Get the Most out of Your Covid-19 Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic is going to be much different than previous years, as most consumers will be making their purchases online and/or starting to shop earlier than usual to avoid crowds. The great news is that retailers are aggressively rolling back prices and starting promotions early to capture as much business as possible this year.

Keeping this in mind, we recommend that you pay extra attention to details as you make your purchases:

  • Shop from reputable sources
  • Use your credit card for purchases online, rather than your debit card
  • Choose the credit card that gives you the most benefit – the best rate or more points
  • Shop early, avoid crowds and wear your mask when shopping in-person

If you’re looking for a credit card to use, our Wheelhouse Platinum Visa® will get you our lowest interest rate, beginning as low as 9.49% APR*. We also offer a fantastic Platinum Rewards Credit Card, which currently earns 3x the points for most online and in-person retail, gas and grocery store purchases. On top of that, qualifying new Platinum Rewards Credit Cards are eligible for a 25,000-point opening bonus through the end of 2020.

We wish you a safe and joyous holiday season with great deals on your shopping.

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are effective as of October 21, 2020 and are subject to change without notice. All loans are subject to credit approval. The APR will vary with the market based on the prime rate.

Click here for Visa Credit Card rates. To review Rewards Program details, click here.

Bonus offer valid on Wheelhouse’s Visa Platinum Rewards Credit Card only. Receive 25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first 3 months (90 days) from account opening. This offer is available if you do not have a Wheelhouse credit card. Offer valid on new rewards credit cards only.

Triple reward points are earned on qualifying purchases made between 10/19/2020 and 12/31/2020. Offer good on purchases made within these categories on Wheelhouse’s Platinum Visa Rewards Credit Card and on signature-based transactions on Visa Debit Rewards Cards.

Bonus reward points earned post to the cardholder’s account within 2 statement cycles following the end of the promotion.

Saving Up for a House? How to Avoid Holiday Debt This Year

Saving up for a house is exciting, but it’s also a major undertaking. The days and months pass and your savings account gets larger and larger. But then, suddenly, the holidays arrive and you start to worry about how to maintain your hard-earned savings during the season of gift-giving. Luckily, with a little extra care and planning, you can avoid holiday debt, stay on track with your budgeting goals, and keep saving to buy a home.

To help you get started, we tapped some of the top financial experts to ask for their best advice – and they delivered. So before you start your holiday shopping or take advantage of Black Friday deals, keep reading to learn how to avoid debt and stay on track with your savings goals this holiday season.

Have established expectations with the people on your gift list this year. Stick with cash and debit cards – and if you typically exchange with your “extended” family or friends talk with them this month about going with a small special gift or just dropping that practice. Most of us already have what we need – if you can’t, stick with specific gift cards of a certain dollar amount to control spending. – Balog + Tamburri, CPAs

Don’t let a lack of traditional financing options get in the way of your holiday shopping. By leveraging lease-to-own alternatives you can get what you need today and pay over time. Save money with a 90-day purchase option. This frees up cash rather than locking it up in a single purchase. – Acima

If you’re saving up for a house, be on the lookout for big bargains. It’s hard not to get sucked into over holiday spending. Make a game of doing the best gift for you; not having any holiday debt hangover in January. Budget an amount for each person that you will be gifting to and look for the big bargains. – Wiser Wealth Management

Take advantage of buying the low cost of stocks on the market as a gift. Stock shares can be gifted to your children to teach them about money and investing and also can be tailored to their interests or hobbies. There is a tax advantage to save tax dollars from the gain by granting stocks as a gift to them when they grow up. – Manay CPA Inc.

Sell items you no longer need or want online for some extra cash. A great way to avoid holiday debt while you’re saving up for a house is to round up key items around your home that you don’t need or want and then post them online to be sold. This can add a little extra cash to your holiday budget while also adding a little extra room in your home. It can also help you realize what you and your loved ones haven’t been using, which may help you narrow your hunt for the perfect, budget-friendly gift. – Wheelhouse Credit Union

Get creative with your gift-giving. Don’t put pressure on yourself to spend big during the holidays. Consider setting a gift budget that you can easily cover from your income, without dipping into savings. Rather than buying something online, get creative; the most thoughtful gifts often aren’t the most expensive. – Darrow Wealth Management

Use credit card points to purchase gift cards. Instead of paying cash for presents, you might want to consider using your credit card points to purchase gifts cards especially if you are delaying travel plans during the pandemic. If you are lucky enough to get a holiday bonus, consider using a portion of it to pay down high-interest credit card debt, start an emergency fund or make an additional contribution to your employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA. – OneGroup Retirement Advisors

Go into the holiday season with a plan. The best tip in order to keep your finances in check during the holidays is to have a plan on what you can spend without breaking the nest egg or adding to credit cards and stick to it. Simple, but not easy. – WMGNA

Create a cash flow bucketing system. Don’t get snared by the dreaded holiday spending trap. Instead, continue earmarking and escrowing your hard‐earned dollars towards future household goals using a disciplined cash flow bucketing system. – Damian Winther, CFP® CSRIC™ – Principal – Financial Advisor, Birchwood Financial Partners, Inc.

Give the gift of time. A great way to save money this season, especially given the COVID pandemic, is to give the gift of time. Volunteer to help out friends and family with chores and errands that they need help with or possibly cannot do themselves. – FamilyVest

Originally published by Redfin

Simple Tips to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

As fraud becomes more prevalent and fraudsters become more creative, it’s important to arm yourself with the tools to help protect you and your loved ones. The four steps below focus on how you can create obstacles to make it harder for fraudsters to garner your personal data and/or transact business using your hard-earned money:

1. Use Strong and Diverse Passwords

Always password protect your digital properties, no matter what. And, when selecting passwords, it’s important to choose different passwords for each account, so if a fraudster is able to access one of your digital properties, they may not be able to access others.

Use complex passwords with a mixture of numbers, symbols and letters, upper and lower case. Refrain from using your telephone number, address, birthdate, or names of relatives, as these are the first things fraudsters will try.

If you suspect someone is attempting to get access to one of your digital properties, change your password immediately. You also may want to create a schedule so that you remember to change your passwords periodically throughout the year for added protection.

2. Slow Down and Be Cautious

Slow down and be cautious as you go through your inbox and text messages, as identity thieves routinely send emails and text messages to phish for information. Moving too quickly may cause you to click on something that is not legitimate, leading you to provide your information on a fraudulent site. You should also consider enabling multi-factor identification when possible. That way, if fraudsters try to change your credentials, you may have an opportunity to stop it.

Fraudulent correspondence often use a generic opening, something like “Dear account holder”, instead of using your actual name. They typically have a sense of urgency, including subtle threats like “confirm your username” or “your account has been overcharged or frozen”. Often times they will use incorrect spelling or grammar.

If you feel compelled to respond right away, leave the text or email completely. Do not click on any links.

If the correspondence claims to be from your financial institution, call them directly using the telephone number on the back of one of your debit or credit cards.

If you accidentally click a link or open a suspicious document, call your financial institution immediately and change any/all passwords associated with the institution referenced.

3. Set Up Alerts for Your Financial Accounts

Monitoring your financial transactions with alerts makes it especially hard for fraudsters to get away with multiple purchases. Real-time alerts will let you know as soon as a transaction is made, allowing you to know if and when an unauthorized transaction is made. If you receive an alert about a transaction you did not conduct, reach out to your financial institution immediately so they can monitor your account and decline transactions and/or close your card and order a replacement.

4. Consider an ID Theft Protection Membership

In addition to staying knowledgeable of current fraud tactics and implementing good security habits, it may be beneficial for you to purchase an Identity Theft Protection Membership.

Here are some of the things an ID Theft Protection Membership can do for you:

  • Provide insurance coverage
  • Monitor your credit reports
  • Monitor your SSN, Email and Phone
  • Assess your risk
  • Provide access to a resolution team
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Alerts for new financial applications in your name

You can compare different ID theft protection companies and plans or see if your financial institution or workplace has options in place for you. For instance, Wheelhouse Credit Union Members can receive a free 30-day ID Theft Protection Membership and up to 30% the plans through Financial Lock. Learn more about the Financial Lock offer here.

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