What’s Your Money Personality?

January is the perfect time to look within and reflect on ways you can better yourself in the New Year. Think about your spending habits. Do you see yourself in any of the descriptions below?

Group of shoppers

  • Hoarder – The hoarder likes to save, budget and prioritize.
  • Spender – The spender likes to spend, spend, spend.
  • Planner – The planner is the nitty-gritty, take-it-one-step-at-a-time type.
  • Dreamer – The dreamer hatches passionate schemes, but has no idea how to make them come true.
  • Merger – The merger wants to pull all of the couple’s money together.
  • Separatist – The separatist wants at least some of his/her own money.
  • Risk-taker – The risk-taker loves adventurous investing.
  • Risk-avoider – The risk-avoider goes for the sure thing.

If you’re concerned about the way you approach money, you may benefit from meeting with a financial counselor. Members 1st members can take advantage of the GreenPath program, a free financial education and counseling program. GreenPath counselors are available Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (EST), Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To use this new service, simply call 1-877-337-3399 or visit them on the web at www.greenpathref.com.

Give your credit history a free annual review

scattered money

It’s important to know what’s on your credit report. Think of your credit report as your financial resume. It can make or break your ability to receive credit, get a job or buy a home.

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year. Here’s how to order one:
Online: www.annualcreditreport.com
Phone: (877) 322-8228
Mail: Print and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form
and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Why is it important to check your credit report?1. It will help you find errors so you can get them fixed.
2. It will help you find fraudulent activity such as accounts opened in your name that you may not be aware of.
3. It will show you your payment history.

To avoid hurting your credit score:
1. Avoid missing payments on bills or loans. Even late payments count against you. If you can’t make a full payment, make some kind of payment.
2. Don’t let other people use your credit card accounts. You are responsible for your account, no matter who uses the card.
3. Don’t overdraw your accounts. You will be charged fees, and you can damage your credit record.

Ways to build your credit history:
1. Open a checking/savings account, or acquire a debit card. These alone will not help your credit, but they will indicate that you have money and you can manage it. Our VISA® Debit Card offers a monthly cash-back rebate with qualifying transactions.
2. Apply for a major credit card. Use it responsibly and pay those credit card bills back on time. We offer VISA® Credit Cards designed to suit your individual needs.
3. Apply for a small loan or line of credit.
4. If you share housing and utilities, make sure a few of those bills are in your name and pay it on time.
5. If you have a student loan, be sure to make regular, on-time payments.
6. Co-sign with a person who has established good credit. Once the co-signing has occurred, simply make your payments on time. Remember, as a co-signer you are equally responsible for repaying the loan if the other signer fails to make a payment.

Information stays on your credit report for up to seven to ten years.

Be Aware of Credit Card Surcharges

As a result of a legal settlement to resolve claims brought by a group of U.S. merchants, merchants in the U.S. and U.S. territories may add a surcharge to certain credit card transactions starting after January 27, 2013. This surcharge, also known as a checkout fee, is an additional fee that a merchant can add to your bill of sale when you pay with a credit card. U.S. merchants that surcharge are required to limit the surcharge fees to credit cards only, meaning they cannot surcharge debit and pre-paid cards. They must also limit the amount of the surcharge to the applicable merchant discount rate for the credit card transaction surcharged. A cap of 4% is currently in place, but that may vary. Additionally, companies must disclose the actual dollar amount of this surcharge on every receipt and disclose the fact that they charge a surcharge fee at the point of store entry and at the point of sale. Most likely, you will not see this change until February because of the 30-day notification and registration process that is required.

How will you know if a business is charging the surcharge? Merchants may charge this fee at their discretion. When you’re in a store, look for signs or postings when entering the store and at the cash register that warn you of the merchant’s fee. If you see this notification, consider using your Members 1st Visa Debit Card or a Members 1st Pre-paid VISA instead of your credit card. Unlike credit card transactions, merchants cannot charge any surcharge fees on debit or pre-paid credit card transactions.

If you suspect you’ve been hit with excessive surcharges or that your debit or pre-paid card was charged, visit www.visa.com/checkoutfees and complete a “Report a Merchant Violation Form.” Alleged surcharging will be investigated.

This new law only applies specifically to “credit card” products. Continue to use your VISA Debit Card as CREDIT at the merchant – you want to continue to earn your monthly Swipe 5 cash-back rebate. A debit card is a debit card whether you use it as “debit” or “credit.” If merchants attempt to charge you this fee when you are using your debit card as “credit”, they will be in violation and may be subject to a fine. If anyone has any issues with this moving forward, please report them to our Card Services Group at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035.

Currently 10 U.S. states have surcharging restrictions including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Consumers who are subjected to checkout fees in states where those fees are prohibited by law may want to discuss this with the retailer or report the retailer to their respective state’s attorney general’s office. Keep in mind that Members 1st is not the entity charging these surcharge fees on your credit card purchases.

For additional information about payments and surcharging: www.visa.com./checkoutfees or call our Card Services Group at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035.

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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It’s time to vote for Simply the Best! Online ballots available until April 1, 2013.

Concerned About Debt? Read this

We offer 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

Free Financial Counseling. GreenPath’s certified and degreed experts will work with you to develop a budget and action plan based on your personal financial situation and goals.

Looking for a Debt Management Plan? GreenPath can help. GreenPath can set up a payment plan with your creditors to potentially eliminate collection calls, reduce interest and eliminate fees. This isn’t debt settlement. It is a plan where you pay your entire principal balance but would do so more quicly while paying less interest and eliminate fees.

Credit Report Review. GreenPath can help you evaluate your credit report, learn to dispute inaccurate information, and understand credit scoring.

Get Help with Housing Issues. GreenPath can help you explore options for avoiding foreclosure, including contacting your mortgage servicer if necessary. They also offer pre-purchase education and reverse mortgage counseling.

Call a Counselor Today. GreenPath counselors are available Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (EST), Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To use this new service, simply call (877) 337-3399 or click www.greenpathref.com. Tell them you found out about them through Members 1st.

Go Direct with Electronic Deposits

Are you still receiving a federal benefit payment by paper check? If you are, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is requiring you to switch to electronic payments by March 1, 2013. This includes federal benefits such as Social Security.

Why is direct deposit safe?

  • Checks can get lost or stolen – but with direct deposit you get your money on time, every time. Direct deposit eliminates the risk of stolen checks and forged signatures which helps protect you from identity theft.
  • It’s easier. You don’t have to leave home to cash or deposit your check – your money is always in your account on payment day.
  • It gives you more control. Your check doesn’t rule your schedule. Payments arrive at the same time each month – your money is there when you need it.
  • What do you need to know to sign up for direct deposit?

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Members 1st FCU routing number: 231382241
  • Your account number
  • Amount of your last federal benefit check
  • Check number from a recent federal benefit payment or claim numbers from the paying agency
  • How to switch your federal benefit payments to direct deposit:

  • Sign up online at Go Direct
  • Visit one of our convenient branch locations
  • Call TeleBranch (Customer Service) at (800) 237-7288
  • Call the Go Direct helpline at (800) 333-1795
  • The Go Direct campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve Banks.

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