Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards – What’s the Difference?

There’s a popular TV commercial that ends with the line, “What’s in your wallet?” Of course, the ad is referring to the credit card it’s promoting.difference-between-credit-cards-vs-debit-cards

But for many consumers, what’s in their wallets is usually a mix of credit cards and debit cards. So, how do they pick which one to use? Is there really any difference between a credit card and a debit card? You bet there is.

To get a better understanding of how the cards differ, here’s a glimpse at some of the benefits associated with using credit cards:

And using a debit card has its advantages as well:

  • Debit cards can help keep you out of debt. That’s because the cards are linked directly to your bank account, unlike a credit card where you’re essentially borrowing the money. So, as long as you keep a close eye on how much money you have in your bank account to avoid accidental overdrafts, you’ll only spend the money you have and avoid costly fees. With a credit card, it’s easy to rack up interest fees on the money you’re borrowing, unless you pay back the full card balance each month. Paying with a debit card can also help you avoid other common credit card charges like late payment fees and annual fees.
  • With a debit card, you don’t have to worry about paying yet another monthly bill. But be sure to always keep an eye on your account activity and statements. Doing so will help you to spot any suspicious charges early on, and can also prevent you from overdrawing your account. Reviewing your bank account activity is easier than ever now that most banks offer online banking and mobile banking to their customers.
  • While debit card rewards programs can be hard to find, they are out there. Luckily, Bank5 Connect has a debit card rewards program called UChoose Rewards®. Bank5 Connect debit card holders earn 1 point for every $2 spent on signature-based, online, or PIN-less transactions made with their cards.

Ultimately, which card you choose will depend on your personal financial picture, as well as the kind of purchase you’re making. Knowing how your credit and debit cards differ is the first step in selecting the one that’s right for you!

Making the Switch to a Mobile Wallet

There you are, impressed with yourself for getting the rest of your holiday shopping done in just a couple of hours. You make your way to the checkout aisle and hand over your items.AdobeStock_112895088

While the salesperson is ringing everything up, you dig into your purse or pocket for your wallet…but wait, where is it? Now you’re frantically rummaging while customers wait impatiently behind you. It’s then that you realize you pulled it out at the drive-thru to pay for a coffee and left it behind in your car. So much for being done with your holiday shopping.

In the event of a missing wallet, wouldn’t it be great if you could whip out your smartphone, or flash your smartwatch and somehow use it to pay for your goods? Well guess what – you can! Meet the “mobile wallet”.

A mobile wallet is a virtual wallet that stores credit and debit card information on a mobile device. And, it encrypts that information so it can’t be easily accessed if your device falls into the wrong hands.

The most widely used mobile wallets right now are Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. Some mobile devices come pre-loaded with a mobile wallet, and if your device doesn’t have one you can download a mobile wallet from your phone’s app store. First though, you’ll need to see whether your debit and credit cards are compatible with the mobile wallet. Bank5 Connect debit cards support Apple Pay, and a full list of Apple Pay-friendly banks can be found at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204916As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. If you’re looking to see which banks support Samsung Pay, visit https://www.samsung.com/us/samsung-pay/compatible-cards/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. A list of Android Pay participating banks can be found at https://www.android.com/pay/participating-banks/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!.

Retailers around the world are plugging into the mobile wallet culture. Millions of business now accept mobile wallet payments at their brick-and-mortar locations, and many of those retailers allow you to use your mobile wallet for online purchases as well.

Just don’t confuse the term “mobile wallet” with “digital wallet”. While they are both very similar, they do have some key differences. Think of a mobile wallet as a credit or debit card that lives on your mobile device. If you’re purchasing something in a store, you physically take out your phone and hold it near the terminal at the checkout counter. If you’re shopping online, you can activate your mobile wallet on participating websites and use it to make your purchase.

A digital wallet on the other hand, is typically only used for online shopping. Examples of digital wallets include PayPal and Visa Checkout. When you sign up for a digital wallet service, you link your account to a debit or credit card. Like a mobile wallet, your card information is encrypted for security purposes. A digital wallet can also house your shipping information, so you can make online purchases quickly and easily, without having to enter all of your personal details on the website.

If getting through the checkout aisle a little faster sounds good to you, consider a mobile wallet. Just don’t forget to keep your device charged. A dead battery at the checkout counter is no more helpful than leaving your wallet in the car!

Stay Vigilant While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

Holiday shopping sure isn’t what it used to be. People are turning away from the craziness of the mall, and are instead using their smart phones, laptops and tablets to buy their gifts.holiday-online-shopping-safety

If you’re ditching the usual shopping experience for the less-stressful digital one, you’ll be in good company. Millions of people are expected to head online this year for their gift-giving needs.

But while online shopping provides greater freedom and convenience, it can come with some risks. Cyber criminals are prowling the internet – especially during the holiday season – looking to steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting shoppers. But the good news is that you can keep yourself and your wallet safe by staying on high alert. So, while working your way down your gift list this year, here are some online security tips to consider:

Stay away from sketchy sites. Whenever possible, do your shopping on popular, well-known websites. If you are tempted to buy from an unfamiliar site, be sure to do your research first. Google the name of the company to see if there are any scam alerts, or bad reviews out there. You would never give your credit card information to some creepy stranger on the street, would you? That’s really no different than giving it to some website you know nothing about.

Be wary of any deals that sound too good to be true. Say you’re surfing around and you find a price for an item that’s unbelievable. Chances are that it’s bogus. That’s one of the ways crooks lure in unsuspecting buyers to their sites. Once there, they have ways to con you out of sensitive banking and credit card information.

Be on the lookout for “imposter” sites. Even if you’re looking to buy from a website with a great reputation, or one that you’ve purchased from multiple times, you still need to have your guard up. Online scammers have been known to create fake, bogus sites that mirror the ones you know and trust. So, be sure to double-check the address bar of your favorite online store before entering your sensitive information. If you’re looking to buy on BestBuy.com, but you notice that the URL reads “bestbuy.shoppingstore.net”, then you’re not really on BestBuy.com, you’re on a site called “ShoppingStore.net” that is posing as BestBuy.

Only shop on secure sites. Before typing in your credit card or personal information online, it’s extremely important to verify that your connection to the website is secure. If the connection is not secure, it means the data you enter will not be encrypted, and can be easily accessed by cyber crooks. You can tell whether you are on a secure, encrypted connection by checking the URL in your browser’s address bar. If the URL begins with “https”, and there is an icon of a lock to the left of the URL, it means the connection is secure.

Don’t shop using free Wi-Fi.  Free, public Wi-Fi connections typically don’t have the best safeguards in place to protect you, such as firewalls and encryption technology. The same goes for public computers – they’re usually just as unsafe. If you’re out and about using public Wi-Fi or a shared device, wait until you get home to do your online shopping.

Know your apps. Only use trustworthy apps when mobile shopping. More and more people are turning to their smartphones to shop, and if you’re one of them, use apps provided directly by a retailer. Just as there are many bogus websites out there, there are just as many phony apps waiting to take advantage of you.

Keep up with updates. Make sure your devices have the latest versions of security software installed. And be sure to use the most recent version of your operating system and web browser. This will help ensure that you are properly defended against any newly identified viruses or malware.

Monitor your accounts. You should check your banking and credit card accounts on a regular basis, at least once a week if possible. If you come across any suspicious activity or unauthorized purchases, report them immediately to your bank or credit card issuer.

Most importantly, don’t let your guard down while shopping online. Being on the lookout for anything suspicious will go a long way to keeping your sensitive information safe. Stay vigilant, and don’t let your holiday be ruined by cyber crooks!

 

How to Make Saving Fun

Spending money can be a lot of fun. Shopping sprees, luxury vacations, delicious restaurant dinners – what’s not to like? Saving money, on the other hand, can sometimes feel like a chore. You typically do it because you have to, not because you want to.how-to-make-saving-fun

But, that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s possible to fill up your piggy bank while having fun at the same time. Let’s take a look at some ideas to help you look forward to saving money, instead of dreading it:

  • Instead of spending money on family outings to the movies or the mall, look for free activities close to home. They’re out there, you just need to track them down. Check out Facebook or your local newspaper to see what fun things are happening in your neighborhood. Or try a Google search on “free things to do in YOUR TOWN HERE”.
  • If you’re trying to save, but still need a night out on the town, take advantage of happy hours. You can get great discounts on food and drink if you time it right.
  • If you’re trying to inspire your child to get into the savings habit, you can offer an extra incentive by rewarding them when they reach certain saving milestones. For example, they could work toward saving enough money to get their favorite dessert or dinner, permission to stay up late one night, or the opportunity to invite a friend over.
  • Challenge yourself and your family members to see who can save the most money in a week. Whether you save $5, $10, $20, or more, throw down the gauntlet and see who can win!
  • Go second-hand shopping. Whether it’s at a garage sale or a second-hand store, you’ll be surprised at all the bargains you can find at a fraction of their initial cost. Even if you don’t have money to buy, browsing can be just as much fun.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities at venues such as festivals and concerts. You could be a ticket-taker or work at a food stand. And chances are you’ll be able to attend the event for free!

Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

Is your below-average credit score keeping you up at night? No one wants to be denied a mortgage or loan, or face higher interest rates because of a poor credit score. But if you do have a low credit score, the good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. Fortunately there are changes you can begin making to your financial lifestyle that can have a significant positive impact on your score.AdobeStock_93575617

To start, it’s good to know exactly which credit score tier you fall into. Generally speaking, “Excellent” credit is defined as any score at or above 750. A “Good” credit score is one that falls between 700 and 749. If your credit score falls between 650 and 699, you have a “Fair” credit rating. “Poor” credit would be a score that lies between 600 and 649. And “Bad” credit is any score below 600.

If you don’t know your credit score, there are few different ways you can find out. One potential way is to check your credit card or loan statement. Many major credit card and loan companies have started to provide credit scores to their customers on a monthly basis. If your credit card or loan provider offers this service, your score is typically listed on your monthly statement, or can be accessed by logging into your account online.

Your credit score can also be purchased directly from the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, or Transunion – or you can obtain your FICO credit score through www.myfico.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!.

Another way is to utilize a free credit score service like Credit KarmaAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. Before signing up for these types of services however, be sure to read any fine print associated with the offer. And be aware of “free” sites that require you to enter your credit card information. Many times, you’ll need to cancel the service within a specified period of time in order to avoid charges on your credit card.

Once you’ve determined your credit score, and your credit tier, it’s time to check your credit reports. The law allows you can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies every year. You can order these free reports from a central website – www.annualreport.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect. Come back soon!. Or you can call 1-877-322-8228 for your report. There is also a request formAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon! that you can download, fill out, and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Once you have your reports, look for any errors such as incorrect records of what you owe on your accounts, or late payments that never occurred. When verifying information in your credit reports, keep in mind that each of the three major credit reporting agencies operate separately from one another. So, if you find an error on one agency’s report, you’ll need to check to see if that error also exists on the other reports. Any errors you find should be disputed directly with the credit reporting bureau that produced the report. If the same error appears on multiple reports, you’ll need to dispute each one individually with the different credit bureaus.

Once you have a handle on your credit reports, consider these tips for improving your credit score:

  • Pay down balances on your accounts. Eliminating or reducing your balances has the greatest impact on your credit score, according to financial experts. That’s because credit utilization – which is the amount you can borrow versus the amount of debt you’re carrying – accounts for 30 percent of your score. Paying down balances is also one of the fastest ways to improve your credit score. And if you have nuisance balances – small balances carried across several credit cards – get them out of the way as fast as you can, since one of the factors used in determining your credit score is the number of cards that have balances.
  • Pay your bills on time. Paying your bills on time shows that you can handle credit responsibly. If you repeatedly make late payments, you’ll be considered a greater risk by creditors. To ensure you’re making timely bill payments, take advantage of payment alerts, or bill pay services through your financial institution.
  • Have a good mix of accounts, such as loans and credit cards. It shows that you’re capable of handling different types of accounts.
  • Consider opening a new account. While it may seem strange to open a new credit card account while you’re paying off balances on existing ones, in some cases doing so can actually help your credit score. This is because a new credit card will increase your total outstanding credit line and thereby improve your credit utilization ratio. But don’t overdo it and try to open several accounts at one time. This will trigger multiple inquiries that will show up on your credit reports, which could drag down your score.
  • Don’t close out existing credit cards once you pay them off. Once you pay off the entire balance on your credit card, you may be tempted to close the account for good to avoid racking up additional balances. But doing so could have a negative impact on your credit score, since closing an account will decrease the amount of credit available to you. If you keep your card open instead, and either use it sparingly, or not at all, that available credit will help to reduce your credit utilization, and improve your credit score.

Starting the process of improving your credit score may seem daunting, but every little thing you do to help clean up your credit reports will go a long way toward brightening your financial future.

FDIC Limits and How to Insure Excess Deposits

Peace of mind. That’s what you want when you place your money in a bank or savings institution. You want to know that your money is safe and sound, and chances are you’ve heard about FDIC insurance and know that it’s there to protect your dollars. What you may not know is exactly what the coverage limits are with FDIC insurance, and that there are full-coverage options available for your deposits – outside of the FDIC.fdic-limits-insure-excess-deposits

Most U.S. banks are members of the FDIC, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The purpose of the FDIC is to protect your deposits in the event of a bank failure. If an FDIC-insured institution fails, each customer there will have their deposits protected, up to $250,000. FDIC insurance covers all types of deposit accounts, including certificates of deposit (also known as CDs), checking and savings accounts, as well as money markets and some types of retirement accounts. It does not however cover investment accounts such as stocks, bonds or mutual funds, or life insurance policies, even if you purchased those products from an FDIC-insured bank.

FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and since the FDIC’s creation, no depositor has ever lost a penny of their FDIC-insured deposits. But what about depositors that have more than $250,000 in a bank account? One way to insure excess deposits is through the Depositors Insurance Fund – commonly referred to as DIF.

The Depositors Insurance Fund is a private insurance fund that provides supplemental protection for funds deposited with Massachusetts-chartered savings banks. The good news is that if you don’t live in Massachusetts, you can still reap the benefits of DIF coverage. The Depositors Insurance Fund does not impose any residency restrictions, so as long as a DIF member bankAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon! accepts out-of-state deposits, you can open an account there and have your deposits covered in full.

Another way to obtain DIF coverage is to open an account with an online bank that is tied to a Massachusetts-chartered savings bank. For example, Bank5 Connect is an online bank that is a division of BankFive, a DIF member bank located in Fall River, Massachusetts. So, all deposits placed in a Bank5 Connect account are covered by DIF, regardless of which state the depositor resides in.

When you open a deposit account at a DIF member bank, DIF insurance automatically kicks in. There are no forms or applications to fill out, and there are no fees or surcharges required to obtain coverage.

In the event of a bank failure, the Depositors Insurance Fund works very closely with the FDIC. After a bank goes under, the priority for both organizations is to ensure depositors get their funds as quickly as possible. In addition, the DIF and the FDIC work together to determine what portion of the deposits are the FDIC’s responsibility and what portion will be paid out by the DIF.

To learn more about DIF coverage at Bank5 Connect, visit http://www.bank5connect.com/home/misc/fully-insured-deposits.

For more general information about FDIC and DIF coverage, go to:

http://www.FDIC.govAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!

http://www.DIFxs.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!

 

 

Keep Thieves from Getting Their Hands on Your Passwords

When’s the last time you changed the password for your online banking account? Or for the website where you pay your credit card bill? If you can’t remember, now’s a good time to switch it up. And don’t create a new password that’s easy to figure out, or use the same password you’re already using for other accounts. That’s just looking for trouble.prevent-thieves-from-getting-your-passwords

Cyber security experts offer a number of tips to help ward off online thieves. And rightfully so, since millions of people fall victim to cyber-crimes every year.

Have a password that’s easy to remember? Chances are it’s going to be easy for a thief to figure out, too. Sure, it’s hard to forget “123abc”, but using such a short and simple password is an open invitation to cyber theft.

Mix it up. Experts recommend using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to create a password. And throw in a made-up word or two, like “beahighve” or ‘”jabberwockysnark”.

Don’t get personal. You know how you post all those photos of your pet on Facebook and mention her by name, then use that name as a password? That’s easy pickings for a thief. So stay away from such things as names and birth dates and addresses.

Make it long. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. That is, if you follow the previous suggestions for creating a password.

Don’t share. That may sound rude, but passwords aren’t meant to be shared with friends, partners, family members, or neighbors. They’re intended to protect you and your information. So keep them to yourself.

Alter them frequently. It’s recommended that passwords be changed every month or so.

Get some help. If you’re having a tough time keeping track of all your passwords, there are software programs that can manage them for you. Some are free; others you have to pay for. These programs store your login credentials for all the websites you use, and help you access those sites automatically. They encrypt your password database with a master password, which is then the only password you have to remember.

Stay out of the public eye. That free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop down the street may be enticing to use, but it’s not going to protect you from cyber crooks. They love public Wi-Fi because it gives them easy access to people’s passwords and online accounts.

Don’t get lazy. Isn’t it great how some websites will “remember” login and password information for you so you don’t have to type it in every time you visit those sites? Convenient, yes, but this “remembering” feature is yet another avenue cyber thieves can use to uncover your login credentials.

Remember that when it comes to passwords, the first line of defense is you. So don’t open yourself up to thievery by failing to follow these basic password safeguards.