With over half of Americans * reporting some sort of negative impact of COVID-19 on their personal finances, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your credit score. That number can seem mysterious, but it’s fundamentally a grade for your reliability as a borrower—so in hard times it’s easy for that grade to take a hit.
The best advice to remember with regards to your credit score or any other financial concern boils down to one thing: be proactive.
Using your tools and resources, seeking advice from professionals, reaching out to your lenders, and taking the initiative to create a plan for your financial wellbeing are always key steps to place you on more secure financial footing.
1. Get the Information You Need to Understand Your Situation.
It might sound cliché to claim that “knowledge is power”, but it’s also 100% true when it comes to your finances.
- Do you know what your credit score is? – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax are providing free, weekly credit reports now through April 2021. Keeping an eye on your score is the first step to keeping it healthy.
- Vantage has partnered with GreenPath Financial Wellness in order to provide our members free financial counseling and education services.
- We also provide members with access to Banzai financial literacy services — tools, calculators, and programing to help you understand your finances.
- We’ve turned to LifeLock ® to provide options for protection against the threat of identity theft. And, as a Vantage member, you’ll receive up to 25% off ** your first year of LifeLock membership.
2. Talk with Your Lenders.
Many lenders have programs specifically to address times of hardship, but since options vary, the only way to know your possibilities is to ask:
- Ask if your lender has a particular hardship or forbearance program, and find out the qualifying criteria.
- Ask about whether payments can be deferred. Be sure to find out if the payments all become due at the same time, or whether the deferred payment is just added to the end of the schedule.
- Ask for details about how your account will be reported to the credit reporting agencies if you go into forbearance or into your lender’s hardship program.
- If your lender is Vantage, then contact our Credit Resolution Department at 314.264.5300 or CreditResolution@vcu.com.
3. Vantage Is Here to Help.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or out of choices in such an unprecedented situation, but it’s important to remember that you do in fact have options. Vantage is here to help with a variety of services and programs that could ease some of the financial strain and stress.
- In response to COVID-19, we created an Emergency Relief Loan which provides our members with a signature loan that could provide an alternative to using credit cards to carry you through the situation.
- Our Skip-a-Payment program allows members to skip one month’s payment on a qualifying loan.
- Vantage Mastercard credit cards have no balance transfer fees, which gives you the option to transfer higher interest credit card debt to a Vantage credit card.
- A Home Equity Line-of-Credit allows you to use the equity in your home as collateral for a revolving line-of-credit. We have flexible payment options which could give you some breathing room during the draw period—perhaps just what you need to get back on your feet.
Of course, there are many factors that affect your credit score, and your financial situation is unique. It’s important to manage your credit score with individual guidance—and the tools and resources available—to make a plan particular to your finances and goals.
We’re here to listen to your individual circumstances and recommend options available for you.
* Source: NPR Article (April 29, 2020).
** Terms Apply.