A credit score has a large affect on your ability to obtain financing, rent an apartment, get a cell phone, and even get a job. And it's really hard to get credit if you have no credit score. Doesn't make sense, does it? Our research showed that over half of our young adult members do not have a credit score. We want to change that through Dupaco's Great Credit Race and the education that all participants and race fans will learn along the way.

On May 1, Dupaco's Great Credit Race began— a competition in which participants race to build their credit score from 0 to as high as possible in six months. Each of the Racers received a Dupaco VISA credit card with a $1,000 limit and coaching on how the proper use of credit can help build and maintain a favorable credit score. The participant with the highest credit score at the finish line will win $1,000. And everyone playing wins by establishing great credit.

Who's in the lead?

Meet the Coaches


A Missouri native, Ben joined Dupaco two years ago as a Teller and is now a Member Service Representative at the Pennsylvania location in Dubuque. He feels empowered to make a difference at Dupaco with the array of tools that he uses to help members achieve their financial goals.

"They're an opportunity to get everything out on the table and build from there. Going through the journey with them is exciting especially when you get to look back and see all the progress!"

Ben believes that understanding your credit score is vital because it's your lifelong and ongoing progress report—and the more positive it is—the better. And this couldn't be more important for the Great Credit Racers—and all young borrowers.

"When the time comes to do a loan when they are 21, they already have 3 solid years of credit building established. That is HUGE. The conversation then goes from needing a co-signer—or even denying the loan—to 'Hey, we can absolutely do this for you because we can see you have already been making steps to getting your credit score in a great place!'"

Finally, when it comes to establishing—or rebuilding—a credit score, Ben advises that individuals should seek financial counseling from a local financial institution—like Dupaco—so they can conveniently stop by to ask questions and work with experts along the way.


Marina began working for Dupaco six years ago as a teller. She is now a Member Service Representative who also works with the lending team. Helping members meet not only their financial goals—but also their life goals—is the most rewarding part about working at Dupaco.

Also a college student at Upper Iowa University, Marina has learned how to manage her own credit, and feels that it's essential for young adults to learn about and establish it. After all, it is easier to destroy a credit score than it is to rebuild it. And a credit score is also something that doesn't just exist out of thin air.

"Your credit score sticks with you for life and is very important if you ever want to buy a car, a house, etc. A lot of young people think if they haven't done anything then their credit is good, and that is definitely not the case."

Marina strongly believes that having a handle on one's budget is the key to success with managing a credit score. By understanding your budget, you will know if you can actually afford to pay for something with a credit card or not.

"Often members will come to me not knowing where to start and I'll have them fill out a budgeting sheet. Then they realize that at the end of the month, their balance is negative. That's when I can help figure out what to cut back on as well as getting their money to the right places."


With 15 years of credit union experience under her belt, Tonya began working at Dupaco in 2002 as a loan officer, and has managed a handful of branches since then. Now the Branch Manager at Dupaco's newest facility on San Marnan Drive in Waterloo, Tonya enjoys helping members overcome their credit challenges.

"When a member follows my advice to establish or re-establish credit and they are able to buy a house or car. I love hearing, 'I wish I had come to you when I was younger, so I would have understood how credit works. Maybe I wouldn't have made the mistakes I have made.'"

Tonya is a firm believer in establishing credit and budgeting while someone is young. For her, it's important for the Great Credit Racers—and all young members—to understand their credit score so that they can get their financial wellness started the right way.

When it comes to building credit, she cannot stress the importance of capacity enough since that is one of the easiest components to a credit score that someone has the power to control. She also aims to make sure that those looking to purchase a new car or home are able to save the payments for 6 months—to see if they are able to stay within their budget with the estimated payment.


Born and raised in Dubuque, Amanda joined Dupaco as a Teller two years ago, and is now a Consumer Lending Consultant at the Hillcrest Rd. branch in Dubuque. Her favorite part about working at Dupaco is working with the members, getting to know them and their situation, and helping them improve their financial situation. She notes that financial coaching is not a one-size-fits-all thing, and greatly depends on the individual's personal situation and goals.

"Every member is different, and there are so many different ways that we can help them."

For Amanda, credit is vital for our members to learn about and establish early because it has a valuable impact on their life as a whole—from getting their first job to purchasing their own vehicle or home. When it comes to establishing a credit score, Amanda often starts members off with a credit card. But she cautions that they often need some coaching so that they understand how to use the card in a beneficial way. And for those who are have faced collections situations—and are looking to re-establish their score—she sets them up with a plan to get the collections and judgments cleaned up and paid, and then move forward.

Race Updates

As racers near the Great Credit Race finish line, the battle to build solid credit remains a three-way tie. With the race nearly over, the coaches share what they’ve gleaned from the competition so far...Read more

With Dupaco’s Great Credit Race at the halfway mark, it’s proving to be a close battle. The race leaders were stunned to learn about their top rankings. Not daring to mess with success, both plan to continue following their race strategies...Read more

Dupaco's Great Credit Race is just beginning, and the racers are strategizing how to quickly establish a solid credit score. All 14 participants received a Dupaco Visa credit card with a $1,000 limit and one-on-one credit coaching before the six-month credit-building competition kicked off May 1.

Now, it's up to the racers to apply what they've learned and start building their credit score from 0 to as high as possible. When it comes to using their first credit card, the racers are already employing different strategies...Read More

Your ability to obtain financing, rent an apartment and even get a job might all depend on your credit score. But it's hard to get credit without a score...Read more

Learn about credit

In today's world, credit is integrated into everyday life—it is borrowed money that you can use for purchases and then repay the funds back at an agreed-upon time. Services such as cable and telephone can be paid for on credit. For example, if you use phone or cable services for a month or two and then pay for them at the end of that period, you are receiving services on credit.

A personal line of credit allows you to have money available when you need it. This also has an interest rate, and the borrower can choose to use the entire credit limit at once or in smaller increments. This can be perfect for meeting ongoing credit needs such as renovating a home. A personal line of credit for an approved amount means that you do not have to keep going back for approval for each small amount you want to borrow on credit.

Credit cards allow a constant line of credit to spend and pay off regularly. You usually do not have to pay any interest as long as you pay the full amount by each due date. Before you spend using a credit card, you should be sure you can repay the amount on time, as some credit cards can have very high interest rates.

Mortgages allow you to buy a house and then pay back the amount owed at regular intervals. Mortgage payments amounts may vary. There are many different kinds of mortgages available with varying types of repayment plans.

When it comes to your personal credit, it pays to know your score. That's because many lenders—even some insurance companies—make decisions and charge rates based on your credit score. This number is calculated by credit bureaus and can range from the 300s to the 800s.

A score is a “snapshot of an applicant's potential risk at a particular point in time.” Scores fluctuate with time and changes in your credit performance, with the heaviest weight being given to your most recent credit activities. Past credit problems fade as time goes by and recent positive data accumulates.