Table Talk - January 2017

This year, our credit union turns 50! As we begin our 50th year of service, it's appropriate to take a moment to reflect on how much we've changed since those days when the box was passed each pay day at Bell Labs to help people save a little each paycheck.

We stopped passing that box on paydays years ago, but we're still helping people save! And today we're a heck of a lot bigger than the initial $40 deposit that started us off. Yet even with our growth, we're still striving to maintain that personal touch. That's a tall order given new regulations, the cost of technology, the advent of so many self-service web alternatives and what seems to be less and less time in the day. If you've worked with our team, you'll probably agree we do better than most! AND that it's nice to be able to talk to someone you know and trust.

Through the years we've moved out of the old Bell Labs facility and began serving the needs of our communities. Today we help over 24,000 families in the three county, central New Jersey area. We're proud that so many continue to find value in this little business and understand the importance of sustaining a locally controlled financial cooperative like United Teletech Financial.

While it's true we no longer exclusively serve the needs of our Bell Labs Holmdel founders, their legacy of service and innovation remains with us to this day. Although we're not large enough to be as inventive as Bell Labs, we are rapid adopters of proven technology and pretty adept at having good people around to help.

Thank you for allowing us to remain of service to you over the past 50 years. Whether you're new to our financial family, or one of our Bell Labs heritage members, we hope you'll use our 50th anniversary as an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with all the services we offer. Here are just a few examples of the added value we offer to our growing membership base:

Completely Free Convenience Services

Mobile Deposit, POP Money, Online Bill Pay, Mobile Wallet Integration and more

Exclusive Discounts at Local Businesses

United Value is our new mobile app that offers you discounts at amazing businesses in the communities we serve

Online Account Opening

Starting in 2017, new and existing members will be able to open most accounts 100% online

While the way we bank has changed more than we could have ever imagined over that past 50 years, our commitment to bringing true value to every member, every time, is unwavering. As we move into this anniversary year, we are adding more and more convenient services at no cost to you, and will continue to explore new ways to deliver additional value to your membership.

Sincerely,

Ruth A. Kluin
Chairman

Leo Ardine
President/CEO

You've likely heard about credit scores before (thanks to all those commercials with terrible jingles), but what do you actually know about them? How long have they been around? And what's the deal with checking them?

A credit score is a number (usually between 350 and 800) that represents your creditworthiness. It's a standardized measurement that financial institutions and credit card companies use to determine risk level when considering issuing you a loan or a credit card. Basically, it provides a snapshot of how likely you are to repay your debts on time. Widespread use of credit scores has made credit more widely available and less expensive for many consumers.

The credit scoring system that we're familiar with today has been around since the 1980s. Before then, there was no standardized way to measure creditworthiness, so it was up to individual lenders to make judgment calls on whether or not to loan money to someone. The old system was time-consuming, inconsistent and quite biased, so a credit scoring system was introduced.

The FICO score is the best known and most widely used credit score model in North America. It was first introduced in 1989 by FICO, then called Fair, Isaac and Company. The FICO model is used by the vast majority of banks and credit grantors, and is based on consumer credit files from the three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Because a consumer's credit file may contain different information at each of the bureaus, FICO scores can vary, depending on which bureau provides the information to FICO to generate the score.

When credit scores were first introduced, they were used primarily for loaning money. Today, credit scores have much more pull, and that's why it's important to understand how they're calculated. Your monthly car payments, your ability to snag that sweet apartment and even the hiring manager's decision on that new job you applied for can all be influenced by your credit score.

A credit score of 720 or more is considered prime - this means you're in good shape. Scores under 550 mean you could be turned down for a loan. Scores in the good-not-great range (550 to 720) might get you loan approval, but your interest rates will be higher than if you had a prime credit score. Nobody likes the idea of paying more money for no reason, so it makes sense to adopt credit habits that will boost your overall score.

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with how credit scores are calculated is the first step in getting a strong score. Each credit bureau uses a slightly different calculation, but the basic breakdown goes like this:

  • 35% is based on payment history. Making payments on time boosts your score.
  • 30% is based on capacity. This is one of the areas where the less you use of your total available credit, the better. If you get close to maxing out all your credit cards or lines of credit, it tanks your score, even if you're making your payments on time.
  • 15% is based on length of credit. Good credit habits over a long period of time raise your score.
  • 10% is based on new credit. Opening new credit cards (this includes retail credit cards) has a short-term negative effect on your score, so don't open a whole bunch at once!
  • 10% is based on mix of credit. Having a combination of different types of credit (like revolving credit and installment loans) boosts this part of your score. Credit cards are considered revolving credit, and things like car loans and mortgages are installment loans.

Curious about your credit report? You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus. Spacing out your credit report requests allows you to check on your credit every four months or so. Request yours online by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

When you receive your credit report, you'll notice that it does not list your three-digit credit score. Despite this, it's still a helpful reference because it serves as the basis of your credit score. If you know how a credit score is calculated, then you know how to look for factors on your credit report that might be influencing your score for better or for worse. It's also an easy way to look at account openings, account closings and what your repayment history looks like.

To get access to your actual credit score, there's often an extra fee involved (usually between $15 and $25). An alternative is to visit creditkarma.com. This service provides an estimate of your credit score for free. Just be aware that this score uses a different calculation than FICO does, so while it comes pretty close, it still won't be exact.

Some commercials make it seem like credit scores are big, mysterious, randomly assigned numbers. But with a little research, a little patience and some good habits, you can influence your credit score in a positive way and not be caught off guard by a denied loan or an outrageous interest rate.

Make 2017 the year you achieve your goal of becoming a homeowner or lower your mortgage costs.

With our 5/5 Adjustable Rate Mortgage - available for a limited time - qualified borrowers can choose from two of the most attractive adjustable rate mortgages in New Jersey.

You can select from two options: 2.99% with low closing costs (3.27% APR) or 3.37% APR with no closing costs.

These rates are for loan amounts up to $417,000. Loans between $417,000 and $640,000 will have a rate that is ¼% higher. The maximum loan amount is $640,000.

The 5/5 Adjustable Rate Mortgage is for single-family residences and condos in New Jersey. It does not include multi-family homes and investment properties.

Rates on the 5/5 Adjustable Rate Mortgage adjust once every five years and cannot increase more than 2 percentage points after the initial 5-year period or more than 6% over the lifetime of the loan. They are based on a 30- year amortization and 30-year term.

Why wait any longer to live your dream? Buy or refinance a home you love now. Call us today at 866-462-5532 for more information.

Everyone loves a great deal - but it's not always easy to stay on top of them. Now you'll never have to kick yourself for missing the best offers in your community. Our free new smartphone app, United Value, will bring thousands of dollars worth of perks to our members.

United Value will keep you in the loop about the best perks on dining, recreation, entertainment, fitness and more in your community.

Once you sign up, it will send you automatic alerts when you are near a deal. Just select the merchants and locations for which you want to receive them. You can easily save $1,000 per year.

Eager to upgrade your kitchen, replace the siding on your home or refresh your décor with brand new flooring? Make 2017 the year you act on your dream to get your home in tip-top shape, so you can enjoy it even more.

With our Secured Home Improvement Loan, you can borrow from $15,000 to $50,000 even if you have low equity in your home or no equity. These loans are ideal for small- to medium-sized home improvement projects, with a combined loan-to-value ratio of up to 105% of appraised value.

Our fixed-rate Secured Home Improvement Loans offer terms up to 120 months. There is no application fee.

Even better, if you want to pay off your loan early, there are no prepayment penalties (applicable documentation and filing fees will apply).

The loans are available for owner-occupied, fixed-rate detached homes, condominiums and townhomes.

Your home may be the biggest investment you ever make. Now is the perfect time to bring it to its full potential by accomplishing the home improvement projects on your list.

Call us today at 866-462-5532 to speak to a representative about which loan is right for you.