Are Idle Balances Costing Your Business Money?


Did you know there are several easy, automatic ways to manage the cash flow of your business? You can use sweep, target or zero balance accounts to efficiently direct your money. Here’s how it works:

Sweep Accounts: A Cash Management Sweep account allows your business to earn income on its extra balance. Your Business Checking account is reviewed daily and excess funds are automatically “swept” into a savings account to earn interest or to a Line of Credit to pay down balances. When you need the funds, the money is swept back in to your Business Checking account. This is a great way for your business to optimize its cash flow. Merchants offers two types of sweep accounts to fit your needs.

Target or Zero Balance Accounts: A Target or Zero-Balance Account is a business checking account that is automatically maintained at a “zero balance” or at a target balance that you specify. Target/Zero-Balance Accounts allow businesses to maintain separate accounts for various divisions, locations, or functions such as payroll, while automatically consolidating cash from those accounts.

If you’d like to learn more about how easy and convenient sweep and target/zero balances accounts could be for your business, contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.

First-Time Homebuyer? Mortgage Pre-Approval is the First Step


Where is your dream home? What does it look like? It would be a shame if when you found it, someone else’s offer was accepted before yours because you didn’t have mortgage pre-approval. With mortgage pre-approval you can:

  • Be confident when making an offer on your first home
  • Know how much money you can borrow
  • Show home sellers and realtors that you are serious about making and offer and ready to move forward today
  • Potentially be selected over other home seekers who make an offer who haven’t been pre-approved

Apply for Pre-Approval Now Schedule an appointment with one of our experience mortgage lenders, or choose a lender and start the process by applying online.

Start Saving for Your Down Payment According to RealtorMag, it can take an average of 12 and half years for first-time homebuyers to save a 20% down payment for a house.* You can start saving more each day with a Home Buyer’s Certificate of Deposit.** This CD is a smart way to put away money for the future:

  • Interest compounds quarterly, and the CD is renewable every 12 months.
  • Higher rate than a normal 12-month CD.
  • Early withdrawal penalties are waived if the money is used to purchase a residential property financed by Merchants Bank.
  • Start with a $100 minimum deposit and then continue with a minimum deposit of $100 per month.

Click here to start the process for opening your Home Buyer’s CD today.

Loans are subject to credit approval.
**12 Month Home Buyer’s CD requires a $100 minimum opening deposit and a $100 minimum monthly deposit. Additional deposits may be made at any time. Withdrawals prior to maturity will not be subject to penalty if the funds are used to purchase a primary residence that is financed through Merchants Bank, unless funds are withdrawn within 6 days after initial deposit. In this case there is a minimum penalty of 7 days interest. If funds are withdrawn prior to maturity for any other reason a penalty of 180 days interest will be assessed. When funds are withdrawn, either prior to or at maturity, the entire balance must be withdrawn. Partial withdrawals will not be allowed. Mortgage loan is subject to credit approval.

Home Construction Loans: The Basics

Construction loans at Merchants Bank

Have you always dreamed of building your own home, but you aren’t sure where to start? Follow this easy guide to learn the basics of construction loans.

What is a construction loan?
A construction loan is a loan used to pay for the cost of building a new home. When construction on your house is complete, you’ll need to obtain a new loan to pay off the construction costs. At Merchants, we offer construction to permanent financing, which allows customers to borrow for the construction phase and modify that loan to allow them to pay off the construction costs in one simple process.

How does it work?
For qualified applicants, Merchants requires a minimum down payment of 5% if the purchase price is under $417,000. If the purchase price exceeds $417,000, a down payment of 10% is required. With a 5% down payment, you will have a single loan with mortgage insurance at 95%.*

Once you have obtained financing for your construction loan, the builder will typically take draws (payments) throughout the construction phase. During the construction process, you will only be charged monthly interest payments on the amount of the loan advanced.

How do I apply?
Apply online at or visit your local Merchants Bank to speak to a mortgage lender. After reviewing your application and other information, you will be notified if you’ve been preapproved for both a construction and permanent loan.*

Click here to read our complete guide for successful construction or remodel through the construction loan process, which covers:

  • What information is needed upon application
  • Bids, draws and cost overruns
  • Appraisal value
  • And much more

*Subject to credit approval.
Maximum financing is the highest loan-to-value which varies based on the loan product


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.

Pay Your Bills Online and Enter for a Chance to Win $1,000


During February and March, make three online bill payments and be entered to win $1,000. To get started, sign up or login to your Online Banking account to pay your bills today. Through Merchants Online Banking Bill Pay you can:

  • Set up individual and business payees easily and quickly.
  • Simply and securely track and manage your finances all in one place through your Online Banking account.
  • View and schedule your online bill payments in advance or on a recurring schedule for added convenience.
  • Set up payment reminders to help keep track of when your payments are due.

Make three bill payments to enter to win. Then, every bill payment after three qualifies as an entry to win. The more bills you pay online, the more chances you have to win.

Get started:

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Click here for complete rules and additional important information.

Which Rewards Card is Right for You?


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 Points can be redeemed through, 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.

How Can Your Business Benefit from Positive Pay?

Tanya Schamaun thinks Positive Pay* “is just smart business sense.” Tanya is the Accounting Director at Winona State University and, along with co-worker Julie Sammann, has been using Merchants Bank’s fraud detection service Positive Pay since May.

“Positive Pay protects Winona State University from fraud. We can detect problems with copied or altered checks quickly and easily,” said Tanya.

Here’s how Positive Pay works: Each day, Winona State provides Merchants with an electronic inventory of checks issued. When the checks presented on WSU accounts each day are processed, Positive Pay matches the account number, check number and dollar amount of each check presented for payment against a list of checks previously authorized and issued by Winona State. All three components of the check must match exactly. When a check is reviewed that isn’t a match in the file, it becomes an “exception item.” Tanya or Julie then has the chance to review the image and can instruct the bank to pay or return the check.

“The whole process is very user-friendly. It only takes a few minutes a day,” said Julie. “Even if you don’t have your own IT department to help you create an inventory of checks to upload to Merchants, you can enter a check manually in a minute or less.”

According to Tanya, “[Positive Pay] is simple to use, even for a small organization. The hardest part is remembering your password!”

To learn more about how Positive Pay can help your business, contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.

*Fees may apply