Posts Tagged ‘ credit cards ’

Lose Some Debt Weight in 2015


So many bills!

 

Do you have multiple department store or gas cards that you never use? Do you pay annual fees for cards that never see the light of day?  Maybe it’s time to clean out your wallet and lose a little debt weight this year. Here are some tips:

PAY. If you have numerous credit card balances, tackle the one with the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum amount required on all of your other balances. When that one
is paid off, consider rolling that amount into the next highest credit card balance (old amount plus the minimum payment required).

TRANSFER. Consider transferring your higher rate credit card balances and loans to a Members 1st VISA®, which could save you money! Take advantage of our 1.90% APR VISA® Balance Transfer option. Call (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040, visit a branch or log into Members 1st Online » Card Services » VISA® Balance Transfer. This offer is available on balance transfers received through June 30, 2015.*

CHOOSE. Figure out which card you’ve had for the longest amount of time. Make sure to keep this card open, since lenders often see borrowers with short credit histories to be riskier than those with long credit histories. Determine one or two cards to utilize regularly and leave the rest at home. If you have a card that has a low-interest rate or offers rewards, it may be best to keep it open. It’s alright to close those credit cards that you’re no longer using, as long as they don’t have balances and you have other cards.

FOLLOW UP. If you choose to close a credit card, make sure to send a letter to the issuer sharing your decision. Double check your credit report to see if the card is reported as “closed.”

*The 1.90% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on Balance Transfers using the specific form or online submission is a “Discounted” rate that will be in effect from the time of the posting of the balance transfer to your card account for six consecutive billing cycles afterwards, which will be considered the promotional period expiration date of that specific balance transfer. After the expiration of your “Discounted” rate the remaining unpaid portion of the original balance transfer request will be subject to your normal APR as outlined on your monthly statement based on the specific Members 1st FCU credit card selected. Consumer Cards (Business Cards are ineligible) may have up to 10 individual balance transfers open at any given time period. If you default through becoming 60 days or more delinquent we may increase your APR on the balance transfer and other balance amounts as defined within the cardholder agreement and disclosure, which is provided upon card issuance and available online at http://www.members1st.org. All payments received on your account in excess of your minimum payment requirement will be applied first  to the highest rate balances, secondly to the lowest rate balances and finally  to new purchases. All rates are effective as of January 1, 2015 and this offer may be withdrawn at any time. Other restrictions or conditions may apply. You may not pay off your current Members 1st loans or lines of credit by using this balance transfer option. For current rates, fees and other cost information, please reference the Visa Balance Transfer disclosure or contact the Members 1st FCU Card Services Group at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035. We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

 

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

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Federal Trade Commission

Board of Governors Federal Reserve System

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.

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.

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.

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.

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