Archive for June, 2010

Branches closed for Independence Day holiday

All American 1 branches will be closed Monday, July 5 in observance of the Independence Day holiday.

Branches will open at their normal hours on Tuesday, July 6.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend!

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American 1’s GAP more affordable

Jessee Frey-Cochrane

People say good things come in threes, but Jessee Frey-Cochrane found out that bad luck can come in twos.

In the span of one year, Jessee had to use American 1’s Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) twice on different vehicles.

In August 2006, Jessee’s “summer vehicle,” a 1995 Pontiac Bonneville in great condition, suffered from a sunroof seal leak and was wrecked by mold damage. Her insurance company ruled the damage as a total loss. The next year, in April 2007, her 2004 Ford Freestar caught fire after an electronic harness defect, leading to another ruined vehicle.

Thanks to her GAP coverage, the difference between what Jessee owed on her vehicles and what the insurance company offered her in settlement disappeared.

“It really paid for itself,” Jessee, an American 1 member since 1998, says, “especially after I used the $1,000 GAP Advantage towards my next vehicle.”

Jessee, a Grass Lake resident, knew about GAP coverage as a licensed insurance agent, and shopped around for the best deal. She didn’t find it at a typical dealership, where the GAP price is based on the vehicle’s cost – and can be double or triple the price.

“American 1’s GAP was a flat rate,” she says. “So now I tell people to go to a local credit union – it’s cheaper than the dealership.”

It could just be bad luck that two of her vehicles were totaled within a year. American 1’s GAP coverage, however, helped Jessee balance the score.

“I won’t purchase a vehicle without GAP ever,” she says.

How to: check your e-notices

NOTE: This explains e-notices, but you go through the same process to find your tax forms.

If you’re signed up for American 1’s e-statement system (and thanks if you are!), you get informational notices – like changes in your account terms or late payment warnings – through the same system.

But let’s say a e-notice e-mail shows up in your inbox. How do you get that important information?

First, log in to home banking. You should see your account screen, with all your account and loan types.

Now click on the History tab at the top, and click eStatements (above). This is exactly how you would check for your e-statements.

And just like checking your e-statements, you’re going to click “Get my E-Statement.”

Now you’re in the main e-statement system. You can see that the e-statement tab is blue, meaning that’s the active tab. Now look up in the upper right corner.

See where it says “You have unread Notices!”? That means you have something new to read, so click on the Notices tab (above).

And, again, just like e-statements, your e-notices are listed chronologically in PDF form, so you can either view or save your new e-notices.

We don’t send e-notices through e-mail for the same reason we don’t send e-statements directly to your inbox: security. That information in the wrong hands could be dangerous.

American 1 is strong and secure

Message from the President

As a member of American 1 Federal Credit Union, you expect that your money is kept safe and sound – no matter what. This is a tough economic climate, especially locally, and you have probably read in the news about troubled banks and government bailouts. At American 1, things are different. I want to assure you that American 1 is as strong and secure as ever.

Here are a few reasons you can continue to trust your funds with American 1:

  • Stability – The leadership at American 1 continually makes decisions that provide stability for our credit union members. To ensure a positive bottom line, American 1 steers clear of risky mortgage lending and retains a rainy-day fund for uncontrollable situations. Our financials remain positive, and our financial statements can be seen at any branch or on our website. Feel free to compare them with other banks’ and credit unions’ statements.
  • Lending – American 1 has steered clear of any “credit crunch.” Our members can walk in to any branch and finance an auto loan or open a Visa card. Our stability allows us to lend to members who need it the most – and we have money to lend.
  • NCUA Protection – Your deposits with American 1 are backed by the National Credit Union Administration, an independent agency of the federal government, up to $250,000. Not one member of any credit union has lost a penny of their deposits. Not ever.

American 1 is a local financial institution with a full line of products and services like auto loans, a locally-managed Visa card program, and a large network of no-surcharge ATMs. We are also an active member of our community, providing free, family-friendly events and support to local organizations.

We would appreciate the opportunity to see what else we can help you with. We have money to lend and currently have rates as low as 3.49%*. Be sure to contact us for guidance or questions.

Sincerely,

Dave Puckett
President/CEO

*See our website for details.

Contact Congress about Interchange

There’s a lot of activity going on with the Sen. Durbin Interchange amendment, and we’ve been fighting to keep Interchange as it is. The best way to make your voice heard is through direct contact to your congressional represenative.

Here’s the contact information for our local, south-central Michigan representatives – plus Rep. Gary Peters, who serves on the committee that’s involved in the Financial Reform Bill. Each representative’s website has e-mail information as well as the below address/phone number info.

Rep. Gary Peters
Washington Office: 1130 Longworth HOB | Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-5802
District Office: 560 Kirts #105 | Troy, MI 48084
Phone: 248-273-4227

Rep. Mark Schauer
Washington Office: 1408 Longworth HOB | Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6276
District Office: 800 West Ganson | Jackson, MI 49202
Phone: (517) 780-9075

Rep. Mike Rogers
Washington Office: 133 Cannon HOB | Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4872
District Office: 1000 West St. Joseph Suite 300 | Lansing, Michigan 48915
Phone: (517) 702-8000

Sen. Carl Levin
269 Russell Office Building, U.S. Senate | Washington, DC 20510-2202
Phone: (202) 224-6221

Sen. Debbie Stabenow
133 Hart Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4822

If you need some help on what to say during your phone call, we’ve done the work for you! Download our Interchange script, add your name and contact information, and send it off.

American Family Voices: wrong on Interchange

American Family Voices doesn't know quack

We got a funny fax the other day from American Family Voices, a lobby group that’s looking to enact Interchange reforms that could hurt our debit card program.

Here’s the fax. Pretty goofy, right? So goofy that it relies on that ol’ banker trick of trying to paint credit unions as do-gooder banks. AFV is trying to do two things at once: dig up the outdated banker argument, and – at the same time – spin it to fit their Interchange views.

It’s a bunch of quack. Here’s the full text of the fax we got:

If it walks like a bank, talks like a bank, and quacks like a bank… it should be TAXED like a bank.

In 1934, Congress gave not-for-profit credit unions tax-exempt status due to their unique role as lenders of last resort for the poor and underserved.

But today, credit unions comprise a $680 billion industry. This is not your grandfather’s credit union.

So why are these not-for-profit credit unions crying wolf about common sense interchange swipe fee reform?

Credit unions are carrying the water for credit card giants VISA and MasterCard— and the big Wall Street banks that helped cause the financial crisis.

It’s about protecting profits.

Interchange fees cost small businesses and consumers $48 billion every year.

If credit unions want to play with the big boys—and share in their profits—then Congress should tax them like banks.

Today, American Family Voices took out an ad in Politico to tell Congress that credit unions should no longer receive special treatment… and to make sure to pass the Durbin Swipe Fee amendment into law.

We’ve already made our position on Interchange clear, and we can argue about the merits of that all day long. But tying us together with the “big Wall Street banks that helped cause the financial crisis”?

I don’t think so.

Credit unions are tax-exempt because we’re member-owned, we have a volunteer board of directors, and we still serve the underserved. We don’t take the money we make and give it to stockholders or investment groups; we give it back to our members.

AFV claims that “credit unions comprise a $680 billion industry. This is not your grandfather’s credit union.” Well of course not – is growth a bad thing? Credit unions have grown partly due to customers’ disgust with big banks, but our industry is still dwarfed by the for-profit banking industry.

There’s nothing “common sense” about the Interchange reform that lobbyists like AFV are calling for. It’s not going to lower costs for consumers, and it may end up costing them more due to changes in debit card policies if this thing goes through.

Running a debit card program costs money, and Interchange helps credit unions like us pay for the system. You don’t get your electricity for free; you have to pay a power company to deliver that electricity to your home because the delivery costs money. Same with card programs. We hire in-house service employees to help you with your American 1 card questions, and we use Interchange to help pay their salary. And provide security. And provide convenience and a no-annual-fee debit card. Debit card programs don’t run themselves.

Groups like AFV, however, say that we make too much off Interchange fees, and that Interchange fees should only pay for the transmission of the account information. But that’s like paying for just the electrons that cross the power lines. What if a power line goes down? What if a transistor explodes? What if your entire town loses power? Who pays for that?

The only water we’re carrying is for our members. Visa and MasterCard can take care of themselves, and certainly Wall Street big banks can flex their own political muscles. We don’t need or want to help them. American 1 looks out for our members’ needs, first and foremost.

No quacking about it.

Be sure to write or call your local Congressional representative (including Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, plus local U.S. Representatives Mark Schauer, Gary Peters – who serves on the committee involved – and Mike Rogers) and let them know, as a member, you oppose Sen. Richard Durbin’s Interchange Amendment to the Restoring American Financial Stability Act.

2010 American 1 scholarship winners

2010 scholarship winners

Pictured: Heather Yzenbaard, Sarah Chinavare, Lauren Steele, and Brittnie Jarrett accept their award at our Resource Center.

American 1 is proud to announce the names of our 2010 Community Involvement Award scholarship winners.

These 10 altruistic high school graduates contributed to their community in many ways, and all deserve the $1,000 in scholarship funds for their college careers:

  • Rebecca Brown (Grass Lake High School)
  • Sarah Chinavare (Hanover-Horton High School)
  • Samantha Herzing (Pennfield High School)
  • Brittnie Jarrett (Jackson Christian High School)
  • Alana Lee (Battle Creek Central High School)
  • Meghan Martin (Napoleon High School)
  • Charles Schaerer (Jonesville High School)
  • Jacob Sloan (Quincy High School)
  • Lauren Steele (Western High School)
  • Heather Yzenbaard (Northwest High School)

We know these community-minded students will continue to give back in the future.

American 1’s scholarship program is funded through our Skip-a-Pay program, where members can donate $25 to our scholarship fund to skip a loan payment.

For information on our next scholarship award, check back here in January 2011.