The financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is leaving millions of Americans in dire financial straits. This can really impact that credit score you’ve worked so hard to build. While your health is always a top priority, let’s focus a bit on your financial well-being. Keep in mind that your payment history and your credit utilization are the biggest factors impacting your credit score. Here are some suggestions of things you can do to proactively protect your credit score.
Try to pay your bills on time to protect your credit score
We realize that this may not be easy and may not even be possible for some of you. If you are out of work, feeding your family and keeping a roof over your head are probably your top priorities right now. If you’ve been lucky enough to be able to keep working, are receiving regular unemployment payments or your economic impact payment has arrived, do your best to try to at least make minimum payments on bills. We know your essential needs come first, just try to put what you can towards bills also. Put a strict budget in place to help get through the next few months. That may mean no unnecessary purchases. If you’re struggling to pay your bills, read on for our recommendations.
Contact your lenders for skip a loan payment or other payment relief programs
Choice One Community Credit Union and other lenders are here to help our members in this time of economic uncertainty. We realize that everyone needs a helping hand and financial institutions are looking for ways to fill that need. There are many people who may find themselves slipping through the cracks of all of the government aid with no help in sight. Contact your lender and ask for a temporary pause in loan payments. Many lenders, such as Choice One, already have a program like this in place for members. Our Skip-A-Loan Payment Program* enables members to skip a loan payment any one month between April and August. Be proactive in approaching your lenders. We are here for you. It’s a much better option than simply ignoring your payments, which will definitely impact your credit score. This also goes for your car payments through large automakers as well.
Contact utility and other service providers for deferment or payment plan options
Many service providers, just like the lenders as we mentioned above, have programs to assist their customers during this time of financial need. Contact your utility, cable and cell providers, along with any other monthly creditors you have. Ask what assistance plans they have in place.
Consider a credit card balance transfer to buy you some time
If you’ve been relying on credit cards to get you through this difficult time, you may be facing high-interest payments. Look for a low-rate credit card balance transfer offer, like Choice One’s, to transfer the balances of higher interest cards and save on interest. It’s a temporary fix, but a good option for the short term. Credit card balance consolidation will also provide you with just one monthly payment.
Monitor your credit reports
With everything else on your mind right now, we’d hate to see this important factor slip through the cracks. Coronavirus scams are popping up everywhere, so it’s more important than ever to monitor your credit report as well as your financial accounts.
Being proactive can help you protect your credit score
With so many things out of our control right now, we need to focus on what we can control. Your credit score is something you can control if you are proactive. If you are looking for some assistance to help you get through this uncertain time, Choice One is here. Learn more about our COVID-19 Member Assistance Program. You’ll find valuable information and special loan rates, as well as details of our skip a payment program. Have questions? While our lobbies are not open, we are here and able to take your calls. Speak to a Choice One customer service representative by calling 570-823-7676.
*A $35.00 processing fee per loan will automatically be deducted from your share account. Interest will continue to accumulate on your loan during the month you skip your payment. Each member is allowed to skip a payment twice during the designated time per calendar year. All requests to skip a payment must be approved by the loan department. MAPS, Shared Secure Loans dated after 9/1/15 and 90 Day Balloon Loans are not eligible for this program. Home Equity Loans are eligible for the Skip-A-Pay program one time in the calendar year. This is a special offer; all accounts must be in good standing to be eligible. Fee must be in the account at the time of application.