Hurricanes and Halloween. Happy Weekend, Baltimore!

by Stacy Levin 26. October 2012

Hurricane Sandy Path

Source: National Weather Service National Hurricane Center

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, we have an angry storm headed our way. Invited or not, Hurricane Sandy is coming to a town near you. According to a recent report issued by WBAL TV-11, Hurricane Sandy’s path is making it a near certainty that it will make landfall anywhere between the Outer Banks and New England. If you know your geography, you’ve probably realized that Baltimore is pretty close to the direct center of that range. According to the article, BGE is preparing for what it expects to be hundreds of thousands of potential power outages.

Luckily, I’m confident that you all read my article from last summer, Heat, Storms and Power Outages: Were You Prepared? So everyone should be prepared as the lovely and talented Hurricane Sandy makes her way towards us.

If we simply MUST be put right smack in the middle of Hurricane Sandy’s path, depending on your thought process, she’s either coming at an awful time, or at a fantastic time. You might be thinking that Ms. Hurricane Sandy will ruin your Halloween in Baltimore! You had the perfect costume ready and were so excited to celebrate Halloween in Fells Point, take your children trick-or-treating in your Baltimore neighborhood and attend the 2012 Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival in Patterson Park.

I, however, say don't let Hurricane Sandy ruin your Halloween; instead, embrace her presence! If you are stuck in your house on Halloween, have some neighbors over and play some Halloween games. If your power goes out, that will only make the games more fun!

As far as your banking needs go, be sure you look into all of your different banking options ahead of time - from being aware of the nearest branches and ATMs to enrolling in Online Banking and Mobile Banking. Using Online or Mobile Banking, you can set up future-dated bill payments and transfers before the storm hits in case you lose your power and are unable to log in to your accounts after Hurricane Sandy hits. You never know where or for how long power outages will occur, so the more banking options you have, the less likely you will be inconvenienced. If you are planning on heading to one of our branches after the storm hits, be sure to first check our News and Updates page to check for any branch closures due to power outages.

Most importantly, make smart decisions and stay safe!

SpOOky Facts Credit Unions Don't Want You to Know

by Stacy Levin 24. October 2012

People have been complaining about the big banks for years now. When people get fed up and begin to look for other places to put their money, the same two choices are always suggested: a community bank, or a credit union.

So it’s great to know that there are other options, but with community banks and credit unions always being lumped together into one suggestion, it almost seems like they are interchangeable, when really, they are two quite different options. So how do you differentiate between the two?

Of course you know our vote…*coughcommunitybankcough*…but our choice isn’t completely biased. We know some spOOky facts about credit unions that we would like to share with you.

They might not let you in...or out.

Okay, fine…you are always free to leave a credit union, but you have to admit, that added a spooky twist to the heading! Credit unions are, however, selective about who they allow to join. You generally must meet a specific requirement in order to become a member. So maybe once you’re in, you will be reluctant to leave, even if you have a good reason.

They offer low credit card rates...but there's a catch.

Credit unions often advertise low credit card rates. What they don’t tell you is that with these great rates come not-so-great rewards programs. If you are working on paying off credit card debt, then a low interest rate may be all that matters to you. However, if you always pay your bill in full, the interest rate really shouldn’t matter, and your focus should be on what your credit card provider can do for you.

Fees are on the rise.

One of the biggest complaints about the big banks is their constant seemingly exponential increases in fees. Credit unions pride themselves in having lower fees than banks, but what they don’t tell you is their fees are on the rise as well. It is important to note that with both banks and credit unions, fees will never stay constant, for many reasons. Your safest bet for minimizing fees, wherever you put your money, is to make sure you have accounts that are right for you. This may require you to switch account types every so often. Switching to a credit union simply because their fees are lower right now is not a safe bet in the long run.

Your accounts are all tied together.

To protect themselves against risk, credit unions often have cross-collateralization clauses. What does this mean? Any item being financed or pledged as security will also secure any other debts you have or may have in the future with the credit union. For example, if you have both a credit card and a car loan through your credit union, your car will be used to not only secure your car loan, it will also be used to secure your credit card debt. Legally, credit unions must disclose this to you, but don’t expect to find this information on a flashing neon sign. It will likely be disclosed to you somewhere in fine print, so this cross-collateralization clause often comes as an unpleasant surprise to the people it affects.

Your deposits may be at risk.

Unlike banks, credit unions are not regulated by the FDIC. Less regulation means credit unions are able to use your deposits more freely and take more risks than banks. The majority of credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration, but this is not a requirement for state-chartered credit unions. Before throwing all your money into a credit union, make sure your deposits will be insured, and check the insurance limits.

You won't get as many bells and whistles.

In general, when it comes to account features, credit union accounts give you the bare minimum. Simple. Boring. Raise your hand if this was you five years ago: “Internet? On my PHONE? I don’t need all that, I just want a simple, practical phone that allows me to make simple phone calls.” Now, if you are like most people, you look back and laugh at your old credo. You may be thinking along those same lines when it comes to your bank account. You don’t need any fancy additions - you just simply want a safe place to put your money. But why settle for that when you could get more features and benefits out of your accounts?

No matter where you put your money, it is important that you research the facts of the financial institution, and compare these facts with your current financial situation. The right financial institution for your neighbor might not be the right one for you.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

One Size Fits for Life: Is Your Business in the Right Checking Account?

Top Three Myths About Online Banking Revealed

True or False? Five Myths About Credit Scores Unveiled

Flacco Fridays Continues

by Stacy Levin 24. October 2012

Flacco Fridays

 

***This Contest is Now Closed***

 

We have completed our first five weeks of Flacco Fridays, and your level of participation has been extraordinary! In order to keep you on your toes, 1st Mariner Bank and Team Flacco have decided to introduce a brand new series of weekly contests that will take place over the next few weeks. This contest series will put your attention to detail to the test!

How will it work?
  • Each Monday at 10:00 a.m., two pictures of Joe Flacco will be posted on 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook wall.
  • Participants must find the five differences between the two photos, then send 1st Mariner Bank a private, direct message on Facebook describing the five differences.
  • The fifth person to accurately describe the five differences wins!
When can I enter?
  • The pictures of Joe will be posted on 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook page each Monday at 10:00 a.m. You may begin submitting your entries then. The first contest will begin on Monday, October 29th at 10:00 a.m.
  • Participants will have until each Wednesday of that week at 11:59 p.m. to enter. (But remember, you must be the fifth person to correctly identify the five differences to win!)
  • The winner will be announced on 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook page before 5:00 p.m. on each Friday that the contest runs.
What can I win?

Each week, the fifth person to correctly identify the five differences between the pictures via a direct message to 1st Mariner Bank on Facebook will win a piece of autographed Joe Flacco merchandise!

Click here to read the full terms and conditions.

Tip: If you “like” Joe Flacco’s and 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook pages, you will get news feed alerts detailing information about each week’s contest over the course of the football season.

Good luck!



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