No matter what your age or financial situation, it is never too early to get smart about credit.  Learning the basic fundamentals of credit can provide you with a foundation that will prove invaluable throughout your life.  Credit enables a person to do such things as take out a mortgage on a home, purchase a new automobile, receive student loans for education or even obtain a loan to start a new business venture.  Unfortunately, many people encounter problems with their credit because they don’t have the information, tools and discipline to handle credit responsibly.  With today’s economy, it is much too easy for people to fall into money management traps.  Peapack-Gladstone Bank offers the following tips to help its customers get and maintain good credit.

Read the fine print on the credit card application.  The application is a contract, so read it carefully before signing.  Credit card companies are very competitive, so interest rates, credit limits, grace periods, annual fees, terms and conditions may vary.

Be wary of anyone who claims they can "fix" your credit report.  No one can legally remove accurate negative information from your credit history.  The only thing that can fix a credit report is time and a positive payment history.

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Pay at least the minimum due and contact your creditor if you are having trouble making payments.   This will help you to avoid late fees and a rising APR.  To pay off your balance quicker, pay more than the minimum due.  If you are unable to make the minimum monthly payments, let your creditor know so they can work with you to create a more manageable payment plan.

Don’t feel pressure to get a credit card.  If you don't want one, you have the right to say “no.”  Under the CARD Act of 2009, consumers between 18-21 years of age cannot be solicited for credit.  If you no longer wish to receive prescreened offers, opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

Don’t ignore the warning signs of credit trouble.  If you pay only the minimum balance, pay late, use cash-advances to fund daily living expenses or transfer a lot of balances, you might be in the credit danger zone. Talk to a financial counseling organization to regain control of your finances.

Don’t share your credit card number.  Never give out credit card or personal information if you have not initiated the transaction.  Be aware of identity theft and phishing scams that ask for credit card numbers.  If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling

1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502, or visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

 

Don’t let past credit issues slow you down in the future.  By following these guidelines, you can move forward with confidence in obtaining all the opportunities that good credit has to offer.

 

About Peapack-Gladstone Bank

Established in 1921, Peapack-Gladstone Bank is a $1.58 billion asset, wholly owned community bank that offers a full range of quality banking products and services to businesses and residents of Essex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris and Union counties in New Jersey, through 23 full-service branches, an online branch and a wealth management division, PGB Trust & Investments..  In addition to its personal and business banking product line, Peapack-Gladstone Bank offers consumer and commercial lending products and services like auto and home equity loans and lines of credit, residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, term loans, lines of credit and construction loans.  For additional information about Peapack-Gladstone Bank or to open an account online, visit www.pgbank.com or call 908-234-0700.  Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.