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April 14, 2022
April Credit Education: Good Credit Scores & Bad Credit Scams
It wouldn’t be a Financial Literacy Month without some credit education! While you’re doing your financial spring cleaning tasks, take some time to check in on your credit. Let’s talk about what makes up a good credit score, how to improve your credit and how to avoid common credit scams.
What is a good credit score?
The elusive credit score. Where does it come from? You’ve probably heard the names of the big three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. These companies collect, analyze and store a variety of data reported by lenders, including banks, credit unions, student loan companies and more. Your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, the types of credit you have, and the frequency of recent credit applications are the five key factors that come together to create your credit score — a number between 300 and 850.
Though what’s considered a good credit score can vary from lender to lender, scores of 670 to 739 are generally considered good. 740 to 799 will put you in the very good category, and 800 or higher is excellent.
How to improve your credit score
If you don’t have the credit score you want, don’t worry. Your score isn’t permanent, and there are several ways to improve it.
- Pay on time. This might seem obvious, but paying your bills on time, every time, is the best thing you can do to improve your credit. Having trouble managing due dates? Contact your lenders to rearrange due dates to better align with your income schedule, which many lenders are willing to do. Additionally, set up automatic payments to avoid missing a due date. Try Bill Pay in Grow online and mobile banking.*
- Reduce balances. Credit utilization looks at the total you owe compared to your total available credit, so you can improve your score by lowering your balances.
Bonus tip: Make half of your payment two weeks before your due date, then pay the rest by your due date. It knocks down the balance that gets reported to the credit bureaus for that billing cycle, which lowers your overall credit utilization ratio and can raise your credit score.
- Monitor your credit report. Keep a close watch on your credit and dispute any errors quickly. You’re legally entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the major three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
For more about what makes up a good credit score and how to improve your credit, visit our Credit Education page.
How to avoid credit scams
While we’re talking about credit education, we want to remind you of the importance of staying vigilant to protect yourself from scams. Here are two common credit scams to avoid:
Debt settlement scams or credit boosting scams: If an offer to reduce your debt or boost your credit score sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of scammers that charge you an upfront fee or recurring monthly fee to reduce debt or boost your credit without truly delivering on the promise. (Read more about credit cleaning scams.)
Instead, look to nonprofit credit counseling agencies that offer free credit counseling and may potentially help you legitimately negotiate with your lenders. To get started with credit counseling, consult the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to identify legitimate sources.
Coronavirus scams: Since the beginning of the pandemic, scammers have been using COVID-19 messaging to scam people. They may use emails, text messages or phone calls to obtain your credit card number and other personal information under the guise of COVID-19 testing, treatments, vaccination or other topics.
Make sure you’re getting all information directly from a reliable source, including the CDC and your local health agencies, and be careful of scammers who may impersonate these trusted entities to steal your personal information. Never click on links in text messages or emails if you aren’t 100% sure of the source, and don’t reveal personal information to anyone over the phone or the internet. (Learn more about what the FTC is doing about coronavirus scams.)
*Additional data charges may apply. Please see your wireless carrier for more information.
How to Find Your Routing & Account Numbers
When you make a payment online, by phone or on a mobile device, you may be asked for our routing number and your checking account number. Credit unions and banks use these numbers to identify accounts and make sure money gets where it’s supposed to be. You’ll also need to provide your routing and checking account numbers for:
- Direct deposits
- Electronic checks
- Military allotments
- Wire transfers
Where to Find Your Routing & Checking Account Numbers
Your personal checks include both our routing number and your account number, as shown on the Grow check example below.
Don’t have a Grow check? No worries.
Visit any Grow store and ask for a Direct Deposit Form. It lists both your routing number and checking account number.
Making a Loan Payment
When it comes to making payments, we try to make it as painless as possible to pay your loan every month. We have several different ways to pay, including convenient online options.
You have two ways to pay online by transferring funds from another bank or credit union.
- Grow Online Banking (Preferred payment method for any loan)
This is the simplest way to pay your loan. You can make one-time payments or set up automatic recurring payments in Grow Online Banking. Once you log in, select “Transfer/Payments” from the menu. If you’re not enrolled in Grow Online Banking yet, you can set up your account in just a few minutes.
- Debit Card or ACH (Available for auto, personal and home equity loans and HELOCs)
Note: ACH and debit card payments are not available for credit cards or most mortgages, except HELOCs.
We accept ACH payments with no additional fees or Mastercard® and Visa® debit cards with a convenience fee of $4.95. To get started with an online ACH or debit card payment, select Pay Now below.
Pay by Mail
You can also pay any Grow loan by check through the mail. Please remember to include your account number and Grow loan number on the check. (For credit card payments, please do not write your 16-digit credit card number on the check, which can cause a delay in processing the payment.)
Address for auto, credit card and personal loan payments:
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 75466
Chicago, IL 60675-5466
Address for mortgage and home equity payments:
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 11733
Newark, NJ 07101-4733