Archive for March, 2010

Rebate 2010: birthday present

Cindy Grymko took the rebate

Last year, Cindy Grymko was thinking about her upcoming 50th birthday, and thought a new car would be a great gift.

So she got one. A beefed-up Chrysler 300C, complete with a Hemi motor and “all the horns and whistles,” she says.

“This is an upgrade model,” Cindy says. “I thought, ‘What do I need a Hemi for?’”

Cindy financed her car with Chrysler, but before she made her first payment an American 1 employee at our former Argyle Branch told her about the 50% loan rebate in April. She hadn’t had the car a month yet, but figured, “why not?”

“I told them, ‘Sure, sounds good. What do I have to do?’” Cindy says.

Initially, she had no idea how much she would get back for her interest rebate. She figured maybe $400 or $500, tops, for the interest she was paying on her souped-up Chrysler.

But when the rebate deposit hit her account, she saw the rebate gave her more than double what she thought.

“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s cool,’” Cindy says. “It’s helped me stay afloat, with the economy and helping the kids.”

Cindy was off work due to knee surgery, and was afraid she might be late on a payment – which would mean she would forfeit the rebate. But she found a way, and ended up being one of the top five rebate recipients last year.

“I would tell anyone to do it,” she says. “It’s like a tax refund, but it helps build your credit.”

Learn more about our 2010 rebate.

Rebate 2010: In the market

Robert Baker took the rebate

Robert Baker wasn’t thinking about getting a new car until he learned about the loan rebate at our Battle Creek Branch last year.

The car? A 2009 Mercedes-Benz Clk.

“It was a car I’ve wanted for a long time,” Robert says. “And the price was right.”

Robert was one of the top rebate recipients this past January, earning back over $1,100. He and his wife used the rebate cash to travel to Florida with a motorcycle and cruise through the Keys.

To get the rebate, he financed a smaller, sporty luxury car that only had 400 miles on the odometer – but was still considered used. Robert spotted the Mercedes on eBay, waited until the auction ended, then called up the owner and made a deal.

“Without the rebate, I wouldn’t have even been looking,” he says. “All things considered, it wasn’t bad. Everything fell into place.”

Now he loves his car, and recommends that others take advantage of the rebate, too.

“Especially if you’re in the market,” Robert says. “I might just do it again this year.”

Learn more about our 2010 rebate.

Spring Women’s Expo 2010 jewelery winners

Spring Women's Expo - Gold Crown Jewelers winners

Congratulations to Kay Linden, Tricia Commet, and Laura Boothe (above) – our Gold Crown Jewelers grand prize winners from the Spring Women’s Expo.

Spring Women's Expo - Kay's new silver necklace

Kay Linden, our first-place winner, says she never wins anything.

“I didn’t even glance at the jewelry at the Gold Crown Jewelers booth,” she says. “I thought, ‘Why bother?'”

But this year, she won twice: our prize, and a free massage from Dr. Brad Double’s office. Kay picked the silver necklace with mother of pearl colored pendant.

Spring Women's Expo - Tricia picks the bracelet

Tricia Commet says this was her first Women’s Expo. She almost didn’t come because she was sick, but now she’s glad she did.

“I loved the expo,” Tricia says. “There’s lots of good information.”

Tricia picked the silver bracelet with purple cubic zirconium stone.

Spring Women's Expo - Laura wins 14k gold earrings

Laura Boothe is a regular at our Women’s Expos. For Laura, it’s a family affair: she meets her daughter, granddaughter, and sister at the event.

“It’s all very interesting,” she says, “and we enjoy doing it together.”

Laura picked the 14k gold earrings with blue topaz stones.

Many thanks to Gold Crown Jewelers for providing our grand prizes during our Women’s Expo. And congratulations to the winners.

Look for more information about our Fall Women’s Expo, taking place October 2.

More switching to credit unions

This month, when Sarah Vainer applied for a preapproved auto loan, U.S. Bank demanded a mortgage-like mound of paperwork, including copies of her current auto lease and past lease payments, and asked what type of car she’d buy.

“What’s the purpose of a preapproval?” Vainer recalls thinking at the time. “This is completely insane.”

She left and this week joined USAgencies Credit Union in Portland. An overreaction? Not when you consider the credit union has already preapproved Vainer for a loan. Or that the Vainers have great credit, which Sarah feels obligated to have, given her job: tax collector for the Internal Revenue Service.

Or that she once worked for U.S. Bank, where she helped manage a branch and took car-loan applications.

“It made me feel like some kind of delinquent,” she says of the bank’s inquiries.

This from Oregon Live, who reports that credit unions are growing thanks to a backlash against big banks and they way they treat their customers.

We say: welcome to a financial institution where the grass really is greener.

Big bank balance transfer rates going up

Bad news if you play the credit card balance transfer game, says MSN Money:

In July, JPMorgan Chase, the largest credit card issuer in the country, cited the new federal regulations when it sent letters to its customers informing them that the bank will increase its maximum balance transfer fee to 5% — the highest charged by any issuer. Subsequently, the company stopped including balance transfers in most of its new offers.

…Bank of America – the second-largest issuer – has increased its maximum balance transfer fee to 4%…The standard balance transfer fee had been about 3% – and some issuers also limited the total fee, often to less than $100, with caps.

From the research we’ve done, most big bank credit card issuers charge some sort of balance transfer rate on top of the regular rate for each transaction total.

American 1? We don’t charge any balance transfer fee.

Spring Women’s Expo pictures posted

Spring Women's Expo - Sit-down exercises

Our 2010 Spring Women’s Expo was huge. About 2,000 women huge.

Check out pictures from the event over at our Flickr photo album, and see past expo pics at our gallery.

New: free prescription discount card

Discount on prescriptions

We’re proud to announce a new membership benefit: free prescription discount cards.

Our new prescription discount card is accepted at most area pharmacies, especially the big ones (like Target, Meijer, Kroger, Walgreens, etc.), and can save you anywhere from 30-70% on your out-of-pocket drug expenses.

A joint effort by RESTAT and United Networks of America, the American 1 prescription discount card is made possible through the participation of U.S. pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies. Our card provides you with average savings of 32-35%, with savings as high as 75% on some medications.

To get your card, head to our Membership Discounts page, fill in the information, and print off a copy. We have a limited number of card available in our branches, too, and we will pass out some at our events this year.

American 1 offers many other membership discounts, like accidental death coverage, pet insurance, auto insurance, and TurboTax e-filing. Check out our Membership Discounts page for more.

WSJ: Banks roll out new fees

The Wall Street Journal reports that banks are finding inventive and creative ways to charge their customers more fees:

Credit-card companies already have been racing to slip new fees and practices into customer contracts ahead of the [Credit CARD Act]. Issuers are closing accounts, switching cards with fixed interest rates to variable rates and introducing cards that have an annual fee…The changes come against a backdrop of rising anger at the nation’s banks—having been largely supported by hundreds of billions of public bailout dollars in late 2008 and 2009.

This is mostly a result of the Credit CARD Act, passed and signed earlier this summer, which puts limits on bank credit card policies and puts a $50 billion hole in banks’ revenue.

Banks will attempt to fill that hole by charging new fees, or resurrecting long-neglected fees. So beware.

Spring Women’s Expo this weekend

Billboards - Spring Women's Expo

If you live in Jackson, you’ve probably seen our new Spring Women’s Expo billboards around town.

That means, of course, that it’s almost here! Check out our Women’s Expo page for the full details on Saturday’s event.

Crazy Bowl cash grab for $1,000

Congratulations to Echo Reeves of Caro, Mich. for grabbing $150 in our cash machine yesterday.

Echo won Junior Achievement’s Crazy Bowl top prize: a chance to grab for $1,000 in our cash machine. She drove all the way from Caro, about a three-hour drive to Jackson.

“I was pretty excited,” Echo says. “It was totally worth it.”

Echo’s luck was pretty good. She only purchased one ticket in the prize drawing. She took the day off work to head to our Home Office for the cash grab.

While she only grabbed $149 during the minute-long frenzy, we threw in the extra dollar to make it a nice even number.

Check out our pictures from this year’s Crazy Bowl at our Flickr gallery.

American 1 Federal Credit Union