Attend our Holiday Open Houses

holidayopenhouses-blog

Join our staff at these great events throughout December. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

11/28-12/17 Swipe Out Hunger
Vote for your local food shelf on our Facebook page to help them win a top donation of $5,000.
12/1-12/10 “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive

See how you can support local food shelves through the “10 Days of Giving” at participating Merchants Bank locations.

12/2 Caledonia Holiday Open House
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Caledonia
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.
12/2 Caledonia Winter Wonderland Parade
7:00 p.m.Please join us on Main Street in Downtown Caledonia.
12/2, 12/9, 12/16, 12/23 Cottage Grove Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.
12/3 Goodview Holiday Lighted Parade
5:30 p.m.
6th Street in Goodview
12/8 Hastings Holiday Open House
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in HastingsPlease join us for a light lunch and refreshments in our bank lobby. You may also bring food or monetary donations for the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive.
12/9 Lanesboro Holiday Open House
Until 3:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in LanesboroPlease join us for cookies and refreshments in the bank lobby.
12/9 Rushford Holiday Open House
Until 3:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rushford
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in the bank lobby.
12/9 Spring Grove Holiday Open House
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Spring Grove
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Santa will be available for pictures between 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
12/10 Rushford Holiday Parade of Lights
7:00 p.m.Join us for the Parade of Lights in Downtown Rushford.
12/12-12/16 Rosemount Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rosemount
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.
12/12-12/16 Winona Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Winona-DowntownPlease join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Live music will be performed throughout the day by area schools. Click here for a full schedule of musical performances.
12/15-12/16 La Crescent Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in La Crescent
Please join us for cookies, coffee and holiday spirit in our bank lobby.
12/16 Cannon Falls Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls
Please join us for live music, cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Click here for a full schedule of musical performances.
12/16 Eau Claire Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Eau ClairePlease join us to take a tour of our new branch expansion. We will be serving cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 
12/16 St. Charles holiday Open House
10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in St. Charles
Please join us for refreshments in our bank lobby. 
12/19 Red Wing Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Red Wing
Please join us for live music, cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 

  • 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. – John Anderson, Becky Clark and Shelly Schroeder
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. – Bells of the Bluffs – BoBLiTe bell choir
12/19-12/23 Onalaska Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in OnalaskaPlease join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 
12/19-12/23 Rochester Green Meadows Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rochester – Green MeadowsPlease join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.
12/19-12/23 Rochester Northwest Plaza Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rochester – Northwest PlazaPlease join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 
12/23 Hampton Holiday Open House
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in HamptonPlease join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Piano music will be performed 2:00-4:00 p.m. by Elizabeth Schriever.

Debit Card Customers have been Reissued EMV Chip Cards

emvcards-blog

All current Merchants Bank MasterCard Debit Cards have been reissued as EMV Chip MasterCard Debit Cards. Cards were mailed the last week of October and first week of November. You are encouraged to activate and use your new card(s) by the end of November. All existing (non-chip debit cards) will be deactivated as of December 1.

Why the change to chip technology? With this change, you’ll be able to take advantage of the security features of EMV chip technology, which can help prevent fraudulent transactions.

What is an EMV chip card?
The term “EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the original developers of chip cards. These cards increase the security of in-person transactions by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

Is paying with a chip card different from paying with my other cards?
Yes, making a payment with a chip card is slightly different than the card transactions you are used to. Instead of swiping your card at the register, you’ll simply follow these instructions:

Step 1: Insert the chip end of your card into the terminal with the chip facing up.

emvstep1

Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

emvstep2

Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

emvstep3

Do all stores accept EMV chip cards?
Not yet, but the trend is growing. You can still make a purchase at a store that does not yet accept chip cards by simply swiping to pay.

What happens if I swipe my EMV chip card instead of inserting it into the register?
The terminal will display a message asking you to insert your card instead.

If I don’t have a Merchants Bank Debit Card, how can I request a debit card with chip technology?
Just send us an email to let us know you’re interested. If you’d like to learn more about EMV chip technology, contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank.

If you are a business and would like to accept EMV cards, contact our Credit Card department.

What You Need to Know: Same Day ACH

samedayach-blog

A new ruling by the association that governs electronic payments (NACHA) will require all financial institutions to accept and process certain transactions, called ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments, from businesses same-day. This service is also referred to as Same Day ACH.

While there are many components to Same Day ACH, let’s start with the basics.

What is Same Day ACH?
Same Day ACH is an optional payment method for businesses where payments sent “today” may be received and credited “today.” These payments:

  • Can be sent to any bank account in the United States, including personal accounts.
  • Cannot equal more than $25,000 per transaction.
  • Only include credits.

The Same Day ACH ruling was effective September 23, 2016.

How does Same Day ACH affect my business?
You may also notice Same Day ACH payments may be credited to your accounts more quickly, increasing your funds availability and cash flow opportunities. Plus, payments and payment-related information may flow more rapidly from bank to bank.

In addition to these benefits, Same Day ACH could also impact:

  • Your accounting system
  • Intra-day settlement
  • Trading partner agreements

It’s important to review and prepare these areas of your business for the upcoming Same Day ACH changes.

If your business would like more information on Same Day ACH, contact one of our Cash Management Specialists.

EMV Chip Debit Cards Coming Soon

emvcards-blog

All current Merchants Bank MasterCard Debit Cards will be replaced with an EMV Chip MasterCard Debit Card with an anticipated rollout of November. With this change, you’ll be able to take advantage of the security features of EMV chip technology, which can help prevent fraudulent transactions.

What is an EMV chip card?
The term “EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the original developers of chip cards. These cards increase the security of in-person transactions by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

Is paying with a chip card different from paying with my other cards?
Yes, making a payment with a chip card is slightly different than the card transactions you are used to. Instead of swiping your card at the register, you’ll simply follow these instructions:

Step 1: Insert the chip end of your card into the terminal with the chip facing up.

emvstep1

Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

emvstep2

Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

emvstep3

Do all stores accept EMV chip cards?
Not yet, but the trend is growing. You can still make a purchase at a store that does not yet accept chip cards by simply swiping to pay.

What happens if I swipe my EMV chip card instead of inserting it into the register?
The terminal will display a message asking you to insert your card instead.

If I don’t have a Merchants Bank Debit Card, how can I request a debit card with chip technology?
Just send us an email to let us know you’re interested. If you’d like to learn more about EMV chip technology, contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank.

If you are a business and would like to accept EMV cards, contact our Credit Card department.

Meet Sarah Danielson, Commercial Banker and Cash Management Specialist

Sarah Danielson, Commercial Banker

Get to know more about Sarah Danielson and how she approaches working with businesses every day.

When did you start your banking career?
Sarah: I started working as a Teller in 1994. At the time, I worked mostly with commercial customers and really enjoyed learning about that side of banking. When I had the chance to apply for a job in the Loan Review area, I took it. In Loan Review, I spent my time analyzing business financials and while I really enjoyed it, I missed being in front of people. Ultimately, I knew the best path would be to become a Commercial Banker so I could use all of my knowledge and interact with customers again.

What do you like most about your job?
Sarah: I enjoy being there for my customers through the ups and downs of their businesses. Owning a business isn’t always easy – I know first hand – and I can relate to what it’s like for my business customers day in and day out. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. It’s so encouraging to see people believe in themselves and have the courage to take the next step in establishing or running their business.

Share your top business/commercial banking tip.
Sarah: The secret to success is having a full understanding of what you’re doing. You might wonder how that’s possible. Start by surrounding yourself with a team of trusted experts, like a lawyer, accountant and a banker, just to name a few.

What do you hope your customers say about working with you?
Sarah: I hope they see me as a trusted partner…someone who has knowledge to share, but also looks out for their best interests.

Can you help businesses assess which business banking options would be most beneficial? How does this process work?
Sarah: Definitely. It’s as simple as sitting down and taking the time to listen to a customer. I try to uncover their true needs and pair that with my knowledge from being in such a wide variety of banking positions helps me make the best recommendation(s).

What does community banking mean to you?
Sarah: It’s gratifying to be part of a banking team where employees are so dedicated to improving the community professionally, through their work helping businesses grow, and personally, through volunteer and service work. I believe in community and community banking.

What are some of the biggest benefits to a business to working with a Merchants Bank Commercial Banker?
Sarah: I think we’re different because our team is interested helping businesses with their entire banking experience, from loans to deposits and cash management tools. I’m not just your lender. I want to be your banker and someone who provides the best guidance about your financial picture.

Should You Choose a HELOC or Second Mortgage?

HELOC-Blog

If you’re planning for a large purchase, such as a home renovation, new car or college tuition, you might be considering using the equity in your home as a funding source. But how do you decide between a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or Second Mortgage? In addition to learning about the different terms, payment options and other variables, ask yourself these three important questions:

Fixed rate or variable rate: What’s your preference?
Some people prefer the stability of a fixed rate, which is available through a Second Mortgage, while a HELOC rate is variable. Your comfort level with a variable rate loan may push you toward one option or the other.

How are you planning to use the funds?
Since a HELOC or Second Mortgage can be used for a variety of purposes, it may seem hard to choose between the two. However, start by considering why you need the additional cash. In some cases, you might have very specific plans. For example, you know that you need $8,000 for your daughter’s wedding in June or $6,000 to purchase and install a new furnace.

When you have a specific dollar amount in mind, a Second Mortgage might make the most sense, especially if you aren’t planning to borrow again. If you need access to funds off and on over a longer timeframe and are unsure of the total cost, a HELOC may be the better choice. For example, if you have a home improvement project in the works or plan on payment for tuition over multiple years.

How would you describe your money management skills?
In addition to how you will use the money, it’s important to consider your own personal money management habits. For a simple comparison, think about how you might use a credit card.

Do you have a tendency to over-extend yourself financially when you have access to credit? If having an open-ended line of credit – like a credit card – and it makes it difficult for you to stay within your budget, a Second Mortgage could be the better option. With a Second Mortgage, you have a set payment schedule and repayment amount. This option provides more structure for those money managers who need, or prefer, it.

However, if you manage the outstanding balance on your credit card with discipline – by making regular payments and not carrying a large balance – a HELOC could be a reasonable option for you. With a HELOC, your monthly payment amount is based on your outstanding balance, so it changes as you use the line. A HELOC provides a lot of flexibility. For disciplined money managers, a Home Equity Line of Credit may be the right answer.

Our Personal Banking experts can also help you determine which type of loan is best for your situation. To get started, find your local Merchants Bank branch or apply online now:

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Prevent Fraudulent Charges to Your Business

Merchants Bank's Positive Pay

The 2015 True Cost of Fraud survey by Lexus Nexus estimates that every $100 of fraud actually costs businesses $223.* So how can you prevent fraud from costing your business its reputation and money? Use a service like Merchants Bank’s Positive Pay to detect fraud on a daily basis.

What is Positive Pay?
Positive Pay is a service that helps you detect fraudulent checks that are presented on your account. Only checks that match a pre-approved list, which you provide to the bank, are automatically paid. All other checks presented for payment must receive authorization or may be rejected by you.

How does it work?
Each day, you provide the bank with an electronic inventory of the checks you have issued. When the checks presented on your account each day are processed, Positive Pay matches your account number, check number and dollar amount of each check presented for payment against a list of checks previously authorized and issued by your business. 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”. The business reviews the image and can instruct the bank to pay or return the check.

Why should my business use it?
With Positive Pay, you can essentially eliminate the possibility of fraudulent checks 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 Positive Pay.

How can I start using Positive Pay?
Contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.

*http://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/insights/true-cost-fraud-infographic.aspx