Do You Use Your Personal Credit Card for Business Expenses?

Business credit cards at Merchants BankWhile you may be tempted to use your personal credit card when paying for business expenses, it’s important to consider the risks you’re taking if you do. Plus, there are benefits to your business using a dedicated business credit card.

Here’s why it’s important to apply for a business credit card:

1. Minimize risk. While it may seem harmless to use a personal card for business expenses, you never know when you’re going to need to prove the difference between a purchase for yourself and a purchase for your business. Why blur the line?

Consider using one card solely for business expenses to keep from mixing personal and business purchases. In addition, mixing personal and business credit can harm your personal credit score, if your business is unable to pay off future debts.

2. Make things easier for your staff or accountant. Having dedicated business credit cards for yourself or other staff members helps you track business expenses more accurately. With a Merchants Bank Visa Business Credit Card, your employees can even have separate statements to make tracking even easier.

Plus, with a dedicated business credit card, you won’t be placing personal and business purchases on the same card, which can cause extra work for those handling the company finances.

3. Build credit. If you have plans to expand your business in the future, your business will need to be credit worthy. You can build credit for your business in a number of ways. A good first step is to open a basic business deposit account, like checking or savings, and apply for a business credit card. With these accounts, you can build a credit history of on time or early payments – much like you’ve done with your personal credit – which will be viewed favorably by potential lenders.

4. Credit card term advantages. Typically your business credit card will allow a higher credit limit and you may be able to get a better rate than a personal credit card. Be sure to read all the terms associated with the business credit cards you are researching to accurately compare your options.

Contact us today to learn more about business credit cards for your business.

Credit cards are subject to credit approval.
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Back to School Shopping for Your Student? Reward Yourself

ScoreMore rewards for back to school shopping$630.36. That’s the average amount a family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend on back to school expenses this fall, according to the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School Spending Survey. In total, spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $68 billion.¹

Considering the high price tag associated with back to school shopping, using a credit card that accumulates rewards points may be beneficial. If it makes financial sense for your family, why not get rewarded for the money you spend on school supplies, electronics, clothes and more for your student? Here’s how:

Choose the Best Rewards Card for You

Determining how you prefer to earn points and what you would like to redeem for your points will help you choose the right card.

For example, with the Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card, you earn one point for every² dollar you spend. Spend $1,000 and earn 1,000 points³. Points can be redeemed for airline flights, car rentals, merchandise and much more at scorecardrewards.com.

Take Advantage of Special Earnings or Points Offers

Once you’ve determined which credit card you’d like to use for back to school shopping for your student, research if that card provides special earnings or bonus points during the back to school shopping season. To find current information, you’ll want to check with your card issuer.

Through the ScoreMore program at Merchants Bank, you can earn bonus points year round with our Visa Scorecard Credit Card. If you have our ScoreCard Credit Card, you are automatically enrolled in ScoreMore and there are thousands of participating retailers to choose from. Simply active bonus points online at www.scorecardrewards.com, make your purchase at the participating retailor, and earn bonus points automatically. You can earn anywhere from double to quadruple or more the points on your purchases.

Be sure to do your homework before applying for or using a rewards credit card. For more information on Visa Credit Cards at Merchants Bank, visit our website.
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Credit cards are subject to credit approval
¹https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/after-splurging-2014-families-trim-back-school-spending-2015
²Every net retail dollar spent earns rewards points. Cash advances, finance charges and fees do not qualify for points.
³Points are rounded up or down based on the transaction amount. For example, a transaction of $150.52 would equal 151 points.

Cindy Adolph Receives Promotion to Lead Risk Initiative at Merchants Bank

Cindy Adolph

Cindy Adolph, Risk, Compliance and Audit Manager

Merchants Bank Vice President Cindy Adolph will take on new responsibilities to help Merchants analyze, report and manage risk, according to Merchants Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Sue Savat.

“Addressing and mitigating risk is one of the most important challenges facing banking today and in the coming years,” Savat said. “Cindy has been leading our efforts to date in this important field. Formalizing and focusing her energies will add an even sharper point to this significant area.”

Adolph will now be the Risk, Compliance and Audit Manager for the Merchants organization. In her new role, Adolph will be responsible for the leadership, innovation, governance and management necessary to identify, evaluate, mitigate and monitor all of the company’s risk components.

“It’s important for us to take the necessary steps to ensure we are aggressively addressing risk, so we can continue to keep our customer and bank information secure,” Adolph said. “Given technology, it’s a role that will continue to increase in importance.”

Adolph joined the Merchants organization in 2007 with the acquisition of The First National Bank in Cannon Falls, where she had been working since 2002. Prior to that, she worked for 21 years at Goodhue County National Bank.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Second Quarter Earnings Ahead of Plan

Rod Nelson, President/CEO

Rod Nelson, President/CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) posted earnings of $6,275,265 through the first half of 2015, more than $960,000 ahead of its plan, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc. President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson.

“It’s again been a team effort and a team accomplishment,” Nelson said. “Specifically, the performance was driven by good commercial loan volume, mortgage loans that exceeded our expectations and continued excellence in credit quality.”

Nelson noted that the banking industry continues to evolve, and the Merchants Bank organization is continuing to enhance what it offers, especially in the areas of bank security and e-channel delivery, to ensure customer expectations are being met.

“As I look forward to the remainder of the year, I am anticipating we will continue to meet and exceed our goals,” Nelson said.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875 and is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Merchants Capital, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Merchants Bank has more than 440 employees, many of whom give significant volunteer time to organizations in their communities. Additionally, during 2014, Merchants Bank made charitable donations to nearly 300 organizations. The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Pretzel Salad

BlogRecipeEmployeeFav-PretzelSalad

 

Sandy Kramer of Winona shares one of her favorite recipes. “I love this salad because it’s salty AND sweet. It is ALWAYS a hit when I take it to a potluck.”

 

Pretzel Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

 

Directions:

On a cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Stir and watch closely to prevent burning. Set aside and cool.

 

Mix together and chill:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
  • 20 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

 

Add the pretzel mixture just before serving.

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender Arlene Schwerzler Recognized in “Independent Banker” Magazine

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender Arlene Schwerzler has been recognized in the July issue of “Independent Banker” magazine as an outstanding community banker.

The magazine, a publication of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), recognized six community bankers from around the country.

“It’s important to me to work with my customers from the beginning of the process to the end, so they understand the advantages of being smart borrowers. I take pride in educating my customers. I want them to understand why good credit is important and how mortgage pre-approval can benefit them, among other things,” Schwerzler said. “The recognition in the magazine is nice, but it’s really just a bonus for doing what I really like to do.”

Schwerzler is the top mortgage producer for the Merchants organization in total number of loans, with more than 1,025 in the past three years. Schwerzler has been with Merchants for more than 17 years and has consistently been a top producer.

“Arlene is so good at what she does because she understands and can communicate the technical side of a mortgage and also helps people through the emotional side of the process,” said Sue Hovell, Schwerzler’s supervisor and a Senior Vice President at Merchants. “The real testament to her commitment to helping her customers is that most of her business comes from referrals.”

Larry Accola Appointed President at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Merchants Bank Eau Claire

Larry Accola, President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Larry Accola has been appointed President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire, according to Merchants Financial Group President and Chief Executive Officer Rod Nelson.

“We believe Larry is a great addition to our team in Eau Claire,” Nelson said. “He knows the market and the people of the region and is the perfect choice to help us continue to build our brand in the Chippewa Valley.”

Accola has more than 25 years of experience in the Eau Claire market, including more than 20 years at Royal Credit Union, where he served as the Senior Vice President of Business Loans and Services.

“Merchants Bank has a tremendous reputation as a community banking leader throughout southeastern Minnesota and west-central of Wisconsin. It is a perfect fit for the values and financial needs of the people and businesses in our area,” Accola said. “I look forward to sharing the Merchants’ story.”

Accola has a long history of community involvement, including the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation, Eau Claire Noon Kiwanis, Eau Claire County Industrial Development Agency, Eau Claire City Revolving Loan Fund, Eau Claire Near Equity Loan Fund, Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Eau Claire Downtown Business Improvement District.