Sep 20, 2016

Should I Co-sign for a family member?

Imagine that your son has gone off to college, comes home one weekend and says “Dad, I found this truck I want to purchase, but the Credit Union says I need a co-signer. Will you co-sign on it for me?”

This is a common scenario for students to ask their parents to co-sign on a loan. Of course, most of us would say yes. However, before you sign that loan document, be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It might be riskier than you think.

Things to think about when you consider whether to co-sign for a family member:

  • The loan will appear on your credit report and will affect your credit score.
  • If your family member cannot make the payments, your credit will take a big hit. Plus, if serious enough, the lender could garnish your wages, your social security payments, or can possibly even take legal action against you.
  • Even if they do make the payments on time the entire life of the loan, the loan will always appear on your credit report, and could affect your ability to borrow. When you apply for a loan, the lender will think the co-signed debt is YOUR debt.
  • Co-signing a loan is a generous act and you will take full responsibility to pay it, so consider the risk and be aware of them before you make that decision.
  • If you really want to help your family member or even a close friend, consider loaning them the cash money instead. This way, you can still feel good about helping them out but it will not affect your credit rating.

If you are considering this in the near future contact our loan professionals at Eastex Credit Union, and we can assist you with your concerns and questions.

Sep 16, 2016

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EMV Chip Cards: The new standard in Card Protection

Coming this fall, Eastex CU will be upgrading our Visa Credit Cards and Visa Debit Cards to the new EMV Smart Chip Technology to provide our members the highest level of card security available

We all use our credit cards and debit cards every day – to purchase groceries, travel, dining out and more. Now you can do so with even more security.

What is an EMV card?

An EMV card has a microchip embedded into the card. This is the small metallic square you will see on the front of the card.  This computer chip stores the card data that currently resides on the magnetic strip. This makes it nearly impossible for a criminal to create a counterfeit these EMV chip cards. This card protection will give you complete confidence using your account everywhere, both in stores and online. EMV chip cards do everything magnetic strip cards can do, even more securely.

Improvements and Features:

We are excited to announce improvements as well!  These include enhanced security with the new EMV chip, online access to view your account, a new credit card design and electronic statement availability.

You will also receive these new features:

  • EMV Chip technology: Your new credit card will have an embedded microprocessor chip that stores and protects your data. It will help to increase security and reduce fraud.
  • 24/7 Cardholder Service: Call 1-855-441-7715 for balance inquiries, payment information, transaction history and statement requests.
  • Online Access:  Real-time credit card information including transactions, pending activity and payment information.
  • New Rewards program: Starting January 1, 2017, you will have access to a new program called uChoose Rewards.  This will allow you to redeem points on your credit card purchases to use toward shopping, travel, event tickets, gift cards and more.

If you have more questions about this conversion, feel free to contact a member representative for more details!

Sep 14, 2016

Traveling abroad can be easy with your credit and debit card!

There are few things as mind-blowing as traveling abroad. It could be for work, vacation, visiting relatives or more. Prior to leaving, you may be concerned about dealing with finances in a foreign country. It can be challenging to access your money while abroad to pay for anything. The use of debit or credit cards when traveling abroad is possibly the most convenient way to manage your finances while on any trip. First, though, it’s important to understand everything that goes with it.

Traveling with Credit Cards

Travel experts recommend a person use their credit card when traveling abroad for large purchases. This includes hotel bills, meals in restaurants, airline tickets and more. The advantage to using a credit card is the purchases are exchanged at a rate based on the interbank exchange rate. This is considered the best rate a person can get for the exchange of currency. The conversion fee for purchases is often 1 percent when using a MasterCard or Visa card. There is usually an additional 2 percent for the financial institution. These fees are still less than what a person would receive if they paid to convert their own currency at a local currency change bureau. It pays to do some research when choosing a credit card to use while traveling. Some credit cards do not charge any type of foreign transaction fees, and these are great for using internationally.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, though…
It’s always important when traveling abroad to have a certain amount of cash available. There are stores, hotels as well as restaurants that do not accept credit cards. It is possible to get a cash advance abroad from an ATM using a credit card. When you do this, you will be paying finance charges set by the credit card company.

Traveling with Debit Cards

Using a debit card is another effective way to get money in the local currency. When making cash withdrawals using a debit card, you’ll get the same interbank exchange rates as when purchasing anything with a credit card. You’ll reliably find that there are ATMs conveniently located in any large city, airports and just about everywhere else! Using a debit card with an ATM is typically the most cost-effective way to get local currency. It’s a good idea to limit the number of times you use an ATM while abroad. With every cash withdrawal made in foreign currency; a conversion fee will be charged. There will typically also be a fee charged for using a foreign ATM. There may also be additional charges from the host financial institution as well as the financial institution that maintains the ATM. Do a little homework before your trip and it should be smooth sailing.

Paying With Local Currency

Individuals who use a debit or credit card abroad will have two options when it comes time to pay a retailer. Depending on the country, a person could pay in local currency or other acceptable currency such as the Euro. It is more cost effective in many situations for a person to pay in local currency. When they pay in local currency, try to hang on to your receipt or a record showing the amount paid in the local currency. That way, if you feel there is any discrepancy in terms of the cost or exchange rate, you’ve got proof of what happened.

Lookout for the Fees

When traveling abroad you will be paying a currency conversion fee each time you use your credit or debit card. This fee will also apply when you use a credit or debit card to get money from an ATM. It’s typically calculated as a percentage of the total amount of the transaction. It is also pretty common to have a minimum charge given for each transaction. Be aware that when using your card regularly, these small fees tend to rack up quickly.

Lost Or Stolen Cards

According to the laws of the United States, a person must report a lost or stolen ATM or credit card within two business days. If you do this, your liability is limited to $50. If you wait longer, your liability for unauthorized charges could amount to hundreds of dollars. Don’t wait! Call it in! (It’s also probably a good idea to save the “Lost card” phone number – from the back of your card – into your phone’s contact list, whether at home or abroad!)
If you’re planning a trip overseas, you should talk with a financial expert. Let’s talk about what you’ll need to ensure your trip is a dream come true, and discuss any ways in which we can help with your finances. Why not contact us today?

Sep 12, 2016

donate money responsiblyMaking a donation to charity can be a rewarding experience and make you feel better about yourself as a person. However, you should be aware that not all charities will use your money responsibly. In fact, some charities are nothing more than scams that designed to take your money and fund a con artist’s lifestyle. How do you know that your favorite charity is using your money responsibly?

Do Your Research

The Federal Trade Commission is a valuable resource for those who are interested in giving to a good cause. For instance, they can help you spot the characteristics of a scam as well as how to find out more about a particular charity, what it does and who is in charge of managing the money it receives.Taking this step makes it easier to establish that an organization is legitimate as well as the odds that it will use your money in a responsible manner. In addition to resources offered by the FTC, you can check out sites such as Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to find out the best and worst rated charitable groups in America.

How Much of Your Donation Goes to Charitable Causes?

It is important to understand that even a nonprofit has costs and other expenses that it has to cover like any other organization. Therefore, it is not realistic to assume that 100 percent of your donation will go toward the cause the charity aims to help.

For instance, it may pay employees, executives or professionals who will raise funds on behalf of the organization. It may also have costs related to buying gifts used in fundraising auctions or as gifts to donors.

However, a charitable organization should use the majority of your donation to help others. Before you write a check, ask in a direct manner how much of your money actually goes toward food to help the homeless or will be used to provide an education to kids in need.

Other Questions to Ask Before Giving to a Charity

There are several other questions that you should ask to determine if a charity will use your money properly. For instance, the charity should be able to tell you exactly what your gift will be used for in addition to the exact reason you are being asked to give in the first place.

As charitable donations can be deducted from your taxable income, it may be a good idea to ask for its federal tax ID number. If that cannot be provided, your favorite charity may actually be a scam or otherwise run in an incompetent manner.

You should never respond to requests for donations via email unless you actually provided your email address. Also, never make a donation via a wire transfer. Ideally, you should use your credit card as you may be protected against fraud, which means you may be able to get your money back if you find out that you have been scammed.

A charitable donation can help make your community a better place to live. For the most part, charities do their best to use your money in a responsible and effective manner. However, you can’t take everything you see or hear about a group at face value. Therefore, it is critical that you do your research to help you make an informed decision and ensure that your money will legitimately assist someone in need.

Sep 6, 2016

Planning for Early Retirement

Early retirement means having the financial freedom to not have to work another day for the rest of your life. It means being able to live comfortably and even travelling when you want to. Since many of these goals aren’t realizable until after you retire, here are some tips to push forward your retirement age and to also make sure you have enough saved.

How Much Do You Need To Retire?

If you’re contemplating early retirement, ask yourself if you could retire right now if you quit your job today. If your savings and assets are not enough, then you should consider possibly cutting back on expenses.

  • If you have children, should you pay for their college educations? Some people believe that people should pay for their own college educations instead of being funded by their parents. Some parents would rather their children work while going to school to build character. Many parents fear that a child going to college develops bad habits like partying and not taking their education seriously. Some think that students who work while going to college develop better habits. If you decide to fund your children’s education, set specific guidelines. These should govern how much you’re willing to contribute and the amount of financial aid you expect your children to apply for. If you decide not to fund your child’s college education, you can instead use that money to give them a trust fund to help cushion their transition into the workforce.
  • Actively cutting your expenses can help speed up your early retirement goal. Being frugal is a skill that you can practice every single day. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on birthday celebrations, graduations and other parties, you can find other ways to celebrate special occasions without spending money on big, fancy parties.

You’ll want to pay off your house by a certain age. Part of your early retirement goal should be getting your expenses under control. A house is, for many people, their largest expense. After it’s finally paid off, that money that would otherwise have been earmarked for your mortgage payments can now be added to your nest egg.

Create An Emergency Fund

Begin setting aside a portion of your money for a contingency fund. You might have real estate that you are keeping as an investment, which is good for cashing in somewhere down the road. It’s not something that can be quickly converted to cash in the time of a crisis, however. Stay away from illiquid assets as part of your contingency fund. In the case of a real emergency, people should be relying on savings accounts and fixed-rate money market funds that can quickly be converted to cash. Some people even keep a small amount of cash or precious metals at home (5 – 10 thousand dollars worth would be good for possible emergencies). Even if you haven’t retired yet, you’ll want to have at least six months of reserve money available for emergencies and other inconvenient surprises as they come up.

Set Aside An Appropriate Amount For Health Care

Everybody knows that, sooner or later, they’re going to need the services of the health care system. Health care costs also tend to rise as we get older. A chance hospitalization (or even an extended stay at a hospital) can put a dent in your savings account if you haven’t properly planned for it. Some early retirees will want to take advantage of self-funded health savings accounts by making monthly scheduled deposits to fund it. Health insurance is essential at this stage. The best advice is to get enough health insurance such that you’re sure you’ll be fairly well taken care of in a wide variety of circumstances. How much insurance you buy (and how much health-related funds you set aside) will depend on upon your health history. Health-care funding is even more important for those with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Save for “Quality of Life” Purchases

Many elements of life get more challenging as you age. It can be expensive just ensuring you have the right products to guarantee you’re able to enjoy the same conveniences everyone else takes for granted. Purchases that help with mobility, comfort, etc. spring to mind. For example, as vision fades, it can be important to find a phone with larger buttons. A lift chair provides comfort while resting and also gently assists you as you stand up, and can also be a significant investment. These are things that should be taken into account.

Whatever your stage of life, Eastex would love to talk to you about your finances, and learn more about how we can help you!

We’d love to talk about how we can help with your finances. Why not contact us today?!

Aug 30, 2016

Vacation home safety tips from Eastex!

The point of going on vacation is to relax and escape from reality for a week or two. However, you still need to make sure that everything is alright at home while you are away. What can you do to keep your home safe when you are not there to protect it?

Discontinue Your Mail and Paper Delivery

A good starting point is to have the post office keep your mail there until you return. You should also cancel your paper delivery while you are away. If a thief notices that your mailbox is full or that there are multiple newspapers on your driveway, he or she will deduce that you are not home. This may make your home an easy target for those wishing to take your belongings.

Is Your Home a Smart Home?

Smart technology allows you to keep tabs on your home while you are away. Changing the temperature on the thermostat, making sure that the doors are locked and the lights are off are all important. Keeping the doors locked makes it harder to get into your house while turning the lights on and off every so often makes it look like someone is home.

Turn Your Security System On

If you have a traditional security system, make sure it is armed at all times while you are on vacation. In addition to making sure no one breaks in, it may be able to alert the fire department if there is a fire or otherwise get in touch with the authorities if necessary. This is helpful when you are hundreds of miles away and have no way to intervene on your own in case of emergency.

Turn Off the Furnace and Unplug Whatever You Won’t Use

If you are planning to be out of town for a long period of time, it may be a good idea to turn off the furnace to ensure that the house doesn’t get too hot. You may also want to drain your pipes to ensure that they don’t freeze and burst if the weather gets cold suddenly. Unplugging your television, computer, and other appliances will make it less likely that something shorts and starts a fire. Additionally, it uses less electricity and keeps your utility bills down while no one is in the home.

Have Someone Check the House While You Are Away

It may not be a bad idea to have someone check on the house while you are away. He or she should check that the pipes haven’t burst and there aren’t any signs of forced entry. While they’re at it, have them ensure that nothing has been damaged or stolen. If you have pets, it may be easier to have the same person come feed them and play with them. This will also be a lot cheaper than it would be to put them in a kennel for the weekend or for the week.

Your safety and the safety of your property should always be a top priority. Whether you are home or not, no one should be able to take or destroy what belongs to you. Taking some commonsense security measures before you leave increases the odds that everything back home is safe. This means you can relax and rest easy on your next trip.

Eastex Credit Union is all about helping our members out. Home security is such a big part of everyday life, hopefully this sort of information will help protect your investments. If you’d like info on a home loan, or other investment options, why not contact us today?

Aug 17, 2016

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Have you ever purchased a vehicle only to find out months later it was involved in a wreck before you bought it? Or even worse, a flood?  Sure, it can happen, but there is good news!  By asking the right questions upfront, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and hard earned dollars before making the wrong purchase!

Ask the Right Questions

So, you found the perfect car to fit your needs.  Whether you found the vehicle from an individual or from a dealership, it is always a good idea to check it out thoroughly. Take note of these detailed questions to ask:

  • How many miles does the vehicle have on it? It’s good to note that a vehicle with a lot of highway miles is likely to be in better condition than one with mostly in-town miles.
  • Is the seller the original owner? If the car has changed hands many times, it’s good to be cautious.
  • Does the car have any special features? Ask about these to be sure all the features are working properly.
  • Ask for service records – oil change receipts, tire rotation, etc. This will give you some insight into how the owner cared for the vehicle.
  • Has the vehicle ever been in an accident? If so, what kind? If it was a major crash, it might affect your decision on purchasing it.

Inspect the Vehicle Carefully

Checking the vehicle for body damage and imperfections is an important step in the inspection process.

Take your time and look carefully over the exterior of the vehicle.  You’ll want to look for things like rust, scratches, hail damage and dents. Another important step is to look for color variations in the paint.  It’s possible that the vehicle has a door panel that is a slightly different color than the rest of the car, which could indicate a poor repair job.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty and look under the car!  Check out the floor of the garage where it was kept or the driveway where it was parked. Look for gas, oil or other fluid spills.  These could be a sign of trouble.

Take the vehicle to your local body shop.  They might do an inspection of the vehicle for you as a favor, but even if you have to pay a little, it may be worth it in the long run.

Time to Purchase

Once you’ve done your homework, found the vehicle that passes all inspections and you’re ready to buy, we’re here to help!  Take a look at our current rates and use our online calculator to estimate your monthly payments. Next, just contact us to get your preapproval, and you’re on your way to getting behind the wheel of your new car.

As always, Eastex CU is here to help you with all of your lending needs.  Get your Preapproval from Eastex Credit Union – Click here to apply!

Aug 17, 2016

Buy a boat with credit union boat loans from Eastex CU!

Boats are awesome, but are not a small investment. Depending on their features and on the purpose they serve, boats can get quite pricey, but they can also take hobbies, weekends and vacations to a new level. People everywhere, especially those who live near water, are willing to go to great lengths to purchase them, from trade-ins to cost saving sacrifices, etc. Another fairly common route that should be explored is taking out credit union boat loans.

Of course, the ideal is to buy the boat in cash, either from your savings or from the money you get by selling some other possessions. However, life is far from ideal, and, besides the money for the actual boat, you also need money for the ownership transfer formalities, for repairs, furnishings or reconditioning.

Boat loans are the best solution for both those who cannot afford to buy a boat in cash or those who can, but would prefer not to. Here are just a few of the advantages these loans offer:

Advantages of Credit Union Boat Loans

  • Affordable monthly payments, established according to your needs and budget;
  • Enough money to finance any repairs or improvements necessary;
  • The financial freedom to actually enjoy the boat after buying it, no matter if this means going fishing, high speed water sports or taking a cruise;
  • The possibility to buy a better boat than you could afford if you were to pay for it upfront;
  • Lower risk, since the loan is secured only against the boat.

There are many other benefits to be enjoyed when taking a boat loan, but their nature often depends on the lender. If you want to get the most convenient loan out there, one of your best bets is to borrow from a credit union. Here are just a few reasons why we think credit union boat loans are preferable to banks, private lenders and other financing sources.

Why Borrow from a Credit Union?

  • You are a member, not a customer – This makes you an active part of the union, one they are interested in keeping satisfied in the long run.
  • The loan costs are often lower – From interest rates to various fees and commissions, the costs of credit union loans are typically much more affordable than those of bank loans or payday loans.
  • The loan is customized to your needs – Credit unions base their existence on members like you, so they know your needs and possibilities, and they will offer fast and flexible loan solutions to meet them.
  • The freedom to buy any boat you want – From fishing boats to cabin cruisers, pleasure boats, motor or sail boats and pontoons, you choose what you want to buy.
  • The chance to buy from anyone you want – While most banks will only finance new acquisitions from authorized companies, credit unions will let you buy from anyone you want, even used or reconditioned goods.

Of course, the benefits are even more numerous, but it is important for you to realize that not all credit unions are alike and not all of them offer affordable loans. If you’re in South East Texas and want to explore some of the best terms on the market, give Eastex Credit Union boat loans a chance.

Who We Are and What We Have to Offer

What sets us apart from our competitors? This Credit Union was started with the goal of supporting a community with solid financial services and fair rates. Eastex has continued to function as such to this day. Our goal isn’t profit, but rather opening up new opportunities for our members and the entire community.

Interested in learning more? Let’s discuss the loan you are interested in, and you will surely see for yourself that we offer the best boat loans on the market! Stop postponing that dream vacation, your hobbies or your business plans! Let us help you achieve your dreams!
Apply for a Loan!

Aug 15, 2016

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Back to school can be exciting, but it can also be a little nerve-racking for students and parents!

Here are some tips to help make a smooth transition:

  • We all know that kids can get a little, uh, “lazy” in the summer, staying up late and sleeping well into the morning.  Before schools starts back up, though, it’s always a good idea to practice getting back into a routine.  Have them start their routine a week or two before school starts; that will make it will make it much easier to transition when school begins.
  • New school year usually means new teachers.  Parents wonder, “Will they like their new teacher?” If little Johnny is nervous about meeting his new kindergarten teacher, some teachers welcome phone calls or visits before. It will help them get to know each other and hopefully relieve any anxiety about the unknown.
  • Sometimes new school years mean new schools!  Arrange to tour the school.  If your child starts in a different school and is nervous about finding his way around, take him to tour the new school a couple of days before. It might help them ease into it if they have a better idea of the layout of the school and location of their classes.
  • Shop for school supplies early! As we all know, sometimes the list might require 2-3 items that might be difficult to find in the local stores, and running around the day before to find those elusive supplies only causes frustration and anxiety. Planning early enough will perhaps allow you to purchase the items online and have them delivered right to your door. If you find that you need to make a major purchase, such as a new computer, remember that Eastex CU can help you with that purchase!

Your friends at Eastex CU would like everyone to have a safe, and fun learning experience this school year!  Stop by one of our locations and tell us how your year is going so far!

Aug 2, 2016

Payday Loan Scams - how to avoid them!

Every day there are more and more scams to worry about. Unfortunately, now you can add payday loan scams to the list. Most scammers’ main talent is in impersonation. So be extra suspicious of anyone calling and claiming to be a debt collector.

What are Payday Loan Scams?

According to Investopedia, a ‘Payday Loan’ is a sort of short-term borrowing where someone borrows a small sum of money at a very high interest rate. The borrower then agrees to pay the loan back, plus the interest fee at a later date – typically the borrower’s next payday. They differ from traditional personal loans in that they are calculated over days rather than years. They are also called check advance loans or cash advance loans. Continue reading »


AUTO LOANS

RATES AS LOW AS

2.20%

APY*

CREDIT CARDS

RATES AS LOW AS

6.99%

APY*

MONEY MARKETS

RATES UP TO

0.35%

APY*

CERTIFICATES

RATES UP TO

0.70%

APY*

IRA

RATES UP TO

0.75%

APY*

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