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5 Tricks to Help You Pay Off Your Credit Cards Every Month

iStock_000016074423_LargeResponsibly managing credit card accounts is an excellent way to build and maintain a good credit score — just as charging more than you can afford to pay off is a surefire way to hurt your credit score.

If you’re looking to protect your credit, follow these five tricks to ensure you pay off your credit cards each and every month.

1. Don’t settle for the minimum

If it’s within your financial means, don’t simply make the minimum payment each month. Sure, paying the minimum is all you’re required to do, but don’t stop there. Make a habit of paying off the entire balance. When you don’t carry debt month to month, you don’t pay interest.

2. Treat a credit card like a debit card

It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: Don’t use your credit cards to spend more than you can afford. If you’re having a difficult time with this, try treating your credit card as if it’s a debit card. Don’t swipe any plastic unless you know you already have the money in your bank account. This mindset may help prevent costly impulse buys.

3. Set up automatic payments

If your credit card payment problems are more about organization than spending, set up automatic payments. The amount you owe will be deducted from your bank account each month, without any action on your part, so you’ll avoid that last-minute stress of getting your payment in on time. Just ensure you have sufficient funds in your account to cover the payments without incurring overdraft fees.

4. Remind yourself

If you don’t think you’ll remember to pay on your own and you’d rather not use automatic payments, there’s a third option: text, email or other push notifications from your credit card provider. This can include balance, payment and/or statement notifications. Of course, you don’t have to wait for such a reminder. Act as your own notification system and pay off your credit card after every purchase you make (or at least more often than once a month). Paying it off quickly may be the best tracking system, and if you know you’ll need to pay right away, you may be discouraged from charging too much in the first place.

5. Keep your balance low

Finally, if you maintain a low credit card balance, it’ll be much easier to pay off. You don’t want to stop using your card entirely—after all, credit card use is essential to building credit. Instead, set aside your credit card for certain purchases (online transactions only, for example).

Limiting your purchases — as opposed to putting everything on your card — will not only leave you with less to pay off at the end of the billing cycle, it will also mean you’ll be using a smaller portion of your total credit limit. Keeping your credit utilization ratio low can boost your credit score.

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A Lesson from Rachel Pross

iStock_000075063043_LargeSometimes we are so caught up with work, we forget to just sit back and enjoy life.  For those of us with children, it is sometimes hard to find a balance with working and spending ample time with family.

I recently came across an article written by Rachel Pross about one of her personal experiences regarding her outlook on life, fittingly entitled “How an Awkward Middle Kid and a Super Blood Moon Changed My Outlook”.

In her article, she talks about her son, who is going through his awkward teenage phase and is fascinated by the blood red super moon that came out a couple weekends ago.  Although the family initially all stood out in their yard to watch the moon, they soon started to disperse back into the house…except for her middle child who was still looking into the telescope.  Pross heads back out to accompany her son, and he simply turns to her and says, “this is really something, isn’t it, mom?”

Those words alone put everything in perspective for Pross as she silently studied her son.  She learned to appreciate that moment with her son and appreciated his innocent wisdom and fascination of the universe.

Her article is a great reminder for us to appreciate our children and the little things in life that we may overlook.  Rachel Pross is an advocate for credit unions and has written many helpful and thoughtful articles.  You can read the full story about her son and the blood red moon here, or check out more of her articles here.

ICU Day 2015

2015 ICU Day FB postSince 1948, International Credit Union (ICU) Day has been celebrated on every third Thursday in October. It is a day designated to reflect on the credit union movement’s history and to recognize its achievements over the years. The ultimate goal of this special day is to raise awareness to the community about the outstanding work credit unions provide to their members.

This year’s ICU Day will be celebrated on Thursday, October 15, 2015 and the motto is “People helping people.” In appreciation of their loyal membership, HiTel members may stop any of our branch locations: King Street (Kalihi), Fort Street (Downtown), Kaimuki, Kapolei, Kunia, Mililani, Sheraton, or Wheeler to receive for a small gift. We look forward to seeing you!

Hele Mai You Belong!

World Teachers’ Day

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.
– Carl Jung

We all have that one teacher (or maybe a few) who stood out to us and made a difference in our lives.  It could have been that kindergarten teacher who taught you how to read, or the high school trigonometry teacher who finally helped you understand math.  It could even be your college philosophy professor who helped you appreciate the works of Aristotle and Socrates, or your art teacher who encouraged your creativity.

Whoever they were, they are what makes education so important to us.  Today is World Teachers Day, a day for us to honor and appreciate those who helped make a difference in our lives.

Thank you to all teachers—your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed!

Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.
– Andy Rooney

What Everyone Should Know About EMV Cards

EMVblog

Americans report billions of dollars in credit and debit card fraud each year. A new technology using microprocessors called EMV chips could help curb future losses.

The chips are embedded on the front of credit and debit cards and exchange information with chip-card readers. Used together, the two make it harder for fraudsters to copy card information and make bogus in-store purchases.

Here’s what you need to know about EMV cards.

How EMV works

If you have an EMV card, you’ll insert the chipped end into a slot on an EMV-enabled reader, instead of swiping. Leave the card there for a few seconds, while the chip exchanges information with the payment processing system and authenticates the account; then remove it. Depending on the account, you might also sign for the purchase or enter a personal identification number, or PIN, to verify your identity and complete the sale.

How chips protect you

Named for developers Europay, Mastercard and Visa, EMV chips encrypt your information and generate a unique code each time you use your card. Each code can be used only once — so they’re useless to hackers.

Traditional cards use a magnetic strip that transmits the same unencrypted information every time you swipe. If someone copies the data, he or she can easily duplicate your plastic and use it to make fraudulent purchases.

Where they’re used

EMV-enabled cards are already the standard in parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. In the U.S., where credit and debit card fraud losses have risen steadily over the past few years, retailers and issuers are slowly catching up. Many issuers are sending new EMV cards to customers, and retailers such as Target and Home Depot are installing chip-card readers on their registers.

Banks, credit card companies and merchants in the U.S. will likely pick up the pace of adoption in coming months, as new fraud liability standards take effect in October. Currently, credit card issuers bear the brunt of fraud losses, but responsibility after that deadline could fall to the retailer, if its system is less secure than the card used.

What it means for you

There’s a good chance you’ve already received an EMV card. If you haven’t, call your financial services provider and ask for one.

Using an EMV card at a retailer that has a chip-reading system should make your purchase more secure. It will also make it easier to use your card in the myriad countries that already have the technology. Traditional cards can still be used most places, too.

Although EMV technology helps you shop more safely, it doesn’t thwart thieves entirely. Hackers can still pilfer your card information online or over the phone, or simply steal your card. So it’s wise to exercise caution when using your credit or debit card. If your card goes missing or you spot suspicious activity, notify your financial institution immediately.

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