Don’t Let Credit Card Interest Cost You Money

Having a credit card can have many benefits, but it can also be costly if you only make the minimum monthly payment.

That’s because using the card is like taking out a loan, and loans come with interest charges, meaning the longer it takes to pay your bill, the more you’ll pay in interest costs.

For example, if you charged $2,500 for appliances and the minimum monthly payment listed on your statement is $25 at 16% interest, it would take more than 15 years to pay off the $2,500 and it would cost you more than $3,300 in interest.

Making a $50 payment on the same amount would take almost 7 years and it would only cost you about $1,650 in interest.

But if you paid your bill in full at the end of each month, you would pay no interest.

So it’s important to pay off as much of your bill as possible each month. It’ll save you money and help you get you out of debt faster.

It can also help your credit score, and a higher credit score can lead to lower interest rates on loans or credit cards.

So even if it means cutting back on other expenses so you can have some extra money each month, it’s a smart financial move to pay off your credit card bill as fast as you can.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Watch Out for Scammers Claiming to be From Your Bank

Your phone rings and you see your bank’s name in the caller ID so you answer.

The caller says they’re from the institution’s customer service department and that there is a problem with your account that needs immediate attention, but you get nervous when they start asking for personal things like your PIN or account password. What should you do?

Hang up because it’s probably a scam in which the caller is using caller ID ‘spoofing,’ where they use technology to disguise the number they are calling from and make it look like the name and number of your bank.

This scam is designed to trick you into divulging important information that could be used to drain your account or be used to sell to crooks.

Here are some important things to know and do if this should happen to you:

– Financial institutions won’t contact you out of the blue unless there is a major problem, and they won’t ask for your account number, password or PIN. Don’t give them out even if the caller threatens penalties. 

– If you have even a small suspicion that the call is a scam, hang up. Look for the phone number on the back of your bank card or look up your branch’s official phone number and call it. Tell the customer service representative who answers what happened and ask if there is really a problem with your account.

– The same thing can happen via email or text. If someone claiming to be your bank asks for personal information don’t call any included number or click on any link in them.

Knowing danger signs to look for and staying alert for phone or email scams can keep your money safe from crooks.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Don’t Get Tricked by an Online Job Search Scam

You’re searching internet job sites and have found a listing that’s just right for you: Good company, great pay, and you won’t have to move because you can work from home.

So you click the link in the listing and it seems to get even better: You’re taken to the company’s website, you fill in some basic information and then get an email saying they’re ready to interview you right away via a conference call and you don’t even need to send a résumé. Almost too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, most likely.

The FBI warns that this could be a scam, where tricksters post jobs on legitimate sites and link them to spoofed websites designed to look like those of real companies. Their goal is to trick you out of vital personal information that could end up costing you thousands of dollars, big headaches and no job.

How can you tell if you’re being scammed? What can you do to protect yourself?

If the pay and ease of getting an interview seem too good to be true, it very well could be. 

Is the company advertising the same position on its official site or only on online job sites?

If you do a web search for that company, do multiple sites appear?

Do they contact you from an email address that doesn’t include the company name?

Can you find the name of the person you’ll be interviewing with on the company’s official website?

All of the previous warning signs should make you think twice about the possibility of a scam, but when it gets personal you should hit the brakes – and hard.

You should never have to give out your Social Security number, bank routing number or other personal information until after you’ve officially been hired. While those things are used for tax purposes and direct payments, scammers could use them to commit fraud or drain your accounts. And never, ever, give out your credit or debit card numbers. No legitimate employer needs those.

Don’t ever pay for anything – such as background checks, training, supplies or equipment – in advance, even if you’re told you’ll be repaid when you get your first paycheck.

Bottom line: Make sure your job search doesn’t turn into a costly scam.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Keep Yourself Safe From Medicare Scams and Fraud

If you are on Medicare you need to be aware that you might also be on the radar of scammers and fraudsters who try to steal your personal information or charge your plan for medical services and supplies that you don’t need or receive.

That’s why it’s important to be aware of schemes these crooks use to either scare you into giving them information or money, or to get reimbursements they don’t deserve.

It’s important to be skeptical of anyone who contacts you out of the blue claiming to be from Medicare and telling you they need to update your information, such as your Social Security or Medicare card numbers.

They might also threaten you with a loss of benefits unless you pay a certain amount, or claim that you have money coming to you and all you need to do is give them your bank account information. Don’t fall for any of it because it’s probably a scam.

The government says that Medicare officials won’t contact you by phone or email unless you called them directly and asked to be called back, or if it is a representative from a Medicare plan that you’re already a member of.

If you receive a suspicious call or email asking for this kind of data, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 and explain what happened.

Another way you might be victimized is through Medicare fraud. That’s when a medical care or services provider tries to make extra money by billing for care or devices you didn’t receive or by giving you unnecessary services or supplies. There are also people who might try to use your information to illegally get medical care under your name.

Experts recommend that you regularly monitor your medical care by keeping track of all appointments, tests, services or hospitalizations on a calendar. That way you have a record you can refer to in case of discrepancies. They also say you should regularly check your information at MyMedicare.gov, Medicare’s free and secure online service for managing personal information regarding benefits, claims and services. You can also learn more about Medicare at Medicare.gov.

Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 if you suspect fraud. You should also have information about the provider, any service you are questioning, dates and any other details you think would be helpful to report.

Guarding your personal and financial information are important steps to keeping yourself safe from Medicare scams and fraud.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Need a New Vehicle? Should You Buy or Lease?

You’re ready for a new vehicle, but should you buy it or lease it?

It all depends …

If you want to own the vehicle once it’s paid off and you don’t want to worry about mileage limitations, then buying might be right for you. But if you always want to drive a newer SUV, truck or car and have a lower monthly payment, then leasing might be the way to go.

When you lease a vehicle it’s likely you’ll always be covered by a warranty – which saves money on repairs – but your mileage will be limited and you’ll pay extra for each mile if you exceed that limit. You’ll also have to return the car at the end of the lease – and if you always lease, you’ll always be making a monthly payment.

When you buy, you’ll need to make a down payment and pay off the entire loan, including interest and sales taxes on the full value of the vehicle, and those payments usually are higher than lease payments. You’ll also be responsible for repair costs after the warranty expires. But once the vehicle is paid off, your payments will end and you’ll have equity in it when you decide to sell or trade for something different.

Expenses associated with buying a vehicle will include its final cost, taxes, registration, various fees, a down payment and interest costs. When leasing, your payment is based on vehicle depreciation over the lease period, registration and various fees. When leasing, you might need to make a down payment, and may also face wear-and-tear costs when you turn it in at the end of the lease. And breaking a lease for any reason can be costly.

Before you make any decisions, you should ensure you could afford the monthly payments and any insurance or other costs. You will also want to ensure that your credit rating is good so you can qualify for the best interest rates or lease options available.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask a financial professional for advice or to explain things.

Once you’re comfortable with your choice, it’s time to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and to negotiate the best deal you can – whether you lease or buy.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

4 Credit Card Habits to Avoid

For young adults getting their first credit card, the milestone can be an important step toward financial independence. While it can be tempting to use it for everyday expenses, those transactions can quickly add up and make paying off the balance a struggle. Here are several habits to avoid for maintaining a good credit history, which can help with future purchases, such as securing a mortgage or car loan.

What Habits Should You Steer Clear of When Using Credit Cards?

1. Making Late or Missed Payments

Lenders look at your three-digit credit score, which ranges from 300 to 850, to determine interest rates and eligibility for all types of loans. The higher the score is, the more favorable the terms. However, late or missing payments will put this rating at risk and incur fees. To avoid these scenarios, set up automatic payments to withdraw the amount due from your account on the correct date. 

2. Not Paying the Balance Off

Many people only make the minimum payments due each month. However, this measure often only settles the interest rather than the principal, which is the actual amount owed. 

Making only minimum payments can cause the interest to stack up and make it harder for a cardholder to eliminate their balance. You can avoid this accumulation by paying the bill in full every month. 

3. Unaware of Fees

Many credit card companies have applicable fees. However, knowing these terms will help you avoid behavior that can cost you extra. Most financial institutions will charge extra for late and missed payments and cash advances. 

Some cards also have an annual usage fee, often broken down into monthly installments. Therefore, this expense is still charged each month, even if you don’t have a balance. If you don’t currently have a list of all your credit card fees, request it from the financial institution.

4. Spending to the Limit

Maxing out your credit card can be a challenge to manage, as it can take a long time to pay down the balance. Additionally, interest will accrue in the meantime, increasing the amount owed. Spending to the limit also lowers your credit score. Lenders like to see prudent spending and balance payoffs. Avoid using your card for everyday expenses such as gas and groceries, and only utilize it for emergency purposes or in cases where it’s needed, such as renting a car. 

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Getting a Home Loan Might Be Easier Than You Think

Worried about the down payment for a home? You might have saved enough already.

Getting a loan to buy a home might be easier than you think.

One of the biggest initial expenses homebuyers face is the cost of the down payment. That’s the amount of money you will pay out of pocket toward the cost of the home. The rest is what you’ll need to take out as a mortgage loan that will be paid off over time – usually 15 or 30 years.

The bigger the down payment you can make, the less money you’ll have to borrow, and borrowing less will mean lower monthly payments and less interest paid over the term of the loan.

But not everyone has a lot of money to put down – and that’s OK.

Some loans might require a down payment of only around 3 to 5 percent, depending on the lending program and income guidelines. And if you are a veteran, you may qualify for a 0 percent down loan. Your lender might even have grant programs available to help you meet the down payment and closing costs requirements, so be sure to ask if you qualify for any special programs.

Depending on the size of payment you are required to put down, if you’re looking at a $200,000 house, a 3% down payment would only be $6,000, and the loan amount would be $194,000. But if you make a bigger down payment – say 20% – you’d only have to borrow $160,000, which would lower your monthly mortgage payments and reduce your interest costs

If the financial institution you are working with allows you to put down less than 20%, that lender will require you to carry Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, as part of your monthly mortgage payment. The cost of this insurance will vary depending on your down payment and credit score. 

When considering buying a house, lenders will work with you to see if you qualify for a loan. Among other things, they’ll factor in how much you earn, how much you owe on other loans, and what your other regular monthly expenses are.

That’s why if home ownership is your goal, you should consult a lender to see what your options are and what you’ll need to do to make it happen.

Planning ahead can be a huge help and we’re here to advise you in any way we can – from ways to save for that down payment to what your mortgage choices are.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Some Scammers Are Targeting Personal Payment Apps

Scammers have found another way to trick you out of your money.

This time they’re trying to get you to use that handy peer-to-peer mobile payment app that you’ve probably used to transfer money to family or friends or to pay for your share of a bill, but instead of using it to safely pay someone you know these strangers want you to pay them for a product you might find on craigslist or another online sales website.

The fraudster will make it sound simple – just use your P2P app and an email address or telephone number they give you to transfer the cash from your account to them and then they’ll send you the product. Only there is no product and there’s little chance you’ll ever see your money again.

While these mobile apps are great for paying people you know, they don’t yet have the same consumer protections against fraud that come with using credit or debit cards. Experts say to think of them a lot like cash: If you give money to the wrong person it’s likely that cash is gone for good.

Fraud.org offers a few tips for the best ways to use peer-to-peer payment apps.

The main advice is to use these mobile apps only to pay someone you know or trust – people like family members, friends, the babysitter or the person who always mows your lawn. Even then, you should make sure you don’t accidently type in the wrong email address or telephone number when sending the money so it doesn’t go to the wrong person.

Don’t use your app to pay for products or services from people you don’t know. If someone makes this payment method a requirement for something like an online purchase, it’s probably a scam.

Bottom line: Use these apps for reimbursing people you trust, not for paying people you don’t know.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

3 Benefits of Teaching Your Kids Financial Literacy Early

The world of banking, loans, credit cards, and mortgages is new for most kids. It contains its own rules, language, and standards, most of which are not discussed in a typical class at school. However, teaching your kids financial literacy early in life provides them with the following benefits that will only serve them well in the future.

Why Should You Teach Your Children to Be Financially Literate?

1. Establish Good Financial Habits

Financial literacy teaches kids the most effective ways of handling money-related matters. This lays the groundwork for a child’s entire relationship with money moving forward. They will understand smart money management concepts, such as balancing a checkbook, saving funds, and setting and achieving financial goals. By comprehending these matters, children can make sound decisions as they grow and their financial needs evolve.

2. Understand the Value of Money

For kids, money might seem like little more than pieces of green paper. Imparting financial lessons early on will help them understand the value of their funds and how various things are priced. This encourages a child to make important connections about money and cost and helps them appreciate the items they have and the gifts they receive.

3. Avoid Risks

When you demystify money for your kids and empower them with basic literacy skills, they can be less likely to make unwise financial decisions in the future. They will be able to identify a good practice or investment and what comes with the potential for financial loss or hardship. For instance, you can discuss how paying a balance off each month is crucial to minimizing debt and avoiding bankruptcy. That way, when they get their credit card, they will know to only charge what they can afford.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.

Watch Out for Package Delivery Scams

With online shopping it seems like we’re always waiting for a package to be delivered – and scammers know that.

Major shipping companies have warned consumers to be on the lookout for unsolicited emails or text messages that alert them to a shipping or delivery problem and that requires immediate action.

These scam messages can look real. They might include a legitimate delivery company’s logo and possibly an internet address that looks official. They’ll tell you there is a problem with your shipment and encourage you to click a link or download a file for more information. The message might even provide a telephone number to call.

Resist temptation, because scams like this are designed to infect your device with a virus or to get you to share personal information that could be costly.

Here are some tips provided by major package delivery companies to help you spot a potential scam and to keep your personal information or money from falling into the wrong hands.

Don’t open unsolicited emails or texts or download any files that warn of a ‘delivery failure’ or ‘missing information.’  This might lead to virus being placed on your device that could collect usernames or passwords, allow scammers to access important files, or expose you to ransomware that locks all the data on your device.

Legitimate shipping companies won’t use this type of communication to ask you for personal information such as financial or account numbers, passwords, a Social Security number, invoice details or other sensitive data. They also won’t demand immediate payment with gift cards or wire transfers.

If you are concerned there could really be a problem, go to the website where you made a purchase and check the status of your shipment there or find the email receipt you received after the purchase. Use those communications to check on the shipment or contact customer service through a company’s official website or an officially published telephone number. Explain your situation and have your receipt or an official communication about a purchase or shipment as a reference.

Don’t panic when you see one of these ‘urgent’ notices. Take the time to think things through so you don’t get wrapped up in a package delivery scam.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. To learn more about our mortgage loans and other services, follow us online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. You can also call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with your questions.