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Is a Rewards Credit Card Right for You?

October 17th, 2016

Customer paying for their order with a credit card in a cafe.
There are many credit cards to choose from, and the type you choose will be affected by a number of factors, including your personal and financial goals. We’d like to keep it simple, and give you a few factors to consider before deciding if a rewards card is right for you.

A rewards card is simply a card that gives you something back for using the card. Everything from airline miles to merchandise and even cash back can be yours for using your card. Every card’s rewards formula is different, so make sure you understand what your rewards options are before you decide. Many people have no plans (or desire) to earn or use rewards, and shouldn’t apply for this type of card. Keep it simple!

Other factors include your credit history and credit score, which may qualify (or disqualify) you for a particular card. A high credit score and clean credit history tend to allow you many more choices, including lower rates and costs for a rewards card, while the converse can limit your selection of cards. At First Source, we can analyze these factors for you, and see if you qualify for the card you want.

Finally, if you already own a credit card (or a number of cards), you should take a clear-eyed look at your payment history. If you tend to pay off your full balance every month, a rewards card with a variable interest rate will be a positive addition to your wallet. If you tend to carry balances forward and pay interest charges every month, a low-fixed-rate card without rewards may be more practical.

Consider your goals and plans, then make an appointment at your local branch to let us help you make your decision. We look forward to helping you make a smarter, more rewarding choice!

First Source and the Utica Zoo

October 4th, 2016

We were very proud to sponsor the Utica Zoo Master Plan unveiling reception, “Dream Big with the Utica Zoo”, where the Zoo’s exciting new improvements and future expansion plans were shared with the community. We also pledged major financial support for the new Education Animal Enrichment and Training Center. Who will join us in supporting this amazing gem of the Mohawk Valley? Give to the Utica Zoo here!

Why Use Mobile Banking?

September 28th, 2016

Smiling man with cell phone

More than 100 million people bank using their mobile devices, and for good reason. While brick-and-mortar banking may never be replaced, many day-to-day financial transactions are efficiently carried out using (primarily) our phones.

Mobile banking offers many advantages, such as very good (and increasingly better) security, easy access, and a wide variety of financial apps, not to mention the most obvious: convenience. It gives you much greater control over your money, from everyday transactions to longer-term choices. You can check balances, make payments and deposits, pay bills, and more, from anywhere you have an internet connection.

While there are still limitations, as time goes on, the number of conveniences grows, like real-time account transfers, bank-to-bank transfers, and automated alerts. As the sophistication of our devices grows, apps become more functional, and mobile banking is approaching online banking in diversity and usability. Virtual wallets and money-saving and investing functions are growing in popularity.

Security is obviously a very big priority, and often the perception lags the reality: mobile banking is actually very secure, safer even than internet banking. Even if you lose your phone (or have it stolen), you can quickly disable it remotely. And your biggest security advantage is seamlessly built into mobile banking: being able to check your accounts anywhere, anytime. The closer watch you keep on your finances, the fewer chances there are for undetected fraud or breaches such as identity theft.

Updating to the newest release of your banking app is always important, since functions and security are growing and improving, and the most recent version gives you the best of both. First Source’s new release, memberMOBILE 3.0, is the latest example.

As mobile banking grows, we’ll always be here to help support your needs!

Helping Our Furry Friends

August 31st, 2016

redhead teenage girl and her dog portrait
We have a great resource in our community, the Stevens-Swan Humane Society (SSHS), helping our pets and animal friends who are often without support. Did you know that, in addition to their most visible service of providing animal control and adoptions, they also provide pet cremation and pet burial services, rabies clinics, spay and neuter clinics, and community education?

We are supporting them in a number of ways, and we need your help! Please join us in one or more of these fun and rewarding activities to support the wonderful people and animals at Stevens-Swan.

Paws for a Cause

We’re offering $1 Paws for a Cause at all our branches. For a dollar, we put your personalized paper paw up on our wall, so you can inspire others with your support.

Supply Donations

In addition to financial donations, Stevens-Swan accepts a number of supplies they need on a regular basis. We have donation boxes available at all our branches for you to donate supplies, including canned cat and dog foods, toys, treats, and more. See their wish list here.

Can and Bottle Drive

We’re assisting with a can and bottle drive at Utica College on September 6th. We’ll join the Utica College Young Scholars in the Utica College parking lot between Boehlert and South Halls from 12noon-6pm. Stop by with your bottles and cans, and let us take them off your hands for a good cause.

Annual Mum Sale

We’ll hold our annual mum sale September 15th, 16th, and 17th at our New Hartford branch, and September 15th and 16th at our Herkimer branch during our normal hours of operation. Stop by to purchase yours for your home, or as gifts. You’ll be spreading joy at home, to friends or loved ones, and to our animal friends as well!

Wiggle Waggle Walkathon

We are a Presenting Sponsor for this year’s 24th Annual Wiggle Waggle Walkathon on Saturday, September 10th from 12-3pm at Kirkland Town Park on Post St. in Clinton. Register at our New Hartford branch on Friday, September 9th (or at Stevens-Swan Humane Society from Noon-5pm on September 8th or 9th), then join us on September 10th with your family dog (or walk one from Stevens-Swan!) for food, music, vendors, and contests.

Thanks for your generosity. It’s all for a great cause!

Choosing a Cruise

August 29th, 2016

View from back deck of cruise ship
A cruise vacation lets you visit different destinations every day, without the daily packing, moving accommodations, and finding meals and entertainment. Follow these tips when selecting a cruise:

1. Choose the right cruise line. The cruise line you choose should match your personal style. Do you prefer something more refined and peaceful, or do you want parties late into the night? Find one that’s right for you and the experience you want.

2. Check the destination(s). Most cruise lines serve several destinations, with choices from around the world. Check the details, and make sure your preferred stops are included.

3. Explore the ship (online). Larger ships offer more activities, dining options, and entertainment, as well as a smoother ride in rough waters. Smaller ships can visit small (and more “exotic”) ports and offer more personal service. Find one that meets your needs.

4. Find the right dates. If you’re flexible, you can find better deals. Popular destinations (and cabin selections) may sell out early during peak months, so find a compromise you’re happy with.

5. Speaking of cabin… Your room can make or break your cruise. Do you want the lowest price without worrying about the accommodations, or a top of the line cabin with an big balcony? They’re both popular and usually sell out early. Decide before you shop.

6. Find a good travel agent. If a travel agent is a particular cruise line’s “preferred” agent, they can get you lower rates, better cabin selections, upgrades, and other percs. Find the right travel agent for the cruise you want.

Choose wisely, and your travels will be enjoyable and rewarding. Have you started saving yet for yours? Ask to see if we can help!

International Travel: Plan Ahead

August 18th, 2016

Smiling couple at the Eiffel Tower in Paris
In an earlier blog, we offered financial tips for international travel. If your dream is an international trip and you’re still in the planning (and saving) stages, here are a few tips you can get done well ahead of time, and save yourself stress when the time comes.

1. Make sure your passport and visa are current. For travel to most countries, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your return date. Check the expiration date, and if it expires within 6 months of your planned travel, renew now. Remember, the whole process can take up to six weeks. Once you have your new passport, photocopy the information page and the visa page(s) for your destination(s), and pack them separately from your passport.

2. Plan to drive safely. If you plan to drive in another country, see if you need an International Driver’s License, or if your U.S. license will be enough to get to your planned destinations.

3. Stay healthy. Visit the travel section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to find health information and recommendations for your destination. The website also lists helpful tips, and recommended items to pack. Bring copies of any prescriptions, pack them separately from your medicine, and note the generic names. Always pack your medicine in prescription bottles, in your carry-on.

4. Consider travel insurance. Your health insurance may not cover you while you’re traveling internationally. If your trip expenses will be high, consider trip interruption and cancellation insurance as well.

5. Register your trip (free!). If you’re traveling outside industrial countries or to remote areas, you can register online with the U.S. State Department, and include your itinerary. That way, the U.S. government will know about your travel and how to contact you. You can even share your information with others—like family and friends—if they need to contact you. Registration is free.

7. Have fun! You’ve planned well. Now relax and enjoy your adventure of a lifetime!

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