America First welcomes Social Media Manager

For Immediate Release:

America First welcomes Social Media Manager
Rachel Keoppel hired to manage the newly formed social media department at America First

Riverdale, Utah – (Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018) – America First Credit Union recently welcomed Rachel Keoppel to assume the role of social media manager for the newly created social media department at America First Credit Union.

Keoppel brings 10 years of marketing, events promotion and social media experience to the America First team. Her professional experience includes roles as the large committee and special events liaison for the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, marketing specialist for the Tanner Clinic, community and social engagement director for Davis Hospital and Medical Center and marketing director for Jordan Valley Medical Center.

Keoppel received her bachelor’s degree in communications with a print journalism emphasis from Utah State University and has consistently been an active member of her community, serving multiple chambers of commerce, women in business ambassador groups and the military affairs committee at Hill Air Force Base.

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

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ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

With a long-standing history and more than 79 years servicing members, America First Credit Union has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 130 locations, and is the 10th largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $10 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 984,000 members.

Media Contact:

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

Tara Trovato
Quillin Advertising, Public Relations & Social Media
D: 702-800-7803
C: 702-286-6272

cruise

Low Costs on the High Seas—Saving on a Cruise

Some people have never gone on a cruise because they think it’s too expensive. However, when you consider that the room, the food, and the entertainment are all included with the price of your ticket, the cost is comparable to other vacations. If you want to save some additional money on your nautical voyage, here are some tips.

Right place, right time

Cruises range from luxury liners to economy trips—and the cost can vary even more depending on the time of year. Decide where and when you’d like to travel, then look for the cruise line that will give you what you want for the best price. You’ll save some extra money if you go during the off-season, which is typically late spring or early fall.

You can also spend less by either planning far ahead or waiting until the last minute. Some companies will offer early-bird specials for those who book their trip more than a year in advance. On the flip side, when the sail date approaches and the companies want to fill their cabins, some will drop their prices or add incentives to attract passengers, such as additional credits, room upgrades, and complementary amenities. Keep your eye on the prices throughout the year and note what’s included—then you’ll know when you’re getting a good deal.

When creating your budget, don’t forget to factor in the price of traveling to the ship’s location, which is not included with the price of a cruise. Consider using a travel agent—they usually know about the best deals and can bundle your admission with things like airfare and a hotel room, if necessary. Or pick a port close to home to save on travel costs.

Prioritize your perks

Determine what is a want and what is a need before you book your tickets. For example, it would be nice to have a large, private veranda where you can watch the ship pull away from the port, but you can also do this up on the deck. Inside state rooms are cheaper than ones with a view, and you only really need them for sleeping and getting ready. Plus, if you easily get seasick, inner rooms are usually more stable, too.

Many cruisers blow their vacation budget on unnecessary extras. There’s really no need to upgrade for fancy dining when buffets are included with the price of your ticket. Tap water, coffee and juices are usually free, but soda or alcoholic beverages will add up on your final bill. A wireless connection while you’re out to sea can also put you over budget. Unplug while you’re on the ship in order to save money. If you need to check your messages, find a café with a free Wi-Fi on the shore while the boat is docked.

When it comes to shore excursions, you don’t have to purchase the packages offered by the cruise line. You can enjoy a day on the beach, go on a hike and explore the port on your own. If you’re going to buy souvenirs, you can probably get them for cheaper by bargaining with vendors on land than you could in the ship’s gift shop. However, if you’re hungry, you should go back to the boat to get some food, since you’ve already paid for it.

contactless payments

Make Quick Purchases with Contactless Payments

Swipe, dip, tap, insert. It can be confusing when you approach the check-out counter, but contactless payments are now a popular way to transmit funds. And if you think making purchases with your phone is something for a far-off future, the ability is probably in your hands right now.

The technology behind it

To understand how this process works, you first must be familiar with radio-frequency identification, or RFID. This technology uses a memory chip to store data and an antenna to send information to a reader when they are in close proximity. Examples include security tags on clothing in department stores, microchips implanted in pets and, of course, credit & debit cards. In fact, you may already have tap-to-pay access. If the contactless symbol (which looks like a sideways Wi-Fi signal) is on the back of the card, it means you’re good to go.

Near-field communication, or NFC, is a slightly more advanced cousin to RFID. Such memory chips can also act as readers, meaning you can send and receive data—and money—from one device to another if they’re within an inch or two of each other. It’s still relatively new, but most of the latest smartphones come with this feature pre-installed. To check your phone, go to settings and look for the switch that turns NFC off and on.

How to use it

Millions of restaurants and retailers worldwide have contactless terminals. You may also already have a mobile payment app, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay on your phone. If you don’t, you can easily download them for free. Then add your compatible cards by manually entering the information or scanning the card. When it’s time to pay, simply unlock your device, open the app and tap it on the terminal.

The benefits

Tap-to-pay technology makes shopping quick and easy. You won’t be carrying around a stack of cards, nor will you need to rummage through your bag to find the right one. All your information is safely secured behind the phone’s lock screen, and there are multiple layers of security to help prevent fraud.

If you’re hesitant to try contactless payments with your phone, we hope this explains it’s not as complicated or scary as you might have thought. In fact, tap-to-pay technology is probably already in your pocket. And once you’ve try it, you may never want to swipe again.

America First Credit Union Holds Free “Shred-Your-Stuff Saturday”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

America First Credit Union Holds Free “Shred-Your-Stuff Saturday”

Shred Day held at multiple branches in Utah on Saturday, Sept. 8

Riverdale, Utah – (Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018) Dedicated to providing services that enhance security and support financial well-being for its members, America First Credit Union will hold a free shred day on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to noon, or until the truck is full. Patrons may bring financial documents and personal information for shredding at no cost to any one of the following branch locations:

Centerville Branch
451 West Parrish Lane
Centerville, UT 84014

North Ogden Branch
2575 North 400 E.
North Ogden, UT 84414

St. George Red Cliff’s Branch
2722 East Red Cliffs Drive
St. George, UT 84790

Taylorsville Branch
2715 West 5400 S.
Taylorsville, UT 84129

Each individual is allowed up to five (5) boxes of materials at a time for shredding. Those with more than five will have the first set shredded and must then get back in line for further service.

For more information, visit americafirst.com, or follow America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

With a long-standing history and more than 79 years servicing members, America First has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 130 locations, and is the 10th largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $10 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 984,000 members.

Media Contact: 

America First Credit Union

Nicole Cypers
C: 801-726-9480
ncypers@americafirst.com

Quillin Advertising, Public Relations & Social Media
Tara Trovato
702-800-7803
tara@quillinlv.com

 

Harnessing Technology to Deliver Excellence in Service

By Rich Syme, Executive Vice President, Digital & Contact Center Delivery-Product Management

Of my childhood memories, those that stand out most vividly are the family trips to Grandma’s house in Lyman, Wyoming. It was there we’d spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and just about every other occasion worth celebrating. Congregating in her kitchen, we were surrounded by stories, laughter and the delicious aroma of what was cooking. Another detail I clearly recall was the black rotary phone hanging on the wall—the kind you would literally dial.

It was an endless source of entertainment for my cousins and me. In those days, small communities had shared or ‘party’ lines, meaning you could pick up the phone for all the latest news and gossip, like Myrtle from down the street talking to Aunt Irene about her latest needlepoint project, or whether Edith in Fort Bridger really had the county’s best strawberry rhubarb pie (or if the fair judges were a bit biased).

Yes, what we do with phones has changed quite significantly since then. They’ve gone from being a simple way to speak with someone else at a distance, to multipurpose tools integrated into nearly every aspect of our lives. My children and grandchildren do not have wall-mounted telephones with long, curly cords; instead, they carry incredibly powerful devices that put the vast collection of human knowledge and achievement at their fingertips. Smartphones changed the world and in a manner few could have imagined several years ago. We now use them to talk, text, Google, navigate, shop, record our memories, catch rides, and accomplish so much more.

Of course, I’m particularly interested in how these devices can help us better manage our money. I’m proud America First was an early adopter of mobile banking technology. Since 2002, members have checked balances, reviewed transaction histories, and made transfers with their phones. As mobile technology evolved, we introduced a state-of-the-art app that helps you deposit checks, pay bills, apply for loans, and find deals & discounts from local merchants.

America First mobile banking has advanced tracking features, as well as the ability to add accounts at other institutions for a more complete picture of your finances. And because creating a budget and sticking to it can be tedious, the app generates personalized plans based on previous purchases. The system automatically assigns transactions to spending categories and it’s continually learning, providing the most accurate assessments.

To further enhance your experience, we developed Card Guard mobile security, giving you control of how, where, and when your Visa® credit & debit card cards are used. You can additionally set up account activity alerts and limit them to certain geographical areas.

It is our ongoing commitment to deliver the products and services you need to achieve financial health, and these benefits are a good snapshot of how we’re doing. Our talented mobile services department’s primary goal is to surprise, delight and empower the membership. If you haven’t already, download mobile banking and Card Guard to see if we’re meeting that lofty expectation.

Given the rapid pace of technological advancement, I wonder what my relatives and other folks in the Lyman of my youth would think about the smartphones we now have in our pockets. It would be fun to hear what topics Grandma, Myrtle and Aunt Irene might be gossiping about, but it’s likely they’d be chatting about neighborhood events via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, reddit, or another new platform. Because, even after all these years, we haven’t changed so much what we say, we just changed what we use to say it.

Staying Alert & Connected

Take financial control with immediate fraud alerts. You can check your phone for free, real-time texts that tell you when a transaction is suspicious. We’ll ask if the purchase was legitimate and you can simply reply with a yes or no answer.

It’s already set up and provided without a cost to all America First Visa® cardholders. Just look for the sender AFCU FRAUD or the short code 28799 to verify the message—it’s a safe & secure way to monitor your account.

And if you don’t want to receive alerts, just send STOP or CANCEL and we’ll take care of the rest.

These texts are easy, effective and a service we’re glad to provide, because protecting your hard-earned money is our first priority.

Security Update: Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft

No matter the season, cyber criminals are always busy attacking  consumers around the globe. According to experts, no one is immune to this phenomenon and, while we are all vulnerable, there are ways to minimize your risk:

  • Be overly careful about clicking on links and attachments you didn’t request and/or don’t recognize.
  • Limit the sensitive data stored on your devices.
  • Use free online & mobile banking for real-time transaction and account monitoring.
  • Don’t geotag photos on Facebook.
  • Restrict the personal information you post on any social media site.
  • Get free identity theft recovery services with Visa® credit cards from America First.

Please visit us here for updates regarding our efforts to safeguard your resources.

breakfast

Sunrise Savings: Breakfast on a Budget

Just because breakfast is the most important meal of the day doesn’t mean it also needs to be the most expensive. Whether you’re cooking for one or feeding a horde of children, here are some ways to save some money every morning.

Make a Menu

Grabbing whatever you can find as you’re rushing out the door is not only unhealthy, it can cost you. Create a weekly menu so you’re not buying too much at the grocery store. Identify where you can utilize an ingredient in multiple meals, like spinach for a dinner salad as well as your morning smoothie. Proper planning will save you time, prevent waste, and keep you out of the drive-through.

Buy in Bulk

When certain breakfast ingredients go on sale, get larger quantities and store them. For example, if you buy a whole bushel of peaches while they’re in season (May through August), you’ll spend less per pound than you would picking up two or three at a time during the winter. Chop fruits and vegetables you don’t plan on using immediately to freeze before they spoil.

Go Generic

Many Americans wake up to big bowls of cold cereal. Bringing home box after box of name-brand products can get expensive. Generic versions are a fraction of the cost and usually taste the same. This saving principle can be applied to other items such as cream cheese, bagels, jam, peanut butter, bread and even microwavable meals. Don’t pay extra for the label.

Make it Yourself

You’ll also be charged for the labor that goes into pre-cooked, pre-sliced and otherwise pre-made foods. A box of pancake mix is easy, but purchasing flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and making your own batter will produce more and cost you less. Less processed products are the more frugal choice.

Keep it Simple

When it comes to the first meal of the day, people tend to overcomplicate things. Your kids may be just as satisfied with a hard-boiled egg as they would eggs Benedict. And instead of grabbing a breakfast sandwich from a restaurant on the way to work, bring a piece of buttered toast with jam from home. Substitute simple rolled oats for pricey cereals—you can even mix in those delicious peaches you have in your freezer. Start your day off right by saving!

cryptocurrency

Virtual Money: Understanding Cryptocurrency

The concept of cryptocurrency can be fairly confusing to those who are just hearing about it. After all, words like Bitcoin, blockchain and mining sound like they belong in a video game rather than the financial sector. If you’ve ever wondered what this world is all about, here’s a brief introduction.

What is cryptocurrency?

In the simplest of terms, cryptocurrency, or crypto, is virtual money. It only exists electronically. Bitcoin is the most popular, but there are thousands of others, with names like Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Feathercoin and TRON. Users can’t make their own Bitcoins, but anyone with the know-how can create their own digital currency, so it’s not easy to tell which options are viable for investing. Some digital coins may be worth more in the future, but others may disappear completely, leaving the investors with nothing.

How does it work?

People use digital currency much like they do regular money. If someone can find a person or business that is willing to accept the crypto they have, they can make an exchange, no matter where in the world they are. This system is dependent on a peer-to-peer network with multiple parties supervising what’s going on. While users are anonymous, each transaction is logged and verified in digital ledgers, otherwise known as blockchains. Since there is no overseeing authority for cryptocurrency, these blockchains are monitored by various users around the world.

How do people get it?

There are a couple ways. First, people can purchase it with real money. One Bitcoin, for example, currently costs over $6,000. Interested parties can buy a fraction of one coin, too. Another way to earn some types of digital currency is by putting a computer to work, verifying blocks on the blockchain—a process known as mining. When a computer successfully confirms a logged transaction, the owner may be rewarded with a certain amount of crypto. Some people spend lots of money buying special hardware and software to mine for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

What are the risks?

Cryptocurrency has been referred to as the wild west of the financial world, because there aren’t many rules or regulations. Some say investing in it is akin to gambling, whereas others say it’s the future of money. Either way, investors should not convert funds they can’t stand to lose. Since crypto isn’t regulated by any state or government, no one is there to investigate fraud and investments aren’t insured or protected. If the virtual coins in a digital wallet disappear, the money is gone.

There is a lot more to say on the subject, but this article is a quick overview to help you understand what the digital currency trend is all about. In summary, cryptocurrency is a volatile and experimental market and only time will tell how worthwhile such an investment might be.

school

Back-to-School Savings

Kids aren’t the only ones who get anxious about going back to school. As summer winds down, many parents are financially stressed because all of the supplies & extras they’re going to purchase. Here are some tips to save a few bucks this year.

Reading

Research it beforehand. Check out popular sites for discounts on backpacks, folders, laptops, calculators, colored pencils and whatever else you need. Follow your favorite stores on social media to see when deals are available. Sales occur at different times, so keep a list and compare prices.

You don’t have to shop exclusively online or at big-box stores, either. Get your local supermarket’s ads and browse dollar stores for inexpensive essentials. You may even find some great bargains at secondhand stores or yard sales.

Writing

Make a combined list of what each child needs for the upcoming school year. Picking out cute accessories or extras is fun, but they can add up—especially if you have a large family. Stick to what you wrote down and you won’t find yourself surprised by the total tab.

Consider sending an email or group text to other moms & dads about buying school items in bulk. A teacher may request two highlighters, for example, but you can go in with five others and buy a pack of ten, sharing the cost.

Arithmetic

First, do the math to see how much you’re going to spend. You can even involve your kids in this process to teach them basic budgeting techniques. Have them chip in with some of their own money if they want to buy something extra or upgrade to an item that features their favorite movie character on it.

Buying early can also lower your bill. If you know the basics of what your child should have, you can spread out the purchases during the year. Alternatively, since prices are usually lower after classes start, you can stock up on cheap supplies for the following year. A stockpile of school items will make you feel more prepared and you’ll save more, too.