Archive for January, 2010

Electronic tax statements are here

A heads-up for e-statement subscribers: your 2009 tax documents are now posted within the system.

To view your tax documents, log in to A1@home, and from the Account Summary screen head to the History tab at the top, then click “e-statements.” You should see a link that says “Get my e-statement.” Click that, and the “Tax Notices” link will be at the top of the pop-up screen (see above).

However, if you signed up for e-statements after January 25, 2010, you may not receive an electronic notice for your tax forms. You may get them in the mail. If you don’t see your tax documents in the e-statement system in the next day or so, look to your real world mailbox after January 31.

Not signed up for e-statements yet? You should be! You can can get all your documents faster than by regular mail – including tax forms!

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Compare your card with American 1’s Visa

Next week, we’re launching an initiative called We Understand. We’ve read the news about what big, out-of-town banks are doing to their credit card customers, and we think our Visa card can be a viable alternative to higher rates, annual fees, and hidden charges.

We have so much confidence in our Visa card, in fact, that we’ve done a bunch of research on everyone else’s card for a fair comparison. What’s their rate? What penalties do they charge? How much extra do you have to pay for a balance transfer?

So we’ve lined up our card with dozens of others in a handly, downloadable format – our Credit Card Comparison.

Feel free to download the PDF, browse through what cards are out there, and make your own determination about which card fits you best. Note that, on the comparison, anything marked in red means you’ll pay more with that card. Hopefully that makes it easy to do some comparison shopping.

We think that our combination of hometown service, ScoreCard points for gift and travel rewards, no extra or hidden fees for things like balance transfers and cash advances, and a stable, steady, and affordable rate make American 1 the best place to get a credit card.

But do your own research. And, while you’re at it, watch our fun video.

Your e-statement questions answered

E-statements

UPDATE: E-statement subscribers – your tax documents should be posted to the system by now. Thanks!

Over the past few months, we’ve heard from lots of members about e-statements – the efficient, convenient way to check your statements. For some members, e-statements are a brand new idea, and some may feel nervous about checking your account activity on the Internet.

For some members, e-statements won’t make sense. We understand that, and respect each member’s personal preferences.

But we can try to help clear up any misgivings about how the process works, and how safe it is.

We’ve heard you. And we want to help.

“I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER.”

For members who don’t own a computer, the idea of e-statements probably seems silly. Why check your statement on the web when you can’t access the web?

However, ask yourself: do you open your statement when it arrives in the mail?

If you honestly don’t, e-statements are a good way to clear out your real-life mailbox. It’s one less piece of clutter you don’t have to toss out or recycle. And since “reduce” comes before “recycle,” reducing your mail is a good way to help the environment.

But if you don’t have a computer and you really do check your American 1 statement each month, then by all means – continue to receive the regular paper statement.

“I’M WORRIED ABOUT SECURITY.”

American 1’s home banking system uses the same Internet encryption that large online retailers use.

To test it, visit american1fcu.org. Look up at the address bar. At the beginning of our web address, it will say “https://” and then our secure web address. The “s” at the end of “http” means our site is protected by high-grade online security.

But that only protects your information on our side. If you’re really worried about security, the worst that could happen is someone finds out about your online banking username or password. To prevent that kind of identity theft, keep a username and password combo that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess, and keep that information safe and secure.

Thousands of account transactions are posted to American 1’s home banking site each week, with no breaches in security. Odds are, your account information will remain your account info.

“I DON’T TRUST E-MAILS SENDING MY ACCOUNT INFO.”

Rest assured, e-statements are not sent over e-mail. Rather, a reminder is sent to your e-mail each month letting you know your e-statement is ready for viewing.

To view e-statements, you must log on to American 1’s A1@home online banking site. Your e-statement is stored there, and is not sent via e-mail. We do this to keep a copy of your electronic statement secured on our end, not sitting in your e-mail inbox for anyone to see.

“MY KID’S/JOINT/SHARED ACCOUNT DOESN’T NEED E-STATEMENTS.”

If you manage someone else’s account at the credit union, share an account with family, or oversee your child’s Eagle Earners Club account, e-statements are the perfect way to cut down on mail clutter.

Or if you have an American 1 account to simply make your loan payment, you may not need a paper copy of your statement each month. E-statements are perfect for these kinds of pass-through accounts that you probably don’t need to manage on a month-to-month basis.

A FEW OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  • Signing up for e-statements is a good way to store your statements as well, since we keep past copies of your e-statements archived on our system. E-statements are actually more secure than paper statements because they can’t be stolen out of your mailbox, missplaced, or accidentally wind up in the wrong hands.
  • Once you start receiving e-statements, you may not miss your old mailed statements. And it could be a gateway to more cost-effective banking options like online Bill Pay.
  • E-statements are a great way to see copies of your cleared checks. You can view them free with each monthly e-statement you receive.
  • If you’re away a lot on business, out of town at school, or if you move often, e-statements are a great way to ensure you receive your American 1 account information. Combined with online banking, it’s the perfect way to manage your account from anywhere.

If you’re unsure about how the system works, ask a Member Service Specialist at any branch to walk you through the setup. E-statements are easier than ever to access, and we’d love to show you how to do it.

The Power to Prosper: 21 day spending fast

Michelle Singletary at the Washington Post proposes a radical idea to get your financial house in order: a 21-day spending fast.

The idea is to purchase only necessities for 21 straight days.

No eating out. No shopping for non-essential items. Just the basics.

“No matter where you were financially, participating in the fast should help you with everything from addressing serious problems to making the small adjustments that keep your finances running well,” Singletary says. “You might even consider doing the fast over and over again, perhaps once a year.”

The benefits range from spending more time with family to seeing how much cash you can stash away for emergencies. Singletary offers budget templates and guidelines to get you started.

And if you’re thinking about getting started tomorrow, “today is tomorrow,” she says.

Shred day cancelled

Unfortunately, we have to cancel the free document shredding day we scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 13.

Northwest Refuse, the compay who provided the mobile shredder at our events, told us earlier this month that the shredded broke down, and they didn’t know when (or if) they could get a replacement.

But we will work on another shredding date, so look for updates right here on our blog.

$1,000 holiday cash winner

Congratulations to Barbara Miks of Jackson. Barb is our $1,000 holiday cash winner from December’s Winter Weather Vehicle Sale.

Barb financed a Chevy Impala at the sale, becoming a new member when she closed on her loan.

The $1,000 cash prize comes just in time, too. Barb’s son, Travis, is graduating from the Marines boot camp at the end of January. Faced with a large travel bill to San Diego, California to see him graduate, Barb was afraid she wouldn’t be able to make the trip.

“Now I get to go,” she says. “It was meant to be.”

Barb was worried she would have to tell her son she couldn’t make it out to see him graduate. The idea of missing out on her son becoming a Marine terrified her. With her $1,000 prize, however, Barb can’t wait to see the son she hasn’t seen since October.

“I’m so excited,” she says.

Congratulations, Barb – and have a great trip!

Teaming up wtih Fazoli’s for charity

American 1 and Fazoli’s are teaming up to help our monthly dress-down charity.

Here’s how it works: download our coupon for Fazoli’s Fabulous Family Feast and redeem it at the Jackson or Battle Creek Fazoli’s location. When you do, Fazoli’s will donation $5 to our dress-down charity of the month.

Each month we pick a different local charity. American 1 employees pay $2 every Friday to dress in logowear. At the end of the month, we collect all the money donated and give it to a charity chosen by our staff.

Last year we gave over $11,000 – anywhere from $500 to $2,000 each month – to a different Jackson, Hillsdale, Chelsea, or Battle Creek charity. We also get donations from members during popcorn Fridays at the Home Office and many of our events around the community.

Now you can help by purchasing a discounted Family Feast at the Jackson or Battle Creek Fazoli’s location.