and while you can still oversee the learning process, offering pointers all the way.

    The best approach is to provide your kids an allowance while requiring that they foot some of their own bills. You can gradually dispense the allowance in larger amounts and at longer intervals, while adding to the list of expenses your kids have to cover as well as introducing an assortment of financial products. We recommend starting with a prepaid card before moving to an all-cash allowance, a checking account and, ultimately, a student credit card.
  5. Focus on Tradeoffs: Responsible money management is all about managing trade-offs: risk vs. reward, more rewards vs. lower fees, higher salary vs. better experience – just to name a few. That means critical thinking and a reasonable outlook are the keys to financial security. So stoke your kids’ curiosity, teach them to never take things at face value, emphasize hoping for the best but planning for the worst, and they’ll be just fine.
At the end of the day, you’re already ahead of the curve with our youth and teen accounts Money Musketeers and Dinero programs to help your kids save and plan for the future.
In some ways, credit cards have a competitive advantage over cash and debit cards. They’re safer for online and overseas purchases, and, when you make your payments in full every month…
Choosing a Credit Card: What You Need to Know

Laura Edgar is a senior writer for, a consumer finance comparison website.

In some ways, credit cards have a competitive advantage over cash and debit cards. They’re safer for online and overseas purchases, and, when you make your payments in full every month, they’ll help boost your credit score. They may even give you rewards for the purchases you make every day. However, before you get one, it’s essential to know how credit cards work and which card fits best with your lifestyle. For people who are already struggling with debt, the best choice might be no credit card at all. Here’s what you need to know before you fill out that application.

Credit cards – the basics

Most people have a vague idea of how credit cards work, but not many people understand the details. Essentially, credit cards offer a revolving line of credit, letting you “buy now, pay later”. You are responsible for paying the card’s balance off in full, on time, every month, otherwise you’ll have to pay interest. If you only make the minimum payment every month, or don’t pay anything, your incur debt, and using your card can become very expensive, very fast. Credit cards are different from other payment cards because they make it easy to spend money you don’t have. A debit card deducts money from the existing balance in your checking account. A prepaid card only lets you spend money you have already loaded on the card.

Types of credit cards
All credit cards work the same way, but they offer different benefits. Most credit cards fall into one of four categories:

The main advantage of low APR credit cards, as the name suggests, is their lower-than-average interest rate. A card’s interest rate doesn’t matter if you always make your payments on time, but for many people, that’s just not realistic. A low APR credit card will help you pay less if you overspend.

Balance transfer
Balance transfer cards let you transfer your balance from a different credit card and make your payments with 0% APR for a limited time. These cards make it easier to pay off your balance, because during the 0% introductory APR period, your debt will not accumulate any additional interest.

Rewards credit cards give you money, miles or points for your purchases. On the flipside, they typically have the highest interest rates, and the cards that offer the best rewards may come with an annual fee. If you have good credit and can make your payments on time, they offer the most bang for your buck. If you don’t make your payments on time, the interest you pay will easily cancel out the rewards you earn.

If you’re just starting to build credit, or can’t qualify for a regular credit card, you’ll probably be eligible for a secured card. Instead of using your credit score as “proof” that you’ll make your payments, you submit a deposit, which is refundable when you cancel your card and upgrade to a better one.

Other important things to remember:

  • Don’t apply for more than one credit card at the same time. When you send in multiple applications in a short time frame, this looks suspicious to credit bureaus.
  • Keep your credit card information private to prevent identity theft.
  • Most of the time, it’s best to keep your credit card accounts open.
  • Older accounts will positively influence your credit score.
Learn more about Advancial’s Visa Rewards Plus credit card with low APR’s and no surprises!
tax form secrets revealed Tax Form Secrets Revealed

Q: Tax forms have started rolling in and my mailbox looks like a can of alphabet soup exploded in it! What do I need and where do I start?

A: This is a tough time of year for people who don’t like paper. Starting at the end of January and continuing through March, taxpayers start drowning in paper. Sorting out what’s important and finding a place to store it is a big challenge, and it becomes harder if you don’t know what’s what. Fortunately, it’s easier to tell these forms apart than you might think. There are only a few types of forms you’ll need to deal with, and most of them don’t even need paper. Here are the four most common tax forms you’ll see and what to do with them!

1.) W-2
This is the most common informational form you’ll receive.It’s a statement from your employer that contains your yearly wages, how much tax you’ve had withheld and how much you’ve paid (pre-tax) for things like health care premiums. If you have one job, this may be the only major tax form you get.

It’s also one of the most important forms. You’ll want to keep it with other tax documents until it’s time to file your taxes. This information – your yearly earnings and the amount of tax you’ve had withheld – are the most important factors for determining what your tax bill will be (or how big a refund you’ll get).

2.) 1099
This is a series of forms identifying income from sources other than a contract job. Most common is the 1099-INT, which lists interest income. You may get one of these from any financial institution where you have an account.

If you freelance or work as a contractor, you’ll probably receive a 1099-MISC. If you received unemployment or another source of government income, you’ll get a 1099-G. If you had debt canceled this year, you’ll get a 1099-C. There are a few other kinds of 1099 forms, but they all do basically the same thing.

You’ll need to hold on to these forms, too. They document income that you haven’t yet paid any taxes on. You’ll need the amounts on these forms when you get ready to file.

3.) 1095
These are relatively new forms that deal with health insurance. Form 1095-A is a statement about insurance purchased through a marketplace exchange. 1095-B is for private health insurance. 1095-C is for employer-sponsored health care coverage.

These forms are important if you get a health insurance subsidy through the Affordable Care Act. If not, you can go ahead and put this form into long-term storage. You’ll be asked when you file if you had health insurance all 12 months of the year. The IRS receives a copy of this form to check your work, so you’ll only need it if issues come up regarding your coverage.

4.) 1098
Two forms, the 1098 and the 1098-T, report tax deductible expenses. The 1098 form lists mortgage interest and points on your primary residence, while the 1098-T itemizes tuition and other expenses paid to an institution of higher learning. The 1098-T is used in a variety of places, including claiming the Lifetime Learning Credit and the Hope Credit.

Unfortunately, in order to take advantage of deductions relating to mortgage expenses, you’ll need to itemize your deductions. Claiming the deductions listed on the 1098 requires you to forgo the standard deduction, which for most people turns out to be a bad idea. Unless you have a host of other deductions, or you bought or refinanced your home this year, claiming the standard deduction and filing the 1098 away for later will serve you best.

The bad news is you can’t file your taxes and be rid of the whole mess until you get all of your forms together. You’ll need to keep any W-2 forms, 1099 forms and your 1098-T form together until all of them arrive. Get a manila folder or a document envelope to keep them all in the same place. Keep that folder somewhere safe, and as soon as possible, file your taxes so you can put it into storage. Keep your returns for at least 3 years after you file. A paper copy of last year’s tax return in your filing cabinet can make a world of difference!

Good news! Advancial members receive a discount on TurboTax. File your taxes online and get your biggest refund, guaranteed.

Perhaps you may have had good credit in the past, but are now experiencing a much lower credit score due to choices or life circumstances. Or, you may be building your credit for the first…
Girl looking at laptop with her credit card Ways to Build Credit
Perhaps you may have had good credit in the past, but are now experiencing a much lower credit score due to choices or life circumstances. Or, you may be building your credit for the first time as a young adult or as a newly single adult. Whatever the reason, you can rely on Advancial to provide you with products that can help reestablish your payment history.

Here are a few tips to help improve your credit rating:

Savings Secured Loans – A savings secured loan allows you to borrow money and build your credit without an extensive credit history. You may use your own money as collateral from your saving account or a Certificate of Deposit. If you are establishing or building credit, sometimes using a family member’s collateral may be a better option for you to borrow the money at a more affordable rate. Once the loan is paid off, the collateral is released.

Savings Secured credit card –Enjoy the benefits of a credit card even if you have less-than-perfect credit. Secured with your Advancial account deposits, you can qualify for limits of $500 to $3,000. Just use your card responsibly and, since the card is reported to the three major credit bureaus, you’ll be able to improve your credit score in no time.

Rent payment reporting – Make sure your rent payments are tracked and reported to Experian RentBureau, the only major credit reporting agency to include on-time rental payment data on its reports. Use of timely rent payments to build and boost credit scores is relatively new, and many people don’t know about it yet.

If you’re already leasing a home, or looking to find a suitable property to lease, ask your management company if your payments are reported to Experian RentBureau. And if you pay rent to an individual rather than a management company, you can still take advantage of a service that collects your rent payments electronically, pays your landlord and reports to Experian. It may be possible to include your excellent rent payment history, too.

Here’s the important thing to remember – to use your timely rent payment history for building or rebuilding your credit, you’ll need to be proactive about it. There are a handful of services that will collect, disburse and report for you, but of course, you’ll pay a small fee for the service each month. You must contact them to pay the small fee, but it can be a valuable investment in building your credit score, along with credit builder loans and secured credit cards from Advancial.

Planning for a good credit rating is just as important as planning for major purchases and life transitions. The importance of a good credit rating means it can’t be an afterthought and it shouldn’t be left to chance.

You’ve made the decision to become a credit union member, and that’s a step in the right direction! Give us a call at 800.322.2709 to apply for one of these products today.

*Advancial is not a credit counseling agency, credit repair organization or similar service provider.
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Make a Plan to Reach Your Financial Goals

Think about your financial goals for a moment. Do you picture yourself buying a home or taking a much-needed vacation? Are you focused on building a financial safety net or saving for retirement? Although challenges and setbacks may throw you off course, it’s easier to bounce back when you have a plan for reaching your goals.

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Estate Planning

A Checklist for an Organized Estate

Estate planning is a must these days – and it’s the smart thing to do to protect your assets and ease an already difficult time for your loved ones. But starting the process and executing it effectively can be a challenge. Making plans for distributing your money, home and other assets after you’re gone may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to address the topic so you and your loved ones are prepared.
Use this checklist to help you identify important documents and decisions for an organized estate...
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are you ready for a checking account

Are you ready for a checking account?

A checking account is an essential part of managing your finances and adulting. It’s useful for paying bills, depositing checks and keeping track of your money. Checking accounts come with a debit card for convenience, so there’s no need to carry a checkbook. You can also use mobile banking to deposit checks remotely and manage your account balance on the go.

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