What to choose: debit or credit?

Credit CardsIntercity State Bank MasterCard Debit Cards may be used as either debit or credit, depending on consumer and merchant needs.  Intercity State Bank does not charge a fee for using your debit card as either debit or credit.

Traditionally, debit cards withdrew funds directly from the consumer’s bank account, and credit cards allowed consumers to make purchases using borrowed money.  Although this distinction still exists, some bank issued debit cards, such as your Intercity State Bank Master Debit Card, allow consumers to choose either debit or credit.

Your Intercity State Bank Debit Card will withdraw funds directly from your account whenever you use it.  It does not matter if you choose debit or credit; funds will come directly from your checking account.  This is different from traditional credit cards, which draw on funds from a line of credit that the consumer repays with a monthly bill.  This is the primary difference between and credit card, and a debit card run as credit.

Some additional considerations include ease of use, fraud protection, and merchant fees.  When you choose debit, you must enter your four digit pin number, whereas, when you choose credit, you simply sign for the purchase.  Fraud protection is a primary aspect of Intercity State Bank’s mission statement to provide customers with excellent service.  If you experience fraud on your Intercity State Bank MasterCard Debit Card, please call bookkeeping right away at 715-359-4231.

Some ATMs charge a fee, but there is no charge for Intercity State Bank customers using Intercity State Bank’s ATMs.

Overall, Intercity State Bank customers should choose credit when making purchases or buying fuel at the pump.  Choosing credit is easier, and safer to use because no PIN number is required.  Debit should only be used at an ATM, or when additional cash back is needed from the transaction.

Please feel free to contact the bookkeeping department at 715.359.4231 with any questions or concerns regarding your Intercity State Bank MasterCard Debit Card.

What’s the SBA 504 Loan Program?

sba-loansAs a small business owner you may have heard about SBA Small Business Association) loans, but didn’t really know what they were or how they relate to your financing needs.  There are many different kinds of SBA options.  The SBA 504 loan program is one that can help small business owners purchase real estate, equipment, or expand their current facility with low down payment and at a fixed rate.

The SBA 504 program allows small business‘s to purchase fixed assets with a down payment of 10 to 15% (compared to a standard minimum of 20% using conventional bank financing).  The program structures this type of loan the following way:  The bank portion equals 50% of the project, the SBA portion equals 35-40%, and there is a 10-15% down payment required depending on the type of collateral and whether or not it is a start up business.

In addition to the lower down payment requirements, this program also offers fixed rate financing of up to 20 years for the SBA portion of the loan.  As of February 2013, the rate was 4.29%.

The closing costs for the SBA 504 program are higher than traditional bank financing, so it is not appropriate for all situations.  We sit down with prospective borrowers before submitting the SBA loan application to see if it makes sense to pursue.  Feel free to contact me, Patrick France (715.241.0400) or my colleague Sean Strahota (715.359.4231) with any questions regarding the SBA program.

The Polar Plunge – Another Successful Year!

adam-domino-checkThank you to our customers and employees for raising $600 in sponsorship of Adam Domino!  And way to go, Adam for doing the frigid jump.  Together, we all make a difference!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 ways to save $100 for America Saves Week

america-saves-weekMoney is like a cake. When you get that delicious dessert, it can be tempting to eat it all at once. But if you do, you’ll end up with a stomachache, that sugarcoated feeling on your teeth, and perhaps most importantly – no cake for later.

Similarly, if you spend all of your money, you’ll probably end up regretting your splurges – and wishing you had some funds sitting in the bank.

Often, savings strategies are obvious – you set a big piece of cake aside, and it’s there waiting for you. But sometimes, it’s the little things that make that cake disappear. I’m reminded of the time my childhood friend Mike held a cake on his lap while we were driving home. He took fingerful after fingerful of frosting – and when we got home, Mike discovered that he had completely defrosted the cake without realizing it.

The following list features both kinds of savings strategies – big ones that work all at once, and little ones that add up over time. All of them can be put into action during America Saves Week, and every single one ensures that you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Track Your Spending, and Make a Budget

Understanding where your money is going is the best way to start saving, which is why your first step is to make a budget. It might be that, once you make your budget and realize how much you’re spending in certain categories, you can immediately save $100 by making little trims here and there.

2. Pack Your Lunch

One of the keys to saving is developing long-term habits – such as bringing your own lunch to work instead of eating out. If you’re worried you don’t have time, cook something on Sunday and put it in individual Tupperware containers. Start this week, and over the course of a month, you can easily save $100.

3. Check If You’re Being Over-Serviced

It’s easy to “set it and forget it,” paying the same bills every month. This week, take a look at your regular services – are you using all of your cell phone minutes? Do you have more coverage than you need on your car insurance? Are you utilizing any extra cable channels you pay for? If your answer is no to any of these, call your provider, and change your plan.

4. Negotiate Your Bills

Checking for over-servicing isn’t the only way to lower your regular bills. If you’re not paying a promotional rate for services like cable and Internet, you’re paying too much. Call your service provider, and ask if there is any way you can lower your bill. If they don’t automatically say yes, suggest that you’re going to find another provider. Be patient, nice, and firm, and you can get a better rate.

5. Vow to Reuse, Repair, and Repurpose Instead of Buying New

Every time you think about buying something new, ask yourself – do you really need it, or can you make do with something you already have or that you can borrow from a friend?

6. Get to Know Your Credit Card

Visit your credit card company’s website and read the fine print. Many credit cards offer free benefits that are not well publicized. These benefits may include extended warranties, free tickets, price drop protection, extra discounts, concierge services, and cash giveaways. Of course, you should not use a credit card at all if you carry a balance every month. If you can’t control your spending, consider switching over to a cash-only system.

7. Change Your Living Situation

Yes, this is a big change – but it also has big financial rewards. If you have extra space in your house, try renting out a room, either permanently or to travelers using a service like Airbnb. Or, if you live alone, it might be time to get a roommate.

8. Clean Out Your Pantry

Empty your cupboards, see what you have, and plan meals around the ingredients you want to use up. You’ll slash your next grocery bill, and you’ll help ensure that food doesn’t go stale.

9. Create a “Cheap Fun Club” With Friends

If you’re trying to save money, it can be disheartening when friends invite you to things that you don’t want to spend money on. Instead, be proactive, and invite your friends to share in frugal activities with you, such as potlucks, watching movies at home, and board game nights.

10. Sell Your Stuff

Taking the time to declutter your house and sell your extra stuff has multiple benefits. Not only can you make money getting rid of your old items, but you might also discover other useful things you had forgotten about.

How are you planning to save money for America Saves Week?

By Meg Favreau, Senior Editor of personal finance blog Wise Bread.

The Polar Plunge Returns: February 23rd!

Once again, Intercity State Bank is teaming up with Adam Domino to raise money for the Special Olympics-North Central Region, “Polar Plunge: Freezin’ for a Reason.” Adam, pictured left (toweling off on the ice after his chilling jump in 2012), is a Special Olympian and has been involved in the Polar Plunge for 13 years!

Like last year, we are collecting donations from customers, along with donations from employees, for $1.00 or more. You can make your donation at any one of our branches (Schofield, Weston, or Wausau). Intercity will be matching all customer donations. The donations collected will benefit the program, competitions, and services provided by the Special Olympics organization to over 1,000 cognitively disabled children and adults in our local community. Let’s all help Adam reach his goal!

The “Polar Plunge” will take place on February, 23rd at Man-Made Lake at Sunny Vale Park, Wausau. Come out and support the Special Olympics and check back to our website for pictures of Adam’s 2013 frigid plunge.

Changes to Social Security

Receiving a check for your Social Security payment is ending soon. March 1, 2013, is the deadline to sign up for direct deposit to a bank account. If you do not sign up for direct deposit, you will be receiving a “Direct Express® Debit MasterCard®” in the mail. The card will be loaded with your funds in the same timely manner. You may use the card to make purchases or do cash withdrawals.

There are services you can use with the card that are free, and additional services which do carry fees. Please refer to this link for a listing of fees. If you would prefer direct deposit to your Intercity State Bank account, you may see one of our personal bankers and they would be happy to assist you with the process. Or you may call (800) 333-1795 to speak with a Social Security representative directly.

Interest Rates at Historic Lows

With rates being at a historical low it is a great time to refinance or buy a new home! Call one of our Mortgage Loan Specialists today to see if you can take advantage of these low interest rates.

Why is my credit score so important?

Whether you’re in the process of purchasing or refinancing a home, buying a car, or even purchasing new appliances, you’ve most likely had a credit history obtained.  Your credit history and your credit score are one of the most important factors in determining approval for a loan.

Specific to purchasing or refinancing a home, your credit history says a lot, including current credit obligations, balances, delinquencies, bankruptcy, public records and inquires.  All of these factors not only will determine if you qualify for a loan, but can greatly impact a favorable interest rate on that loan.

Your credit score is based on your credit history, and is determined by the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax and Transunion.   Your score is essentially broken down by these categories:

Payment History:  35%

Total loan balances:  30%

Length of credit history: 15%

New Credit:  10%

Type of Credit:  10%

Most credit scores range from 300 to 850.  Your score is based on different factors of your history, and some will weigh more heavily than others in calculating your score.  

So why is a credit score so important?  It affects how much money you are able to borrow.  As a lender, we will look at those factors and determine our risks giving you a loan.  For more information about credit scores and the role they play, feel free to contact one of our mortgage loan specialists.

A 60th Anniversary ‘Thank You’

Thank you to all of our customers who joined us in celebration of our 60th anniversary at our Weston location last Friday – it was a great success! Our customers enjoyed brats and beverages under the big tent, with many reminiscing about days gone by and “back in the days.” It was fun to hear their stories about Intercity’s history.


A fun aspect of the appreciation event was that we accepted donations to the Marathon County Humane Society. We received over $200 in cash donations! In addition, other donations such as dog food, treats, and cleaning supplies were collected. We even had special guests, Lovely and Sassy, a dog and cat from the Humane Society! They were a big hit with the kids, and even the adults fell in love with them.


Leisure Club Picnic

The annual Leisure Club picnic was held June 20th at The Hanger in Wausau, with 200 members in attendance. Members tried their luck at bingo, with many prizes given to the winners. The usual picnic lunch of brats and hamburgers was served with all the delicious side dishes. It was nice to visit with friends during lunch. This year’s theme was “Celebrating 60 Years.” The Grand Prize was an Intercity piggy bank filled with 60 gold dollar coins.


Our next Leisure Club event is September 28th to the Warrens Cranberry Fest in Warrens, WI. The cost of this trip is $34 for members. The bus will leave the Weston location at 6:00 am. Call 715-241-0400 to make your reservation, or use our convenient online sign-up form.