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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters are preying on consumer vulnerability and trying to take advantage of people like you. Recently, consumers have reported new fraud schemes…
article preview image Beware of COVID-19 Vaccine Fraud Schemes

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters are preying on consumer vulnerability and trying to take advantage of people like you. Recently, consumers have reported new fraud schemes related to scheduling and paying for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Beware of unsolicited offers from someone claiming to be from a medical office, an insurance company or a COVID-19 vaccine clinic.  Legitimate government officials or health care professionals will not request payment to secure your vaccination eligibility. Keep in mind, you cannot buy the vaccine online or pay in advance to receive early access.

 

Key tips to remember:

  • Never give out your Social Security number, personal banking information or your debit or credit card information to unverified or unknown sources.  Scammers often steal personal information to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit identity theft.
  • Be cautious of phishing text messages or emails that appear to come from a reputable company or government agency.  These types of messages often contain several recipients and generic greetings without an individual’s name.  They often also contain numerous grammatical and spelling errors. An easy way to verify the legitimacy of an email is to hover over the email address or click to see the details of the sender. Often this email address will have numbers and a suspicious domain.
  • Be vigilant of emails and/or text messages insisting that you “Act Now!”  Do not download attachments from these messages. They often present a risk of loading malware onto your device.
  • If you receive a call and you are unsure of its legitimacy, simply hang up and call the agency or organization directly using the information that is publicly posted on their website.
Scammers often attempt to pose as an employee of the credit union to gain access to your account.  Advancial will never call you and ask you to verify your debit card, credit card or online banking information. If you receive a call from Advancial and you are unsure if it is Advancial, simply hang up and call us directly at 800.322.2709 or email us at msc@advancial.org.
 
Tired of carrying around a wallet stuffed with cards? Don’t like waiting for a chip card to process? Worried about the germs on the payment terminal? Try using a mobile wallet!
article preview image Mobile Wallets Provide a Contactless Way to Pay

Tired of carrying around a wallet stuffed with cards? Don’t like waiting for a chip card to process? Worried about the germs on the payment terminal? Try using a mobile wallet!

What’s a Mobile Wallet?

Your smart device can do more than manage your financial accounts and make mobile deposits. Another tool at your disposal is the mobile wallet. You might have heard of mobile wallet apps such as Apple Pay®, Google PayTM or Samsung Pay®. These special apps can hold digital versions of your compatible credit and debit cards so you can use your smartphone or smartwatch to make purchases in-store or online – simply look for the logo of your mobile wallet or the contactless symbol. It’s a fast, secure and convenient way to pay.

The Benefits of Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets come with a few advantages over their plastic counterparts:

  • Payments are made in seconds by tapping or waving your smart device over the payment terminal.
  • They’re more secure, for multiple reasons. One is that while it’s easy for someone to use your card if you lose it, it’s much harder for someone to use a mobile wallet on your lost (and locked) phone. Additionally, mobile wallets send a secure, single-use signal every time a payment is made, which isn’t useable even if intercepted by a thief.
  • Millions of retail locations let you pay with mobile wallets, with more adding compatibility each day.

Add Us to Your Mobile Wallet!

If you’re an Advancial member with an Ultimate Checking account, you can add your debit card to your mobile wallet and enjoy the fantastic benefits of your card alongside the security and convenience of your mobile wallet. Plus, if you have a Visa® Rewards Plus credit card, you can add it to your wallet and enjoy the flexibility of choosing the right card for the right moment. Learn how to add your Advancial cards to your mobile wallet.

 

You would never run a marathon without building up the strength, endurance and mental stamina needed to cross the finish line. Reaching fitness goals requires training and dedication. The…

article preview image Get Fit, Financially

You would never run a marathon without building up the strength, endurance and mental stamina needed to cross the finish line. Reaching fitness goals requires training and dedication. The same is true for financial fitness. If you have financial goals, you’re much more likely to reach them if you acquire and practice the fundamentals of financial fitness.

Set a training plan with a sound budget. Creating a budget is an important step because it helps you to understand where your money comes from and how you spend it. Once you understand your finances you can make choices that help you reach your goals.

  • Fitness tip: Tackle one adjustment at a time. If you’re trying to save money, begin by looking for ways to cut spending that you won’t notice like canceling unused subscriptions. Once you gain a little momentum, try setting up direct deposit from your paycheck to a savings account at Advancial.

Build strength by improving your credit score. A strong credit score is important to your overall financial health. Your credit score is a number based on your credit history. The score, tabulated by three major credit bureaus – Equifax,® Experian® and TransUnion® – is based on aspects of your financial history like paying bills on time, how much money you owe and how many credit cards you have. A good credit score gives you more power to finance major purchases such as a car or home.

  • Fitness tip: You can view your credit score free of charge every year from each of the three credit bureaus. Check your credit report for discrepancies and look for ways to improve your score.

Increase endurance by paying down your debt. Sometimes borrowing money is necessary but debt, especially if it’s held on a high interest credit card, can keep you from going the distance.

  • Fitness tip: One strategy to pay down debt is to transfer high-rate credit card balances to a new credit card with a lower rate and 0% interest period. With VRP from Advancial, there’s no balance transfer fee and you’ll get 0% interest for the first 12 months. After that, you’ll enjoy a low rate of 8.90% - 14.90% APR based on credit worthiness.

Improve your flexibility with an emergency savings account. An emergency account gives you the flexibility to clear unexpected financial hurdles. Experts recommend you save enough money to cover your basic living expenses for three months.

  • Fitness tips: Consider this recommended amount as a guideline, but any amount of savings is better than nothing. Start building slowly and work toward a goal that you are comfortable with.

When working on your financial fitness goals, remember you have many resources to help you at Advancial. Visit advancial.org to learn more.

This year, skip the malls and enjoy the benefits of holiday shopping from home. Shopping online for holiday gifts can save you time and money – and help you earn rewards. Here are…

article preview image Shop safe, save and reap the rewards
Tips for online shopping

This year, skip the malls and enjoy the benefits of holiday shopping from home. Shopping online for holiday gifts can save you time and money – and help you earn rewards. Here are some tips to shopping safely, saving money and getting rewarded for your efforts.

Security first

Before you start loading up your virtual shopping cart, here are a few tips to help ensure your online security.

• Update your software, apps and browsers. Security fixes are often part of updates, so sign up for automatic updates to stay secure.

• Shop on known and trusted retail sites. If you’re clicking through to an online store from an email or social media ad, check the URL. Legitimate sites typically include a lock icon and start with https://, which means they’re encrypted.  

• Only shop over a secure and private Wi-Fi connection.

• Pay with a credit card and check your statements carefully during the holidays for any fraudulent charges.

Save while you shop

Doing your holiday shopping online has some natural cost controls built in: you save on gas, avoid the food court and bypass the temptation of impulse buys waiting in line. Here are some other ways you can save money while you shop online.

Research and compare prices. One of the benefits of online shopping is that comparison shopping doesn’t mean running around town – answers are just a few clicks away. You can even use a browser plug-in like PriceBlink, an extension that pulls pricing from many online retailers to show you price comparisons on items while you shop. The larger the ticket item, the more time you should spend researching.

Sign up for emails or other promotions to save. Many retailers offer a discount on your first order after signing up for email promotions. You’re likely to score additional savings through follow-up emails.

There’s an app for that. Look for money-saving apps like Honey, which applies online coupons to your purchase, or Rakuten, which offers cash back on purchases. There are even apps to help you shop on specific sites like Amazon, such as CamelCamelCamel which will provide you with price tracking and low price alerts.

Earn rewards

With rewards, your gifts keep on giving. Use your Ultimate Checking debit card and earn one reward point for every $5 spent on all non-PIN transactions. Shop with your Visa® Rewards Plus credit card to purchase gifts online and earn one point for every dollar spent. Plus earn up to 1.5% on every purchase when you make more than 25 purchases or spend more than $2,500 during that billing cycle. Points can be used on cash back, merchandise, dining and travel from national retailers through the Advancial Rewards program.

Amplify Your Rewards

Earn bonus points at participating retailers by using your Advancial debit card or Visa® Rewards Plus credit card!

With Ampre card-linked offers, thousands of online and in-store bonus point offers are already linked directly to your card. Simply use your Advancial debit card or Visa Rewards Plus credit card at participating retailers and you’ll automatically earn points.

Learn more about Advancial rewards at www.advancial.org/rewards.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, there is good reason to hold out for the end of the year. Car dealers are highly motivated to sell the current model year cars before the…
article preview image 5 Tips For Buying a Car at Year-End

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, there is good reason to hold out for the end of the year. Car dealers are highly motivated to sell the current model year cars before the coming year models take their place on the showroom floor. And they may also be keen to make year-end sales goals. Armed with this knowledge, here are some tips to buying a car in December and getting the best deal possible.

1. Look for year-end incentives. Historically, December is one of the biggest months for dealer incentives. Typical incentives include low- or no-interest offers as well as cash back “rebates” on certain makes and models, but be sure to look at the fine print. Interest rate offers are usually still dependent on credit rating, and if you qualify for the lowest rate, you’re unlikely to negotiate other savings. Cash back is usually applied to your down payment – so don’t expect to walk away with a new car and a wallet full of cash. However, if the incentive applies to the car you want, and the financing works for you – these year-end deals can save you thousands on a new car.

2. Shop the last week in December. If you’ve already waited until the end of the year, saving your shopping until the last week could be another money-saving tactic. One reason is low competition with other buyers – many folks will have spent heavily on holiday shopping and be reluctant to make a large purchase. The pressure on the dealer, to meet sales goals and move cars off the lot, will be at its highest.

3. Make sure the dealer has your car. If you’re planning to swoop in and negotiate a killer deal, make sure the dealer has the car you want on their lot. Start by checking online, then follow up with a call to the dealer to verify their online inventory. You don’t want to waste time visiting a dealer unless the car you want is ready to drive home in. Year-end shopping is all about timing, so make sure time is one your side.

4. Do your homework. It’s always a good idea to research before heading to the dealer, but even more so if you’re hoping to get the best deal possible. Check websites like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds to find out the sticker price, what equipment comes as a standard package and what’s included at each trim level, what financing and rebate offers are available and more. Based on all the information you gather, decide on the amount you are willing to pay before you head to the dealer.

5. Get pre-approved for an auto loan. Once you’ve found the car you want, secure a great rate and financing through Advancial Credit Union before you head to the dealer. Pre-approved financing allows you to shop as if you have cash in hand, and you can let the dealer know you’ve been pre-approved for the amount you want to pay.

Use these tips to capitalize on a prime buying time and find a great deal on the wheels of your dreams. Remember, good things come to those who wait … until December to buy a new car!

Get pre-approved, shop, finance and buy – all online!

Pre-approval is fast and easy and can be done online. Advancial has partnered with Carvana and AutoSMART to give members a head start when car shopping online. Both sites have incredible inventories of cars listed – and both have special partnerships with Advancial that makes shopping, financing and purchasing a seamless experience.

Visit www.advancial.org/loans/auto-loans/ and start the process now.

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Six Ways to Save money on Gardening Equipment and Supplies
As spring deepens and flowers blossom everywhere, you might be dreaming about a garden of your own. But shopping for your garden-to-be can be daunting. There’s so much to buy—and it’s all so expensive! Can you really afford to have the garden…
Six Ways to Save on Camping Costs
Q:  Camping was always considered the low cost vacation option, but the costs really add up. How can I cut down on camping costs but still have a great experience?    A:  It’s great you’re looking to trim your vacation expenses. Read on …
Three Reasons You Need an Automatic Savings Plan
“Save money” is a timeless bit of personal finance advice, but actually doing it can be another story. If you need a way to boost your savings and stay consistent with your goals, setting up an automatic funds transfer can help. There are t…
Short-Term Savings Tips for Summer Vacation
With summer drawing closer, your vacation may arrive before you’ve got the money to pay for it. But there are some quick changes you can make now to save or raise money for your trip. Consider these tips: OPEN A DESIGNATED SAVINGS ACCOUNT …
Six Banking Tips for Young Millennials
Once you start receiving your first paychecks after graduation, knowing how to spend or save your money wisely can be tough. While you may be able to do your banking with just a few taps on your phone, managing money well is much more compli…
When to Get a Personal Loan
There are times in life when you want or need to spend more cash than you have on hand. You can borrow the money and pay it back a little at a time if you have reasonably good credit. The most common way to borrow, if you don’t have a helpf…
Consolidating Debt: When does it make sense?
Debt can be hard to crawl out of, especially when payments on credit cards, consumer loans and student loans continue to pile up on top of your living expenses. Overwhelmed with a blizzard of monthly bills, many people look at consolidation …
How to Get Out From Under Student Loans
If you’re a recent college graduate who took out student loans, you likely owe around $28,400. As eye-popping as that average debt figure is, you’re certainly not the only one wondering how you’ll possibly get out from under your loans. As w…
Stay on the (Financial) Nice List this Season
It’s that time of year again. He’s making a list, and he’s checking it twice. Of course, we’re talking about the major credit bureaus! With holiday spending season upon us, it’s time to broach an uncomfortable subject: how to pay for all tha…
A Blow Out BBQ that won't Break the Bank
As the fall weather rolls in, cookouts are going to pop up left and right. Like any party, hosting a cookout can get expensive. Here are some handy tips to make your cookout the best it can be, on a budget. 1.) Bakery outlet shopping Th…
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Managing Finances After Marriage

Marriage generally implies that two homes and lives become one. Should it also involve a complete merging of earnings, assets and expenses? With money arguments being one of the leading causes of failed marriages, combining finances can be scary. For some couples it’s the right approach, but there are several other options.
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Split road

Five Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Over a Bank

Creature comforts like smartphone bank deposits are nice, but how much are they costing you? Your statement might not show the costs directly, but there’s an old adage about situations like this: If you’re not paying for a service, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.
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Raising graduation caps in the air

Financial Tips for Recent Grads

College is in your rearview mirror, and you're about to enter the working world. Although snagging a job certainly calls for a celebration or two, it is also time to start tackling the various financial responsibilities that await you, like saving for retirement and improving your credit score.
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We do business in accordance with the Federal Housing Law and the Equal Opportunity Act.

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