Meet Mary Illetschko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Mortgage Banking Merchants BankWhen did you start your banking/lending career?

Mary: I started as a Part Time Teller at a bank while I was going to college and then moved into personal banking shortly afterwards. I started in the mortgage business in 1991 at Old Stone Credit. Eventually, I started my own company and became an independent mortgage broker. I worked for myself for 11 years and really enjoyed it…I kept my business small and work came to me through word of mouth referrals. When the market crashed in 2008, I ended up closing my business and going to work for a small community bank. I came to Merchants in 2011 and really enjoy being a part of this team!

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

Mary: Do your homework and shop for the right builder. A lot of people just look at the price when choosing a builder, however, cheaper isn’t always better! Visit several model homes in your price range and make sure you are comfortable with the builder before signing a contract. You should also go into the process pre-approved for your construction financing so you know exactly what you can afford. Knowledge is power when you’re buying or building a home.

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

Mary: My dad retired from a career in banking after 40+ years, therefore my parents are very conservative. They instilled in me the importance of saving for the future, but also having fun while living within your means.

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

Mary: I would catch the next flight to St. John’s, rent a villa on the beach and then make a call to my financial planner and attorney.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Mary: Green grass on a golf course! I enjoy golf not only for the sport, but for the beauty and incredible views that can be found on various courses. I play on a nine hole women’s league in Woodbury and try to play at least one 18 hole round on the weekend.

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

Mary: I would have a large great room. It would be equipped with a wet bar, pool table and a buck hunter game. In addition, I would have a large screen TV where I could enjoy Minnesota Viking and Wild games!

Contact Mary 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.

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Meet Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Lender

Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Lender

When did you start your lending career?

Ann: 25 years ago at a company called Old Stone Credit. From there, I moved to First Union and then to Anchor Bank. I’m proud to say I’ve been in community banking for 18 years and six of those years have been with Merchants.

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

Ann: Do your homework and shop for a good builder, your local Builders Association or a home tour is a good place to start. You also want to make sure you familiarize yourself with the whole construction process…it’s much different from buying a house. It’s important to know before you get too far if building as house is for you.

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

Ann: Save. Save. Save. My parents were very conservative people. They taught me to spend my money wisely and keep a log of where my money is going.

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

Ann: I would go see a financial planner and an attorney. After that, I would take vacation. I love to travel.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Ann: Trees and plants. We actually inherited a very large garden with our current home. It’s mostly flowers, but I enjoy keeping it up.

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

Ann: Just big, big kitchen. We spend so much time in the kitchen and that seems to attract your audience when you have people over. But, I would also love a three season porch.

Contact Ann 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.

Subject to credit approval.

Meet Jeanne Struckman, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Jeanne Struckmann, Mortgage Lender

Jeanne Struckmann, Mortgage Lender

When did you start your banking career?

Jeanne: I started as a Part Time Teller at Home Federal. From there I became a Full Time Teller, then a Personal Banker, then I helped with second mortgages and finally a Mortgage Lender. I had a great mentor that helped me along the way. This year, I’ll have been with Merchants as a Mortgage Lender for nine years.

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

Jeanne: Get educated. Sit down and take the time to discuss options with your lender. Everyone’s situation is a different and it’s good to talk to an expert up front.

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

Jeanne: You whine if you have it, you whine if you don’t.

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

Jeanne: I would call a banker.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Jeanne: My golf cart. I love riding around in it with my Yorkshire terrier, Ozzy. We bring the golf cart to our permanent camp site in Houston County.

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

Jeanne: A four season porch…even us extroverts need some down time. We’re actually in the process of putting one on ourselves right now. I’m looking forward to sitting out there with my dog, watching life go by.

Contact Jeanne 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.

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.