Maine CU Professional Helps Consumers Understand Credit Scores; Highlights CU Difference

September 18, 2015

Recently, a Maine credit union professional appeared on a local TV segment to explain how credit scores work, what they mean and how credit unions often look beyond credit scores to help consumers, once again highlighting the difference between credit unions and other financial institutions.  The appearance was coordinated by the Maine Credit Union League as part of its ongoing outreach to "help educate consumers on a variety of financial issues."

Valerie Campbell, VP of Lending at Atlantic Regional FCU, was featured on WGME CBS 13 for its 'Saving You Money' segment, and discussed the impact of credit scores and offered some advice for consumers with regards to their credit scores.  "Your credit score is an indicator of how you'll pay your bills. The higher, the better. Low credit scores can put you at risk when you want to make big purchases like buying a house or a car. It can cause your interest rate to go up, which results in higher payments.  For instance, if you're buying a car for $20,000 over a five year period, it can make a difference of $1,800 or $2000 over the life of the loan."

In the segment, Campbell also noted that most credit unions, unlike many other financial institutions, take a number of factors into account when lending to consumers.  "Credit scores are important but as member-owned, financial cooperatives, we try and do whatever we can and go over and above to help our members obtain a loan at a reasonable interest rate.  Credit scores only tell part of the story, and we understand that, and our members appreciate it."

According to the Maine Credit Union League, "Maine consumers save $22 million annually by obtaining a loan through their local credit union rather than another lender." 

Campbell added, "Most importantly, to have credit, you need to get credit. Get a few credit cards and use them. Make sure to pay them off or keep the balances low.  One of the most important things to do is pay your bills on time. Setting up automatic payments can help with that.  Generally, a score of over 700 is considered good by most lenders. But remember, it doesn't happen overnight.  It's kind of like losing weight when you try to change a credit score.  It takes time."