News Now

February 27, 2015

Inside Washington (2/27/15)

Washington
  • WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--According to a recent report presented last month to the U.S. Congress by the special inspector general (SIG) for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Christy Romero, a federal program meant to help 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure has helped only a fraction of that amount. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), funded under TARP, was created in 2009 to support mortgage holders who had fallen behind on the loan payments for their homes. The report said that as of Dec. 31, one in three homeowners who received a loan modification through HAMP ultimately defaulted on the loan ( American Banker Feb. 26). The longer a borrower remained in the program, the more likely they were to redefault, according to the SIG's report. In fact, the report indicated: Of the homeowners who received loan modifications in 2009, 53% had redefaulted by the end of 2014, up from 46% at the end of 2013; and of the almost 1.4 million modifications applied to mortgages under HAMP since 2009, 31% have redefaulted ...
     
  • WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a set of rules meant to protect free expression and innovation on the internet while promoting investment in broadband networks. According to the FCC, the new rules are guided by three principles: America's broadband networks must be fast, fair and open--principles shared by the overwhelming majority of the nearly 4 million commenters who participated in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding. CUNA believes that without network neutrality, credit unions could potentially have to pay local service providers more money to maintain secure, reliable and fast online financial services connections ...

CUNA: Cyberthreat center could be helpful, more needed to address CUs' concerns

Washington
WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--While CUNA supports the concept of information sharing as a key component to combating cyberthreats, a new White House initiative does not go far enough in addressing cybersecurity issues for credit unions.

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), announced this week by the White House, will focus on "connecting the dots" regarding cyber threats affecting American interests.

"The CTIIC will provide integrated all-source intelligence analysis related to foreign cyberthreats and cyberincidents affecting U.S. national interests; support the U.S. government centers responsible for cybersecurity and network defense; and facilitate and support efforts by the government to counter foreign cyberthreats," reads the fact sheet issued by the White House.

Stopping merchant data breaches is a top regulatory and legislative priority for CUNA, which has sent numerous letters to lawmakers urging the creation of strong data breach legislation. While several data breach bills are currently circulating the halls of Congress, CUNA is pushing for more aggressive legislation.

Such legislation must include a strong data protection standard for merchants and a national consumer notification standard that would preempt the patchwork of state laws currently in place across the country.

Two major breaches alone, at Home Depot and Target, have cost credit unions more than $90 million, despite the credit unions having nothing to do with the breaches.

CUNA created StoptheDataBreaches.com and has contributed numerous op-eds to publications calling for stricter merchant data security standards.

Amias Gerety nominated for Treasury's asst. sec. of FIs

Washington
WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--President Barack Obama has announced the nomination of Amias Gerety to the position of assistant secretary for financial institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Gerety served as acting secretary following the resignation of Cyrus Amir-Morki in April 2014 to November 2014.

The position is responsible for developing and coordinating the Treasury's policies on issues affecting financial institutions.

Gerety currently serves as a counselor in the Treasury's Office of Domestic Finance, a position he has held since June 2014. From 2011 to 2014, he was the deputy assistant secretary for Financial Stability Oversight Council at Treasury.  He also was a senior adviser in the Office of Financial Institutions at Treasury from 2009 to 2010. 

FTC files complaint against debt relief scammers

Washington
WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--A company advertising debt relief services but failing to provide them is the subject of a federal district complaint brought this week by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Payday Support Center LLC, now known as PSC Administrative LCC, is alleged to have targeted consumers to resolve outstanding payday debts but provided little to no relief.

According to the complaint , the defendants are alleged, starting in 2012, to have used the Internet, radio and telemarketing to target consumers with multiple debts on short-term, high-interest payday loans.

The FTC alleges that the defendants pushed consumers into enrolling in their "financial hardship program," claiming they would negotiate with the lenders to reduce consumers' payments and eliminate their debt. They advised consumers to stop making direct payments to their lenders and to pay money to the defendants instead, promising that the loans would be paid off within the next few months.

In reality, the FTC alleges, the defendants provide little or no debt relief services for their clients, and their limited actions do not generally eliminate or even reduce most clients' payday loans.

In filing the complaint, the FTC is seeking to permanently stop the defendants' allegedly illegal conduct, as well as a monetary judgment for refunds to return to consumers defrauded by the operation.

Tweets tell savings story during NCUA Twitter chat

Washington
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/27/15)--Credit unions and their members shared tips for building up savings in a Twitter chat Thursday. The agency held the chat as part of America Saves and Military Saves Week, which feature outreach efforts all throughout this week to encourage consumer savings.

Kenneth Worthey, National Credit Union Administration financial literacy and outreach analyst, joined staff of America and Military Saves to share the latest on national savings rates, provide tips on developing healthy savings habits and identify resources to help maximize those savings.

See the Storify below for highlights from NCUA's Twitter chat, conducted through its @MyCUGov handle.


'Patent troll' hearing furthers conversation on combating abusive demands

Washington
WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee explored the best ways to limit deceptive patent demand letters in a hearing Thursday. CUNA appreciates the continued conversation on abusive patent demand letters, and combating those types of letters remains a critical piece of CUNA's advocacy efforts.

CUNA submitted a letter for the hearing record Thursday, was encouraged by a patent reform bill introduced earlier this month and wrote in support of another bill that was introduced last year.

As spelled out in the letter sent to the committee, as well as a letter sent earlier this year to members of Congress, CUNA supports patent reform legislation that:
  • Improves the litigation process to make the cost and burdens equitable and more efficient;
     
  • Requires patent demand letters provide details about the patent and who is claiming to assert it; and
     
  • Improves the post-grant review of patents such as making the Covered Business Method (patents that claim a method or operation used in practice, administration or management of a financial product or service) permanent and more useable for smaller entities.
Witness Vince Malta, liaison for law and policy for the National Association of Realtors, said he supported the notion of increased transparency, saying such letters should be required to contain specifics on the relevant patent claim, details on how the patent was infringed upon, a description on the investigation of the infringement and disclosure of the parties behind the patent claim.

Vera Ranieri, a staff attorney from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to protect innovation and consumer interests, said any legislation submitted by Congress should not limit the ability of small businesses to turn to their state's attorney general, often the first place they turn after receiving a demand letter.

CUNA believes that state attorneys general have an important role to play for businesses combating abusive patent letters.

Annual inflation drops for 1st time since 2009

Market
WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--Largely fueled by the price of oil, the consumer price index (CPI) dropped 0.7% in January, the largest monthly step back since November 2008 ( Economy.com Feb. 26).

On an annual basis, CPI fell 0.1%, the first year-over-year decline since October 2009.

"The good news is that the majority of the weakness is concentrated in energy-related goods and services, as the core index rebounded modestly in January," said Andrew Davis, Moody's analyst ( Economy.com ). "This is comforting for policymakers, as concerns about disinflation bleeding into core prices were heightened after December's soft reading."

The energy index plunged by 9.7% in January, with gasoline prices--the main culprit--plummeting 18.7% from the prior month. Fuel also fell by 9.9%.

Food prices largely remained stable in January after a 0.2% rise in December. "Food at home" prices fell 0.2% with four of the six major grocery store food groups decreasing. "Food away from home" climbed 0.2% after a 0.3% increase the previous month.

Excluding food and energy, core prices climbed 0.2% in January, a slight increase in pace from December.

However, prices for new vehicles, used cars and trucks, and core commodities all fell, offsetting the gains in the core CPI.

Business Rates

Market
Daily Financial Rates -- 2015-02-27

Financial Rates


Friday, February 27, 2015

03:55 AM CST

TREASURY YIELD CURVE
(based on the $1 million market)

TermFri
2/27
Thu
2/26
Wed
2/25
Tue
2/24
Mon
2/23
1 month0.020.020.020.010.02
3 month0.030.020.020.020.02
6 month0.070.070.080.080.07
1 year0.220.210.220.220.23
2 year0.660.610.600.640.67
3 year1.040.980.971.031.07
5 year1.541.471.471.561.61
7 year1.861.781.791.881.94
10 year2.031.961.992.062.13
20 year2.392.352.382.442.50
30 year2.632.562.602.662.73

TREASURY BILLS

Results of the February 23, 2015 auction of short-term U.S. government bills, sold at a discount from face value in units of $10,000 to $ 1 million

TermLatest
Mon, 2/23
Week Ago
Tue, 2/17
13 weeks0.0200.015
26 weeks0.0650.065

PRIME RATE

3.25% Last changed December 16, 2008

FEDERAL FUNDS

TermFri
2/27
Thu
2/26
Wed
2/25
Tue
2/24
Mon
2/23
high0.3120.3120.3120.3120.312
low0.0700.0500.0200.0300.040
near closing bid0.0600.1000.0800.0400.080
offered0.0900.1300.2800.0600.120
effective rate20.1400.1400.1300.1300.140

FREDDIE MAC (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)

TermFri
2/27
Thu
2/26
Wed
2/25
Tue
2/24
Mon
2/23
30 year0.000.000.000.000.00

FANNIE MAE (Mortgage commitments, 30 days)

TermFri
2/27
Thu
2/26
Wed
2/25
Tue
2/24
Mon
2/23
30 year3.3263.3313.3913.4113.406

LIBOR

TermFri
2/27
Thu
2/26
Wed
2/25
Tue
2/24
Mon
2/23
1 month0.237000.236000.237000.235000.23800
3 month0.385000.386000.384000.386000.38800
6 month0.539000.540000.540000.540000.53900
1 year0.839000.840000.841000.840000.84000

COMMERCIAL PAPER (Financial, 90 days)

TermWeek ended
2/24
Week ended
2/18
90 days0.230.23

NA: Data not available at time of page generation (shown at top of page)

Sources:
Wall Street Journal
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury


All rates are from the previous business day unless otherwise noted.

Consumer Rates

Market

Informa Research Services, Inc.
Daily Rate Comparison

Informa Research Services, Inc.
Deposit Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
12 Month CD $10,000 0.49% 0.27% 0.22%
Personal Savings $1,000 0.20% 0.09% 0.11%
Personal Interest Checking $2,500 0.36% 0.15% 0.21%
NSF Fee $28.04 $30.70 $-2.66
Personal MMDA $2,500 0.17% 0.10% 0.07%
Business MMDA $2,500 0.17% 0.09% 0.08%

Consumer Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Unsecured Personal Loan - $5,000 - 4 Years 10.10% 10.22% -0.12%
New Auto Loan - 5 Years 2.60% 3.74% -1.14%
Used Auto Loan - 2 year Old - 4 Years 2.76% 3.99% -1.23%
HELOC - 80% LTV - $50,000 4.12% 4.36% -0.24%
HE Loan - 80% LTV - $50,000 - 15 Years 5.60% 5.85% -0.25%

Mortgage Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
30 Year Fixed Conforming 3.75% 3.80% -0.05%
30 Year Fixed Jumbo 3.88% 3.86% 0.02%
5/1 Year ARM Conforming 3.02% 2.95% 0.07%

Credit Card Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Platinum 8.85% 10.59% -1.74%
Annual Fee $25.00 $31.00 $-6.00
Maximum Late Fee $25.51 $32.28 $-6.77
Reward 10.09% 13.02% -2.93%
Annual Fee $29.62 $94.15 $-64.53
Maximum Late Fee $22.21 $33.02 $-10.81

Indirect Auto Loan Products Credit Unions Bank Average Difference
Indirect A Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 3.57% 3.64% -0.07%
Indirect B Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 5.26% 5.20% 0.06%
Indirect C Tier New Auto Loan - 5 Years 7.47% 6.65% 0.83%

Averages displayed are straight averages of all institutions within the Informa Research Services database for the selected region as of Thursday, February 26, 2015. For detailed disclosures click here.

Boutwell, Houston honored for service by GCUA

CU System
DULUTH, Ga. (2/27/15)--The Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) announced the two recipients of the league's highest honors.
 
Marshall Boutwell, president/CEO, Peach State FCU, received the Moses C. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award, which goes to a Georgia credit union leader who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the credit union movement over his or her career. Diana Houston, GCUA senior vice president of business development, received the Eloise Woods Distinguished Service Award for her work to advance cooperative finance for Georgia citizens.
 
Boutwell has been at the Lawrenceville-based credit union for more than 20 years. His involvement includes advocacy at the state and national levels, and he has led the way in providing financial services for the area's Bosnian community. Boutwell also is active with the Georgia-Poland Partnership.
 
"As a former banker, Marshall has a deep appreciation for the benefits of the cooperative business model," said GCUA President/CEO Mike Mercer. "He cares greatly for people and has been willing to do the work involved to make a lasting difference."
 
Houston, who has worked with the state's credit unions for more than 30 years, was instrumental in negotiating group contracts on behalf of the state's credit unions and is directly involved with governmental advocacy efforts.
 
"Diana does not lead from the 'front of the line,'" Mercer said. "She leads with ideas and meaningful consultative support. Her contributions have come in the form of financial benefits and creative advice to Georgia credit unions that now span decades of service."

"The credit union movement, not just in Georgia but nationally and even internationally, has benefited greatly from the contributions of Marshall Boutwell and Diana Houston," said Stacy Tallent, GCUA chair and president of Health Center CU, Evans. "They have devoted their professional lives to strengthening the credit union system and have made indelible marks on our industry."

CCUA hosts NASCUS college for CU directors

CU System
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (2/27/15)--The Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA) hosted the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Directors College this week, with members from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island all represented.

Click to view larger image David Cotney, Massachusetts Division of Banks commissioner, addresses the NASCUS Directors College, which was hosted by the Cooperative Credit Union Association this week. (Cooperative Credit Union Association Photo)
In addition to the 50 representatives from the Directors College, members of the Massachusetts Division of Banks (DOB), the New Hampshire Banking Department and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation also attended ( Daily CU Scan Feb. 25).

The Directors College is a daylong event that provides the opportunity for credit union directors to stay on top of critical statutory, fiduciary and regulatory responsibilities.

NASCUS President/CEO Lucy Ito opened the event by outlining advocacy issues and recent NASCUS achievements, including work on the unrelated business income tax, overhead transfer rates, cybersecurity symposiums and risk-based capital.

Ito's discussion on national issues included the challenges facing credit unions that serve marijuana-related businesses.

Paul Gentile, CCUA president/CEO, talked about the importance of director education and the value of volunteer service to credit unions.

Later, David Cotney, commissioner of the Massachusetts DOB, discussed cybersecurity and regulatory burden. He noted the DOB has reduced one-third of its regulations on credit unions and continues to modify and streamline others.

Cotney also expressed that he is a strong supporter of the low-income credit union designation.

Additional highlights:
  • Brian Knight, NASCUS general counsel, directed a training session on the Bank Secrecy Act;
     
  • Representatives from the three state regulators provided an overview of their departments, current exam issues and examination functions; and
     
  • Holly Chase, Massachusetts DOB regional field manager, provided a synopsis of cybersecurity and emerging threats.

CU System briefs (2/27/15)

CU System
  • MADISON, Wis. (2/27/15)-- Submissions are now being accepted for proposed themes for this year's International Credit Union Day, set for Oct. 15 . Theme suggestions are due March 5, and top ideas will be put to vote in mid-March. Past themes include "Credit Unions Build a Better World" and "Your Money. Your Choice. Your Credit Union" ...
  • SAN DIEGO (2/27/15)-- Through San Diego County CU's Dining Deals program, members of the San Diego-based credit union have donated nearly 15,500 meals to Feeding America San Diego . The credit union's partnership with MOGL allows enrolled members to receive up to 25% cash back by dining at participating restaurants. When diners are offered cash back, they have the option to donate a part or the entire return to hunger relief ...
  • KANSAS CITY, Mo. (2/27/15)-- Saturday's grand opening of Mazuma CU's new headquarters in Overland Park, Mo., will give the public a glimpse into a new resource for the community . "We've worked tirelessly to reflect our community focus in our new building through the creation of a high-tech and open community room," said President/CEO Brandon Michaels. The room, fully equipped with audio/visual equipment, seats up to 180 people. Community groups will be able to reserve and use the space for free ...

Calif., Nev. CUs REACH for innovation

CU System
ONTARIO, Calif. (2/27/15)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' REACH Innovation Group officially launched last week with a two-day experiential learning session, immersing the 17 participants in the Filene Method of Innovation.

Click to view larger image The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' REACH Innovation Group officially launched last week with a two-day experiential learning session. (California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues Photo)
The purpose of the 2015 REACH Innovation Group is to develop new ideas and innovations for credit unions. It was launched in coordination with the Filene Research Institute, and modeled after Filene's i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) program.

During the two-day session, held Feb. 18-19, the participants from credit unions throughout California and Nevada were split into four smaller groups and participated in exercises involving innovating around a problem or opportunity ( CU Weekly Feb. 23).

"Now the teams will take what they learned and put that learning into action," said Tansley Stearns, Filene Research Group chief impact officer. "They will meet weekly remotely, and every six weeks they will connect via webinars facilitated by Filene. The webinars will include refreshers on the methodology, and each team will present its homework assignments. This will keep the groups on track to move their insights into ideas and their ideas into prototypes to be tested and ultimately presented at REACH 2015."

Participants will present their ideas at the 2015 REACH conference, to be held Nov. 4-6 in Palm Desert, Calif.

CUs as public funds depositories high on Fla. legislative agenda

CU System
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/27/15)--Public funds depository choice will be the top legislative priority of the Florida Credit Union Association (FCUA), when the Florida Legislature convenes Monday, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) said.

The first step for legislation to allow credit unions in Florida to become qualified public funds depositories has taken place ( eSignal Daily Feb. 27). Bills have been filed in the Florida House--HB 907 sponsored by Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton)--and the Senate--SB 1154 sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah).

Passing legislation to allow credit unions to qualify as depository institutions for public funds is being sought in Alabama as well.

"We believe this legislation would spur competition among eligible public depositories and create an opportunity for greater savings and returns on deposits," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. 

Currently, 33 states allow credit unions to qualify as depositories of public funds.

The FCUA will also press for legislation that requires higher data security standards by which merchants and vendors would be held accountable if they are responsible for compromised data, instead of leaving financial institutions such as banks and credit unions with the bill.

CUNA continues to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would require merchants to adhere to the same strict payment data security standards that financial institutions must meet. 

Also on the legislative docket is "patent troll" reform that would ban abusive patent demand letters and lawsuits that can harm the financial services industry.

Along with much of the business community, the FCUA is supporting requiring Florida high school students to take a half-credit class on financial literacy and personal finance management.

Bankrate highlights CU affordability vs. banks: 'No surprise,' says Nussle

CU System
NEW YORK (2/27/15)--Credit unions continue to offer free checking accounts to their members at a high rate, while more and more banks continue to charge for them.

Click to view larger image Bankrate.com 's 2015 Credit Union Checking Survey found the nation's 50 largest credit unions bested the banks for pricing on checking accounts. (Bankrate Graphic)
Nearly three-quarters of credit unions (72%) offer free checking, compared with only 38% of the largest banks in the United States, according to a recent report from Bankrate.com .

Five years ago, 65% of banks offered free checking, compared with 78% of credit unions.

"As not-for-profit, member-owned, community-based financial institutions, credit unions are focused on providing the best service for their members," said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. "The fact that credit unions by and large offer better deals to their members than other financial institutions is no surprise. With lower fees and better rates, more and more Americans are discovering that credit unions are their best financial partner."

In addition to those that offer always-free checking accounts, 26% more--for a total of 98%--offer accounts that become free when certain requirements are met, such as when e-statements, direct deposit or a combination of both are used, the report found.

Further, 62% of credit unions have no minimum deposit, and those that do require an average of $9.84, compared with $65.83 at banks.

Credit unions also charge members less than banks when it comes to overdraft fees, with the average fee at credit unions at $26.78 compared with $32.74 at banks.

"When evaluating checking accounts, consumers should definitely include credit unions in their search," said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com chief financial analyst. "They have competitive offerings and many participate in large ATM networks that extend the credit union's reach."

To use out-of-network ATMs, credit unions most commonly charge a fee of $1.50, while banks charge $2.50. However, many credit unions belong to ATM networks that provide access to more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide.

CUNA, Coopera release new toolkit for outreach to Spanish-speaking members

CU System
MADISON, Wis. (2/27/15)--CUNA and Coopera have announced the latest addition to their partnership product suite, the Spanish Language Seminar in a Box for Members series-- Organice sus Archivos Financieros . The seminar, whose title translates to Organize Your Financial Records, was created to help credit unions better serve their Hispanic members.

CUNA and Coopera formed a strategic partnership in 2009 in order to help credit unions grow by reaching the Hispanic market.

"Member financial education is a core credit union differentiator," said Michelle Dosher, CUNA market research and consumer education managing editor. "Planning these events can be difficult and time consuming for credit union employees, especially when there is a language barrier. Our reusable Spanish language Seminars in a Box allow credit unions to reduce planning time and ensure their members have an opportunity to learn in their preferred language."

The Organice sus Archivos Financieros seminar kit includes a PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes, member worksheets, evaluation forms, a sample newsletter article, a sample press release, an informational video clip, and full-color promotional poster and flyer graphics, in addition to various supporting materials in English. The seminar will answer various financial record-keeping questions including:
  • What documents should I keep?
  • How long should I store my records?
  • Why was my previous record-keeping method ineffective? and
  • What is the best way to get organized?
"Hispanics are the largest, fastest-growing, youngest and most underserved groups in the United States," said Miriam De Dios, Coopera CEO. "Credit unions investing resources in their local Hispanic communities and offering targeted financial education are able to reach this growing market while making a difference in their members' lives."

CUNA and Coopera currently offer two other Spanish language Seminars in a Box: Acceso a Dinero a Traves de Credito (Access to Money with Credit) and Pasos Basicos Para el Control de su Dinero (Basic Steps to Managing Your Money). With the newest launch, CUNA is introducing new bundled pricing: $300 for one seminar, $520 for two seminars and $690 for all three seminars.

Other Resources

6 ways to score senior discounts

Consumer
WASHINGTON (2/24/15)--Aging has its perks, in the form of some outstanding discounts. For example, the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands senior pass costs $10 and gives adults age 62 and older lifetime access to 2,000 parks and recreation areas.
 
But senior rates aren't always as good as discounts available to the general public (Kiplinger Feb. 12). Here are six categories worth checking out.
 
Tourist attractions. Before you take the senior rate, compare it with discounts you might receive from online sources. For example, CityPASS offers as much as 50% off the combined prices of admission to popular attractions in 11 major North American destinations. You occasionally can find better deals by visiting Groupon and LivingSocial.
 
Checking accounts. Read the fine print. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts study of checking accounts offered at large financial institutions, seniors must maintain a high balance to get a better deal than what is offered for a basic account.
 
Hotels. Compare hotel chain, AARP, and other senior discounts with what you might get through discount travel websites and apps such as Hotels, Expedia, and EveryLodge.
 
Phone plans. You might meet the age criteria for a plan offered by your wireless carrier, but first compare the offer with those available to everyone, taking into consideration your actual usage. For example, a senior discount might include 200 minutes talk time and charge extra for text messaging and a data plan, whereas a plan that costs less and is available to everyone offers unlimited talk and text plus two gigabytes of data.
 
Rental cars. Your AARP discount can help you pay up to 25% less for Avis and Budget car rentals, but first check the deals you can get through an online deal aggregator such as Hotwire, which can be 21% to 31% lower than the discounted rates offered through Avis and Budget.
 
Double up. Consider pairing discounts with discount gift cards. Visit websites such as CardCash, Cardpool, GiftCards, GiftCardGranny, and Raise to purchase gift cards you can use to pay for goods and services at discounted rates, for example in movie theaters and restaurants.
 
For related information, read "Shop and Save in Every Season" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
 

ProfitStars, SmartPay Express supports small biz payments

Products
MONETT, Mo. (2/27/15)--ProfitStars, a division of Jack Henry and Associates, has introduced an online payment and donation platform for businesses.
 
ProfitStars' EPS SmartPay Express processes payments in a hosted environment, managing the security and information technology concerns for businesses. The platform provides a custom-branded URL and microsite for each business and supports single or recurring payments from:
  • Checking or savings accounts (processed as an ACH transaction);
  • Credit or debit cards;
  • PayPal accounts; and
  • PayNearMe cash payments.
EPS SmartPay Express offers credit union business members different options for configuring payments. For example, they can permit access to the Quick Pay feature, which enables one-time payments without logging in and storing customer information, or they can require users to register and sign in, storing credentials and sensitive information within ProfitStars.
 
The platform can also be configured to auto-fill selected fields for returning users. The data is available through ProfitStars' reports and can be easily exported in a variety of formats.
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