Archive for the ‘ Branches ’ Category

Visit us at the PA Auto Show!


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Heading to the PA Auto Show at the PA Farm Show Complex this weekend? Stop by our booth (M24 in the main hall) and ask us how we may be able to help you get pre-approved for a new ride with our Auto Shopper Loan.* It’s so much easier to shop when you know what you can afford. Make sure to enter to win a snow blower and a $200 VISA® Gift Card, too!

*Rates based on model year. Lock in your rate for 90 days until  you make a decision. Ask an associate for details.

How Can You Help Your Credit Score?


Stressed man with bills

Think of your credit report as your financial resume. It says a lot about you and how you manage your money. It’s a summary of all of your debts – those you’re currently paying on, those you’ve paid off and it shows payment history, debt amounts and more. It’s your ticket to being approved for a loan or being denied. It determines how much interest you pay when it comes to the amount of money you want to borrow.  Maybe you’ve had some financial issues due to job loss, illness, or maybe you simply developed some bad financial habits like having too much money going out for bills and not enough money coming in.

Whatever your situation is, there’s always a way to help improve your credit score. May we suggest:

Pay your bills on time. This is pretty much a no-brainer. If a situation comes up and you know you’re going to be late with a payment or can’t make it in full, pay something and/or call the creditor to work out an alternative payment arrangement and make sure it’s noted in your account. Consider using an online bill pay system to help you schedule payments.

Credit card usage. Use them lightly. Just because you have a $5,000 limit, doesn’t mean you need to go on a charging spree. Use less than 30 percent of your total available credit.

Pay off your installment loans  (mortgage, auto, student, etc.).  This can help your scores but typically not as dramatically as paying down — or paying off — revolving accounts (think about all of those store credit cards you signed up for to take advantage of that point-of-sale discount) and other credit cards.

Lenders like to see a big gap between the amount of credit you’re using and your available credit limits. Getting your balances below 30% of the credit limit on each card can really help; getting balances below 10% is even better. Pay off  your highest-rate card(s)/loans first and then put those payments towards other debts such as credit cards that  are really close to their limits.

Pay more. Anytime you can pay more than the minimum payment, do it. You’ll end up paying less interest in the long run. Remember, every little bit helps.

Lines of credit. Too many open lines of credit, whether or not you’re using them, may send a red flag up the pole to potential lenders.

Balance. Maintain a good balance of credit between your installment loans (car loans) and credit cards.

Old credit is good.  If you have charge cards you haven’t used in a while or have paid off, but still have open lines of credit, use them once in a while and pay them off in full each month.

Check your credit report. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Go there, order up your credit report, grab a cup of coffee and take a good, long hard look at it. Make sure you get it from all three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Dispute any discrepancies you may find. You don’t necessarily need to correct accounts you closed listed as being open or accounts you closed that don’t say “closed by consumer.” Closing an account may hurt your scores. If your goal is improving your scores, leave these alone.

Pay attention to significant errors. Sometimes life deals us a bad hand – you have financial issues due to job loss, medical issues, divorce, gambling problems, and so on. If you have any of the following on your credit report, it is worth your effort to correct these issues sooner rather than later:

  • Late payments, charge-offs, collections or other negative items that aren’t yours.
  • Credit limits reported as lower than they actually are.
  • Accounts listed as “settled,” “paid derogatory,” “paid charge-off” or anything other than “current” or “paid as agreed” if you paid on time and in full.
  • Accounts that are still listed as unpaid that were included in a bankruptcy.
  • Negative items older than seven years (10 in the case of bankruptcy) that should have automatically fallen off your reports.

Additional resources:

Members 1st FCU offers free access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath, a financial management program. Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years. As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

NerdWallet

Federal Trade Commission

Board of Governors Federal Reserve System

Is a department store credit card worth it?


woman shopping

We’ve all been there: you’re at a department store standing in line to make a purchase and the cashier offers you a chance to save a few extra dollars by opening a store credit card. While saving money is almost always an appealing option, you may be wary of opening another line of credit.

Store credit cards aren’t always bad. However, they’re certainly not always good either. Whether or not you choose to open one should depend on a number of factors, the most important being your own financial situation and the specific terms and conditions attached to the card.

The main pros associated with department store credit cards include:

  • Special Discounts: Department stores often provide perks to store credit card holders, including special discounts, free shipping and tickets to special events. If you frequently shop at the store anyway, signing up for a credit card could help you to save a lot of extra money. However, it’s important to look very closely at the rules surrounding the discounts first, to make sure you’re getting a good deal. For example, some stores require you to charge a significant amount before you get access to savings perks. On the plus side, other stores offer cash back right at checkout, which can really add up. Always be sure to read the fine print.
  • Establish Credit: If you don’t have much of a credit history or are trying to repair a damaged one, opening a store credit card can help to raise your score. Department store credit cards are typically much easier to obtain than traditional credit cards. As long as you shop responsibly and pay the balance off each month, it will look good on your credit report.
  • Fund Major Purchases: Some store credit cards offer a zero percent interest rate for the first six months or a year, which can help you finance major purchases when you need them, instead of waiting until you can save up the cash. However, it’s important to finish making payments before the interest kicks in or you’ll owe some serious extra money.

While opening a store credit card can have its benefits, there are also many drawbacks. The biggest cons of department store credit cards are:

  • Lower Credit Score: If you have a good credit score already, opening too many department store cards per year can lower it. Even if you only open the card to take advantage of the initial discount, pay it off, and cancel it, that doesn’t remove the inquiry from your credit report. As a general rule of thumb, don’t open more than one or two lines of credit per year.
  • High Interest Rates: Department store credit cards may have much higher interest rates than you’d find with a traditional credit card. Confirm the interest rate before you sign up for the card.
  • Low Credit Limit: As department store credit cards are typically much easier to obtain than traditional credit cards, you usually won’t get too high of a spending limit. While this can be a good thing, it can also be annoying if you have the money to do some pricey shopping, but can’t put your entire purchase on the card.

Making the decision to open a new credit card is a big deal. You should never rush into something that can have such a huge impact on your finances. While it can be tempting to sign up for a store credit card on a whim to save a little extra money at checkout, don’t do it. Take the time to read the fine print and really think about whether the card is a good fit for you.

There are other credit card options that offer you low interest rates, no annual fees, and reasonable limits. Some cards also allow you to make purchases and reap rewards from purchases outside of a single store. If after weighing your options you decide a store credit card is for you, open an account on your next trip to the store.

 Guest blogger: John Gower, NerdWallet

Don’t let your lack of insurance make a bigger disaster out of a natural disaster


tornado sky
Natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time. And they can occur in the same place more than once within days (remember the recent tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma). Think again if you believe that Southcentral PA is immune to tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards and wildfires. Members 1st Insurance Services is encouraging you take a good look at your insurance coverage to make sure you’ve done some fundamental planning that could save you, your loved ones, or your business a lot of headaches should Mother Nature decide to stir things up.

Even though you may have natural disaster insurance coverage and you’ve prepared for a disaster, being properly insured can be a big help in the aftermath. Make sure your insurance protects what’s important to you. When reviewing your natural disaster protection options with your agent, keep the following in mind: 

1. Do you have adequate insurance if something were to happen to you, your family or your property? Is there enough money to cover bills, any medical expenses, funeral expenses and more?
2. If you have a business, is it properly insured if a natural disaster hits your area?
3. What’s the process if you need to file a claim? If a catastrophe hits your area, is that process different?
4. Are your policies up-to-date? Member 1st Insurance Services offers an annual review to make sure your home, life, auto insurance, or business keeps up with the changes in your life.
5. Keep your agent informed if you’ve remodeled your home or added another room or basement. This helps to ensure your home owners insurance protects your entire home. It’s a good idea to also take photos of your home (inside/outside) and every room and its contents so you know exactly what it is you have. Keep a CD of your photos in a safe deposit box or other secured location where it will be protected. A picture inventory is a great way to keep track of your belongings. You may also want to consider having your home reappraised to get a better idea of its value.
6. Ask your agent how deductibles work after a catastrophe.
7. Think about valuable items insurance – taking out extra insurance at a nominal cost for special items such as expensive cameras, musical instruments, computers, engagement rings, artwork and furs.
8. Flood insurance is different from homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance does not include natural disaster protection to cover floods. Flood insurance is a separate type of insurance that may be purchased to protect you from losses due to flooding.
9. Do you have a natural disaster plan  for your home or business? Talk to your agent and ask for tips.
10. Do you rent? Hopefully you’ve purchased renters insurance and if you haven’t, we strongly encourage it. Your landlord’s insurance doesn’t project your personal belongings. Ask your agent how renters insurance works after a disaster hits.

A natural disaster can happen anywhere not just within the confines of a certain geographic location. It takes about an hour to meet with an agent to discuss these issues. Members 1st Insurance Services is here to help you. We offer a free, no-obligation insurance quote and have products to meet a variety of typical personal insurance needs such as auto, boats, valuable items, personal umbrella, recreational vehicle, condominium, dwelling fire, homeowners, renters wedding, mobile home and flood. Call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5218 or 5245. A little advance planning right now can make a potential disaster a lot less stressful.

For additional help in the event of a natural disaster:
www.fema.gov
www.ready.gov
www.nhc.noaa.gov

Let us meet or beat your current merchant processing pricing


Take our $250 guarantee –
We’ll meet or beat your current merchant processing pricing, or we will give you $250.

Merchant services

Accepting electronic payments is a cost-effective way for any business to provide quality customer service and still maintain operational efficiency. If you are a retail business, service, mail-order or Internet business, we can help you process electronic payments and assist you with the ability to accept credit, ATM and debit cards.

Our partnership with The Small Business Authority, powered by Newtek provides you with all of the tools you need to set up merchant payment processing and a way to customize programs that will help drive customers to your door. The Small Business Authority provides competitive processing rates while also offering the highest level of customer service and expertise available in the industry. The Small Business Authority will also assist you with implementing personalized gift card programs, ATM’s and check guarantee services to help maximize your revenues and reduce your costs. And as an added convenience, equipment purchasing and leasing are available.

To learn more about our business services, visit your local branch.  

Newtek, The Small Business Authority will pay $250 to your business if we cannot lower your “true effective rate” from your current merchant processing provider. Rate and price comparisons are based upon the calculations provided by NEWTEK Merchant Solutions. The most recent two (2) month’s credit card processing statements are required to calculate the “true effective rate.” Pricing comparison applies to Visa®, MasterCard®, and Discover Network® credit card processing rates and other normal monthly fees only, and does not include one-time set up, hardware or software fees. Select business types are not eligible for the $250 offer. Ineligible business types include, but are not limited to: travel agents, ticket brokers, airline tickets, debt consolidation/collection services, dating services, online dating sites, financial consulting, recurring billing or continuity merchants, computer software sales, discount clubs, or custom furniture retailers. The $250 will be paid in the form of a check within 30 days. Limit one offer per merchant relationship/business entity. Offer is only available to new NEWTEK Merchant Solutions – The Small Business Authority customers.

** Percent discounts on merchant processing are based on average cost savings experienced by new NEWTEK Merchant Solutions – The Small Business Authority customers. Actual percent discount may vary.

Learn How To Protect Your Data


Data Privacy Day logo

Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day is an international awareness effort celebrated across the United States, Canada, Europe and other countries on January 28th every year. It began in the United States and Canada in January 2008, as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe.The Day commemorates the 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

In our online world, data is free flowing. All of us – from home computer users to the largest corporations – need to be aware of the personal and private data others have entrusted to us and remain vigilant and proactive about protecting it. Being a good digital citizen means being a good steward of data.

Members 1st is committed to protecting the privacy and security of your data. Here are some tips to help you protect your data:

  1. Protect your passwords. Don’t reveal them to anyone and never save your password on sites with financial or personal information.
  2. Check website security. All legitimate finance and retail websites use this SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to make it safe to bank or pay online. URL’s starting with “https://” indicate the use of SSL (ex.https://m1online.members1st.org/OnlineBanking).
  3. Reveal only what is necessary.
  4. Select options that result in less of your personal information being shared.
  5. Manage your cookies. Cookies track your activity on a web site. Consider enabling or disabling cookies on a site-bysite basis.
  6. Guard against malware. Use antivirus and antispyware and make sure they are updated regularly to avoid malicious software that can steal your information while you’re online.
  7. Our Fraud and Security Center offers a library of information ranging from identity theft scams to ways in which you can become more diligent while online or elsewhere.

Visit one of our branches on January 28 for additional information on how to keep your data private.

Source: Consumer Action, http://www.consumer-action.org. All rights reserved.

Save Money with Our FREE Online Bill Payer!


Did you know? Our Bill Payer service is now FREE for all levels of our Member Loyalty Rewards Program! Not sure if you’re eligible? Check your statement or log into Members 1st Online (home banking). You can also call TeleBranch at (800) 237-7288 to talk to a customer service representative.

Do you use Members 1st Online but haven’t tried Bill Payer yet? Log into your account and select the Bill Payer tab to get started. With Bill Payer, you can set up recurring payments, view your payment history, add or delete payees and make one-time or irregular payments. Please note that you must have a Rewards Checking account to utilize Bill Payer.

Why should you consider using Bill Payer?
1. It’s secure
2. You’re in control – pay almost anyone, at any time, day or night online or using your mobile device (be sure to download our mobile app!)
3. It’s easy to use
4. You’ll save money on stamps
5. It’s convenient & time saving
6. You can schedule payments ahead of your due date or make same day payments as long as they are scheduled before 11 am that same day. You can also set up recurring payments.

Sign up today! It’s FREE for Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium members!

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