Archive for April, 2009

Bank of American hikes rates, picks your pocket

Check out this report from CBS: customers who follow the rules still get their credit card interest rate jacked up.

The Detroit Free Press reported on this about a month ago. So did MSN Money.

Because of a tough economic environment that they themselves helped create, big banks are taking it out on their customers with higher interest rates and lower credit limits.

We think that amounts to picking your pocket. Even if you pay your bills on time, and you carry a balance on your big bank credit card, you could still get pinched.

American 1 wants to help. That’s why we launched a year ago. We’ve updated the site with more examples and more articles that can help you learn why you’re being picked on by big banks.

We don’t treat our members that way. If you’re tired of the abuse, you should think about switching today.

Project: Zero Waste cleans up Jackson

Zero Waste - Welcome to Zero Waste

American 1’s Project: Zero Waste day was a hit.

Over the course of five hours on Saturday, April 18, we collected 57 televisions, 50 computer monitors, 55 flourescent tubes, 490 tires, 34 LP tanks, 240 gallons of motor oil, 5,000 lbs. of scrap metal, 506 lbs. of clothing, eight pieces of furniture, 170 lbs. of household items, 12 yards of cardboard, 10 yards of grass and clippings, and tons of paper, plastic, and glass. About 140 people came through the Jackson County Fairgrounds to participate.

Not bad for the first time, eh?

American 1 partnered up with area waste haulers and recyclers to help clean up Jackson the weekend before Earth Day. Lots of people asked if we were doing it again, and all we can say now is that we need to hear from more people. Would you find another Zero Waste day useful? Did it help? Was it affordable?

Be sure to check out more pictures on our Flickr site from the day, and let us know in the comments below what you thought of the first ever Project: Zero Waste.

New Supermarket Sweep location collects $1,600 worth of groceries

Supermarket Sweep - American 1 gets third

Since Felpausch is closed in Jackson, we switched our annual media Supermarket Sweep location to the Polly’s Country Market on Ferguson Rd.

The teams weren’t dismayed by the new location, however, collecting 576 grocery items worth $1,677.27 for the Food Bank of South Central Michigan on Tuesday, April 14.

Twelve teams raced around Country Market collecting specific food items. Most teams were made up of local media companies, like the Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson Magazine, The Salesman, and JTV.

Our own American 1 team certainly did better than last year: Shandi, Janelle, and Tina (above) earned third place by collecting 55 items worth $157.64.

“There are no losers in this event,” said Bob Randels, Executive Director of the Food Bank of South Central Michigan. “Every can of food that is collected goes to feed a hungry person and doing that makes them all winners.”

Check out pictures from the event on our Flickr page.

Peace of mind: millions paid in life/disability claims


When you sit down to finance a vehicle with American 1, we ask you if you would like to take advantage of life and disability credit protection.

If you’re wondering whether or not to take advantage of these loan protection products, don’t take our word for it: the insurance company we partner with to offer life and disability, Allied Insurance, has paid out more than $1.7 million in life claims and more than $2.3 million in disability claims just since 2007.

In other words, if you become unable to work or unable to make your loan payments due to disability, sickness, or injury, your disability loan protection will cover you – and has covered many of you – giving you one less thing to worry about.

The same peace of mind can be given to your family knowing that, if you pass away, the life protection you place on your loan will cover the costs. All it takes is a quick phone call to American 1 to let us know what happened, and we’ll help you through the whole process.

According to Health Affairs, unexpected illnesses and injuries cause 350,000 personal bankruptcies each year. Two out of three U.S. homes are underinsured.

You don’t want your loan payments to become a burden to yourself (if you’re sick or injured) or to your family (if you pass away). That’s why you owe it to yourself to try out our life and disability coverage free for 30 days.

Chances are, you’ll see the benefit even if the unfortunate never happens.

Ask about life and disability protection the next time you finance a vehicle at American 1.

What young people think of credit unions: a sample

DeAndre’ Upshaw from Young & Free Texas interviewed students at Baylor University to see if they knew what defines a credit union.

What he found is interesting: young people are looking for security, transparency, and a safe place to put their money. The trouble is, few knew what defines a credit union. The students’ responses aren’t unique – many older members don’t know what makes a credit union a credit union, either. So it’s up to us to help define it for them.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) gives a good, short answer, and there are tons of resources out there to help you learn more.

Find a Co-Op Network ATM via text, GPS

Attention travelers: you can find a Co-Op ATM no matter where you are, thanks to the Co-Op text and GPS ATM locator service. The Co-Op Network provides access to more than 28,000 no-surcharge ATMs throughout the country, and many more worldwide.

You can either text your location to the Co-Op Network service, or download a GPS map to your Garmin, Tom Tom, or other turn-by-turn navigation device. Both of these services are great if you don’t have access to a computer or the Internet.

Visit our ATM Locations page for a full list of American 1 no-surcharge ATMs.

Home Office extends hours, starting today

Good news: our Home Office at 718 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Jackson is extending its hours to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Our Perrine St. Drive Through is open later, too.

Other financial institutions are shuttering or moving, but not us. American 1 is making it more convenient to do your banking.

For a full list of branches and hours, visit our Locations page.

How to build an emergency fund

Trent over at The Simple Dollar explains what, exactly, an emergency fund is:

An emergency fund is cash that you’ve saved up for the sole purpose of helping you maintain your normal life through the emergencies that life hands you. Most of the time, you shouldn’t touch the emergency fund at all – it just sits there earning a bit of interest and waiting until you actually need it. When you lose your job. When an appliance breaks down. When your car needs a repair.

His advice is to start building a healthy emergency fund one goal at a time: start out with $250, then $500, then $1,000. After a while, you can cover whole months, like saving up a month’s worth of expenses, then two, and so on. Six to eight months of expenses is a good goal to have.

How do you get there? Trent recommends even $5 or $25 a week saved in an account you won’t touch. This is where something like a club account or money market comes in handy. Make it automatic, so you won’t be tempted to use that money for something else.

Finally, Trent recommends a bunch of ways to trim that $5 or $25 out of your budget, like eating in more or saving on utility bills.

The point is, bad things happen, and when that something does happen, you should have a healthy emergency fund (anything is better than nothing) saved up to cover those expenses.

American 1 Federal Credit Union