As we cruise into Summer, what a year we have had so far! The unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far reaching. The concerns for health and safety have changed the way we learn, work, shop, bank, invest, exercise, eat, and even interact with each other. If you, and your families, are lucky enough to be healthy, safe, and cared for through all this, your finances still may be impacted. More and more businesses have had to shut their doors and lay off workers by the thousands. Even if you have a nest egg stashed away and/or remain employed, you still may be concerned about your long-term finances during this uncertain time. At Bank of Utah, we want you to know you are not alone. There is help and hope!
Financial worries are understandably at an all-time high. Aside from loss of employment and income, many people are concerned about their ability to maintain and build their credit. Is that a possibility during a pandemic? It may feel overwhelming, but the answer is yes! By implementing some simple habits and practices into your financial management, you may be surprised at how well you can manage your credit even in the most challenging of times.
To start with, federal and local governments are offering financial assistance for individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes help for anyone who is paying off debt. In March the federal government signed a $2-trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act, which provides emergency financial relief for people during this uncertain time. The act provides for a variety of assistance, from providing temporary relief from student loan payments to mandating deferral and forbearance of credit payments. Furthermore, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) portion of the CARES Act has been amended to stipulate that credit companies must agree to defer payments, report accounts as current to consumer reporting agencies, provide forbearance on delinquent debt, and generally provide relief to consumers during the national emergency. What does this mean for you? It means there are options available to you in working with creditors to protect your credit standing through this pandemic.
States are also implementing financial relief measures for COVID-19. Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed off on temporary deferment of rent payment and has issued a moratorium on evictions for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19. This provides some peace of mind for those concerned with not being able to make rent payments on time and the effect that might have on their credit.
Government support and relief is helpful, and much appreciated at this time. However, it is ultimately up to each of us to manage our own credit and finances. So what can we do?
Start With A Credit Report:
You can begin by getting a credit report. Bank of Utah offers some guidance here about what this entails. We understand that it can be confusing! Your credit score matters because it affects eligibility and approval for credit cards, car loans, student loans and more. It can have an impact on the cost of your car insurance and affect being able to buy a house, or even rent an apartment. No pressure there, right? Luckily, there are multiple ways to build your credit, even during this time of crisis.
Use a Credit Card Wisely:
A safe and easy way to start to build your credit is by getting a credit card. If used responsibly, a credit card can be a great tool to manage your finances and improve your credit score. Bank of Utah offers multiple card options. To name a few: the Visa® Secured Card is a great way to build credit and re-establish credit history, with a Visa® Real Rewards Card, you can earn points on the money you spend, and the Visa® Platinum Card is a great solution for paying down high interest balances on another credit card, If you apply for the Bank of Utah Visa® Platinum Card by August 31, 2020, you can get up to 20 months of 0% APR on new purchases or balance transfers*.
These credit cards can be useful to pay down balances, help with your cash flow, and improve your credit. It can be a win-win! Just make sure that if you sign up for a credit card, you are fully prepared to make the payments. You want the use of a credit card to be an advantage, not a problem, especially these days.
Keep Paying Off Debt:
While the government is offering support for credit and loan payments during the pandemic, it’s always a good idea to stay on top of your student loans whenever possible. If you are in a position to do so, make sure to work payments into your monthly budget, and make your payments on time. You’ll be happy you did, and your credit score will be too.
Know Your Limits When Buying a Home or Car:
If you’re looking to buy a car or house, doing so is an excellent way to build your credit. Just make sure it is something you can afford. From the down payment to the monthly payments, you want things to be manageable. If not, you can run into credit trouble. Buy what you can afford and use credit wisely. The use of credit should be to your advantage and help to establish a good credit history.
Protect Your Information:
Last, but not least, always make sure you are protecting your financial information by using strong and secure PINs and passwords. When shopping online, only use secure websites. Avoid using private account numbers while using shared Wi-Fi and be cautious of any suspicious emails in your inbox. Unfortunately, more scammers than ever are on the prowl during COVID-19. People are anxious, vulnerable, and want to help. It is easy for scammers to prey on these very things. As always, while you work to build your credit and protect your assets during COVID-19, take extra care to protect your personal information.
Bank of Utah offers support in building your credit. Even though these are challenging times, we want you to know you have options to start working toward your goals and dreams and we are here to help! Our branches have re-opened, so please call or come by to get started on your credit journey today, and explore our multiple credit card options to help you build your credit. Our wish is for your health, happiness, and hope for the future!
Ruth is Branch Manager at the Providence Branch has been with Bank of Utah for 7 ½ years.
She really enjoys working with our customer to help them with their financial needs.
Ruth also volunteers with Bear River Association of Government.