Education is the foundation of University Credit Union. At UCU we are committed to providing our members with financial education that will help them obtain personal financial success.
Before you can build a sound budget, you need to put everything into perspective. Our SavvyMoney Checkup tool can help you do that! It's a free, anonymous financial assessment that gives you a customized analysis of your financial situation in just minutes! Get started here!
If you have a UCU checking account, chances are you also have a VISA debit card. This convenient way to pay has rapidly become one of our most requested services. It makes shopping so much easier and safer because there are no worries about carrying cash or a checkbook. UCU members aren’t the only ones
enjoying this product - merchants prefer this method of payment for the same reason members do – convenience. But when you get to the cash register a question blinks on the screen: “Credit” or “Debit?”
What’s the difference? When you select debit, you enter your PIN and the funds are deducted from your account immediately. When you select credit, the transaction requires a signature, and is processed by the Credit Union. The funds may or may not be immediately deducted from your account, depending on how the retailer handles their transactions. Some stores “batch” their credit transactions and send them in at the end of the day. Your immediate response is probably “debit” because it’s a “debit” check card. It makes sense – but take a closer look. There are certain benefits to selecting “credit” to make the purchase. When you use this card for purchases the money comes directly from your checking account, just as if you were writing a check. You have probably noticed that some merchants (gas stations, grocery stores, etc.) instruct you to enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN), the same one you use for ATM withdrawals, when you use your card.
Although the card is referred to as a debit check card, you should select credit when making a payment. Here’s why – whether you use the ATM/debit option, which requires you to enter your four digit code, or the credit option, which requires you to actually sign the receipt, the money comes from your checking account the same way. However, if you use the debit option (and enter your PIN), it actually costs the Credit Union to process the transaction and could expose you to some risk. When you select the signature-based option, the Credit Union earns a small fee from the merchant and you eliminate the chance of somebody watching your PIN.
Your Security If someone should steal your card and use it with your PIN, you have a maximum potential liability of $50. The more closely you guard your number the less likely that is to occur. With a signature-based transaction, you are protected against disputed purchases and payments and you have no liability if your card is stolen and used with a forged signature. This may all sound confusing, but it matters in the long-run. The small fee that the Credit Union earns from the merchant on the signature-based transaction helps us offer many other services at no cost or a fee that is much lower than that of our competitors. Remember, even though it’s a “debit” check card, please select the “credit” feature for payment.
That way you and the Credit Union both benefit.
Keeping a watchful eye on your credit score is an important item on your financial to-do list, especially in today's uncertain economy. Simply watching your credit score isn't enough. You have to understand how credit scores work and how using your credit can affect your score. UCU can provide you with information to better understand your credit score.
If you have a lot of debt, you're not alone. More and more Americans are troubled with credit card and loan payments. Whether you are trying to improve your money management, having difficulty making ends meet, want to lower your monthly loan payments or just can't seem to keep up with all of your credit card bills, you may be looking for a way to make debt repayment easier. UCU can provide you with some useful information to make your monthly obligations a little more manageable.
Every stage of life has important financial considerations. Whether you're figuring out how to pay for college, starting your 401(k), budgeting for a growing household or looking to retire, UCU can provide you with the information and tools you need to enjoy today and plan for tomorrow.
Going Green While Saving Green
The Maine Consumer Council is the state association of the American Consumer Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to consumer education, advocacy and financial literacy. As a UCU member, you are eligible to join MECC at no cost as a member benefit. Please visit the website for American Consumer Council, and click the join here button. From there, complete the form using the code university for your complimentary membership.