How to Choose a Credit Union That Fits Your Needs

More and more people these days are switching from a big bank to a credit union, and for good reason. With instances of fraud on the rise and with reasonable interest rates harder to come by, the appeal of a member-owned, not-for-profit organization speaks for itself. If you’re thinking of choosing a credit union, it’s important to consider a few key elements to determine which one is best for you.

Personal Affiliations and Memberships

Most of these institutions are associated with specific organizations, and you often have to be a member to join. However, this is not always as restrictive as it sounds. While some require that their members be a part of a specific religious group or professional organization, qualifications for others are as simple as maintaining a residence in a specific area. Many members consider this an advantage, as the benefits and services offered by these organizations generally cater to members’ interests and concerns. For example, a religiously affiliated credit union might provide tuition assistance for members whose children attend faith-based schools. It’s important to explore what’s available in your area to see what fits you and make sure that you meet their criteria.

Loans and Credit Cards

One of the more well-known benefits of using a credit union is that they often offer more competitive interest rates on credit cards and loans, as well as a wider range of borrowing options. Some of the types of loans that are offered include: vehicle, home, personal, student, and specialty loans (based on the organization). In addition to providing reasonable rates, unions also provide dividends to their members in the event of an income surplus.

Convenience

While almost every lending institution is current with modern technology these days, it’s important to make sure that the one you’re considering offers the amenities you expect. If online banking, bill pay, and mobile banking are must-haves for you, check to ensure the organization provides those services. Additionally, take a look at the location or locations and see how many are in your area. Inquire as to whether the locations include a lobby, drive-up, ATM, or a combination of the three, and ask about the surcharge for using ATMs at other facilities. It’s become common now for smaller institutions to offer surcharge-free use of ATMs that bear specific logos in order to make accessing your accounts easier, so make sure to ask if the one you’re thinking of joining offers such a program.

With a growing level of distrust for corporate, for-profit organizations, especially those that deal with personal finances, it’s no surprise that credit union memberships are steadily growing. As non-profit organizations owned by their members, they each offer their own brand of services and features, from specialty loans to scholarship programs, and boast competitive interest rates on loans and credit cards. As the trend toward making the switch continues, most offer all of the amenities you’d rely on from a big bank, only without the concerns, which makes handling your finances convenient, safe, and satisfying.

Some Basic Tips For Choosing a Bank

The bank you choose to hold your money involves some exploration and consideration. Research various institutions to find the best one that fits your account and lifestyle needs. Safety and reputation are two important factors to consider when you make this decision.

Determine Your Financial Needs

Your financial needs are an important factor in the search for a bank. Opening checking and savings accounts is a common practice for many consumers. Some people prefer to bundle all their financial activities with one institution and if you also have loans such as a mortgage, car loan, home equity line of credit, and person loan, you might prefer to open checking and savings accounts within the same business.

Credentials

The credentials and reputation of the institution should also factor into the decision. Larger banks are generally a reliable choice due to FDIC deposit insurance. Check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to find out if a business is insured under this coverage.

Think about Physical Convenience

Physical convenience can be a key consideration in this decision. You might opt for a location that’s convenient from your place or work or your residence. Consider extended hours offered by some institutions if you work alternative shifts and you cannot visit during regular business hours. Online services can help with many types of transactions, offering services such as bill payment, automated deposits, and access to balance information. Find out about the location of ATMs you can use for no or low fee transactions. Some banks are national companies, providing customers with access to service and accounts from virtually anywhere in the country. Other businesses are local, providing no ability to travel and visit brick-and-mortar branches.

Explore Fees and Service

Every bank has a unique structure for fees and services. You will need to contact any institution you consider to find out these important details. Ask about account fees, minimum balances, ATM fees, overdraft protection, and overdraft fees. Find out how the they handle international travel to see if you will be able to get assistance with foreign currencies. Some businesses offer more services than others, some involving additional fees and some not.

Consider Personalized Service

Choosing a national company can afford you many conveniences. However, it’s important to realize that you may sacrifice some personalized service with this decision. A variety of services from a national business may be fine for many consumers. If you prefer a more personalized touch with a hometown brick-and-mortar branch, you may be happier with a local entity. Anyone with a busy lifestyle and a variety of financial activities such as IRAs, loans, credit cards, and online bill payments may be better suited to a large, national company. People with simpler lifestyles might opt for a local business instead.

Weigh all information carefully to make the best choice for your financial needs. The one you choose should provide all of the services you want.

How to Read a Currency Pair

Forex traders that are looking for ways to gain an edge in the financial markets will need to make sure they have mastered the basics before any real money trades are placed. So if you are looking to learn how to trade Forex, there are some key points that you should have covered before you actually get started. This can help you to limit the potential for losses and to grow the potential for gains all at the same time.

Comparative Currency Values

The first point to remember is that any time you are trading in the Forex markets, you are actually exchanging one currency for another. In the world of Forex trading, currencies do not have value by themselves — they only have a comparative value that is expressed as a Forex quote. So if we are looking at the EUR/USD, the number that is given as its value shows the number of Euros that can be used to buy the US Dollar. If we are looking at the GBP/JPY, we can see that number of British Pounds that can be used to buy one Japanese Yen.

The first currency is referred to as the base currency and the second currency in the pair is referred to as the counter currency. So if you believe that the first currency is likely to rise in value, then it is generally a good idea to take a long position (buying the currency pair). If, however, you believe that the second currency is likely to rise in value, it is generally a good idea to take a short position in the currency pair. Recent market reports from Mocaz Financial Markets Limited have shown that many Forex traders fail to understand many of these factors and yet still put money into the market through trades. This is a practice that should be avoided as much as possible because this is something that can quickly create losses that are almost totally unnecessary.

With all of this in mind, it should be remembered that some basic concepts should be understood before any real money trading activity actually takes place. Instead there are demo accounts that can be used to place virtual trades under live market positions. This can be extremely helpful in terms of the way it can help traders to learn how exactly the market operates without putting real money at risk. To some, this might seem as though it is not a necessary part of the Forex arena, but those of us that have already lost money in these ways understand its true importance and its place within a broader trading career.

The Beginner’s Guide to Best Customer Profiling

When it comes to nearly anything in life, knowing the ultimate goal helps to define the strategy and the actions needed to actualize the strategic plan. For those in business, knowing the intended audience is a parallel concept and activity to knowing a goal. This is true for established and new companies alike. One way to know the intended or target audience is to participate in a practice called customer profiling.

This practice allows a company to know who the desired customers are and what they look like. Typically the company reviews criteria of the desired audience that is centered around demographics such as annual income, marital status, or gender; behaviors such as hobbies, weekend activities, preferences around social topics such as eating out or voting habits; lastly is gaining insight into psychographics including preferences, personality traits, and social mores.

How is this initial data collected? Sometimes it starts at home. By taking surveys of current customers, or those who are known to be ideal prospects, data may start to compile that helps to establish benchmarks for customer profiling. Perhaps from surveying current customers, it is found that they typical customer is a forty year old female who lives in a home and makes a salary range of eighty five to one hundred thousand a year. From this point, more research may be done or a profile may be started.

Some find that taking the initial findings and delving deeper is necessary to get to the ideal candidate. It may be that also the ideal customer described above is a significant portion of the desired lead base, there are some significant outliers who show that the taking questions deeper or exploring the other profiles is key. There are ways to tie the customer profiling to marketing and advertising campaigns to make them more effective and lucrative. Knowing the customer profile helps to bring the company to the desired lead. Sometimes it is even found that an actual connection along with social media connections are important.

Working with a trusted advertising agency partner on an endeavor such as segment profiling is often one of the best ways to start. The agency partner often has the staff to collect the data and then later to analyze it. Gathering data and not applying it is never a positive endeavor, but in a world of big data, without a partner, data may overwhelm versus helping.

Look for an advertising agency partner that has the experience and knowledge that is needed. This includes analytic know-how, and the ability to engage and establish rapport with those who fit the desired lead criteria. From here customer segmentation is a desired tool, along with being able to take this data and work and help generate an effective advertising campaign to target the desired customers. Of course what is most important is working with an advertising agency partner who may then take this data and work to help the customer generate campaigns and initiatives that utilize the customer profiling data.