Posts Tagged ‘ bank ’

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

5 Financial Resolutions for 2014


financial goalsAccording to a Marist poll, a whopping 44% of Americans make some sort of New Year’s resolution. If you’re one of the 12% that are setting new financial goals for 2014, the tips below offer practical, sustainable changes that can substantially transform the weight of your wallet. Since these activities are effective even as short-term goals, they should help you maintain your resolutions long after January 1. Read on to get started.

Set aside at least 10% per paycheck
It’s easy to get swept up in spending spree fantasies when you receive your paycheck, but don’t forget to set apart a percentage of your income for your savings account. The key word is percentage. If you save in proportion to your income, your savings can adjust to any sudden changes in pay—for better or worse. This takes the pressure off of having to save a set amount each month.

Try to make your savings contribution as seamless as possible. Some direct deposit options allow you to send a certain percentage of your income straight to your savings, before you have a chance to see it. If you don’t have that option, set aside money manually. To do this with discipline, it helps to think of your real income as your paycheck minus savings. If it helps, start at a modest 10%—which is the minimum generally recommended—and over time steadily increase the percentage of your paycheck you contribute to savings.

The key is to let the savings build—set up a special savings account if you need to remind yourself not to dip into them.

Pay high-interest debt first
Look over your loans and credit card bills and sort them out in order of interest rate. Paying more than the minimum on the debt with high interest will save you incredible amounts in uncharged interest. Even if your other balances continue charging you interest, so long as you make the minimum payments and maintain the low interest rates, you’ll be ridding yourself of the fastest-growing debt.

In addition, when you finally free yourself from the worst of your debts, you’ll not only have fewer payments to make, but you’ll feel fantastic knowing you avoided extra debt. Confidence from your previous success will make paying off small-interest debts that much easier and bring you one step closer to financial freedom.

Consolidate your credit
Another way of securing lower interest rates (and paying less in the long run) is by consolidating your credit card and loan bills. Consolidating means combining your outstanding debts, or transferring outstanding balances, onto a new loan or credit card with a lower interest rate. The main benefit of debt consolidation is that you can exchange the high interest rates of your previous loans or lines of credit for the lower rate of the new one.

However, keep a sharp eye out for any deals that seem too good to be true. Sometimes, lenders will initially give you fantastically low rates, and then jack up the interest as soon as the promotional period expires. Be careful to read the fine print, or consult a professional, before committing to a loan consolidation.

Learn more about the balance transfer options at Members 1st Federal Credit Union.

Automate and synchronize payments
Automating your loan and credit card payments can help you avoid those pesky late-payment fees or hiked up interest rates. Late payments reflect badly on your credit score, so anything you can do to avoid missing the due date helps. Automated payment services like online bill pay or direct debit are easy to set up and require little to no maintenance.

Keep in mind that we have the biggest tendency to overspend when we forget our debts and think of only the positive number in our accounts. Timely, regular and synchronized credit card payments will keep your brain (and your eager, spending heart) in check.

Get your free credit report
If you use credit, it’s always helpful to have a credit report on hand. A credit report tells lenders all the details about your past credit use, payment history and total credit available under your name. It’s best to know exactly how your credit is doing in what areas, so you can make specific changes in your faulty credit habits. Luckily, through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

To get a better sense of how your credit is doing throughout the year, order one of your free credit reports every 4 months.

Last word
The best thing about these resolutions is that they are each practical enough to start immediately—even today—yet, they also promise to significantly improve your finances in the long run. Half the battle of keeping resolutions is your ability to feel good about what you’ve accomplished in the short-term, and these changes allow you to hit rewarding milestones along the way to accomplishing your bigger, long-term goals. With a little prioritization, effort, and discipline you can proudly make 2014 your best financial year yet!

Note: Members 1st 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

Guest blogger: Nico Leyva of NerdWallet

 

 

 

 

What’s the difference between a credit union and a bank?


Mature couple enjoying in the park.
They both have money, tellers, ATMs and similar products and services. While all things financial may appear to be quite similar, rest assured there are a few significant differences that set banks and credits unions apart when it comes to how each respective financial institution operates. Where you do your “banking” is your personal choice. We just thought you may like to know the differences between banks and credit unions in the event you’re looking for a financial institution or if you’re not happy where you currently are. Making an informed decision as to where to take your hard-earned money is important for your financial future. Take a look at the differences between banks and credit unions:

Banks:

  • Generate profit for stockholders, Make decisions based on what will give stockholders more profit.
  • They are commercial businesses. They offer services to make a profit.
  • People who buy stock in the bank own shares of the business
  • Serve customers from the general public. Anyone can use a bank.
  • Their Board of Directors are paid a salary. Daily operations are performed by a paid staff.
  • Only people who own stock can vote for the Board of Directors. The customers who use the bank do not have a say.
  • Income is returned to the stockholders in the form of higher dividends on their shares of stock.
  • Like other for-profit businesses, banks must pay taxes to the government.
  • Deposits are federally insured up to $250,00 by the FDIC, a government agency.

Credit Unions:

  • Are not for profit, not for charity, but for service. Without a “profit motive,” they make decisions based on what’s best for their members.
  • Are financial cooperatives. Members pool their savings to provide low-cost loans and low-fee services to each other.
  • Each member is an equal owner regardless of how much money they have on deposit.
  • They exist solely to serve their members. To be eligible to open an account and use the credit union’s services, an individual must meet current membership eligibility requirements within their field of membership per the credit union’s charter.
  • Unpaid volunteers elected from the general credit union membership serve on the Board of Directors and guide the credit union. Daily operations are performed by a paid staff.
  • As owners, members elect fellow members to serve on the Board of Directors.
  • Income or profit is returned to the members in the forms of better savings rates, lower loan rates, and low or no fees for services.
  • Like other not-for-profit institutions, credit unions are exempt from paying federal income tax.
  • Deposits are federally insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration, a government agency. The NCUA’s insurance fund is the healthiest of all federal deposit insurance funds.

If you’re looking for a place to do your “banking” and you’re not a member, consider Members 1st Federal Credit Union.

Keep Your Pets Safe In An Emergency Situation


Moneypennyresting-winner_smaller

You may have an emergency plan in place for your family, but have you included your pets? Here are some tips for keeping your furry family members safe in case you need to evacuate your home during an emergency or you lose power.

ASSEMBLE A PET CRISIS KIT. Round up all of the things you’d need for your pet(s) in case of an emergency and place them in a large duffle bag or sturdy container/tub that’s labeled and ready at a moment’s notice. Some items to include are: disposable litter trays and kitty litter (even aluminum roasting pans work well as litter boxes), enough dry food or “pop-top” wet food and bottled water for 3-7 days, at least one weeks’ worth of your pet’s medicine, a pet first-aid kit, cat/dog beds, blankets, extra collars/harnesses/leashes, bowls, pet carriers and favorite toys. Make sure to include vaccination records and other important details specific to your pet’s health in your pet crisis kit, too.

LOCATE A PET-FRIENDLY SAFE PLACE TO STAY IN CASE YOU’RE FORCED TO EVACUATE. Since not all Red Cross disaster shelters or hotels accept pets, it’s important to have a pre-determined safe haven for your entire family. Identify hotels in and outside of your immediate area that welcome pets and keep the list in your pet crisis kit. Check http://www.pet-friendly-hotels.net or www.tripswithpets.com. Consider asking friends or relatives outside of your area if they’d be willing take in your pets temporarily.

IT’S ALSO A GOOD IDEA TO PLACE A “PET RESCUE ALERT STICKER” ON YOUR FRONT DOOR OR WINDOW PANE NOW. Order a free sticker at www.aspca.org/form/free-pet-safety-pack or www.gopetplan.com/firesafety/. If you would have to leave your home (and you have the time), write the word “evacuated” in permanent marker across the sticker to alert rescue workers. Also, make sure your dog or cat is wearing a collar that lists your cell phonenumber in case you would get separated.

IF YOU DECIDE NOT TO EVACUATE, TAKE PRECAUTIONS. Designate a room in your house as your “safe place” where your family (pets, too) can go in case you decide to wait it out. Keep your pet crisis kit in this area so you’re as prepared as possible.

LET US BE PART OF YOUR CRISIS PLAN, TOO. We partner with Petplan® Pet insurance to help you pay those unexpected veterinary bills when your furry friend has an accident or gets sick.* With Petplan,® you can follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan, knowing that your pet health insurance will help provide you with financial peace of mind. For a free quote, visit www.GoPetplan.com. Questions may be directed to (866) 467-3875.

For information about personal insurance, call Members 1st Insurance Services at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5218 or 5245. Insurance services is avaiable to Pennsylvania residents only. We have several insurance carriers who extend additional group discounts to our valued members. Call us for details.

*Terms and conditions apply. For full details, visit www.GoPetplan.com. Coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Pet insurance policies are issued by AGCS Marine Insurance Company and administered by Fetch Insurance Services, LLC (Fetch Insurance Agency LLC in Michigan) d/b/a Petplan (Petplan Insurance Agency, LLC in California).

Fire safety and preparedness starts with you.


fireman burning house_6171768_xl_fb

Fire Prevention Week is October 6-12, 2013. Do your part in preventing fires every week, better yet, every day.  Unlike other types of disasters, most home fires can be prevented. From the kitchen to romantic candlelight, to holiday decorations and common household items, things you see and use every day can quickly spell disaster if you’re not careful.

Members 1st Insurance Services offers the following tips:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test it monthly. Replace the battery at least once a year.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on all levels of your home, especially in the kitchen.
  • Never overload power strips, extension cords or circuits. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas.
  • Use appliances wisely. Watch out for overheating, unusual smells, sparks and shorts.
  • Make sure your wiring and heating system are updated and inspected by a professional.
  • Use safety caps on unused outlets especially if you have small children.
  • Clean your chimneys annually. Use fire screens.
  • Portable heaters need space. Keep a minimum 3-foot distance between them and anything combustible.
  • Do not use gas grills or camping stoves inside. Kerosene heaters should be used with caution.
  • Teach everyone in your home that matches and lighters are not toys.
  • Clean dryer vents and lint filters with every use.
  • Clean out. Piles of clutter are a fire hazard.
  • Practice escape plans from every room in the house. Learn stop, drop and roll.
  • For more tips, visit http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week.

Call (800) 283-2328, ext. 5128 or 5245 today or visit http://www.members1st.org/products-services/insurance-services.

* Insurance services are available to Pennsylvania residents only. Ask us if you qualify for additional group rate discounts through our insurance carriers.

Don’t get run over by the lack of coverage


3144483_med

There’s a lot riding on the right auto inurance. Lack of coverage will cost you in ways you can’t imagine. The experts at Members 1st Insurance Services know car insurance and can help you design a coverage plan tailored to your needs.

When you talk about auto insurance, do you really understand what it all means? The following may help you understand some common auto insurance jargon. Please note that each state regulates auto insurance differently and some of the terms may differ from state to state or from policy to policy. Ask your insurance agent for clarification.

  • At fault – This is the degree to which you caused or contributed to the accident, or are “at fault”, and it determines whose auto insurance company pays what portion of the damages.
  • Bodily injury liability – This is what pays for the medical expenses and additional damages for which you are liable for other individuals injured in the accident in which you are at fault.
  • Comprehensive coverage – This pays for damages to your vehicle resulting from a covered loss other than a collision. Examples are theft, fire, vandalism, contact with persons, animals, birds or falling objects.
  • Collision coverage – This pays for physical damage to your vehicle if it’s caused by rolling the vehicle or you get into a collision with another vehicle or object such as a telephone pole, fence, or building.
  • Covered loss – This includes any damage to you, your vehicle or other people or property that is covered under your insurance policy.
  • Deductible – This is your upfront out of pocket expenses you pay before what your insurance company pays. Higher deductibles allow your insurance company to offer you lower premiums.
  • Property damage liability – This pays for the damages your auto causes to others and their property.
  • Medical payments coverage – This pays for reasonable medical expenses or death benefits to anyone covered under your policy, regardless of fault.
  • Premium – The amount you pay for your insurance coverage, monthly, quarterly or annually.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage – This pays for your bodily injury and any related medical expenses when you’re injured in a car accident and the responsible party (someone other than you) doesn’t have adequate auto insurance.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage – This pays for your bodily injury and related medial expenses if you’ve been injured in a car accident and the responsible party (other than you) doesn’t have auto insurance or can’t be located (hit and run).

Ask us about rental reimbursement, repair or replacement coverage, towing and labor coverage, gap insurance and more. Put the brakes on higher premiums and not being covered properly. Let us review your current auto rates and provide you with a FREE quote. We may be able to help you lower your premiums. Ask us if you qualify for an additional group discount through our insurance carriers.*

Call (800) 283-2328, ext. 5128 or 5245 today or visit http://www.members1st.org/products-services/insurance-services.

*Insurance services are available to Pennsylvania residents only.

A life cycle of lending


piggy bank

Think of us first when you need a loan.

Members 1st Federal Credit Union has a whole suite of lending products for every stage of your life. Throughout your lifetime there are many good reasons to borrow money: for education, purchasing a new vehicle or home, or perhaps financing your business needs. We have one of the widest variety of competitively priced lending products of any financial institution in the area. As a member, when you apply for a loan, you may qualify for a discounted loan rate depending upon your Member Loyalty Reward level. Always ask what your reward level is and how that could help your loan rate.

As a locally owned credit union with no stock holders pushing to maximize profits, you are ensured low rate loan products with very little or no fees. One of the first types of lending young adults become familiar with is our student loan program, Credit Union Student Choice. This program allows student and parents to borrow money as a line of credit, which allows for deferred payments until after graduation with low rates and a competitive structure. Our Student Loan Administrator, Tiffanie DeVan, would be glad to sit down with both student and parent to discuss this option for financing your college education. You can reach Tiffanie at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6017.

Many people start their relationship with us via an auto loan. These loans may be obtained either directly from us or through our “On the Spot” vehicle loan program, which is available through any of our 250 auto dealer partners throughout Southcentral Pennsylvania. We have financing available with terms up to 84-months. Visit www.members1st.org > Products & Services > Loans or call (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040 for details.

One of the most convenient types of loan products we offer is our VISA® products. These products include our VISA® Platinum Cash Back program, which features 1% cash back on all purchases, plus 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases. If you are having some credit issues, but still would like the convenience of a VISA® card, our new VISA® Platinum Secured Card can provide you with a VISA® card and help you re-establish credit. Contact our Card Services Department at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040 for more details or visit www.members1st.org > Products & Services > Card Services to apply.

If you are purchasing, refinancing, or constructing a new home, our experienced mortgage experts will guide you through the process and make it as easy as possible. We offer VA, FHA, Conventional, and Construction loans, plus a PHFA first time buyer’s program with little or no money as a down payment. You can reach our mortgage specialists at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6026. To view our current rates or to apply online, visit www.members1st.org > Products & Services > Mortgage Services.

After home ownership, you may be interested in home equity loans and lines of credits to assist with making home improvements, debt consolidation, or simply to have a line of credit available for any future borrowing need. Our fixed-rate, fixed-term home equity loan program features terms up to 20 years and our Home Equity Line of Credit products have different repayment options to fit your budget. Contact our loan specialists at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040 or visit www.members1st.org > Products & Services > Loans > Home Equity Loans & Lines of Credit for details.

If you are a business owner, we have a number of business loan programs available for capital purchases or line of credit products, which can be tailored to suit your business needs. Members 1st participates in the SBA 504 program, in addition to the US Department of Agriculture’s Business and Industry program. Visit www.members1st.org > Products & Services > Business Services to learn more about how we can help you. You may also contact our business lending experts at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5168.

If you need money, we have money to lend: Signature loans, Fresh Start loans, Share Secured loans, and Recreational Vehicle financing to name just a few. In addition, along with many of our lending products we offer our Member Value Protection coverage, which offers low cost debt protection in case of death, disability or unemployment. We are your one stop shop for all of your borrowing needs throughout your life. Stop by your nearest branch or visit us at www. members1st.org.

College is coming


college student

As a parent, this moment has been on your radar, but now it’s coming fast. Your baby is about to begin his or her senior year of high school. This is a very busy year and will fly by quickly. There’s much to do. That also means it’s time to start thinking about higher education opportunities and the application process. To help you and your senior, we’ve included some tips for the fall months as you move forward toward next year’s college departure.

August:

  • Request information and applications from prospective colleges, universities or technical/career schools.
  • Visit campuses to help evaluate schools.
  • Start a general search for scholarships and grants, research financial aid information from prospective schools so you’re aware of any early deadlines.
  • Attend our free Financial Aid Seminar on Thursday, August 22 from 6 to 8 pm at our Adminstrative Headquarters.

September:

  • Set a time to meet with school guidance counselors to determine college admission plans and to arrange proper testing (SAT, PSAT, ACT). Attend college fairs and meet with admission representatives to discuss career objectives and see if the school is recognized as being strong in this field.
  • Attend Financial Aid Nights offered by local high schools or Members 1st.
  • Evaluate early decision/early application admission requirements.
  • Start admission applications. You should apply to numerous schools so you have options if you are not accepted at your first choice.

October:

  • Be aware of college admission application deadlines in order to submit application materials (applications, essays, transcripts and letters of recommendation) in a timely manner.
  • Research and begin applying for private scholarships and grants. Always double check the deadlines.
  • Check with schools regarding application procedures and availability of scholarships and grants.

You can also find resources about student loans and our Student Choice Line of Credit at www.members1st.org > Products & Services > Student Services.  Our Specialty Loan Administrator, Tiffanie DeVan, is always ready to help you. You can reach her at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6017 or devant@members1st.org.

Protecting Your Pets


We know how important your dog or cat is to your family. That’s why we teamed up with Petplan® to help you have access to affordable, comprehensive, flexible and affordable coverage. Veterinary bills and emergency situations can be expensive and we wouldn’t want you to deny your pet the veterinary care it needs because you may not be able to afford it. 

Petplan* policyholders can visit any licensed veterinarian in the United States or Canada for treatment of all unexpected accidents and illnesses – including hereditary and chronic conditions. Petplan pet insurance covers, as standard:

  • prescription medications
  • lab tests and diagnostic testing
  • X-ray, MRI and CAT scan imaging
  • surgery
  • hospitalization
  • cancer treatments
  • specialist treatments

Think about how much your pet means to you. For a free instant quote, visit www.GoPetplan.com. Online purchase discounts available. Questions may be directed to (866) 467-3875.

*Terms and conditions apply. For full details, visit http://www.GoPetplan.com. Coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Pet insurance policies are issued by AGCS Marine Insurance Company and administered by Fetch Insurance Services, LLC (Fetch Insurance Agency LLC in Michigan) d/b/a Petplan (Petplan Insurance Agency, LLC in California).

Hurricane Sandy Early Closing


All Members 1st branches and Administrative Headquarters are closing at 1 pm on Monday, October 29 due to Hurricane Sandy. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Stay safe & dry!

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