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Coins Newsletter - Fall 2013

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Credit Cards 101

Credit cards.  They are everywhere.  Some herald their praises while others paint a picture of certain doom and woe to those who use them.  It is a mystery how credit cards can be a disastrous experience for some, yet for others, a vitally important part of personal financial success.  How can you make your credit card work for you?

The first step is to choose the right card.  Here’s where you have to read the fine print.  Watch out for promotional or temporary offers and be sure you understand them.  There are seemingly infinite variations of special offers.  Sometimes a great teaser rate is negated by fees for things like balance transfers or cash advances.  Read the fine print and ask lots of questions before you sign up and start buying things.

Check for any annual fees too.  If you don’t plan to ever carry a balance then you should look for a card without any annual fee.  However, an annual fee, if paired with an exceptional rate may still come out less costly if you typically carry a sizeable balance from month to month.

Interest rate is certainly the most promoted piece of any credit card program.  According to CreditCards.com, the national average credit card rate is 14.95%.  Many card interest rates are based on credit history though and can be well into the range of 20.00% to 30.00%.  Another useful website for searching for credit cards with good interest rates is CreditCardConnection.org.  Again, the important thing here is to understand any temporary rates and how they work. 

The last thing to consider in a credit card is whether or not it has a rewards program.  Credit card issuers actually generate revenue when you use their credit card.  As a result many of them give some of that back to you in the form of a rewards program.  Since quite a few credit card users never cash in their rewards, you shouldn’t make this the sole reason you choose a particular credit card.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny, consume you it will.” -Yoda

Now that you have a card you want to take steps to avoid succumbing to the dark side and using your new found powers of purchase unwisely.  The first step here is to think about why you want a credit card in the first place.  One reason might be to pay for things without the risk of carrying cash.  Another popular reason for having a credit card is to build a strong credit standing.  Credit score models look heavily at credit card balances when determining the credit score.  How maxed out a person is makes almost the same impact on credit as whether or not they make their payments on time.  So even if you’ve never been past due, your credit can still suffer if your credit card balances are frequently close to the limit. 

The best way to use a credit card is to pay it off every month.  This way interest charges can be completely avoided but the card still works to build your credit standing. Having most of your credit limit available to you works with the opposite effect or being maxed out all the time.  It raises the credit score.

If you’re new to credit cards don’t rush into using them.  You will want to figure out whether you are the type of person who will spend more money using plastic rather than cash or a debit card.  Having a credit card means having self-discipline and an understanding of your own habits & tendencies.  As the ancient Greeks wrote, “Know thyself.”  This is perhaps the most difficult part of handling a credit card properly.  So don’t rush into it.  Start by requesting a smaller limit and then see about having it raised if you do well with it.  If you don’t have a budget or spending plan for your money before having a credit card, then don’t get a credit card until you do have some sort of written plan for your money. 

That’s it!  With smart planning, a little research and a willingness to ask questions you can be successful with using a credit card and it can be a wonderful tool to build strong credit, offer a simple, convenient way to pay for things, and even defeat the forces of evil in the galaxy. Well, not quite.

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Deposit Checks With Your Smartphone

The Piedmont CU Mobile Access App has continued to grow in popularity.  And now it’s getting even better!  On October 7th its newest feature will be activated, Mobile Deposits!   Members can now use their smartphone to take a photo of a check and have that check electronically deposited to their account at Piedmont CU.

For more information visit www.piedmontcu.org/mobile.  Or just give us a call to have this service activated for you.

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Online Services Showcase

Piedmont CU’s online services give you access to your accounts literally all the time.  Whether you need to transfer funds over the weekend, lookup your dividends from last year, or check your balance right at the checkout line, online services are there just when YOU need them.  In this issue of Coins we’ve compiled a showcase of our most popular online services and how they can help you.

Piedmont CU’s online services allow you to spend less time on the chore of managing finances and more time to FOCUS on things that are important to you.

Telephone Teller offers access to account balances and history using your touchtone telephone.  You may reach telephone teller at 1-877-768-5405.  The system will prompt you to enter your member number (account number) and a Personal Identification Number (PIN).  Note, this is not the same PIN as your Check Card or ATM Card.  The Telephone Teller PIN is the last four digits of your social security number.  This PIN can be changed by selecting option 3 once you are connected.  So find your member number and give Telephone Teller a try!

NetBranch is the online portal to all aspects of your Piedmont CU accounts.  Members can view balances & history, make transfers, and much more. 

E-Statements save time and paper.  They are available by the 2nd of every month and remain online for 13 months.  They may also be downloaded and archived on your computer.  E-statements are always on time and can never be lost in the mail or stolen from a mailbox.

E-Alerts automatically notify you about activity on your account.  Perhaps you want a notification when your direct deposit comes in, or maybe you want an alert when your account balance gets too low.  E-Alerts are a great way to have NetBranch stay on top of your accounts for you.  They can be sent via e-mail, text message or both. 

Mobile Access allows members to check their account balances & history right from their pocket.  There is a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.  The app can locate free ATM’s all over the country.  Soon, it will even be able to deposit checks.  If you have a simple phone you can even check your accounts using text messages.

Shared Accounts allow you to share access to your account with other members of your household.  This allows you to manage all your joint and family accounts with a single login.

Online Billpay, our most popular online service, pays your bills on time every time and keeps a detailed record of each payment.  Our members have paid tens of thousands of payments using Online Billpay.  There are options to pay your bills automatically or pay them manually one by one.  You can even transfer funds to accounts at other financial institutions and even pay individuals.

To get started with NetBranch and the other convenient online services, logon to www.piedmontcu.org.  Then find the NetBranch login block and click “Sign-up for NetBranch.”

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Homebuyer & Credit Workshop

Buying a house can be difficult and overwhelming.  But you don’t have to let it get the best of you.  Get the information you need to make sound decisions by attending our Homebuyer and Credit Workshop!

The event will be held at Piedmont CU on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 6pm.  Our mortgage expert, Scott Greenway of Member Select Mortgage, will field all your questions as they pertain to mortgages,  credit and the many different mortgage programs such as Conventional, FHA, VA and USDA.

Click here to sign up.

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Free Community Shred Day

You should NEVER throw something in the trash if it has your personal information on it.  Protect your privacy!  Come to our Free Community Shred Day on November 9th from 9am to 12pm.  Commonwealth Document Management will bring their shred truck to our office and securely destroy any and all private documents that you no longer need.

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Welcome Jonathan Hoover

We’re pleased to welcome Jonathan Hoover as  Vice-President of Lending.

“I am very excited to become a part of this great organization & I look forward to getting to know all of our members!”

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Employee Anniversaries

Congratulations to the following who celebrated anniversaries at Piedmont Credit Union.

  • Joan Wood - 16 Years
  • Donna Robinson - 13 Years
  • Beverly Jeffries-Howell - 7 Years
  • Dan Veasey - 7 Years
  • Laura Reid - 2 Years
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Upcoming Events and Holidays

  • Build A Better World Disc Golf Tournament - October 5, 2013
  • Show-Biz Tradeshow at Averett North Canmpus - Friday, October 11, 2013 10am -3pm
  • International Credit Union Day - Thursday, October 17th, 2013
  • Homebuyer & Credit Workshop - October 29, 2013 6pm
  • Free Community Shred Day - Saturday, November 9th 9am-12pm
  • Veterans Day - Monday, November 11, 2013 - PCU Closed
  • Thanksgiving - Thursday & Friday, November 28-29, 2013 - PCU Closed
  • Christmas Eve - Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - PCU Closes at 1pm
  • Christmas - Wednesday, December 25 & 26, 2013 - PCU Closed
  • New Years Day - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - PCU Closed
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Piedmont Credit Union
Danville | Mount Hermon
South Boston
(434) 797-1954
Tel. Teller: 1-844-879-7143
Routing/Transit #251480453

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