Posts Tagged 'american1'



Video: Jackson County Rose Parade 2010

Miss the Rose Parade this year? Fear not: we have a short video recap for you over at our YouTube channel.

The All-American Lumberjack Show was a new addition this year, and everyone who came to the Party in the Park after the parade loved it. We got some action shots from the contest at the end of the video.

Check out last year’s Rose Parade over at our YouTube channel, too.

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.

What ‘local’ really means to us

Does the bank support community events or do they just pocket the money they earn? Do they have really good customer service or is it usually easier to just go use an ATM?

Most of the benefit of buying local comes from the fact that many local shops are involved with supporting the communities they serve…If the local bank doesn’t provide any value for being local – meaning they just scoop away money out of the community – I don’t value them any higher than any other bank. It becomes just a pure rate comparison.

Here, in an excerpt from The Simple Dollar, is American 1 in a nutshell.

As a not-for-profit credit union, we’re obligated to return our “profits” back to our members and our community. So while other financial institutions may keep the fees they charge you, we turn around and invest them in community events all year long.

That’s what being a “local” financial institution really means: giving back to the communities we serve.

MBP an affordable repair option

Jamie James

Sometimes, good decisions don’t reveal themselves until a bit of time passes.

Take Jamie James from Brooklyn. When she financed her 1998 Mercury Sable in the spring of 2005, she had never heard of American 1’s Mechanical Breakdown Protection (MBP), and had never been able to afford a manufacturer’s warranty.

But the small bump in her loan payment was very affordable.

“I thought it was a good deal,” Jamie says. “It was cheaper than the dealer’s service plan.”

Then, a month later, her transmission went out.

She noticed the trouble a month after she financed her vehicle. When the Sable’s transmission became difficult to shift, Jamie asked her husband – who knows a thing or two about cars – what the problem was.

There was definitely a problem with the transmission, and Jamie needed to take it in for repair.

“The repair guy said he had good news, that my transmission was covered by MBP,” Jamie says. “Then he said, ‘I have better news: you don’t have to pay a deductible.’”

Several more problems – and several thousand dollars – later, Jamie is glad she sprung for the extra protection MBP offered. All the repair work on her vehicle was covered by MBP, with no out-of-pocket expenses for Jamie.

“It was the first warranty I’d ever purchased,” Jamie says. “And it’s because of the price.”

If she hadn’t decided to have her Mercury covered, “I would’ve been paying a lot of money on that car,” she says.

Instead, she paid nothing.

“I’d buy it again,” Jamie says. “The amount of money I saved on repairs made the whole thing worth it.”

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.

Exposed: debunking the Visa Black Card

Visa Black Card

Maybe you received one of those slick black envelopes in the mail, with an “Invitation Enclosed” message and promises of limited membership and benefits.

This is what the Visa Black Card, fresh from London, England, tries to sell you. But we’re here to tell you it’s not worth it.

We got our hands on one of these “exclusive” invitations thanks to an American 1 member. Put together in fancy packaging, the Visa Black Card mailing says it comes with limited availability, special “luxury” gifts, and a carbon – not plastic! – credit card that will make your dreams come true. It claims, as you can see above, to provide a yacht-club-style membership.

The reality is, when you dig into the details, this card could cost you. Big time.

Visa Black annual fee

First, there’s an annual fee. And it’s a whopper. Almost $500 every year you use this card. Maybe because it’s steered toward the luxury market, the folks at Black Card (actually, a British bank called Barclays which is no stranger to controversy) think a $500 annual fee is nothing.

We think it’s crazy.

Then there are the other fees. If you’re late on a payment, go over your credit limit, make a payment that is returned, or “do any of the above on another account” you have with the fine folks at Black Card – zoom, your rate jumps above 30%.

Those feelings of exclusivity? Hope it’s worth it.

There are other fees, like a cash advance fee, balance transfer fee, and a $2 minimum interest charge, that add up to luxury-style costs. With this card, you won’t feel luxurious for very long.

The Visa Black Card only appears to give you a limited lifestyle. Add it all up, and you need to be fabulously wealthy just to afford this card.

For more in-depth credit card research, visit our Top Secret Visa site, and catch a glimpse of our Visa philosophy at WeUnderstand.org.

MBP makes repairs simple

Julie Bumpus

No worries. That’s all Julie Bumpus wanted when she went to visit her daughter in Detroit one day.

Instead, her 2004 Chrysler Sebring stalled out on the way. Luckily, Julie was able to pull into a gas station, restart her car, and drive back home to Jonesville. She took it to a mechanic, who told her the O2 sensor was out.

Julie gasped when she heard the repair cost. Then she remembered: her vehicle was covered by American 1’s Mechanical Breakdown Protection (MBP), a vehicle protection product that covers the cost of most mechanical issues.

The mechanic looked over her policy and got right to work. It was as simple as that.

“They said, ‘Yeah, we’ll take care of it,’” Julie says. “It was simple. I didn’t have to fill out a yard of paperwork, and I didn’t owe them a dime.”

No worries, indeed. She handed over the keys to her Sebring and had it back later that afternoon. With MBP, Julie never filled out any paperwork, paid no deductible, and has had no problems since then.

“It was a lifesaver,” she says.

Thanks to MBP, Julie didn’t have to worry about the cost of her sensor repairs and paying the rest of her bills. It was one less thing to worry about. In fact, getting MBP added to her loan made perfect sense – the cost was simply added to her already-low car payment.

Julie would recommend other American 1 members get MBP protection on their vehicles, too.

“Especially if someone has a tight budget, or a car that’s a few years old, you won’t have to worry about it,” she says. “You should always have some kind of backup for repairs.”


American 1 Federal Credit Union