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    Financial Terms: What is APR?

    Last updated 2 months ago

    The annual percentage rate, or APR, is the total fees associated with a credit card or loan expressed as an interest rate. Looking at the APR allows you to compare and evaluate different loans in a consistent fashion. When shopping for a car loan or mortgage, pay close attention to the APR as well as the interest rate. Watch this video to learn more about APR and what it means for you. 

    As a not-for-profit credit union, NSWC Federal Credit Union passes the profits onto our members, which oftentimes means lower fees and interest rates on car loans, mortgages, and credit cards. Visit our website to check our current rates, or call us toll-free at (877) 274-2805 to speak with one of our associates about your banking needs.  

    Avoiding Mistakes when Buying a Car

    Last updated 3 months ago

    There are a lot of pitfalls to avoid when buying a new car, especially if you want to save money on your purchase. Even a small misstep can end up costing you thousands of dollars over the life of your car loan. Even if you’ve done your homework and know all of the latest bargaining tactics, there are still plenty of mistakes that can end up costing you money.

    In order to avoid these mistakes be sure to do the following:

    Check Your Credit Score

    Your credit score is one of the largest determining factors used by lenders to set your rates and the terms of your loan. Even minor errors on your credit report can have negative consequences on your overall credit rating, which is why you should carefully inspect your report for any mistakes before applying for a loan. It only takes a few minutes, but it can potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

    Get Pre-Approved for an Auto Loan before you go shopping

    The facts show, getting an auto loan at zero percent is very difficult; very few auto buyers actually qualify. Most of these financing plans require a minimum credit score of 750 and apply only to certain cars at the dealership, not the entire stock. Zero percent loans also typically offer shorter terms, 36 months instead of 60, which means the monthly payment will be significantly higher and out of the price range of the average, American.  In many cases, qualifying for zero percent also means forgoing any manufacturer rebates that may have been associated with the sale.  Make sure you get your Pre-Approval Letter from NSWC Federal Credit Union before you go shopping for your new vehicle.

    Qualification aside, is zero-percent financing a good deal? Let’s look at a comparison between a zero percent loan with the dealership and a 1.74% auto loan with NSWC Federal Credit Union. At the dealer you would be financing the purchase price of $25,000. With a manufacturer rebate of $2,000 you would be financing $23,000 at the credit union. Even though you are paying a low interest rate at the credit union, by taking the rebate instead of the Zero-percent financing you are saving $968.33. In most cases zero percent really is not as great as it appears.

    A guiding principle of the credit union movement is to make affordable car loans available to members. NSWC Federal Credit Union adheres to this principle by offering simple interest car loans with no hidden fees or charges. To learn about joining our credit union and applying for an automotive loan, call us toll-free at (877) 274-2805. 

    Smart Strategies for Establishing Good Credit Using Your Credit Card

    Last updated 3 months ago

    A credit card is a powerful financial tool. Unfortunately, credit cards can also lead to crushing debt when not used correctly. If you want to have a decent credit score in the future, you need to start by establishing credit today. To make sure that you don’t end up with a mountain of debt over your head in the process, here are some smart strategies for establishing good credit using your credit card. 

    Live Within Your Means

    Once you get your hands on a credit card, sit down and come up with a realistic monthly budget. Factor in all of your bills and regular expenses to determine where your money goes each month. Living within this budget will help you avoid using a credit card for purchases you couldn’t afford otherwise.

    Use Credit Card for Budgeted Purchases

    Once your budget is set, look for opportunities to use your credit card instead of cash, such as filling up gas each week or purchasing groceries. Move the cash that would have been spent on these budgeted purchases into a savings account and pay off the credit card purchases at the end of the month to start building good credit. Just don’t be tempted to spend the extra cash on hand somewhere else, which is essentially the same as using the credit card for frivolous, unbudgeted purchases.

    If you want to establish good credit, start with an NSWC Federal Credit Union Credit Card. Some key benefits of our card over other major credit cards are no annual fees, no over limit fees, no default rates, no fees for balance transfers or cash advances, and low minimum payments. Call us today at (877) 874-2805 to learn about joining our credit union and applying for a credit card. 

    What is ATM Card Skimming and Pin Capturing?

    Last updated 4 months ago

    Facts on ATM skimming:

    ·         Criminals tend to attach skimming devices late at night.

    ·         Skimming devices are usually attached for only a few hours.

    ·         Criminals may install equipment on at least two regions of an ATM to steal both the ATM card data and the PIN.

    ·         Criminals may sit nearby to receive the information transmitted wirelessly via the devices installed on the ATM.

    By being vigilant you can help reduce the risk of a skimming attack!

    ATM Card Skimming is a method used by thieves to capture data from the magnetic strip on the back of your ATM Card.  When used in tandem with wireless micro camera technology that records or transmits video of you entering your PIN number at the machine, skimming becomes a very effective way for thieves to steal money from your account.

    Smaller than a deck of cards, a card skimming device is fastened over the top of an ATM’s factory installed card reader.  When you slide your card into the ATM, you are also unsuspectingly sliding it through the counterfeit reader, which is scanning the data on the card’s magnetic strip and storing it for retrieval by the thieves later.

    PIN Capturing refers to a method of strategically attaching a device to the ATM to record you as you enter your PIN.  There are two devices usually used by thieves to capture the user PIN.   Wireless micro cameras strategically attached to the ATM will video the keypad as you enter the PIN.  These cameras will be positioned to get a clear view of the key pad.  Another device for capturing PIN information is the use of a fake keypad that fits over the ATM’s real keypad.  Keypad overlay devices can fit tightly over the real keypad and may even allow your key press to transmit though the device to the ATM’s keypad, allowing the machine to work normally.

    So what should you do to avoid possible skimming theft?  Always cover the hand entering the PIN number with your other hand or wallet.  In addition, pay attention to any objects or items mounted on or near the ATM.  Card scanners or card slots that protrude from the machine, do not seem to fit well on the machine, or are made with plastic that is not the same color as the rest of the machine could potentially be skimming devices.  The same would apply to keypads on ATM machines.  If the keypad protrudes from the machine, or is made with plastic that doesn’t match the rest of the machine, it could be fake.  Finally, look for small pin holes in pieces of plastic.  These could be a give away to the camera’s hiding place.  Remember the camera would need a clear view of the keypad so look for anything that seems to be obviously placed facing the keypad itself.

    If you find any of these warning signs of potential skimming, don’t proceed with the transaction.  Call the owner of the machine and inform them that the machine looks like it could have been tampered with or altered.  If you do use a machine and later think it could have been tampered with, call the credit union and we’ll cancel your card.  Remember, at NSWC we can reissue your card at our Southpoint branch instantly during regular office hours.

    Traveling Overseas? Do it Right!

    Last updated 4 months ago

    Before you travel out of the country, here are some tips for handling funds abroad.

    Before you leave:

    If you plan to use your VISA debit or credit card, check the expiration date before you leave. Cards expire on the last day of the month indicated. If your card will expire while you're away, call the credit union and ask for a replacement card early so you'll receive it before you leave. Your new card may require activation by calling an 800 number; a debit card may require an ATM transaction, or both. These must be done while you're still in the U.S.

    Carry enough foreign currency in cash to get you out of the airport. Airport exchange rates are high.

    Create a list of the contents of your wallet: debit, ATM, and credit card numbers, and anything else you might need to replace if your wallet is lost or stolen. Include the overseas lost/stolen numbers. Toll-free 800 numbers are not accessible from overseas.  Should you encounter any problems after hours with your Visa Check Card while you are away, please contact our representatives at 1.800.262.2042 from within the United States, or 973.682.2652 (Collect) from outside of the United States.  Make sure you update all of your phone numbers NSWC Federal Credit Union before you travel.  If any issues arise, we must be able to contact you.  You can reach NSWC Federal Credit Union at 540.663.2181 or 540.373.5127.

    If you're relying on an ATM card for cash withdrawals while traveling, it must be connected to your checking account. Foreign ATMs cannot access your savings account.

    While You're Traveling:

    Have a variety of payment methods available, such as credit cards, debit card, local currency, and travelers checks, so that something unforeseen, such as an ATM attendant strike or a network interruption, doesn't leave you in a pinch.

    Contact your financial institution to see if your credit or debit card needs to be activated for foreign use.

    Take advantage of local ATMs - they withdraw from your checking account and dispense funds in local currency. A small exchange fee may apply, but it is usually less than at a bank.

    Most ATMs offer a choice of languages; the British flag is used to represent English.

    Keep your list of plastic card numbers and their lost/stolen reporting numbers in a separate location from the cards. Don't photocopy your cards; this could give thieves all the information they need to transact on your account.

    With a little planning and forethought, you can save your vacation from becoming a nightmare.

    Have a safe and happy trip!

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