Fed Up With Your Bank? Consider a Credit Union

6fe47_big-bank.topLast year, credit union membership grew by 2 million people and credit union deposits topped $1 trillion for the first time ever, according to the Credit Union National Association. This was after banks got a bad rap during the financial crisis for their part in risky mortgage lending and for fees that many consumers view as unnecessarily greedy…

Think of credit unions as not-for-profit banks. That’s what they are, although they are not allowed to call themselves by that name. Do they have something to do with credit cards? Only partially. Or unions? No. Are they private clubs that few people can join? No again.

Today anybody can join a credit union. There’s always a way, and yet many people don’t realize that. True, in the old days, you could only join a credit union if your employer offered one. That’s still a great way in, but there are plenty of other ways to join. For example, one credit union runs a charitable foundation in its community and if you donate $25 to the foundation you are eligible to join the credit union. To become a member of First Financial, you must live, work, worship, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties, New Jersey, as well as keep at least $5 in a base savings account with the credit union.*

Why would you want to? Since credit unions are not-for-profit, they can often afford to offer their members lower rates on loans. They are also more flexible in listening to members’ stories rather than just looking at their credit scores. So if you have imperfect credit, but there’s an understandable reason for it, such as an illness in the family, or a recession-related job loss, tell your story and you may still get approved for a loan at a credit union. Click here to see how First Financial approved a determined Rutgers University undergraduate’s student loan application.

What size savings might you find? Here’s one example. After researching interest rates online for a $25,000 car loan, some banks were charging as much as 11.22 percent. The lowest rate found was at a credit union. Over the course of the loan, a lower rate of 4.25% would save you nearly $2,000!** Check out First Financial’s current loan rates to see if you can save money by refinancing or applying for one of our loans.

Go ahead, consider at least adding a credit union like First Financial to your financial strategy. Americans seem to be catching on that credit union membership is a beneficial piece of the financial puzzle.

“Every member of the credit union is an owner,” explains Issa Stephan, President and CEO of First Financial Federal Credit Union. “Money doesn’t go to a few investors, or to rally the stock price. We put what we need in capital as required by the federal government. Everything else goes back to the members through lower rates on loans, higher savings rates, updated technologies and assisting members through hard times. A lot of people lost their jobs and went through difficult times recently, and we use our resources to help our members with integrity and commitment to their long-term financial success.”

Doesn’t this make you interested in trying a credit union? If you’re not a member already, spread the word to family and friends! Call us at 866.750.0100, stop into any one of our branches, or visit us online at www.firstffcu.com to open a membership today!

*Click here to view the article source.

*$5 in a base savings account is your membership deposit and is required to remain in your base savings account at all times to be a member in good standing. All credit unions require a membership deposit. **Credit worthiness determines your APR.equal%20housing%20lender%20logo-resized-600

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5 Reasons to Shop at a Credit Union for Car Loans

car-loansWhen you’re in the market for a new or used car, you’re probably thinking about financing the vehicle. While dealerships make their own financing programs sound especially attractive, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best auto loan rates—starting with local credit unions, like First Financial.

Mike Schenck, Senior Economist for The Credit Union National Association, says there are several reasons why you’ll be better off choosing a credit union over a commercial bank. Here are five of them:

1. You have a better chance of having your loan approved. If you have mediocre credit or have had credit problems in the past, a credit union might be “more likely to listen to your story than a commercial bank,” says Schenck. If you’re worried you might get turned down for a car loan because of your credit history, consider approaching a credit union before you talk to a lender at a commercial bank. Even though the loan application process is the same and the underwriting process is similar, the credit union may make some adjustments that a commercial bank would not. Many credit unions are more inclined to listen to its members’ needs and unique situations—sometimes adjusting terms of a loan accordingly.

2. Lower rates. A five-year term is the most common loan term for a new or used car, and rates at a credit union are typically much lower than the average rate at a competitor bank. According to the latest report from the market research firm Informa, the average rate on a new car loan of $30,000 from a commercial bank is 4.16 percent, while the average rate on a new car loan for the same amount from a credit union is 2.82 percent; that’s more than a 1.3 percent difference and equates to a difference of $215 a year, or $1,100 over the life of the loan.

3. Personalized service. Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations and work to provide members with high-quality customer service. Since operations decisions are made by a group of volunteer board members—rather than a group of stockholders—members tend to have a more personable experience at a credit union. You can openly discuss your concerns about your loan, talk about flexible repayment options and review your financial situation with a dedicated professional. This can alleviate some of the pressure of applying and securing financing for your new or used vehicle and you can be more confident that the credit union is working with your best interests in mind.

4. Educational resources readily available. Schenck explains that almost all credit union branches have a dedicated education and resource center, where members can learn more about financing options and how to make the best decisions when assessing the value of their car purchase. If you’re a first-time car buyer and apprehensive about the loan process, you can turn to a credit union for unbiased answers. “The branch can show you how to calculate the real value of your car—not just what the dealership declares as the value of the vehicle— and make a better decision about the deal,” says Schenck.

5. Non-sales approach. Unlike commercial banks, which often grant their lenders bonuses or some type of compensation for the loans they get approved, credit unions work for their members and aren’t driven to sell you anything that equates to extra money in their pocket. All profits from members end up going back to them in the form of better rates on other financial products, such as savings accounts, and more flexible loan options. If you don’t like the pressure of working with lenders from a commercial bank, consider heading to a credit union for a less sales-oriented approach—and potentially rewards in the form of better financial products and services.

First Financial’s goal is to provide the highest level of quality products and personalized services while maintaining financial integrity and stability, thus enriching the quality of our members’ lifestyles. Apply for a new or used auto loan right online – it’s quick, easy and secure! For additional questions, feel free to call us at 866.750.0100, e-mail us at info@firstffcu.com or stop in to see at any one of our branches.

Don’t Miss Our Enterprise Test Drive Event! Join us on  Friday, May 3rd from 12pm-6pm and Saturday, May 4th from 9am to 1pm at our Neptune BranchGet rates as low as 0.49% APRfor up to 60 months for qualifying members who purchase a used vehicle from Enterprise Car Sales. In addition, Enterprise is offering a $25 gas card to anyone who RSVP’s for the event and attends on May 3 or 4. The number to call to RSVP is 877.475.3188. Get preapproved by First Financial today and view the great selection of used vehicles. Getting preapproved is quick and easy, and there are hundreds of vehicles to choose from – we hope to see you there!

Click here to view the article source.

1APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Rates as low as 0.49% APR for 60 months. This is a buy down rate. The amount of the buy down will not affect the price of the vehicle. For example, a $15,000 loan at 0.49% APR with a term of 60 months would have a monthly payment amount of $253.13. 100% Financing available including Tax, Title and License. Financing for qualified First Financial Federal Credit Union members. Not all buyers will qualify. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness. Offer valid only on Enterprise Car Sales vehicles. Offer valid 5/3/13 – 5/4/13. 2RSVP by calling 877-475-3188. Must RSVP before 5/3/13 and attend the Two-Day Sales event at the First Financial FCU Neptune Branch – 783 Wayside Road (Off of Route 66), Neptune, NJ 07753 event on either 5/3/13 or 5/4/13 to receive $25 Gas Card. $25 Gas Card offer valid only during the Two-Day Sales Event from 5/3/13 – 5/4/13. Limit one $25 Gas Card per customer. Used vehicles were previously part of Enterprise short-term rental, lease fleet or purchased from Enterprise from other sources including auto auctions, with previous use possibly short-term rental, lease or other.

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The Value of Banking in One Place

It’s hard to believe, but many people have not just one or two financial institutions, but as many as three or four. One is used for savings and checking, one for car loans, one for mortgages and one for investments. That’s a lot to keep track of!

bankinginoneplace-resized-600Why not just do it all in one place?

Doing all of your banking in one place not only gets rid of confusion, but also helps you stay organized and manage your money more effectively. Many credit unions, including First Financial, offer rewards programs and benefits for each additional product and service a member utilizes. Many also offer special product packages that come with built-in member benefits and discounts, such as home loan packages, youth packages and student packages.

At First Financial, members can take advantage of the Rewards First program, which is designed to give members rewards that add back to their bottom line. The higher each member’s combined balances or the more he or she uses our products and services, the greater the benefit. The full breakdown and package benefit can be viewed here or through First Financial’s website. Member benefit programs range from Basic, which includes a free financial consultation to President’s Circle, in which most fees and services including ATM fees, checking services and foreign transaction fees are waived or free of charge.

*First Financial is Federally Insured by the NCUA

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What do you think about banking in one place? Do you prefer it or not? Leave a comment below to tell us what works for you.

Looking to Ditch Your Bank in Monmouth, Ocean County? [video]

Are you fed up with bank fees in Monmouth County and Ocean County and you’re looking to ditch your bank? If so, you’re not the only one in the New Jersey area who is looking to make the switch. Before doing so, be sure to gather as much information as you can about banks and credit unions to educate yourself.

In an article published by CNN Money, writer James O’Toole wrote about how to choose a new bank orcredit union, some things to keep in mind when making the switch, and why credit union fees tend to be lowerhttp://money.cnn.com/2011/11/11/pf/bank_dumping_decision/index.htm” target=”_blank”>Read the article at CNNMoney.com.

In the video below, First Financial Federal Credit Union’s Penny Smart reminds consumers to THINK FIRST before choosing where to entrust their money, because There’s Harm In Not Knowing — T.H.I.N.K FIRST.

Now, THINK FIRST with Penny Smart!

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Credit Unions Save People Money

The very first article we posted on First Scoop was an article on what a credit union is.

As we approach Bank Transfer Day, view the article and learn what a credit union is and how being a member could save you money.

Plus, don’t forget to stop in and see us on November 5th! When you tell us why you left your bank inthis online survey or post it on our Facebook or Twitter pages, you’ll be entered to win a $75 VISA Gift Card. 

Bank Transfer Day Encourages Moving to a Credit Union

Bank Transfer Day has been created by 27-year-old Kristen Christian who was tired of being charged bank fees, according to an article on The Village Voice.

Bank customers are encouraged to take a stand against their banks and make the move to a credit union on the scheduled Bank Transfer Day of November 5th, 2011.

Read the full article and interview with Christian on The Village Voice.

First Financial Federal Credit Union is participating in Bank Transfer Day and all five branches will be open from 9am to 4pm on November 5th.  We encourage you to stop in and see us – or tell a friend to make the switch!