Which Rewards Card is Right for You?

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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.

Collect Payments for Your Business with our Tools for Collection

Digital Image by Sean Locke Digital Planet Design www.digitalplanetdesign.comWould 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 Collection:

Credit Card Processing – Make it easier for your customers to shop with more payment options when you accept Visa, MasterCard or Discover debit, credit and gift cards in person, through your website or via mobile. Subject to credit approval.

Direct Debit – Use Direct Debit to collect funds from your customers. A customer payments is automatically withdrawn from the customer account at the beginning of the bank business on the day authorized and then deposited into your account. Subject to credit approval.

Cash Concentration – Using Merchants Bank Online Banking, you can bring cash from multiple accounts and other banks together into a central account so you can better manage it and put it to work for you. Subject to credit approval.

Deposit-On-Demand – Reduce your time running to the bank by converting paper checks into an image and transmitting the images to the Bank for deposit from the comfort of your office.

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

Leaving town for the holidays? Tell us!

LeavingTown

Are you planning a trip out of state this holiday season? It’s important for you to contact Merchants before you leave to ensure the best service while you are out of town. If you make purchases in a state or country where you don’t normally use your Merchants Bank debit or credit card, we may think these transactions are fraudulent unless we know otherwise.

When contacting the Bank regarding your travel plans, we will ask for the following information:

  • Dates of your trip(s)
  • Exact travel locations
  • How we can contact you while you’re gone

If you have a Merchants Bank Debit Card – Please call us at (800) 944-6285 and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative about your travel plans.

If you have a Merchants Bank Credit Card – Please call us at (800) 944-6285 and ask to speak to our Credit Card department about your travel plans.

We strongly recommend that you carry more than one form of payment during your trip. Interruptions within any card network are always a very real possibility. Carrying multiple forms of payment reduces frustrations when trying to complete a needed purchase.

Why Every Business Should Offer Gift Cards

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For the past seven years, gift cards have been the number one most wanted holiday wish list item, according to the National Retail Foundation. The popularity of gift cards has steadily increased throughout the last several years and will culminate in an estimated $100 billion dollars loaded on to gift cards in 2014*.
 
Still not sure if gift cards are right for your business? Here are some incredible statistics:
  • 80.6% of U.S. consumer plan to buy gift cards this year*
  • 64% of consumers spend more than the value of their gift card*
  • 59% visited a store more frequently after receiving a gift card*
  • 41% of consumers visited a store they would not have otherwise gone to because they received a gift card*
Offering gift cards is not only what your customers want, but it’s easy with Merchants Bank! Through our partnership with Valutec, you may begin offering personalized gift cards at your business in as little as 10 days. Simply speak to our Credit Card department by calling (507) 457-1160 or (800)-944-6285 to get started.
 
*All statistics from firstdata.com.

Do You Have a Spending Problem?

How to know and how to fix a spending problem.

How to know and how to fix a spending problem.

If you’ve ever checked your bank account and wondered where all your money went, or how you could possibly have such a small sum, you may have an unintentional spending problem. And that’s harmful because overspending can lead to mass amounts of debt and dissatisfaction with yourself.

But how can you know for sure if you have a spending problem? If you’re surmising the thought, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you having a hard time following a budget?
  • Do you feel the need to shop every day or more than once a day?
  • Do you buy things when you’re sad, angry or other emotion to justify feeling that way?
  • Are your friends and family commenting about your spending or telling you to stop?
  • Are you going over your credit card limit on a monthly basis?
  • Do you ever wonder, “Where did my last paycheck go?”
  • Do you have a hard time finding a place for all the items you buy?
  • Do you avoid looking at your bills?
  • Do you have a range of items you don’t use?
  • Are collectors and creditors on your case about past-due bills?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a spending problem. Follow these tips to take steps toward cutting back on your spending:

Get rid of your credit cards – If you know you use plastic for most of your purchases, it’s advised that you cut them up and only carry cash. Yes, credit cards are convenient, but research shows that you spend less when you only have cash.  According to a 2000 study, consumers are willing to spend more for something when they use a credit card rather than cash. So next time you’re out, test this theory by leaving your credit cards behind and only bringing with you a small amount of cash.

Track your spending – This is especially useful for those who can’t fathom where their money is going whenever they check their statement. Simply jotting down what you spend every day will help you identify patterns. Did you grab a coffee before work? Head to the mall on the weekend? Get a car wash? Every penny you spend should be written down and added up to see how much you’re doling out each day. If you’re a techie, you might like keeping an online diary or downloading a journaling app to your smartphone.

Purge – If it’s clothes that you buy a lot of, go through your closet and dresser drawers and make a pile of all the items you haven’t worn in the last year or those that you don’t like anymore.

“Identify the clothes you love, and get rid of everything else,” says author Donna Smallin. “If you haven’t worn something for a year, there’s something wrong — it’s not your style, or it doesn’t fit right — and there’s no point in holding onto it.” You might find that most of your clothing items are in pristine condition, and if that’s the case, head to a local thrift store, who will offer you money for certain items. You’ll feel better and make a little extra cash in the process. If any of the clothes you want to get rid of are slightly ripped or stained, then you may consider donating them to charities.

Purge — the online version – You know all those daily deal e-mails that are clogging up your inbox — Groupon, RetailMeNot, etc.? Unsubscribe to these. These e-mails are marketed to make you want to spend money, and you don’t need that kind of temptation. Doing this may also help you realize how many e-mail lists you’re on, which can be eye-opening to an overspender who wasn’t sure whether or not they had a spending problem.

Avoid situations that make you spend – If you’re aware of when you spend the most, try to skip those occasions as much as you can. For example, if you tend to overspend when eating out with friends, suggest to the group you’d like to have a potluck dinner party instead. Or, if you dish out money on clothes more than anything else, it’s best to keep away from the mall at all costs.

Seek help – There’s no shame in speaking with a professional about your spending habits. If your spending is too far out of control, then you’ll likely benefit from talking to an expert. Many psychotherapists are trained to help people with compulsive spending.  Also, ask your friends, family or spouse for their help as well. After all, it’s hard to change your ways without support from your loved ones.

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Top Three Reasons Your Business Should Accept Credit and Debit Cards

Credit card processing can benefit any business

Credit card processing can benefit any business

Should your business accept credit or debit card payments? Big or small, brick and mortar or in-home business, thousands of employees or only two…the answer is yes! Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the ease and versatility of accepting credit or debit cards anytime, anywhere you choose. Here are the top three reasons you should accept credit or debit card payments:

  1. Convenience – Being able to accept major credit cards is expected by most of your customers. In TSYS’s 2013 Consumer Payment Choice Study, over half of respondents preferred a debit card as their overall payment method and 35% preferred a credit card. By using Merchants Bank’s Credit Card Processing, your business can meet customer expectations and provide options for accepting payments that are convenient for both you and your customers. Merchants Bank offers a variety of options for collecting payments including counter-top card readers, website interfaces and mobile card readers.
  2. Increase Sales – Accepting credit or debit cards greatly broadens your potential customer base to customers who no longer carry cash or checks with them. In addition, customers who pay by card can easily make impulse purchases without needing extra cash on hand or writing a larger check. Not offering this type of payment option could result in lost sales opportunities.
  3. Simple Pricing and Local Service – We understand that each business is unique, so we will work with you to determine the credit card processing pricing structure that makes sense for your business. Merchants Bank offers easy to understand, “all-in-one” discount fees based on the average dollar amount of your customer transactions (which is your average ticket size). Equipment costs will vary depending on your needs. As always, you’ll receive service and support from local bankers you know and trust. We promise to work with you to keep your costs as low as possible and customize Credit Card Processing to fit your individual business needs.
To get started with Merchant Bank Credit Card processing, simply contact your local branch to complete a Credit Card Processing Application and include two years of financials, or download the Credit Card Processing application here. Click here for more details on our credit card processing program.
 
Credit card processing is subject to credit approval.