Financial Tips for the New Year

Start your New Year off right with these helpful financial tips from our card services manager.

  • Download the Card Valet app for your debit cards.  With the Card Valet app, you can monitor your spending, turn your card on and off, and much more.  For more information on Card Valet, visit the Card Valet website at www.cardvalet.com.
  • Check your debit card transactions on the Members First mobile application or on online banking daily.
  • To monitor your credit card transactions, sign up for eZCard Info at ezcardinfo.com.
  • Make sure to review your monthly statements once they are received.
  • Notify the credit union as soon as you suspect fraud.  Call (850) 434-2211 or toll-free at (877) 434-6328.
    • For lost/stolen credit card(s), call (800) 325-3678.   For disputes, call (800) 767-9848.
    • For lost/stolen debit card(s), call (800) 472-3272.
  • Notify the credit union when you are traveling.
  • Keep all contact information (cell, work, and phone numbers, and email address) current with the credit union.
  • Use gas pumps closest to the front door of a service station.
  • Always check for skimmers when using gas pumps or ATMs.
  • Do not store your PIN (Personal ID Number) with your debit or credit card or in the same wallet or purse as your debit or credit card.
  • Be wary of fraudsters requesting card account information over the phone, through text, or email.
  • If you are using a mobile wallet application such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay, and your device is lost/stolen, call your provider to block device usage.

 

Financial Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of the year when the weather begins to get a little warmer. There is still a bit of crispness in the air, but it’s not alarming. And, you don’t feel like you’re drowning in your own sweat from the heat and the humidity that will soon follow in the months to come. It’s the perfect time for some spring cleaning. While we can’t help you clean your closets at home, we can help clean your financial closets. Below are five tips to help you with your Financial Spring Cleaning:

1) Begin with your budget. Your budget is a fundamental factor when it comes to your finances. What you do with your budget determines whether you meet, exceed, or drop below your financial expectations for any given period of time… a day, a week, a month, a year, and beyond. Budgets should be solid, in that you know exactly where your money is going and why. Budgets should also be fluid, because they need to be able to adapt to any changes in your life, like a loss of income or an increase in rent or bills. If you haven’t taken a look at your budget lately, now is the perfect time to do so. Take a look at what money you have coming into your account and what goes out of it. Are the numbers balanced? Or do you find yourself dipping a little too deep in your savings or even in debt? What are your problem-spending areas? Are there areas in your budget where you are allocating more than you need? If so, adjust your budget accordingly.

2) Cut the Clutter. There are several ways to streamline your financial clutter. One way to do this is to close unused accounts. Some accounts are equivalent to the bridesmaid dress you buy for your friend’s wedding. It’s good for the time, but you probably aren’t going to use it again. While unused accounts don’t really hurt anyone, unless there is a dormancy charge, there really is no reason not to consolidate. The fact is, it is easier to manage one or two accounts that you use on a regular basis. Another way to cut the clutter is to shred and toss old checks and statements that you know you’re not going to need anymore. (Ex: The federal government recommends that you keep your account statements for a year and your tax documents, including supporting records for those documents, for seven years before you discard them.)

3) Say Yes to Paperless. While you’re cutting the clutter by shredding and tossing unnecessary documents, why not put a stop to the paper madness that is your desk, your dining table, your kitchen counter, or your floor? If you haven’t done it already, leave the paper behind, save some trees, and switch to electronic statements and bill pay. If you are worried about needing a paper trail at later date, you can always go online and print most of the documents that you need. At Members First Credit Union of Florida, online account statements, going back 18 months, are available for viewing and printing. If you are in need of documentation dated further back, there is always the option of speaking with a credit union representative at one of our branch locations. Please note, that in some cases, research and copy fees may apply.

4) Cut Costs. Be proactive about finding ways to save yourself money. Cut costs by shopping for better rates on insurance, cable, phone, and internet plans, etc. Consolidate your debt by transferring your balance to a card that gives you a lower rate. Now, until June 30, 2015, Members First Credit Union of Florida is offering rates as low as 5.95% APR* for balance transfers to your Members First Credit Card. This special limited time offer is good for the life of the balance. Also, no balance transfer fees or cash advance fees are required. Another good way to cut costs is by refinancing your current home or auto loan. To see a list of our current rates, visit our website at: www.membersfirstfl.org.

* APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member NCUA.

5) Change Old Passwords. New years and spring weather often inspire a change in attitude and mindset. It’s the perfect time to embrace the concept of, “out with the old, in with the new”. It’s also a good time to remind yourself that if you’ve been slacking on changing your password for email, store accounts, and internet banking, now is the perfect time to do it. Changing your password on a regular basis, helps to protect your identity and your accounts from malicious activities. Remember, that when you are choosing your password, it is a good idea to create a password that contains a mixture of letters and numbers. Also, have a password that contains both upper and lower case characters, and if possible, include special characters like a # sign.

The Top 10 Ingredients to a Healthier Financial Future

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Consolidate Debt:  If you are carrying high-interest debt from credit cards and store credit accounts, think about consolidating them with a balance transfer on your Members First Credit Union of Florida credit card. In March, we will be launching our special of 5.95% interest on the life of the balance for any balance transfers on your card with no balance transfer fees. Pay off your high-interest cards and make your debt manageable with this special, limited time offer.

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Refinance Your Home Mortgage: If you’re currently paying over 5% on your mortgage, it’s time to seriously consider the option of refinancing. In the current market, mortgage rates are hanging at or near historic lows. As unpredictable as the market is, it is hard to tell how long these current rates will last. Be an early bird and take action sooner than later. At Members First Credit Union of Florida, we offer a 7-year fixed mortgage at 3.49% and a 10-year fixed mortgage at 3.99% with no closing costs. Depending on your current rate, think of the money you could save over the term of your loan.

*Rates are subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member NCUA.
** To qualify for the no closing cost option, member must meet all loan approval guidelines and must agree to not prepay within the first six months. Also, member must have checking, credit card, and direct deposit to qualify for loan special.

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Make Your Credit Cards Work For You: If you’re going to charge it, why not charge it knowing that you’ll be getting something back in return? With a rewards card at Members First Credit Union of Florida, you earn cash back on purchases you make with your card, including balance transfers. Rewards will be applied to your account annually. Not to mention, everyday banking is even sweeter when you’re part of the club. Being a member of the Rewards Club gives you a discount on checks and safe deposit boxes. You also get one free money order and one free cashier’s check per day. Members must have a checking account, direct deposit, and credit card with Members First Credit Union of Florida to be eligible for rewards.

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Build Your Credit: In today’s world, you can’t go very far with bad credit or no credit at all. Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we believe in giving chances and second chances. If your credit is looking a little puny, why not beef it up by applying for a Credit Builder loan? Come see one of our member service representatives today at any of our branches or call (850) 434-2211 for details.

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Refinance Your Auto Loan: Rates rise and fall, and it may be time to see how much you are paying in interest on your current auto loan. If you feel like you should be getting a better rate, it might be time to look into refinancing. Here’s a little secret, if you refinance your auto loan from another institution with Members First Credit Union of Florida, we could save you up to 2% off your current rate.

*Rates are subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member NCUA.

 

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Download the MFCU App: Your time is valuable, and we know it. Downloading the MFCU App on your smart phone or mobile device gives you a key to 24/7 Internet Banking. Keep track of all your finances, make payments, pay bills, and transfer funds with ease. Also located in the app is a map listing our branch locations and fee free ATMS.

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Take Advantage of CU Membership Perks: Being a member of a credit union is a beautiful thing. We are here to serve you in the best way we can, and we strive daily to meet this goal. Being a member of Members First Credit Union of Florida gives you access to discounts on lovemycreditunion.org. Here you will receive deals and special offers that will allow you to save on brands, such as Sprint, Directv, GMC, Chevy, Cadillac, and more. You can also purchase discount movie tickets for the Carmike and Ridge at all of our branch locations. It pays to be a member at Members First Credit Union. Through our Refer-A-Friend program, you can receive $10.00 when a friend, family member, or neighbor opens up a new account, along with $50.00 if they apply for a loan of $5,000.00 or more.

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Invest in Your Financial Future: Let’s face it, million-dollar sports contracts and lottery winnings don’t happen to most of us in our lifetime. Your long-term financial success depends on choices you make today. Most of us, however, don’t have the time, knowledge, or resources it takes to make our finances reach its full potential. That’s why Members First Credit Union of Florida has partnered with Rodney Rich & Company. Through this partnership, we are able to provide you with consultation on Retirement Income Strategies, Trusts and Estate Planning, Investment Ideas, and Insurance Needs. Take hold of your financial future and make an appointment with Chad Stacy, Financial Advisor with Rodney Rich & Company, today. To set up your individual appointments with Chad, call (850) 434-2211 ext. 11105 or email joshua.henderson@mfcufl.org.

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Protect Your Identity: Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we work hard to protect your finances from malicious activities; but, you can also take steps to make sure that your identity and finances are safe.

a. When using online banking, create a password containing a mixture of letters and numbers. Have a password that contains both upper and lower case letters and include special characters such as a # sign if you can. Never write down or give your password to anyone and try to change your password at least every month.

b. Pins for your credit or debit card should be something easy for you to remember. However, you should stay away from using your birth year or the last four digits of your social security number as a pin number. Never give away your pin to anyone. Your pin is for you alone, and it allows you to access your finances. Giving your pin to someone leaves you open and liable for charges that are made on your account.

c. Stray away from giving sensitive personal and account information over the telephone or through email. The growth of technology with all its many advantages has unfortunately opened new ways for criminals to target you and your finances. Scams have become more sophisticated and are made less easy to spot.

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i. Beware of Phishing. Don’t click on links in emails that ask you for your personal information and don’t open unexpected attachments. Look for errors in spelling or grammar and delete suspicious emails.

ii. Beware of suspicious, unsolicited text messages. For example, you may receive a text message that provides you with a number to call for account discrepancies. Once the number is called, it may then prompt you to give your account information and pin numbers. You should always be wary of such messages and delete them as soon as possible, because spyware may be attached to the text messages. Contact Members First Credit Union of Florida directly at (850) 434-2211 or toll free at (877) 434-6328 to verify the validity of the message.

 

d. Monitor your account(s). It is good practice to log into your account(s) daily or at least once a week, through online banking or our mobile app, to make sure transactions have processed correctly and that they are transactions that you have made. To view real time information about your credit card with Members First Credit Union of Florida, you can enroll at ezcardinfo.com. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can take advantage of the credit union’s 24-hour Phone Teller or opt in for text alerts.

e. If you feel like your account(s) may have been compromised or you’ve lost your debit/credit card, don’t delay. Take action right away by calling the lost/stolen numbers for your card(s) and/or call or visit your financial institution. Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we are always happy to help and keeping you and your finances safe is important to us.

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Be Informed: Knowledge is power and knowledge empowers you to be a financially-fit and smart person. Stay abreast of credit union specials and updates. Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we work hard to provide resources to better serve you. Power Your Life With A Credit Union You Can Trust.

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STILL FREE CHECKING AND FREE DEBIT CARDS

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While the news and internet are a buzz about banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Regions charging their customers fees for both checking and debit cards, Members First continues to offer Free Checking and Free Debit Cards to all Members.

As banks continue to find ways to replace the income they are losing from the loss of charges to retailers, customers will have to off-set those losses through fee charging checking accounts and monthly debit card fees. According to a survey by Bankrate.com only 45% of non-interest checking accounts are free and are charged an average fee of $14.15. The bad news, in most institutions fees are going to keep going up.  

Members First Credit Union continues to keep checking accounts “fee free” and offer great services like free debit cards, free internet banking, and free bill pay, as well excellent member services.

https://www.membersfirstfl.org/checking.asp

Christmas…Now?

Are you ready for Christmas?

The weather is just beginning to cool; so, why are we already thinking about Christmas? For some of us, it’s the anticipation of a time filled with family and friends, as well as great food, not to mention the gifts. For others, it is the worry of where the money is coming from to travel for the holidays, how to feed the guests, or how to pay for the gifts.
No matter why you are thinking about Christmas, here are a few ways to help you get a better start on the holidays. First, start on your list. If traveling is your #1 worry, then start by looking at what you will need to travel, as well as how you will travel. Do you need more flexibility with the travel dates or are you pressed for time? Try looking at travel sites for discounts for buying early or stock up on gas cards at discount prices from your local grocery stores. If gifting is your big worry, starting your checklist with whom to buy for and what you might be looking to purchase will help you establish a budget and a game plan.
Let’s not forget that for any kind of planning, you need to save money. Using accounts like our Members First Christmas Club Account helps you achieve holiday success. Whether you deposit money every week or every couple of weeks, the key objective is to save. With the help of the Christmas Club Account, you get security knowing that the money is working for you earning interest until the holidays are near.
Lastly, start shopping now. October might seem a little premature to start going to the mall, but it really is a great time to find end-of-season sales or Fall sales with low prices and big discounts. It also gives you enough time to comparison shop or even to try your hand at using coupons to catch the best deals.
Save yourself from the stress and the worry by knowing that Members First will transfer the funds to your savings account just in time for the holiday season with a little interest to boot. So start the holidays with plenty of time.

https://www.membersfirstfl.org/savings.asp

Tips to Switch to a Credit Union

Money really doesn’t grow on trees, although the banks seem to think it does.  It might for them because of the excessive fees and poor customer service. You have an alternative. Switching to the Members First Credit Union of Florida can save you money – maybe even big money.

Switching isn’t difficult. Here are a few tips:

  • Call or visit us to open an account: You can evaluate the checking and savings products online and then come in to open the account. We have a checking account to suit every need and every stage of your financial life.
  • Use the Switch Kit:  The Switch Kit is available online and provides everything you need to make the transition from the excessive-fee bank to your credit union. It includes a direct deposit form, and automatic payment change form, and even a checking account closure form.
  • Set up your online account: Once you’ve made the switch, ensure your financial peace by not only using our online tools (like the check book balancing worksheet), but checking your account regularly using our convenient online service. You’ll know when your employer has switched over and move money between the old and new accounts, if you need to, while the switch occurs.

No more excuses. The high fees associated with the banks aren’t going away anytime soon. Would you rather have the extra money in your pocket or in theirs?

Members First Credit Union of Florida stands ready to assist you with all of your personal banking needs, including mortgages, loans (boat, college, car), credit cards, savings, investments and more. Won’t you call us today?