No matter how you slice the proverbial expense pie chart, the cost of living is high and getting higher during these tough economic times. The prices of everyday necessities like groceries, gas, and clothing are on the rise. Comfortably buying a new home has become a challenge for many hard-working Americans. Due to tight budgets, luxuries like entertainment and vacations have been scaled down. And, in this cost vs. revenue balancing act, consumers struggle to retain any semblance of a savings for peace of mind, retirement, or the occasional emergency such as home/auto repairs or unforeseen medical expenses. While this seems like a grim state of affairs, credit unions are doing all they can to help members free up a slice of that money pie, and that includes offering members an affordable credit card.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of September 15, 2011, the gasoline index rose for the 12th time in the last 14 months and led to a 1.2 percent increase in the energy index, while the food index rose 0.5 percent, its largest increase since March. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in August, the same increase as the previous month. Shelter and apparel were the biggest contributors, though the indexes for most of its major components posted increases, including used cars and trucks, medical care, household furnishings and operations, recreation, tobacco, and personal care. With increases like this, it's no wonder consumers' expenses have gone up. In today's culture and economy, one would be hard pressed to find an American without at least a single credit card in their wallet. For credit union members, making that primary credit card the one offered by their credit union, would be a wise financial choice.
In order to help members manage their monthly expenses, many credit unions not only offer a superior everyday interest rate on their credit card, but are also offering promotional introductory rates. According to Emily Friesen, VP of Marketing at Eagle Community Credit Union (Lake Forest, CA), her credit union is helping members "get their debt back on target" by transferring balances to an Eagle Visa at 2.9% APR. Members can take advantage of this special rate on balances transferred through October 31st and the rate will remain in effect through their August 2012 billing cycle. Eagle members can also "fill up on FREE," explains Friesen. When they purchase gas and groceries with their Eagle Visa this September & October, they get 0% APR. Those balances will stay at 0% APR until they are paid off. Like Eagle, other credit unions are offering similar promotional credit card offers. According to Chris Siever, Marketing Director at SIU Credit Union (Carbondale, IL), his credit union offers a Visa Platinum and Platinum Plus Rewards card both with special introductory rates on balance transfer and purchases. Each card boasts a 6-month Introductory Rate of 1.9% APR for Purchases as well as a 6-month 3.9% Introductory Rate for Balance Transfers. Siever explains that the Platinum card is a good option for members who carry a balance each month while the Platinum Plus is ideal for those carrying little to no balance each month who want to enjoy the benefits a rewards card provides. SIU Platinum cardholders benefit from:
And those with Platinum Plus, in addition to the above benefits, also earn Scoreboard Points toward great merchandise, travel, and unique experience rewards.
In addition to special offers, Eagle offers the Credit Builder Visa which is designed for adult members who don't qualify for a traditional Visa credit card and Young adults who want to responsibly build credit. The concept behind this fixed rate card is for the member to deposit 110% of their credit limit in a special savings account to secure the credit line. They then use the card responsibly and watch their credit score increase. Eagle also offers their Platinum Visa Credit Card with a low, fixed rate, no balance transfer fees, no annual fee, and no over-limit fee. "A fixed rate credit card is an endangered species," says Friesen. "In a time of economic uncertainty, offering a low, fixed rate card without fees is one way we can help ease members' financial stress. There is such a thing as responsible lending, and this is it--giving members something they can count on to be the same each month." Likewise, SIU's Visas offer everyday low fixed rates as well. "Once the 6-month period is over, our cards still offer rates as low as 7.9% APR on Platinum and 8.9% on Platinum Plus," says Siever. So if you are a credit union member looking to better manage expenses and make your monthly pie go a little further, start using that Credit Union Visa in your wallet. If you don't have one, apply today and take advantage of the special offers your credit union may be running.By Cyndi Cohen