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.

Do You Know When to Open a Checking Account for Your Child?

FirstCheckingYour child may get an allowance, have a neighborhood gig mowing lawns or a part-time job at a department store. So when is the right time to talk about opening a first checking account? Follow these tips to determine when to open an account and what features make sense for your child.

Is my child ready for a checking account?

First, your child should have experience with spending money – whether from his or her piggy bank or birthday cash. It’s also best if your child has already opened a savings account. This bank account can help him or her learn the importance of saving money before giving them the purchasing power that comes with a checking account.

Typically it’s best to open a first checking account when your child starts his or her first job, around the age of 16. At that time, your child can have his or her paychecks directly deposited, learn how to use a debit card and practice the process of balancing a checking account.

What kind of checking account is best for my child?

To help your child learn the basics of banking, it’s important that you choose an account with the following features:

  • No minimum or monthly maintenance fees – These fees can be both stressful and confusing. It’s best to find a fee free checking account.
  • Online account access – You can teach your child money management any time with easy access from your home computer.
  • Debit card – A debit card can illustrate how bank transactions work.
  • Convenient bank location – Going to the bank is part of the learning process for your child. You want to be close enough that both of you can visit to make deposits and see your customer service representative with any questions.

Merchants Bank’s Free Checking account is a great solution for your child’s first checking account. Free Checking features free access to Online and Mobile Banking, no minimum account balance, a free debit card and more. To find out about all of the features of our Free Checking, click here. To open an account, make an appointment for you and your child at your local Merchants Bank location (link to locations web page).

*$50 minimum deposit required to open Free Checking account. Some restrictions may apply.

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.

Prevent Fraud on Your Merchants Bank Cards

fraud word abstractPreventing fraud on your bank accounts can feel like a daunting process, but at Merchants Bank, we make it easy. By collaborating with us, you’ll have 24/7 fraud detection monitoring on your debit and credit card accounts and gain access to education on latest fraud alerts and trends. The fight to prevent fraud involves not only our expertise and diligence, but a constant open line of communication with each of our customers.

How does fraud detection at Merchants Bank work?

  • We work with our trusted partners, FraudWatch at Elan Financial Services and VISA Falcon Fraud Prevention Services, to monitor fraud trends and detect fraudulent transactions on your debit or credit card accounts 24/7.
  • We will call you in the event of a suspicious transaction. You may receive a call from our partners, Elan or Falcon, who will make you aware that the call is being placed on behalf of Merchants Bank.
  • When our partners call you they will ask you for some identifying information – such as the last four digits of your Social Security Number. They will never ask you for your full number. If you are uncomfortable and don’t want to speak with our partners, please call your local Merchants Bank office and verify the transaction or let us know that you did not make the purchase in question.

What can you do to prevent fraud? Keep in touch!

  • Ensure the Bank has your most up-to-date contact information. Call your local branch if you need to make any changes.
  • Contact us before you go on vacation and don’t be shy about sharing the details, for example: dates, exact locations and how we can contact you while you’re gone. If you make purchases in a state or country where you don’t normally use your card, we may think these transactions are fraudulent unless we know otherwise.
  • If you forget to contact us before you left on vacation, call a Customer Service Representative at your local branch during your trip to provide the information listed above.
  • Contact us if you’ll be making a large purchase that would be uncharacteristic when compared to your purchase history.

Click here for more security information from Merchants Bank make sure to review the Alerts section of our website.

Seven Ways to Save at the Supermarket

7-14 SupermarketFood shopping is an essential part of living for every family. But over the years, prices on fare have increased steadily, causing households to spend more and more on their weekly groceries. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American family shells out nearly $540 a month on food, with an average of approximately $312 for groceries.

But unlike your mortgage or gas bill, what you spend on food is flexible. Start with these tips to reduce your supermarket spending today:

1. Scour store sales and stock up. While many people think it’s the coupons that save families in groceries, it’s more so store sales — and combining a store sale and a coupon is one of the best money saving things you can do. Also, when something nonperishable that you use is on sale, it’s a good idea to stock up. It may seem counterintuitive at the time to spend more money (since you’re buying more), but in the end, you can save hundreds. Meats are also good to buy in bulk when they’re on sale, as they will freeze well.

2 …But don’t be fooled by said sales. Many times, a store will list a product for something along the lines of “buy five for $10” when, if you do the math, you may only be saving a couple cents. Also, keep in mind that when sales like these are listed, many times, you don’t need to buy five products, or whatever amount listed to get the sale price. So, for example, if a sale is for “two for $5,” buying one will cost you $2.50. Retailers are just listing that price in hopes that you’ll buy more. Don’t fall for it!

3. Clip coupons. Search your Sunday newspaper or visit websites such as Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and Redplum.com where many manufacturer coupons can be found and printed for free. There are also sites such as CouponMom.com, LivingRichWithCoupons.com and TheGroceryGame.com that offer up-to-date sales-tracking services for most states and grocery chains. In addition, it’s a good idea to shop at the stores that double your coupons (usually under 99 cents).

4. Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Even if you know you’re on a budget, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that you’re likely to spend more money if you don’t eat beforehand. So, before you hit the market, have a meal or take a snack with you if you’re on the go.

5. Use cash. “It’s psychologically more difficult to fork over cash than a credit card,” says Jeanette Pavini, Coupons.com’s household savings expert. It’s said that using cash when grocery shopping will cut your spending by about 25 percent. Before going grocery shopping, stop at an ATM so that you’re fully stocked up on cash. You could also start a “grocery jar” and drop a few bucks into it each day or week, and use it solely for food shopping.

6. Keep your focus. Does a product ever catch your eye so much that you evidently stop and examine it, mulling over whether you should purchase it? It turns out that the more you interact with a product, the more likely you are to buy it.

“Virtually all unplanned purchases…come as a result of the shopper seeing, touching, smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure, if not total fulfillment,” says Paco Underhill in the book Why We Buy. Another way to avoid impulse buys? Ride your bike or walk to the store.

“It’s amazing how focused you can be when you are limited to one shopping bag full of groceries,” says Ross Williams, writer at simplemindedinvestor.com. “Once you are very conscious of each purchase, it seems to carry over even to the small items where space isn’t really an issue.”

7. Check over your receipt. Just because a product is on sale doesn’t mean the register will automatically ring it up correctly. Always watch your products being scanned and if something trips you up, don’t be afraid to ask politely if that price is correct.

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Surcharge Free ATM Options

SurchargeFreeATMsLooking to use your Merchants Bank Debit card free of charge to obtain cash or check account balances? Try these:

  • Merchants Bank owned ATMs
  • Fee Free cash at any one of more than 400 Kwik Trip or Kwik Star locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa.
  • MoneyPass ATMS where you won’t be assessed a surcharge fee by the bank at MoneyPass ATMs. A foreign surcharge fee may still apply. You can find a MoneyPass location, or access locations through an iPhone or Android app, by starting here.

Plus, remember you can also get cash back when using your Merchants Bank Debit Card at most point of sale locations

Target Data Breach

Target is investigating a potential data breach that may have affected millions of debit and credit cards nationwide. Initial reports indicate the breach appears to have started around Black Friday, November 28, 2013, and may have extended through the middle of December.

If you used a debit card, credit card or gift card at a Target store between these dates, please be sure to monitor your account activity closely for fraudulent transactions and report any transactions that you did not initiate to the financial institution that issued your card.

We have not yet received notification that any Merchants Bank credit cards or debit cards were involved in the breach, and even though Merchants Bank has fraud monitoring security in place, we strongly encourage Merchants Bank customers to monitor their own Merchants Bank Credit Card and Debit Card activity. For our customers who would prefer the peace of mind of having their current card(s) closed and new ones reissued, please feel free to stop in your local Merchants Bank office.

To monitor Merchants Bank Credit Card activity, please go to www.merchantsbank.com and click on Credit Card Login.

To monitor Merchants Bank Debit Card activity, please go to www.merchantsbank.com and login to your Online Banking account.

To monitor Merchants Bank Visa Gift Card activity, please go to www.ppdmoney.com or call 1-866-208-3282.

If you notice any fraudulent activity on a Merchants Bank credit or debit card, please report it as soon as possible by calling your local Merchants Bank branch or calling toll-free, 1-800-944-6285. Please note, initial reports indicate that the data breach did not affect purchases made online at Target, just in the retail stores.

For tips on protecting your card information, identity, and more, please visit https://www.merchantsbank.com/files/IdentityTheft.pdf