wealthE-NEWS Monthly Newsletter

July 2012

Welcome to wealthE-NEWS, brought to you by United Educators Credit Union. Thank you very much for your interest in this service! Our goal through this monthly newsletter is to keep you updated on consumer tips and money management information, as well as credit union news and announcements.

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Avoid Rental Car Surprises
Did You Know?
July Tip of the Month


UECU Website Has a New Look
Emergency Loans for Flood Victims
Mobile Banking Now Available
Take the Summer Off From Your Loan Payment
Financial Education Grants Available - Deadline August 31st


Avoid Rental Car Surprises

By Jason Alderman

I'm usually a pretty savvy traveler, but a recent car rental mishap reminded me that even when you take every precaution, things still can go awry.

While planning a family vacation to Panama, I searched online for rental cars. One lower-cost rental car agency I'd never used before offered a significantly lower rate than the others. Ignoring the little voice in my head, I decided to try them.

Avoid Rental Car Surprises

Long story short: Although our flight was only one hour late, when I arrived bleary-eyed at the counter I was told that my car had already been given away - but I could upgrade to the next level for twice the price. After getting the runaround from the company's U.S. based customer service department and learning that everyone else's rates had climbed equally high, I was basically stuck.

That experience taught me three lessons: A reservation isn't necessarily a guarantee; when traveling abroad, use trusted vendors - especially if it sounds too good to be true; and do better due diligence by researching travel columnists and message boards for rental tips, possible pitfalls and customer complaints.

Several car rental methods are available:

  • Book directly from a rental agency (usually cheaper online than by phone).
  • Comparison shop at websites like Priceline, Orbitz or Hotwire (although, I'll now be wary of buying a "blind" rental where you don't learn the carrier's name until after you pay).
  • As part of a package including airfare and lodging.

I usually open several browser tabs to compare rentals side by side. Rates change constantly, so today's price may be much lower (or higher) than tomorrow's. Other tips:

  • Book the best deal you can now and check back for lower rates.
  • Incorporate additional fees and taxes into your comparison - sometimes they don't all show up until the "Total" page.
  • Look for discount codes from membership organizations like AAA, AARP and airline frequent flyer programs.
  • Consider picking up your car at a non-airport location where rates are usually much lower.

Other decision-making factors include:

  • Airport shuttle convenience.
  • Fees for exceeding mileage allowances, alternate location return, late returns, or additional drivers.
  • Fuel refilling charges - you may do better refilling the car yourself. Use a website/phone app like GasBuddy to find cheaper gas in the area.
  • Surcharge for drivers under 25.

Rental agencies offer their own collision, liability, theft and other insurance coverage. Conventional wisdom says to avoid this route if your own insurance plans - or benefits available from your credit card - provide similar coverage. However, before automatically rejecting agency coverage, ask your insurance company and credit card issuer whether you are fully covered. Consider factors that may exclude coverage such as:

  • Renting longer than 30 days.
  • Certain models are excluded.
  • Travel outside specified service areas.
  • Whether or not you carry comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car.
  • Violating rental agreement terms (reckless driving, unauthorized drivers, etc.).

Before you take possession, thoroughly inspect the car for any pre-existing damage and note it on your contract; otherwise you could receive a hefty bill for someone else's minor scratches and dents. And, conduct a thorough walkthrough when you return the car.

Bottom line is, don't gamble your precious vacation on simply finding the cheapest deal. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

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Did You Know?

UECU's online ATM Locator will help you locate the nearest Surcharge-free ATM in your area. The ATM locator lists the locations of UECU owned ATM's, Wells Fargo Surcharge-Free ATM's, Co-Op ATMs, and also includes how to locate your nearest ATM via phone, mobile or GPS.

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Fraud Alert

We've been alerted of a new phone scam happening in the Midwest. Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it. The caller identifies themselves as calling from the Security and Fraud Department of Visa or MasterCard.

What the scammers want is the 3-digit Security Number on the back of the card. In the scam they ask you to "verify" it by reading it to them. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation.

Don't ever give out any personal financial information on the phone unless you initiated the call and you know whom you are speaking to. For tips on how to avoid Identity Theft or what do if you believe you are a victim, please visit our online Identity Theft Resource Center.

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UECU Website Has a New Look

UECU Website Has a New Look

Your credit union is thrilled to announce that our website has been redesigned and now has a more education look and feel to better serve our membership. It's our hope that you can now easily find information and locate the services you need. Here are some of the new enhancements to the site:

  • The navigation has been simplified to find what you're looking for in a snap. The most frequently visited pages are now located more prominently on our home page under Member Resources.
  • Easy access to Solutions@HOME at the top of every page, along with our contact information and rates.
  • Background images that focus on education to reflect who we are and the membership base we serve.
  • The new site highlights product features, related content, additional resources tips and information for dynamic layout for easy viewing and reduced page scrolling. There is also Member Resources links at the bottom of the each page to point you to other areas that may pair well with your interests.
  • New Personal Finance, Educators Resources and Member Benefits sections that feature helpful information for your personal finance and financial education needs, along with exclusive UECU member benefits.

Click here to visit the new website today!

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Emergency Loans for Flood Victims

Emergency loans are available from UECU for those affected by the recent flooding in Northern Minnesota. These low or no cost loans can be used while victims may be waiting for insurance funds or other assistance.

Loan Options may include*:

  • Single-Payment Emergency Loan: borrow up to $1,500 for up to 90 days interest-free.
  • Emergency Line of Credit: borrow up to $5,000 for up to 36 months at 5.99% APR. Option to defer the first payment for 60 days.
  • Interest-Only Payments on current UECU Loans: Current credit union members may exercise this option for up to two months on consumer loans.

Our loan officers will work with each case to find an option that best fits your individual needs.

For more information and to apply for a loan, please call or visit your credit union branch office, or click here to send us a message via our online contact form today!

* APR means Annual Percentage Yield. You must apply and be approved for loans at UECU. Other terms and conditions may apply. For current loans at UECU, payments made through Direct Deposit/Payroll Deduction will be deposited into your Share Savings account. All loan payments must be current to qualify and may be subject to credit union approval. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer interest-only payments on second mortgage loans, home equity lines of credit, or credit card accounts.

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Mobile Banking Now Available

Mobile Banking Now Available

We are proud to announce MobileSolutions, our new Mobile Banking option, is now available! You can now easily access your credit union account information directly from your cell phone or mobile device.

Visit m.uecu.coop today!

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Take the Summer Off

Vehicle Rates as low as 2.49% APR¹ plus No Payment for 90 days²!

Take the Summer Off

Take the summer off from your loan payment! Whether you are looking to purchase a car, motorcycle or boat - or refinance an existing loan - your summer could be payment free.

Or, refinance an existing loan to save money on your monthly payments. With terms as long as 7-12 years, you'll find a comfortable payment that fits your budget.

Click here to contact a loan officer to apply today. We also offer 24/7 Lending with our after-hours loan call center. Qualified loan representatives will be standing by with on the-spot, person-to-person, no-wait financing - whenever it's convenient for you!

1. APR means annual percentage rate. The rate you receive may be different than the rate above and is based on the applicant's credit and repayment history, length of repayment period, down payment, and automatic payment. Please ask us for the rate for which you qualify. Vehicle Rates shown are for collateral financed at NADA trade value, for vehicles 75,000 miles or less. Other rates are available for used vehicles with higher mileage.

2. Offer available on personal secured loans. Qualified borrowers may defer payments for 90 days after loan signing. Interest will accrue from the date of loan until payments begin and could result in negative amortization. Contact the credit union for complete details. Refinanced loans must be from another institution. Offer ends August 31, 2012. We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

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Financial Education Grants Available

Financial Education Grants Available

United Educators Foundation's 5th Annual Financial Education Grant program is now accepting applications. The Foundation will provide up to four $500 grants to teachers, departments or schools to support financial literacy efforts with their students.

Submitted applications should support instruction of content related to budgeting, credit, money management, economics, saving and investing, or other personal finance topic.

All grades (K-12) and subjects at accredited Minnesota schools are eligible to apply, and the application deadline is August 31, 2012. Funds will be awarded in October to be used during the 2012/2013 school year.

Click here for additional details and to download an application.

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