Make the Switch Now

It has made national headlines, Facebook and blog posts and is the subject of countless tweets all thanks to a 27-year old California woman who just got tired and fed up. She got so fed up and tired that her disgust, disillusionment and disappointment with a particular well-known big name financial institution that she single-handedly started a national “event” via Facebook that is designated to take place on Saturday, November 5, 2011. If you haven’t heard about Bank Transfer Day at this point, you haven’t been listening. And if you’re a customer of a financial institution that’s not a credit union, you may want to rethink your relationship with the organization you “bank” with.

Kristen Christian, founder of Bank Transfer Day, is urging everyone and anyone who has had it up to here (visual – stand tall and place your hand parallel over your head) to grab their money and run – run to the nearest credit union or small community bank to show those big bad bankers that the people of America are not going to take it any more (does the 1980’s anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister come to mind?). She wants fed up bank customers to take a united stand and make the switch because of the fees and other practices she believes are unethical. However, if you’re perfectly happy with fees and other related practices, you have the choice to stay where you are, get over it, and do nothing.

Where you “bank” is obviously your personal choice. We’re not writing this to tell you what you should do. We are simply reminding you that there are significant differences between a credit union and other financial institutions as noted in previous posts and you have the right to choose where you put your money.

Would we like for you to become one of our members? Absolutely. Will we make it worth your while to switch? We can only hope that we do.  But the choice to switch remains all yours. All we ask is that if you’re not a credit union member, consider joining us. See what we’re all about. If we’re not the right one for you, which again we hope that we are, then look for a credit union that does meet your needs. We just want to see you get the most out of your hard earned money and be treated fairly and consistently. We don’t want to see you nickel and dimed to death. We don’t want to see you ambushed by a surprise attack of new fees, takeovers, buyouts and big time payouts to executives and stockholders.

Ms. Christian has managed to energize people, like tens of thousands, to really take a look at their relationship with their current financial institution. Kudos to her for taking the stand and reminding people that there are other options out there that truly have the best interests of their members (customers) at heart.

10 Reasons to Join Members 1st:

  1. We’re the third largest credit union in PA with over 200,000 members. Just because we have a lot of members doesn’t mean you get lost in the crowd. Providing you with unparalled service is top on our list!
  2. We have 50 branch locations throughout Southcentral PA – convenient!
  3. We belong to the CO-OP ATM network and the CU$ ATM network – that means you won’t be charged surcharges at these ATMs.
  4. We have all of the latest online banking technology including mobile banking apps – convenient!
  5. We are locally-owned and operated – that means “they” can’t buy us or take us over.
  6. We have a FEE-FREE debit card that PAYS YOU! That’s right – we pay you 5 cents for every non-PIN based point-of-sale transaction! 
  7. We reward you for being a member – exclusive Swipe 5 debit card rebate (see reason #5 above), loyalty rewards, few fees, low loan rates, special contest to win PSU tickets, cash-back or travel/merchandise rewards on our VISA Credit Card, and more!
  8. We love the communities in which we have a presence – we donate thousands of dollars into the local community through charitable and community events and our associates volunteer hundreds of hours every year helping numerous organizations. 
  9. We don’t have stockholders to pay – our board of directors consists of volunteers nominated right from our membership and they’re people you know. That means any profits we make are returned right back to our members who have accounts with us. That’s why are name is what it is… Members 1st… we really do put our members first.
  10. We’re Simply the Best – at least that’s what the readers of Harrisburg Magazine tell us. And with 200,000  members worldwide, we must be doing something right!

Credit Unions build a better world

On October 20, 2011, credit union members around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day, an event to commemorate the credit union movement’s impact and achievements.  

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that provide an effective and viable alternative to for-profit financial institutions for more than 184 million members in 97 countries worldwide. They exist to serve their members, providing a safe place to save money and access affordable loans. We’ve grown from 9 charter members in 1950 to serving 200,000 members. Our Credit Union now has 49 branches as of this post and $2 billion in assets.  And we keep growing.  That in itself is something to celebrate.

Credit Union Day 2011 logo

Since 1948, International Credit Union Day has been celebrated annually on the third Thursday of October. Each year, the international event affords the opportunity to remember credit unions’ proud history and promote awareness of and support for the credit union difference. This year’s theme, “Credit Unions Build a Better World,” celebrates the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. It also aligns cooperatively owned and controlled credit unions with the greater cooperative business sector and the United Nations, which will launch the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 later this year.

 Credit unions are recognized as a force for positive economic and social change and have provided significant value in both developed and emerging nations. International Credit Union Day is sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the international trade association and development agency for credit unions worldwide, and numerous national credit union trade associations and federations around the world.

Celebrate with us on Thursday, October 20. Visit a branch or go to to take advantage of all that we have to offer.

Do you belong?

Where do you do your “banking”? Are you happy at your current financial institution? Are you starting to see more fees and not-so-free services anymore? Perhaps now is a good time to consider your options, especially if you are not a member of Members 1st.

If you’re looking for a change, we invite and encourage you to consider switching to us. We know it’s not easy starting a new relationship with a financial institution. Rest assured, we combine old-fashioned personal service with cutting-edge technology to provide you with the perfect package of financial products and services. We’re not “Members 1st” only in name but also in practice, hence our motto, “We Put Our Members First.”

As a member-owned financial institution, we don’t pay out big dividends to stockholders. That means we reward you with better interest rates on your deposits and lower interest rates on your loans. You benefit from our success. We’ve been locally owned and operated since 1950 and we’re not going to be bought out by another financial institution. Our associates are your friends and neighbors. We know the local community and pride ourselves in giving our time and resources to improve the quality of life in Southcentral Pennsylvania.

If you’re not a member, click here and open your new account or stop by any of our convenient branches.

If your employer or organization doesn’t offer credit union membership as a free benefit, ask them to become one of our Select Employer Groups. It’s easy and won’t cost your company or organization anything.

Whether it’s for personal finances or business accounts, switching over to us will make you see “banking” in a whole new light.

Bringing another choice to Southcentral PA

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve been busy opening more branches for your convenience. Most recently, we opened our new full-service branch in Middletown (replacing our former Giant in-store branch) and our new Lititz branch.

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, October 1 for the Grand Opening Celebration of our Lititz Pike branch. This is the perfect event for you if you live in the Lancaster area and you’re looking for a new financial institution. With all the news lately about how banks are charging more and more fees for things like debit cards, you may want to consider your options.

Come out and meet us so you can learn more about how you can benefit from doing your “banking” at Members 1st!

Grand Opening Event Details:
Saturday, October 1
10 am to 1 pm
Free hot dogs, soda & water (while supplies last)
Live broadcast with FM 97 WLAN from 10 am to noon
Games, prizes and ENTER TO WIN a FREE iPad!
Special promotional offers!

Coming in November– watch for our new branch located at 1815 Hempstead Road, Lancaster. We’re opening for business on Monday, October 31 and will host a special Grand Opening Event on Saturday, November 19.

Big banks, big fees – not here

Big banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase have either started charging their customers monthly fees to use their debit cards for purchases or are in the testing phases of such. Bank of America is set to charge its customers a $5 monthly fee, according to recent articles in the New York Times and USA Today. Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees.  Regional banks such as Regional Financial and SunTrust are looking at $4 and $5 monthly debit card fees, respectively.

This new round of debit card fee changes are the result of the Durbin amendment, a critical part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law and is making for hot news across the country. This amendment essentially caps fees that can be charged to a merchant for accepting debit card transactions at the point-of-sale.  As merchants are forced to pay more fees in order to accept debit card transactions at the point-of-sale (i.e., when you type in your PIN), they may try to influence the way in which you conduct your transaction (“Would that be debit or credit? Press X for credit or hit the Y button and type in your PIN.”) How you decide to route your transaction (typing in your PIN or selecting credit) determines behind-the-scenes costs for the merchant. Merchants are charged fees by their financial institution. Banks make money from those merchants from the way in which debit card transactions are routed (determined by your selecting “credit” or typing in your PIN). Those behind-the-scenes costs translate into fees passed on to the consumer (you) so that big banks can make big money (hence those fees mentioned above).

You, as the consumer, have the right to decide how you want your transaction routed when using your debit card. If a merchant attempts to charge you a fee for using your debit card or denies you from using your card based on a specific dollar amount minimum, you need to bring it to someone’s attention wherever you currently do your “banking”. If you are a member of our Credit Union, we encourage you to report this to our Card Services Group.

Our Debit Card Pays You! Our Debit Card offers an exclusive nationally recognized “Swipe 5” benefit. We pay you to use our debit card! For every qualified transaction, you earn 5 cents and receive a monthly rebate based on the total number of qualified transactions. A qualified transaction is one in which you select CREDIT at the point-of-sale and isn’t an ATM or PIN-based transaction. By selecting credit, you benefit from not only earning 5-cents per qualified transaction, but also don’t lose the right of dispute or chargeback in the event there is some sort of problem down the road. You also are protected from fraud when you use your card as “credit” (you are not protected on “debit”/PIN-based transactions).

Our paying you to use our Debit Card is just one of the ways that make credit unions, particularly Members 1st Federal Credit Union, stand out from the pack. If you’re not a member of a credit union, now is a really good time to consider it.

Get your Members 1st Debit Card today and as an added feature, we also offer personalized debit cards. Say goodbye to big banks and big fees and make the switch to a credit union today.

What’s the difference?

We all know that not all things in life are created equal or the same. Differences among people, places, things and businesses keep things interesting. And in today’s economy, the differences among financial institutions often lead to people deciding where to “bank”.

Do you understanding the difference between banks and credit unions?  If you’re looking to get the best bang for your money, you may want to consider credit union membership. But don’t banks and credit union’s do the same thing, you ask? In principle and theory, yes, they do. They both offer similar products and services but there are differences are behind the scenes in terms of how each operate.

Banks, plain and simple, are for profit organizations. That means they are a commercial business and are in business to make money. They need to generate profits for their stockholders and pay their board of directors. They make extra money by charging more fees and having more stipulations about how various accounts operate. For example, you may be charged a fee if you write too many checks in one month. You may be charged a monthly “privilege” fee to have a debit card and so on.

As a bank customer, you’re just that – a customer. You don’t have any say in how the business operates if you are not a stockholder.  You put your money into an account and abide by the rules of doing business with that financial institution.

Credit unions are the perfect alternative for consumers. Credit unions are not-for-profit entities that operate without a profit motive. There are no stockholders. Individuals who serve on a credit union’s board of directors are volunteers – they’re not on the payroll. Every single person who has an account at a credit union is a member as well as an owner and is treated equally, no matter how much money you have or don’t have.  That means the member-owners have a voice in how the credit union operates. Credit unions return any income to their members in the form of lower loan rates, low or no fee services and often better savings rates.

As financial cooperatives, credit unions work together, not against each other. For example, credit unions join together to form various alliances such as the Surcharge Free CO-OP ATM network and Non-Surcharging ATM network. They also work hard at educating their members through extensive financial literacy programs so that consumers are more educated about managing their money.

Both types of financial institutions offer federally insured deposits. Bank deposits are federally insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC, a government agency. Credit Union deposits are federally insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration, a government agency.

If you’re looking to switch financial institutions and as banks do away with free checking and tack on additional fees, consider the alternative – credit union membership. You are eligible for credit union membership if your employer or asosciation offers credit union membership as a benefit or if you live, work, worship or go to school in a select geographic area in which a community-chartered credit union exists.  And once you’re a member, you’re always a member, no matter if you move, change jobs or life situations.

Refer and you shall receive

Given today’s economy, we know that extra cash is a hot commodity. Did you know that as a member of our Credit Union you can earn extra cash when you make a referral to us? That’s right, for every referral you make who opens an account, we’ll give you $5. All you need is a CA$H4U brochure and a willingness to bring up the topic of credit union membership.

Once you pick up the brochure at one of our branches (or call us to request one at 800-237-7288), fill out some brief information about you and pass it along to someone you know. What’s that – you don’t know who to give it to?

You probably have friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. If they are not already a member or a joint owner on an existing account, then start talking.  Here’s how it’s done – You don’t need to dig into anyone’s personal financial business. With brochure in hand, simply say something like, “Hey, I picked this up the other day. I thought you might be interested in Members 1st.” Tell them how much you like “banking” with us and maybe share a story or tip such as “I know you mentioned you were looking to buy such and such. My credit union has a really good loan promotion going on right now. They really helped me with my home equity loan. Think about checking it out.” And then give them the CA$H4U brochure. Your referral simply needs to open an account and provide us with completed form in the brochure. You’ll receive $5 and your referral will be on his or her way to being a happy member. Once your referral is a member, then he or she can also start making referrals and earning extra cash.

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