Meet John Aarness, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

John Aarness Merchants Bank Mortgage LenderWhen did you start your lending career?

John: I started my lending career in southern California in March of 1972. The bulk of my time was spent originating FHA and VA loans. Eventually I moved to Minnesota with my wife and started at Merchants in 2001.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

John: Be patient, talk to an experienced builder and know what you want. Knowing what you want is the hardest part. I would also suggest building a traditional house…remember, you have to sell it eventually.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

John: Earn it before you spend it. I always earned money to pay for something I wanted, whether it was shoveling sidewalks when I was younger or getting a part-time job when I was old enough.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would buy?

John: I have three boys and I would pay off their mortgages.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

John: I have a 1984 ugly green Vespa scooter. It’s a real beaut, despite the color. A fun machine.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

John: I think it would be a luxury garage…heated, with a refrigerator, a large work bench and fully equipped with all the tools I need. Of course, it’d have a big TV too.

Contact John today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

Is ACH Fraud Affecting Your Business?

ACH Fraud Detection Merchants Bank

Use a service like Merchants Bank’s ACH Blocks and Filters to detect fraud on a daily basis.

What is an ACH Block or Filter?
ACH Blocks and Filters help you detect fraudulent electronic transactions that are presented on your account. By setting up ACH Blocks and Filters, only ACH transactions that you have told us are allowed post to your company’s checking account. All other transactions must receive authorization from you or will be sent back to the originator.

How does it work?
Simply let Merchants Bank know which, if any ACH transactions should be allowed to post to your company’s checking account.

  • ACH Block – You can completely block all ACH debits and/or credits from posting to your account.
  • ACH Filters – You can set parameters that allow certain ACH debits/and or credits to post to your account, while at the same time excluding other debits and/or credits from posting.

Why should my business use it?
With ACH Blocks and Filters, you can virtually eliminate the possibility of fraudulent ACH transactions being posted to your business account. Plus, in addition to the money you’ll save by preventing fraud, there is no need to purchase additional equipment to use ACH Blocks and Filters.

How can I start using ACH Blocks and Filters?
Contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.

Which Rewards Card is Right for You?

eNews-CreditCard

Rewards credit cards offer so many features and benefits that it may be difficult to determine which one – if any – is best for you. If you’re looking to maximize the rewards offered by your credit card(s), here’s a primer to help you choose the best card for your lifestyle.

How do rewards work?

It’s simple: the more money you spend, the more rewards you earn. The catch is choosing a card that offers the type of rewards that will benefit you the most.

What types of rewards are offered?

Determining whether you prefer to have cash back or points to redeem for merchandise or travel will help you choose the right card for you.

  • Cash back – Earn cash back for every dollar you spend. For example, with the Merchants Bank Visa Platinum Cash Back Card, you would earn a certain percentage, up to 1%, based on the cumulative purchases made that calendar year (click here to see specific percentages – link). The cash you earn is credited to your credit card balance each year on November 15.
  • Rewards points – Earn points for every* net dollar you spend. For example, with the Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card, you earn one point for every* dollar you spend. Spend $1,000 and earn 1,000 points**. Points can be redeemed for airline flights, car rentals, merchandise and much more.

What else should I know?

Before you apply for a rewards credit card, ask these questions:

  • Do my points expire?
    Rewards points may expire if they are not used. Make sure to shop around to find a points expiration timeframe that makes sense for your spending habits. Points for the Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card don’t expire for five years.
  • How do I redeem my points or receive my cash back?
    Make sure that it’s easy to check your points or cash back balance. For points rewards cards, you also want to review the process for redeeming your points. On Merchants Bank Credit Cards, your current points and cash back balance are available on mycardstatement.com. Points can be redeemed through scorecardrewards.com, both available through the Merchants Bank website.
  • Is there an annual fee?
    Some rewards cards charge an annual fee. Research if the charge can be offset by the value of your rewards benefits or waived completely by spending a certain amount in a month or year. Merchants Bank only charges an annual fee for the Visa Platinum Cash Back Card ($30/year).

Searching for the right card? One of our credit card options may be right for you. Click here to learn more or apply online.

Credit cards are subject to credit approval
*Every net retail dollar spent earns rewards points. Cash advances, finance charges and fees do not qualify for points.
** Points are rounded up or down based on the transaction amount. For example, a transaction of $150.52 would equal 151 points.

Meet Deb Kemp, Credit Card Manager at Merchants

Deb and her husband, Sam

Deb and her husband, Sam

How long have you been with Merchants?

Deb: I’ve been here 23 years. Originally, I was hired to help with customer data clean up and sat next to the person in charge of Premier Club (now Events and Adventures). I’ve worked in a lot of different areas of the bank including Premier Club, Loan Servicing and as a Lending Assistant. In 2001, I started working in Credit Cards. I’ve worked in banking all my life. It’s all I know how to do! It all started when I was in high school and worked as a part-time Proof Operator.

What is your top banking tip?

Deb: Paying your bills on time helps keep your credit score up. You don’t want to wreck your credit score…it takes longer to fix a bad score than establish a good credit score. If you don’t have a credit score, a credit card is a good way to establish credit.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Deb: My mom was very frugal and she didn’t waste money. I remember when graham crackers were kept in our oven because they were a treat. She was really budget conscious and taught me to think about my purchases. When I’m in a store, I ask myself if I really need something. Sometimes I even leave the store, walk around and come back to the store to give myself enough time to decide if I really wanted something.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Deb: I would buy a new boat. Our boat broke this year and we go fishing as much as possible…so we really need a new boat. I would also take flying lessons and travel a lot.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Deb: Plants. I have probably about 50 house plants – really! I also like spinach.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

Manage Your Business’s Money with These Helpful Tools

ModernFinancesWould you like to better manage your businesses money and make it work harder. With three areas of focus – Tools for Collection, Tools for Disbursement and Tools for Management – Merchants Bank’s Cash Management area – what some banks call Treasury Management – is worth exploring.

Learn more about Tools for Management:

Online Banking – Conveniently view account balances, check images and transactions, transfer funds between your Merchants Bank accounts, create Bill Payments and ACH transactions (subject to Agreements), submit requests for Stop Payments and more.

Positive Pay – Give yourself peace of mind. Positive Pay can help detect fraudulent checks that are being issued on your account.

ACH Blocks and Filters – Control your accounts by ensuring your business checking account isn’t used for unauthorized ACH transactions.

Financial Electronic Data Interchange (FEDI) Reporting – The computerized exchange of payments between your business, your customers and vendors ensures

For more information on Cash Management services, visit our website.

Meet Kathy Simon, Credit Card Assistant Merchants

Kathy and her husband, David

Kathy and her husband, David

How long have you been with Merchants?

Kathy: Six years. I started as a File Clerk, then went to the Loan Servicing department and now I’m in the Credit Card department.

What is your top banking tip?

Kathy: Make sure to check your credit card statement each month for purchases you did not make. There’s a lot of credit card fraud. Sadly, it is so common and happens every day. It’s important to be aware of what is going in your accounts.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Kathy: Save. Save for a rainy day. I think that was probably the thing they drilled in my head. I started babysitting when I was ten and had opened my first savings account at that age. When we were growing up, I loaned my older siblings money because I was the only one who listened to my parents’ advice.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Kathy: I would pay off my mortgage, give to my family members and give to charity. Then, I’d take a great tropical vacation.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Kathy: I would say trees. We used lived in Wyoming and it felt like everything was brown there. When we would travel home to Minnesota, we would get off the airplane and drive straight to Lake Calhoun to walk around the lake. Everything was so green and lush…we missed it.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

Meet Emily Buxengard, Credit Card Assistant at Merchants

Emily with her family (from l-r): Celia, Bailey, Marcus and Allen.

Emily with her family (from l-r): Celia, Bailey, Marcus and Allen.

How long have you been with Merchants?

Emily: I was hired on October 31, 2003 as a Teller. In the beginning, I worked at our Lakeside branch in Winona for about a year and then moved to the Downtown location. Eventually, I began helping the Credit Card Department two days a week and started full time in Credit Cards in 2006.

What is your top banking tip?

Emily: Explore mycardstatement.com and the Score Card Rewards website. Both are great online tools for our credit card customers and usually provide answers to common questions you may have about your credit card account, ScoreCard points and more.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Emily: My mom only gave me one piece of advice when it came to credit cards. She told me that if you won’t have the money to pay the credit card bill when you get it, you can’t have it. It’s something I still follow today. I’ll go into a store and want to buy something, but I know that I can’t have it because I can’t be sure I can payoff the bill when I get it. I think it’s a good piece of advice to follow, especially when you are new to having a credit card.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Emily: I would pay off my mortgage and set up my children for life. Then, I would donate to my top five charities. I would also love to pay it forward anonymously…do things like pay for another family’s meal in restaurants without telling them or pay for coffee of the person behind me in the drive through. I want to pay it forward and I want to teach my kids how to do that.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Emily: Avocados. Without a doubt. I put avocados on everything: chili, quesadillas, pizza…we put them in our smoothies and use it instead of mayo in egg salad. They are an amazing.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.