Dupaco's Great Credit Race Aims to Help Improve Members' Financial Positions

DUBUQUE, Iowa—On a mission to help its members build their credit scores for a brighter financial future, Dupaco Community Credit Union launched its third Great Credit Race this spring. As the 12 participants race to build their credit scores from 0 to as high as possible in six months, their latest scores have recently been posted.

Early race results delivered a clear front-runner, with Dupaco member Nick establishing an impressive credit score of 800. Two racers are tied for second place, each with a credit score of 703.

“I felt like I was being responsible with my credit card and had done all of the right things, so it was good to see results come of it,” Nick said of his initial score. “This has been a good experience. It’s a good way to not only educate myself on being responsible and building credit, but also an opportunity to earn some money to put toward schooling.”

The competition helps both racers and observers gain a better understanding of how credit works and how it impacts every stage of life. Consumers’ ability to obtain financing, rent an apartment and even get a job might all depend on their credit score, but it can be hard to get approved for credit without a credit score. More than half of Dupaco’s young adult members don’t have a credit score.

Each racer received a Dupaco Visa credit card and one-on-one coaching on how the proper use of credit can help build and maintain a favorable credit score. The participant with the highest score at the finish line wins $1,000, with the second-place finisher receiving $500. The race began May 1.

Dupaco’s Katie Fisher, who is coaching the race’s early front-runner and two other racers, said she was stunned by Nick’s immediate, sizable lead. Fisher attributes his lead to maintaining an extremely low credit card balance each month compared to his opponents.

“It speaks to the major impact of one credit card and how it is used. I have three racers with the same credit card. Each of them is utilizing it a little differently, and you can most certainly see the direct impact of that,” said Fisher, a mortgage/consumer lending consultant at Dupaco’s Williams Boulevard branch in Cedar Rapids. “It solidifies how important it truly is to keep a minimal balance on your credit card. Your score is very much tied to that balance.”

Dupaco’s Great Credit Race is one more way the credit union is fulfilling its mission to improve each member’s financial position, according to Cindy Hilkin, consumer lending consultant supervisor, at Dupaco’s Hillcrest Road branch in Dubuque.

“It’s so important to us to help our members establish a good credit score, so when they do want to buy a vehicle or house, they qualify for the lowest interest rates available,” said Hilkin, who is mentoring Dupaco’s Great Credit Race coaches. “The racers will not only learn about their credit score, but also about how to budget and create a savings plan. We want to give these young members the tools they need to be financially responsible.”

To be eligible to compete in the Great Credit Race, applicants must be 18 or older, have no credit score, be Dupaco members or eligible for membership and agree to race terms and conditions. Applications were accepted through March 22.

Everyone can find applicable take-aways by following www.dupaco.com/GreatCreditRace for race updates and educational resources on how to build credit. The online resources complement Dupaco’s other products and services—including Credit History Lessons, Credit Coach loans and Bright Track credit score monitoring—that help members improve their scores and gain access to better rates.

Dupaco’s inaugural Great Credit Race in 2013 served as the national test pilot in collaboration with the Filene Research Institute, a national consumer finance research and innovation think-and-do tank. During that event, 13 participants raced to obtain the highest credit score in six months. The findings from the race were used to help credit unions across the nation understand how people both use and learn about credit.

ABOUT DUPACO COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION:

Dupaco Community Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative. It is dedicated to the financial sustainability of its members, and specializes in customized financial counseling, money advice and education. It offers savings, loans, investments, insurance and wealth management products for individuals and businesses. Dupaco serves residents in 108 counties throughout Iowa, northwest Illinois and southwest Wisconsin. Chartered in 1948, membership totals more than 117,000 with assets exceeding $1.7 billion. Visit Dupaco at www.dupaco.com.

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