Month: August 2017

beneficiaries

The Benefits of Beneficiaries

As much as we don’t want to think about dying, it’s important to plan for it and have your financial affairs in order. Naming beneficiaries for all of your accounts and keeping that information up-to-date is vital to avoid disputes among those you’ve left behind.

Keep it Current

The joint owner has equal ownership with the primary owner, so if one of them passes away, the funds default to the other. If your account has a single owner, you can still elect who receives your America First resources by submitting this payable-on-death beneficiary form to any branch.

There are many life changes that can affect who your beneficiary is, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of someone in your immediate family. It’s therefore essential to keep your designations current. These apply to personal savings, checking & money market accounts, as well as certificates and IRAs.

You can also elect more than one recipient. In fact, additional coverage from the National Credit Union Administration is available when you have multiple beneficiaries. Details are at NCUA.gov or contact an America First representative.

Disbursement

The credit union is required by law to disperse the funds to the named beneficiary, unless otherwise determined by the courts. This means if you remarry, but forget to change your information and your former spouse is still your designee when you die, your assets will go to him or her.

If you don’t choose a beneficiary and your account doesn’t have a joint owner, your money could be subject to probate, a process that administers a deceased person’s assets in a court of law. It costs to file the case, may require an attorney, and can take a long time if your estate is contested, so you want to avoid this if possible.

Another way to protect against probate is by opening a trust account. You’ll need a lawyer to draft the trust document, then we will set up your account that you will fund. America First also offers free professional consultations regarding trusts, wills and estate settlements. For specifics, call (801) 827-7130.

Staying current with your beneficiaries will help your family avoid unnecessary entanglements and stress. If you don’t know who is named on your account or want to check or change your status, please call 1-800-999-3961 or visit a nearby America First office.

America First Credit Union, Utah’s largest credit union, opens newly-remodeled Ogden Harrison branch

For Immediate Release:

America First Credit Union, Utah’s largest credit union, opens newly-remodeled Ogden Harrison branch

Riverdale, UTAH (Aug. 22, 2017) – Utah’s largest credit union, America First Credit Union, opened the doors to the newly-remodeled Ogden Harrison location today at 4768 Harrison Blvd, Ogden, Utah 84403. The location is one of 123 locations serving Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Arizona. The grand opening, beginning Monday, Aug. 21 through Saturday, Aug. 26, will be marked with celebratory events throughout the week, including daily drawings for a $100 visa gift card and a grand prize drawing for an Apple watch.

Updates to the branch include a new teller line and reconfiguration of the main space to include seven loan desks and a member waiting area, along with the addition of a coin room, video wall and a new glass installation between the teller line and drive-up areas. The branch also received upgrades with new lighting, paint, tile and carpet, as well as additional safe deposit boxes.

Aaron Mower will serve as branch manager of the Ogden Harrison location. Mower began his career in financial services in 2009 and moved through the ranks as lead teller and assistant manager, before assuming the role of branch manager in 2013. In his free time, Mower enjoys camping, fishing, hiking and biking with his family.

The Ogden Harrison Branch is located at 4768 Harrison Blvd, Ogden, Utah 84403. Branch hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, visit www.americafirst.com, America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, @AmericaFirst on Instagram and Pinterest.

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About America First Credit Union:
As the largest credit union in the state of Utah, America First boasts a long-standing history and 78 years servicing members and has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country while remaining a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 123 locations and is the 11th largest credit union in assets in the United States with more than $8.9 billion and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 861,000 members.

Contact:

America First Credit Union
Nicole Cypers
C: 801-726-9480
ncypers@americafirst.com

Quillin Advertising, Public Relations & Social Media
Melanie Devries
D: 702-506-0828
C: 702-303-7160
mdevries@quillinlv.com

HSA

HSA: Saving You Money on Healthcare

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are dividend-earning accounts specifically designated to pay the costs of managing your healthcare. If you’re generally healthy and don’t need to visit the doctor very often, an HSA is a great way to limit your upfront expenses and save some money in the long run.

HSA vs. PPO

Many people have preferred provider organization (PPO) coverage because that’s the most traditional way. With a PPO, you are billed larger premiums by an insurance company whether you use the program or not.

Health savings accounts are relatively new and this unfamiliarity makes some people hesitant about them. However, they offer more control when it comes to health expenditures. Plus, the funds in your account are tax-deductible—or you can set up pre-tax contributions with your employer—and the dividends you accrue are also tax-free.

How do I open one?

To qualify, you must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). This may seem intimidating, but if you don’t normally spend a lot of money on medical care anyway, you’ll benefit from the lower premiums. After that, opening an HSA with America First is as easy as getting a regular savings account.

How do I utilize it?

Once it’s open, you’re responsible for the funding and making sure the money is used correctly. You’ll receive a debit card to pay for qualified medical expenses, which includes everything from doctor’s visits, eye exams and dental work, to insulin, wheelchairs and guide dogs. You’ll additionally need to track all your expenses and keep the receipts in case you’re ever audited.

Ownership

Unlike PPOs and flexible spending accounts, the money you put into an HSA is yours to keep. If you quit your job, retire or otherwise lose your HDHP coverage, you can still spend these funds on eligible medical costs. And, when you turn 65, you can do what you want with the account balance, which means it can eventually become part of your retirement fund.

America First health savings accounts come with no fees and no minimum-balance requirements. We also offer custom products to fit your needs, such as HSA checking and certificate options. You’ll get 24/7 access with free online & mobile banking, and, as always, you’ll benefit from the assistance and expertise of our member service team. Contact your employer or insurance provider today to see if they offer HSA-qualified high deductible plans.

college

How to Pay for College Even When You Think You Can’t

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual cost of college tuition, fees, room & board is between $16,000 and $42,000. If those numbers make your head spin, you’re not alone. Whether you’re trying to pay for college yourself, or you’re looking to fund your child’s education, here are some resources that can help ease the financial burden.

Scholarships

Thankfully, there are ways to make a university education more affordable. Some scholarships will cover your entire tuition, as well as books & housing, whereas others will only award you a few hundred dollars. Keep an eye on the deadlines and apply for as many as possible, because you can get more than one.

Academic and athletic scholarships are probably the most common, but you can also gain funds based on your ethnic background, hobbies, military service, or an essay you wrote. They can also be unusual, such as the TCI Scholarship Award given to students above a certain height, and the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest, which has awarded more than $73,000 in scholarships since it began in 1974.

Contact the school’s financial aid office to discuss what’s available and how to apply. You can also find options online, but beware of scammers who will ask you to pay for consideration or ask for too much personal information.

Grants

Federal and state grants are financial aid distributed by the government. They’re available for almost anyone in need and generally do not need to be repaid. There are four federal types:

  • Pell Grants – awarded to undergraduates in financial need
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) – created for undergraduate students having exceptional financial need
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) – given to students who intend to teach at schools with low-income families
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants – for students whose parents or guardians died during military service

Apply at https://fafsa.ed.gov/ to see what assistance you qualify to receive.

Coverdell Education Savings

America First offers Coverdell education accounts, which are savings accounts specifically designated for your kids’ education. You can deposit up to $2,000 per year and automatic transfers make setting aside the money easy. Even $10 monthly will quickly add up and make a difference in your child’s future.

Get involved

It pays to get involved with school organization and activities. Many student government officers receive tuition discounts. You can also qualify for stipends at many universities by creating college clubs. Additionally, on-campus jobs will sometimes include a tuition portion in addition to a paycheck.

No matter what you decide to study, higher education is costly. However, it doesn’t have to mean financial ruin. By saving money, applying for scholarships & grants, and getting involved on campus, you’ll find that paying for college can more affordable.

ride your bike

Ride Your Bike & Save Some Bucks

When you ride your bike instead of driving to work, school or the store, you gain a lot of benefits. Biking is both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens bones and prevents disease. Bike riding is also good for the environment as pollution-free transportation–and it’s great for your wallet.

According to AAA, the average yearly cost for owning and operating a personal vehicle is $8,558, approximately 15% of the median household income. This equates to over $700 a month or 57 cents per mile. And while regularly riding a bicycle won’t cut out all auto-related expenses, it can significantly decrease the amount you spend annually on your car or truck.

Less gasoline

First and foremost, you’ll save on fuel. Gasoline’s average cost has decreased significantly in the last five years (from $3.87 per gallon to $2.34 a gallon), but it’s still more expensive than a breakfast smoothie or granola bar—the fuel of a cyclist. And when gas prices start to rise again, which they probably will, you won’t have as much anxiety.

Less maintenance

It costs a lot less to maintain a bike than a car. By not driving as often, you’ll decreased maintenance expenses, which average almost $800 annually. You won’t have to change your oil as frequently or replace your tires as quickly. Plus, with less wear and tear on your vehicle, it will be on the road longer.

Other advantages

Some companies will reimburse employees who bike to work $20 per month, tax-free, because of the Bicycle Commuter Act. This is intended to cover related expenses, such as accessories, repairs, improvements & storage. Check with your employer to see if it’s offered. Additionally, select insurance companies will lower your premiums if they learn you’re no longer driving to work each day.

Finally, there are incidentals such as parking. Most bike racks are free of charge and, as an added perk, are usually close to the building. Plus, you won’t pay as much for the gym. After all, when you ride your bike, you’re getting plenty of exercise. And all that physical activity can mean less trips to the doctor.

As you can see, there are many benefits to commuting via bicycle. Besides becoming healthier and environmentally friendly, you’ll also be spending less on fuel, maintenance and insurance. In fact, when you ride your bike regularly, the only thing you may miss is the morning traffic.

Security Update: ‘Inventive’ Scams that Rob Resources

Creating a new product or service is exciting. And one of the primary reasons for this is that you’re eager to produce sales and get it on the market. So getting trademark protection certainly makes, but watch out for mailings & information that looks official but is really just a scam to get your money.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Federal Trade Commission are alerting consumers that there are companies pretending to be these government agencies or their partners—and they’re tricking people into paying them fees.

Such enterprises send patent & trademark holders solicitations that offer to do things like renew registrations, provide monitoring services, record marks with government agencies, or list them on a private registry. In almost all cases, what’s offered is overpriced, unnecessary, or outright fraud.

The names and emblems these imposters use on their forms help them seem like they’re connected with the U.S. government. Some have paid them hundreds or even thousands, mistakenly thinking they were responsible for legitimate registration & maintenance costs.

Read any notice about your patent or trademark carefully. Official mail comes from the United States Patent & Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. If you get an authentic email, the domain will be @uspto.gov. And if you’ve experienced this or other scams, file a report here.

Currency Exchange Services Available at Select Branches

If you’re heading abroad, whether it’s for business or it’s finally time for that dream vacation, we provide foreign currency exchange services to help you make the most of your journey.

America First offers low fees, competitive rates, overnight delivery & more. Some details are:

  • $5,000 per-transaction limit
  • Purchases by cash or collected account funds only
  • Two-day pickups requested (orders are returned after five days)
  • $10 per transaction (buying or selling)
  • Additional $10 for orders under $300 U.S.
  • $15 for FedEx Priority Express (available by noon the next business day)

It’s available at select branches—click here to find one near you.

 

Don’t Wait Until Next Year!

The RV you’ve always dreamed of owning can become a reality with a low-rate loan from America First.

We offer:

  • 12-year fixed terms
  • 20-year balloon payments
  • Flexible options, unmatched service & more

Choose your credit union for the freedom to finance your getaways.

Apply today.

Guest Commentary: Protecting & Enhancing Your Financial Health

By Rex Rollo, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

I recently had the pleasure of appearing on a KSL Newsradio program to provide commentary regarding our financial environment and how it affects us. We discussed an article in a major publication that indicated the average American had increased his or her checking account balance by $2,000 over the last few years.

The host asked if I thought this was an indication of consumers across the country improving their financial health, and if the same were true for America First members. Although I could only speak in general terms about conditions nationally, I did verify that our membership has been taking steps to enhance their finances. Not only are checking account balances rising, we have also seen double-digit growth in a variety of our savings vehicles.

The America First mission statement relates that we are committed to providing superior services to the members/owners and that our chief concern is their financial well-being. Therefore, we work to ensure the financial health of our members because it guarantees the well-being of the credit union.

Through the first six months of 2017, there have been clear indications of our health and strength, including members and loans both demonstrating gains in the double digits. Our ever-increasing membership—now totaling more than 891,000—generates the necessary resources to provide services and deliver them in the manner members choose. Whether it’s through our expanding branch network, call centers, or free online & mobile banking, your credit union is always there to assist, how and when it’s most convenient for you. Additionally, our dedication to innovation and technology allows us to complete millions of transactions without compromising the security of your information.

I am happy to report that the financial health of America First is strong and continues to improve. Our assets have reached $8.9 billion—over a billion more than we held at the same time last year. Reserves are at their highest levels in years. More and more members are enjoying 24/7 access to their accounts and information via our mobile app. But the most important measurement I am proud to provide is the advancement in the financial health of our members. After all, you are the true capital of America First Credit Union.