Your home is one of the biggest assets you own and the equity in your home can help you fund home improvement projects, college tuition, a wedding or many other life events.
Here are some things to think about before taking out a home equity loan:
Which type of home equity loan best fits what you want to accomplish?
Are you needing funds upfront for a one-time fix up, wedding or trip? Then a fixed rate second mortgage loan may be your best option. If you are doing a project that will have several phases, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be the best choice since you can continually borrow what you need when you need it.
Do you have any equity in your home? What is your home’s current value?Do you have a current appraisal on your home? Ask us how we can run a free detailed ValueCheck on your home and depending on how much you want to borrow, there may be no appraisal fees. Also, at Westerra, there are no closing costs on HELOC loans up to $100,000.
Determine which loan term is best for you.The term of your loan can play an important role in managing the repayment. Westerra HELOCs offer 10-year interest only line of credit, which helps keep your payments low, or a 5-year line of credit with a 2% of balance payment. Fixed rate second mortgage loans offer terms up to 15 years.
Taking the next step.Secure your loan prior to starting your project. Have a plan and budget in place so you know what you will need and when. A plan and budget will also help you decide if a fixed rate second mortgage loan or a HELOC is best for you.
Is the interest tax deductible?Tax benefits differ from person to person depending on your financial situation, how you are using the funds and your tax status. Consult your tax advisor before beginning a project so you fully understand any tax benefits.
Start making your dreams a reality! Schedule a consultation appointment at any Westerra branch, apply online or call 303-321-4209 for more information.
Westerra donates $20 to the Colorado Homeownership Coalition for each closed mortgage.Apply now
Congratulations on opening your checking account at Westerra Credit Union! Having a checking account will provide you with the flexibility to make purchases with a debit card, access your funds through an ATM, deposit paychecks or allowance money, and monitor your transactions through online banking. It can also help you establish a good financial track record to pave the way for future financial opportunities.
There are several different ways you can make deposits and withdrawals to your account:
Visa® debit card – Make purchases at merchants or online, anywhere Visa is accepted.
ATMs – Use your debit card to get cash or make deposits at any ATM. Look for free CO-OP network ATMs.
Westerra branches – Use the Westerra branch most convenient or closest to you.
CO-OP shared branching – Most credit unions share their branches, so you can access your Westerra account at other credit union locations.
Digital banking – Check your balance, make online payments or transfer funds between accounts.
Learn money management without fees! – All Westerra checking accounts are set up so that if there are not enough funds to cover a debit card purchase, ACH transaction, check or ATM transaction, the transaction will simply be denied.
Make purchases online or in person – Purchase movie or concert tickets, pay at the pump for gas, split the bill at lunch with your friends, make store purchases and much more!
Make ATM deposits or withdrawals – Westerra provides surcharge-free ATM access through the CO-OP network with 1,000 free ATMs in Colorado, and 30,000 nationwide. Look for CO-OP network ATMs at credit unions, 7-Eleven® locations and even at the Denver International Airport. If you use another ATM network, Westerra will not charge you a fee, but the ATM owner may charge a fee.
Earn reward points – Earn 1 point for every $3.00 you spend when you sign for your purchase. Redeem your points for cash, gift cards, merchandise, travel or charitable donations!
You will want to pay careful attention to your checking account transactions and balance. Make it a habit to record all banking activity as it occurs. A little maintenance each day goes a long way.
The following tips can help you manage your account.
Keep track of all your checks, ATM, debit card and online transactions – Be sure to maintain a record of all spending activity in your check register, or review your online transaction records, to make sure that you are aware of your account balance at all times.
Write down all your transactions – Every time you use your Visa debit card, schedule an automated payment, use an ATM, or write a check, be sure to record it. Write down the date, the payee, and the amount. Then, subtract each transaction to keep an accurate running balance.
Don't spend more than you have – If there are no funds to cover a purchase or transaction, it will be denied, without a fee. This can help members earn a better credit score.
Do not assume the ATM balance is correct – If you have used your debit card at a merchant or submitted online bill payments that have not cleared yet, the balance on your ATM receipt will be more than what you really have available.
Balance your checking account every month – At the end of each month, compare your eStatement, or print a copy of your online account, in order to balance your checking account. Compare the credit union’s information with your records. Review your math and see if you come up with the same final balance as Westerra shows. If you see discrepancies or you do not understand how to do this, call us for help. We will help you at no charge!
Do not share your PIN with anyone else – You will be issued a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use at ATMs or with debit card purchases. For security purposes, do not keep your PIN with your card and do not share your PIN with anyone else.
Credit or debit? – When you make purchases with your debit card at businesses, they may ask you to choose credit or debit. You can choose credit and will not need to enter a PIN. The payment is then processed through the Visa network, which the merchant pays a fee to utilize. Or you can choose debit and enter your PIN. This is processed through the Electronic Funds Network, which is more economical for the merchant. It also can provide you the opportunity to receive cash back as part of your transaction.
Report any suspicious activity to Westerra immediately – If necessary, we can place a freeze on your account so someone else doesn't use it.
To log in to online banking and pay your bills, click "Login" on the top right corner of the website and enter your username and password.
If you have forgotten your username or password, click on the "Forgot Username?" or "Forgot Password?" link and it will guide you through the process of entering a new username or password.
If this is your first time using online banking and pay bills:
Click the "First time users enroll here" link.
Read and "Accept" the online banking disclosures.
Enter your account (member) number, the primary account holder's social security number and date of birth.
Then click "Enroll."
Create your username and password.
Once you are logged in, you will be prompted to choose and answer five security questions and also enroll in the one-time security code feature.
Please make sure you are using one of the supported* browsers to view online banking:
Windows 7: Internet Explorer 11, latest version of Chrome and Firefox
Windows 10: Internet Explorer 11, latest version of Chrome and Firefox
Mac OSX: Latest version of Safari
Current allowed** browsers:
Windows 7: Internet Explorer 9
Windows 10: Microsoft Edge
*Supported: All functionality of the product has been fully tested.
**Allowed: Basic functionality has been tested. However, there may be cosmetic or other minor issues.
To view your eStatements (or "electronic statements"), click on the “Statements” link within the account details screen.
You can send a message by selecting "Messages" at the top right of any page.
Westerra mobile banking allows you to manage your account from your mobile device. You can:
View account balances.
Review transaction history.
Transfer funds between accounts.
Pay bills you have set up.
Search for Westerra branches and free ATMs near you.
Receive mobile alerts via text messages*.
Deposit checks from your smartphone using mobile check deposit.
Pay people directly from your smartphone using Popmoney.
Three ways to access your accounts:
Receive SMS text alerts on your mobile phone.
Use the browser on your smartphone to access online banking.
*Standard messaging charges may apply:Every mobile carrier has a different rate plan for text messaging and data services access. You may be charged per use or pay a flat rate for unlimited usage each month. You may also have different fees for text messaging and data services access.
Contact your mobile carrier directly if you aren’t sure what fees you will be charged to use mobile banking, as Westerra Credit Union has no access to information regarding your personal mobile service billing.
Westerra Credit Union is committed to protecting the safety and privacy of your information. To ensure the security of your account information, a number of security features have been built into the Westerra mobile banking app.
Log in to your Westerra online banking account.
Click on the "Mobile" link in the upper right-hand corner.
Then click "Add New Device."
Under "Other Services," select "Text Messaging" and click "Continue."
Select your time zone, the accounts you would like to enroll in text messaging and create nicknames for your accounts, if you want (this is optional). Click "Continue."
Enter your mobile phone number and click "Continue."
Enter the code sent to your mobile phone number and click "Continue."
You will receive confirmation that your activation was successful, and you will receive text messages with short codes and texting commands.
Text* the following short codes to 39872 to get your account information:
BAL — Get balances for enrolled accounts.
HIST + ACCOUNT (SHARE) NAME — Get recent transactions.
MORE or NEXT — Use after a HIST command for more transactions.
HELP — Provides a list of text commands.
STOP — Unsubscribe from text banking.
If you have questions about the capabilities of your mobile phone, please contact your mobile carrier for more information.
*Standard messaging charges may apply:Every mobile carrier has a different rate plan for text messaging and data services access. You may be charged per use, or pay a flat rate for unlimited usage each month. You may also have different fees for text messaging and data services access.
Contact your mobile carrier directly if you aren’t sure what fees you will be charged to use mobile banking, as Westerra Credit Union has no access to information regarding your personal mobile service billing.
There are no fees to use the mobile banking app. Any fees associated with expedited bill payments will be displayed at the time you schedule the payment.
You should contact your mobile provider for information about fees associated with sending or receiving text messages or accessing the internet from your mobile phone.
All accounts that are accessible through Westerra online banking are eligible for use with mobile banking. You may choose which accounts to use with mobile banking when registering your mobile phone through the "Self-Service" tab within online banking.
Additional mobile phones may be added for use with mobile banking by accessing the "My Devices" tab on the mobile setup menu and click "Add Device."
Westerra Credit Union will never provide access to your personal information via mobile banking. If your mobile phone is lost or stolen, no one can access your account without knowing your unique username and password.
If your mobile phone is either lost or stolen:
Report it immediately to your mobile carrier.
Then, immediately log in to Westerra online banking from your computer and change your username and password.
Alternately, you can contact us at 303-321-4209 and request that the mobile number be removed from mobile banking access.
Taking steps to improve your credit score can qualify you for better interest rates that save you money.
Whether you’re buying a home, a car, or applying for a credit card, financial institutions rely on your credit score to determine what level of risk they assume by approving your loan. Your credit score affects how much you can borrow and what loan terms (including your interest rate) you qualify for. The long story short is: it’s pretty important!
To understand what a credit score is and how to improve it, this post will go over the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) scoring model. You’ve probably heard it called the FICO® score, and it’s the most widely used in the financial services industry to help make credit decisions. The information presented here is largely provided by FICO at www.myfico.com.
FICO scores are provided to lenders by the major credit reporting agencies. The three primary credit reporting agencies–Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax–use software developed by FICO to produce a credit score based on information they keep on file about your credit history. As this information changes, your credit score tends to change too.In order for your credit score to be calculated, credit bureau reports must contain at least one account that has been open for at least six months. On top of that, each report must contain at least one account that has been updated in the past six months, according to FICO. This ensures that there is enough information (and enough recent information) in each report to calculate a FICO score. FICO scores provide the best guide to future risk based solely on credit report data. The higher the credit score, the lower the risk. But no score says whether a specific individual will be a “good” or “bad” customer.
And while many lenders use FICO scores to help them make decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk they find acceptable for a given credit product.
There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders, and there are many additional factors that lenders use to determine your actual interest rates.
FICO scores are calculated from a lot of different credit data in your credit report. This data is grouped into five categories.
Account payment information on specific types of accounts (like credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, mortgage, etc.)
Presence of adverse public records (bankruptcy, judgments, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc.), collection items, and/or delinquency (past due items)
How long past due payments are Severity of delinquency (how long past due)
Amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection items
Time since past due items (delinquency), adverse public records (if any), or collection items (if any)
Number of past due items on file
Number of accounts paid as agreed
Amount owing on accounts
Amount owing on specific types of accounts
Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases
Number of accounts with balances
Proportion of credit lines used (a comparison between your balances to your total credit limits on certain types of revolving accounts)
Proportion of installment loan amounts still owing (a comparison of balance to original loan amount on certain types of installment loans)
Length of credit history
Time since accounts opened
Time since accounts opened, by specific type of account
Time since account activity
Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account
Number of recent credit inquiries
Time since recent account openings, by type of account
Time since credit inquiry(s)
Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems
Types of credit used
Number of various types of accounts. Remember, it’s not just the number of accounts, but also what recent information exists for each one.
Some types of credit include, for example: credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance accounts, and more
A FICO score takes into consideration all these categories of information, not just one or two. It’s the big picture snapshot. The importance of any factor depends on the overall information in your credit report and will be different for various credit profiles, and over time as these factors change.
Remember, your FICO score only looks at information in your credit report and considers both positive and negative information in it.
There is no quick fix to improving your credit score. The best advice is to manage credit responsibly over time, and continuously take steps to improve it.
Tips for your payment history
Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on your FICO score.
If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.
Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It will stay on your report for seven years.
If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor. This won't improve your credit score immediately, but can assist you in managing your credit and paying on time to improve your credit score.
Tips on your amounts owed
Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit.” High outstanding debt can affect a credit score.
Pay off debt rather than moving it around. The most effective way to improve your credit score in this area is by paying down your revolving credit. Owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score.
Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score.
Don't open a number of new credit cards that you don't need, just to increase your available credit, since this could lower your credit score.
Tips for your length of credit history
If you have been managing credit for a short time, don't open a lot of new accounts rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don't have a lot of other credit information. (Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user.)
Tips for new credit
Do your rate shopping for a given loan within a focused period of time. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.
Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems. Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your credit score in the long term.
Request and check your own credit report. This won't affect your score, as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers.
Tips on types of credit use
Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.
Have credit cards, but manage them responsibly. In general, having credit cards and installment loans (and paying these timely) will raise your credit score. Someone without credit cards, for example, tends to be a higher risk than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.
Note that closing an account doesn't delete it from your report. A closed account will still show up on your credit report and may be considered when the credit bureaus are determining your credit score.
We’re here to help you achieve your financial goals, which includes helping you manage your credit and your credit score while saving money. Give us a call if you have additional questions about your finances at 303-321-4209 or email us at: Email@WesterraCU.com.
Whether you are just starting out to establish your credit, or you are trying to repair it, consider getting a secured credit card.
A secured card is different from a normal credit card because you make a deposit into your savings account, which is held as collateral against your secured card. Your deposit will continue to earn dividends while it is held as collateral.
This cash deposit, or security, is used to protect the financial institution in the event you are unable to make payments. If you default on your secured card, your savings will be used to pay off the loan.
Trying to build your credit or don’t want someone else, like your parents, to co-sign for a credit card, a secured card is a good option. And, unlike prepaid debit cards, secured cards help you build your credit without the fees.
For example, our Westerra Credit Union Visa® Select secured credit card offers you the lowest of the low rates and no annual fee.
Although it might typically be easier to obtain a secured credit card than a normal credit card, there are still some qualifications that you may need to meet. For example, at Westerra:
You need to be at least 18 to apply on your own and if you’re not 21, you will need to show proof of income.
Your credit limit will be as low as $500 and as much as $2,500.
It’s also important to do your research on secured credit cards. You’ll want to be sure to look for a card with no fees and stick with well-known credit unions or banks.
Once you have your secured card, be sure to use it wisely because the issuing financial institution reports your account activity to the credit bureaus. To prove you are financially responsible, you’ll want to be sure you make your payments on time (this is very important!) and not always be at your credit limit, since this will have a negative impact on your credit score.
Typically, it takes 6 to 12 months of responsible payment history to establish or rebuild your credit. Then, you will be able to apply for an unsecured credit card (or a regular credit card) without pledging your savings as collateral.
We offer secured credit cards with no fees for members wanting to rebuild or establish their credit. Stop by any Westerra branch or call us at 303-321-4209 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Your credit score is a big deal. Lenders use it to decide what kind of credit card or loan you’ll qualify for and what interest rate you’ll have to pay. If your credit score is low, working to improve it can open doors for you now and in the future.
There are 3 things you should avoid in order to protect your credit score:
Want to protect your credit score? Cosigning a loan may not be in your best interest.
As a cosigner on a loan, you are equally responsible for repayment as the primary borrower. If the borrower starts making late payments or worse, missing payments, your credit score will take a hit.
If you are considering closing old credit card accounts, you might want to think twice. This can actually negatively impact your credit score in two different ways. First, credit cards that have a long credit history are good for your credit score.
Second, closing those accounts will lower your amount of available credit, which could negatively affect your credit utilization ratio.
It’s important to know what is on your credit report. If you haven’t looked at yours recently (or ever, no judgment) check out annualcreditreport.com and fill out a form to request your free credit report from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Each one of them is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report annually.
Keeping an eye on your credit report could help you determine if your identity has been stolen and take the necessary steps to prevent or remedy it. Even if nothing malicious is happening to you, there could still be inaccuracies which you should let the credit reporting agencies know about and correct.
Traveling soon? Here are a few tips to help you gain peace of mind and manage your finances before you leave town:
Let your financial institution (ahem -- us!) know your travel destination and how long you’ll be gone. That way, when you use your debit or credit card away from home, we will know that it’s really you using it and authorize your transactions.
Before you leave, make sure you have downloaded the mobile banking application to your Smartphone, which you can find in the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android, and test logging in. With the mobile banking app, you can monitor your accounts, transfer money, pay bills, and even deposit checks using your phone!
Check with your financial institution to see if they offer an app that lets you turn your credit and debit cards “on” and “off,” like CardNav. This type of app will give you peace of mind in the event your cards are lost or stolen.
If you receive your bank statements by mail, sign up for electronic statements (or “eStatements"). Typically, you’ll receive an email when your eStatement is ready. Then, log in to online banking to see your eStatement, whether you’re home or away. Electronic statements are good for the environment, too (by saving trees!).
To notify Westerra of your upcoming travel plans, call us today at 303-321-4209, send us a secure message through online banking or stop by any Westerra branch. We will place a “Travel Note” in our records, so that you can use your Visa® debit and credit cards without triggering a potential fraud alert interruption.
We wish you safe and happy travels!
Our purpose, our reason for being, is to teach one another to prosper. This includes helping everyone in furthering their financial education, especially helping teach kids wise money skills.
Parents, here are a few ideas to consider to help your kids become more money smart:
Empower your kids to manage their own money – Let your child play an active role in how money is used by offering them an allowance. As a parent, the key is consistency: Be sure to keep your promise of paying your kids an allowance, no matter the amount. This demonstrates the importance of timeliness and indirectly shows your kids they will need to pay—their future credit card bills, for example—on time too. However, it isn’t advised to use this to discourage bad behavior.
Encourage your kids to give back – Giving to charity is fun for kids because they are instinctual givers. Make philanthropy more enjoyable by getting the whole family involved. Volunteer together at a local soup kitchen or be part of a fundraiser that you and your family are passionate about.
Make your own gifts instead of buying from the store – You can still give generously while saving money by creating your own homemade gifts. You and your children can make food mixes, candles, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, and many other things at home inexpensively.
Check out books, magazines, music, and DVDs at the library – Swing by your local library to check out the latest books, magazines and music. The more your family borrows, the more money you’ll save over time. Alternatively, if you’re trying to organize your house, you can easily donate books, CDs, and DVDs your kids have outgrown to your local library, second hand or consignment stores (check out your local library’s website for what you can donate and where).
Turn grocery shopping into a teachable moment – Teach your kids about comparison shopping or how to shop by value rather than brand. Remember to always shop with a list, which helps children understand how prior preparation can lead to great savings in the end.
Here’s a list of documents that, in most cases, you might need when purchasing or refinancing a home. For a speedy and smooth loan process, we recommend you provide the required paperwork as early* as possible. Your mortgage loan officer will help guide you through the process.
One or two of your most recent pay stubs covering a 30-day period, including year-to-date earnings.
One or two years of the most recent W2s and/or 1099’s for each person listed on the loan application (K-1 tax forms if applicable).
If self-employed, two years most recent IRS 1040 and/or Business Tax Returns, providing all tax schedules.
One or two years of the most recent tax returns, personal and/or business (all tax schedules and pages are required).
Two months of the most recent bank and asset statements, such as spending/checking, saving, money market, retirement, etc. All pages, even if they are blank, are required. Please note: Large deposits will need to be explained and documented.
If applicable: Bankruptcy discharge papers and all bankruptcy schedules.
If applicable: Divorce decree and Complete Separation Agreement (all pages including schedules).
Name and contact information of the insurance agent you want to use for your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you do not have a trusted insurance agent, please let us know and we will refer you to a reputable insurance provider.
If applicable: A current mortgage statement.
Additional documentation may be required depending on your circumstances.
*Note: Documentation will expire after 120 days and updated information will be required.
If you are looking to purchase a home, you may have heard the terms pre-qualification, pre-approval and full credit approval. However, these terms are drastically different and can have an impact on your home-buying process.Understanding the difference A pre-qualification will provide you with a good idea of how much house you can afford. The number is determined by a simple calculation using basic information such as monthly income and monthly debt, and is often verbally provided to you from the lender. It takes no time at all to calculate and with nothing verified, a prequalification is truly a simple estimate. A pre-approval is achieved after a bit more analysis. It requires the lender to review the verbally provided borrower debt and income information, along with the factual information obtained from a credit report. A full credit approval looks at your full financial picture and provides you with a full credit approval letter, so you can be more confident when shopping for a home, knowing exactly how much you can purchase and finance. Offering a seller evidence of a full credit approval will position your offer for favorable consideration when the sellers are comparing offers from multiple home buyers, because they know they have a serious buyer.
At Westerra Credit Union, you will receive a fully underwritten file on a “To Be Determined” (TBD) property. This is our commitment to assist you before, during and after the transaction.To finalize the transaction after your offer has been accepted, we will need:
A valid purchase contract,
verified acceptable property,
and a verified acceptable title.
Full credit approval
Credit report required
Income & assets documentation required & underwritten
Provides accurate & verified information for a confident decision
Before you begin working with a lender, be sure to find out if they provide a full credit approval. Contact one of our experienced Mortgage Loan Officers at 303-321-4209 or stop by any Westerra branch. We would be happy to help you through the process. Westerra Credit Union financially supports the Colorado Homeownership Coalition, which provides mortgage assistance to individuals and families when they need an extra hand.