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The Intricate Workings Behind the Cash Advance or Loan Offer Scam

We will never ask you to send us money upfront for any reason.

*We do not have foreign call centers or automated phone dialers. We do not do direct mail, email or phone solicitation for any service we offer.

*All applications must be completed online at our website. Do not send money or give anyone your banking information over the phone, thru email or on a paper application you received. Our applications online are the safest and most secure way to submit your application.  

Every day in the United States, hundreds of people turn over the last of their hard-earned money to scam artists. According to the FBI, scams related to cash advances and loan offers add up to millions each year.

How can so many be defrauded so easily? Careful criminal planning.

American and overseas operations start by creating websites that resemble those of a government agency or a familiar banking institution like Citibank, Money Mutual or First Financial. They advertise loan offers at very low rates on these websites, but they never make a single loan. They simply collect your personal data including bank account numbers, social security numbers and more. They deny every applicant, BUT the information they’ve collected is a gold mine.

They sell it to a second operation. Using a familiar bank name and the target’s personal information, this second company has little problem convincing unsuspecting consumers that it’s legitimate. Often, it explains that it has “more flexible” loan requirements because it is larger or more efficient or specializes in a certain area. The borrower need only prove they can make the first payment to win the loan. Here’s where alarm bells should go off. The “loan agent” then asks the borrower to put the first payment on a Walmart Green Dot or other cash card or wire the money electronically.

When the loan amount doesn’t arrive in the borrower’s bank account, the “loan agent” explains that another sum is needed for insurance. This technicality can be taken care of, again, by putting the amount on a cash card and providing the cash card numbers to the “loan agent” . . . as soon as possible, of course. To learn more signs of certain fraud, read the Beware Common Cash Advance and Loan Scams: Clear Signals of Fraud page in our consumer notices section.

Cash Advance and Loan Fraud Will Always Be with Us

Most of us can’t comprehend taking someone else’s money let alone spending months constructing elaborate schemes, telephone scripts and letters to defraud people in sometimes desperate situations. Our own rejection of such malicious acts sets us up to believe the friendly “loan agent” at the other end of the line really does have our best interests at heart. When a loan proves to be fraud, many prefer to keep the incident to themselves. If you’re in this situation, please don’t let embarrassment paralyze you. These criminals worked hard to concoct the perfect fraud. You didn’t stand a chance. BUT by reporting everything you know to the proper authorities, you can help keep more people from becoming victims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FBI both work hard to find and shut these scams down. If you or a loved one has become a victim of fraud, report the crime to the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. If an illegitimate “loan agent” uses the name First Financial, please call us right away at 800-315-7791 so we can report it to the state attorney general’s office.

Report a crime: FBI – https://www.ic3.gov / Federal Trade Commission – https://www.ftc.gov

A+ Rated First Financial Gets Money to You Fast . . . and Ethically

First Financial proudly adheres to strict ethical standards set by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If you need funds for medical bills, car or computer repair or anything, fill out one of our easy loan applications. With automated services and low overhead (no physical buildings to staff and power), we can charge lower rates and fees than neighborhood banks. Stay connected to First Financial’s offers through our Facebook.

Personal Loan Works Better than the Credit Card

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Most of us have emergency or other expenses that require quick funds. While many resort to credit cards for these expenses, a better option may exist: the personal loan.

The personal loan is a contract created between a bank, credit union or other lending entity and an individual. It states an amount to be lent to the individual and terms like interest rate and duration of the loan. Because establishing a personal loan requires discussion with a bank or credit union representative, however, many feel intimidated to embark on this kind of funding. This said, the personal loan may be the more financially savvy option in several situations.

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First we want to cover the biggest advantages of using personal loans over credit cards. These include:

1. the personal loan can be “unsecured,” requiring neither collateral (like a credit card) nor a credit card inquiry that can lower credit scores; this said, some personal loans DO require collateral and perform a credit inquiry. Get these items straightened out with a loan agent BEFORE signing the contract;
2. personal loan interest rates are typically lower than credit card rates and negotiation with the loan officer for even lower rates is possible;
3. unlike rates for credit cards, the interest rate stays fixed for the entire repayment period;
4. monthly payments stay even. Credit card payments change as charges accrue.

With the advantages clear, you can determine whether the money you need should be gained through a credit card or personal loan. The following includes the situations that we think make the most sense for a personal loan.

1. Unexpected Income Shortfall
People make errors. Sometimes these fallible people have jobs in payroll and forget to cut checks. The good news is that banks and credit unions issue small personal loans relatively easily, requiring a few pay stubs and the last few months of bank statements. While going to the bank to discuss the situation can be uncomfortable, people in this situation get money within 24 hours when they use convenient online personal loan solutions. Online banking solutions often have lower interest rates and better terms because these alternative lending institutions do not need to satisfy shareholders or spend exorbitant amounts on marketing. As Bill Gates said in the nineties, bricks and mortar banks “dinosaurs.”

People looking to finance an adoption, in vitro fertilization, a cross-country move or other big activity without traditional financing (like a car or RV loan) turn to the personal loan to move life forward at reasonable cost.

2. Consolidating Credit Card Debt to Increase Credit Score
Who wants to pay 19% when they can pay 11%? An 8% difference per year can save the borrower with a $10,000 credit card balance $800 each year or $67 monthly. Fill out our convenient personal loan application. First Financial lenders’ lower loan rates and better terms may surprise you! We have all the security of the big, bricks and mortar banks, namely 128-bit “banking level” security. We have to. The Security and Exchange Commission and other federal institutions demand it.

3. Borrower Prefers or Needs a Fixed Rate and Term
Borrowers (or their parents or spouses) often advocate for the personal loan because it involves making the same payments at the same schedule until the loan is paid off. Credit card rates are variable and could rise several percentage points yearly. Those who make a clear decision about one large purchase appreciate the clarity of paying for it consistently over a limited period of time.

First Financial Personal Loans Provide the Savings only Online Functionality Delivers
First Financial’s lending partners can provide low cost personal loans because of their cost-saving, online structure. Apply for an affordable personal loan here, even if your credit rating is “fair,” “poor” or even “bad.” Our comprehensive application was designed by financial professionals who understand that an applicant’s financial history can be complex, particularly in the post-recession era. Fill out the application in minutes and learn how much you qualify for within 48 hours. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

Personal Loans | First Financial

7 Things You Should Know About Having a High Risk Merchant Account

7 Things You Should Know About Having a High Risk Merchant Account

Conceptual business illustration with the words merchant account
Having a high risk merchant account is a necessity for some businesses. Learn more about this type of account with these seven facts.

If you have an online business, accepting credit cards as a form of payment is absolutely critical to your success and your bottom line.

But if your business is considered high risk, finding the right match can be a daunting task.

So, what do you need to know about having a high risk merchant account before you begin looking for the right company to serve your needs? Here are nine things you should be aware of before you make a commitment.

1. Determine if Your Business is Considered High Risk

Before you select a merchant processor, you need to know if your business is even considered to be high risk. The criteria can vary widely between providers, but one of the first things they look at is if your industry typically has a high rate of fraud or chargebacks.

If you’re not operating from the United States, this is another potential indicator of high risk. Certain categories like firearms, drug paraphernalia, or even auction sites may also be considered high risk. Find out if you fall into this category first so you can be prepared for the next steps.

2. Prepare for Higher Fees and Longer Contract Terms

If you have a high risk merchant account, you can expect to pay more in processing charges and billed account fees. The reason is that your processor is taking you on as a risk, so they’re passing the cost of that risk on to you.

You’ll also likely have to keep your contract with the processor longer than you would if you were not a high-risk client. On average, high-risk accounts must stay with the same processor for three years or even longer.

An auto renewal clause is usually included which can force you to remain an ongoing customer for periods of a one-year minimum after each renewal. If you want to cancel, you’ll likely get hit with an early termination fee.

3. Check Available Plans for Your High Risk Merchant Account

Merchant processing plans can vary, so shop around until you find one that offers terms you can live with. Traditionally, these fees are charged on something called an interchange-plus pricing plan, although your rates will be higher than a low or no-risk account.

Find out if you can get a flat-rate pricing plan which will make billing a lot easier. If you discover that a merchant processor is charging extremely high per-transaction charges, you may want to steer clear. Compare rates and plans until you find one that’s within a reasonable amount.

4. Be Aware of Rolling Reserves

The term rolling reserves refers to money that is set aside from the proceeds of your sales in order to cover certain expenses. These reserves will help pay for things like chargebacks, and they’re put in place to protect the merchant processor.

Since many high-risk accounts tend to go out business, these reserves are there to cover any unexpected costs to the merchant processing company. If you’re new in business, you can almost guarantee that this is a requirement. However, as time goes on, the rolling reserves should decrease as long as your account remains in good standing.

5. Read the Fine Print

Any reputable merchant processor will give you a contract that spells out all of your fees and terms. Make sure you read this thoroughly before you make a commitment.

Look closely for different clauses that could cause you to pay even more than you expected. Some companies claim to specialize in high-risk accounts so they feel that they can charge their merchant accounts exorbitant fees. Do your homework and never sign anything until you’re completely comfortable with the terms and the cost.

If you’re ever in doubt about a potential merchant processor, ask your fellow business owners who they recommend. You can also read reviews online to find out which ones most high-risk customers are happy with, and which ones to avoid.

6. Security Measures will be Added

A quality payment processor will add some layers of additional security to your account. This can actually benefit you since it will help prevent fraudulent transactions and dishonest chargeback claims.

Requiring things like CVV2 verification is a good thing since it protects you and your processor from fraud. Ask your provider about what kinds of security measures they take to protect themselves and your business from unscrupulous transactions.

7. Develop a Good Track Record

If you really want to lower the costs associated with a high risk merchant account, work diligently to prove your salt. This could mean anything from reducing or completely eliminating chargebacks to consistently showing a profit for a long period of time.

The longer your business does well and maintains its reputation, the better off you’ll be in the eyes of the merchant processor. Some providers may even reward their high-risk accounts with lower rolling reserves over time or even reducing fees as time goes on.

Ask several potential merchant processors what kind of benefits they offer high-risk accounts if they do well. You might be surprised at the progress and positive benefits you can reap once the business is more established.

Success is Possible

Even if you operate a high-risk business, there’s no need to despair. With a few helpful bits of information and a little research, you can find a quality high risk merchant account that will serve your needs well.

Visit our website for more information about: High Risk Merchant Services.

7 Life-Saving Tips That’ll Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

Do you want to raise your credit score quickly? If you follow these tips, you'll see improvement in your score in no time.

7 Life-Saving Tips That’ll Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

16% of Americans have a credit score of below 579. This is the lowest level of the FICO score and is categorized as “very poor”.

A poor credit score can have a serious impact on your personal life and can affect your business negatively as well.

While no one can guarantee that you will hit an exceptional score, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score.

Here are seven tips to raise your credit score quickly.

1. Check Your Report for Errors and Omissions

The very first step to take is to get a copy of your credit card report. This is the only way to know where you stand before you figure out the specific actions to take to make things better.

This is, however, not all you will be doing with your report. Go through it carefully, checking for any error and omissions.

Look for things like a repaid debt that’s been listed as a default or a loan you repaid on time that is not listed.

If you identify any of these issues, move to have them corrected. This action in itself can add a few points to your rating.

2. Negotiate on Outstanding Balances

You will be surprised at how helpful your creditors can be. Unfortunately, if you never ask, you will never find out.

If you are having trouble making payments, make contact with your credit card issuer and communicate this with them.

Most providers have temporary hardship programs you can take advantage of. The benefit of this is that you can have your repayment amounts reduced until you get back on your feet.

Smaller, more manageable installments mean you can pay a lot more comfortably. This is better than skipping payments and having a creditor send a negative report that sheds a few points off your score.

3. Get Added as an Authorized User

This is a great way of giving your credit score an immediate boost. This works particularly well if you are just starting out and have little information on your credit rating.

You do this by getting someone with a high credit card limit and an even greater repayment history. Their card issuer sends them a card with your name on it.

Legally, you are not obligated to make payments on any debt accrued on the card. But its usage reflects positively on your credit score.

The key is finding someone with above board transactions. In a sense, you inherit the person’s positive credit history.

However, not all credit card companies report authorized users. Before you get on it, do your research and find out if it will be reported.

4. Ask Creditors to Delete Late Payments

It’s not uncommon to fall behind on payments from time to time. However, these small mistakes lower your credit score.

If you are in good standing with your creditors, it does not hurt to request them to delete some of the reported late payments. Financial institutions regularly communicate with Credit Referencing Bureaus, and all it would take is a quick phone call on your behalf.

If the request goes through, then you will have fewer negative reports, which will add some points to your credit rating. Nevertheless, try and restrict your late payments to 30 days. Creditors will not report late dues failing in this time frame.

If your issue is forgetfulness, rather than availability of funds, you can have your banker or employer make direct payments if this facility is available. If not, there are numerous software tools you can use to remind you when your payments are due.

5. Old Debts Can Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

You might be eager to forget about your car loan or student loan debts once you make the final payment.

However, as long as you completed your payments promptly, those records may help your scoring. The same is true for credit card debt.

All you need to do is keep these debts on your record. If they were entirely left out, then provide all the information to the credit Reference Bureau so they can use it to calculate your credit score.

Bad payment histories are deleted with time. However, bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years and late payments for seven years. You don’t have much leeway with these.

6. Watch Your Credit Utilization Rate

Credit utilization is the amount of credit card balance you have compared to your credit limit.

This is the second largest factor affecting your credit score. The first is your credit repayment history.

The more credit you use on your credit card, the further down your credit rating drops. This trend indicates you are spending a significant portion of your income to repay debt, which makes you likelier to default on payments.

The best credit utilization is 0, which means your credit card limit is untouched. This defeats the purpose of applying for a credit card in the first place.

As a rule of thumb, keep your credit utilization ratio at 30%. This means using less than 30% of the credit limit availed to you. Anything above this can cause your rating to drop.

Under the FICO system, people with the highest scores have a utilization rate of 7%. The lower your utilization, the better.

7. Jump on Score Boosting programs

The average age and number of accounts you have held are an important consideration in evaluating how you handle debt.

This tends to disadvantage people with a limited credit history.

UltraFico and Experian Boost allow people with limited credit histories to puff it up using other information.

Experian requires access to your online banking data and allows Credit Referencing Bureaus to add utility payments to your history.

In the same way, UltraFico allows you to give permissions for savings and checking accounts to be used alongside your report when calculating your credit score.

Consistency Is Key

All in all, while it is possible to raise your credit score quickly, expect a few bumps along the way and allow yourself some time.

At First Financial, we understand that while you work on your credit rating you might still need help from time to time. No matter your credit score, we have a financing solution for you. Contact us today for more information.

Take the Pain out of Monitoring Your Finance

Go from bad credit to good credit without beating yourself up

Can there be any joy in monitoring your finances? Your bank balance is disappointing more often than not. Trimming expenses doesn’t bring any joy. Reminders of irresponsibility can be a gut punch.

Still, a different mindset can help you make the changes to put you on the path to good credit.   

Begin by forgiving yourself for financial mistakes

The shame and blame we heap upon ourselves for not being where we want to be financially can make our situations worse. It leads us to avoid confronting credit spending, recurring debits from bank accounts, balances on personal loans or car loans, and important conversations with family members.

Shame springs from an idea that the individual has departed from social norms. Start dismissing your shame when you understand that one in three others you’ll meet today also have credit under 601. That’s right—one-third of Americans today have bad credit.

The individual experiencing bad credit has lots of company. And is this all their fault?  With aggressive companies relentlessly bombarding us with messages that we deserve their products and that we must keep up with our peers, it’s no wonder we overextend ourselves.

If you can grab your financial issues “by the horns” so to speak, you have made the first

 step on the path to success. Some psychologists tell us that, “a willingness to endure discomfort and capitalize on challenge is a trademark among successful, fulfilled individuals.” While it will require a little effort, put a budget in place, inform those who may impact it, stick to it. You’ll quickly find positive feelings about yourself and your financial situation multiplying. As Benjamin Franklin told the framers of our constitution, “Once begun, half done.” Those quill pens got to writing, despite their enormous task. 

Gamify Your Savings

Rather than tracking every $3 coffee, focus more on a positive indicator: your savings level. As that rises, set a reward after reaching certain amounts. The reward could be you get to buy a new piece of clothing or 10 shares of SnapChat stock. Set these levels up ahead of time and stick to these commitments. These rewards can offset the sense of loss from avoiding day-to-day overspending.

Take the pressure off when you avoid social media

First and foremost, understand that social media is simply carefully selected snippets of your friends’ and family members lives. What they choose to share is designed to elicit envy. Those of us here at First Financial are constantly surprised at friends’ life-is-so-great posts and how these compare to what we know are their real struggles.

What’s more, when you focus on others, you remove your attention from your own issues. If you have bad credit, all your attention needs paid to your spending and savings plans.

Let the social world turn without you when you use a religious tradition, mindfulness, meditation or good old smart reading to understand how pointless it is to compare yourself to friends, relatives.

Deepen Your Relationships when You Lay It All Out for Loved Ones

Serious conversations with loved ones can be intimidating, particularly when they’re about money. Strategize how to take the sting out of belt-tightening before you tackle it with those you love. In other words, have alternate plans to take the place of lavish habits so that your new financial regimen doesn’t translate as 100 percent loss.  

First, explain how it’s important now to join forces for common goals and how these efforts will unite you. Emphasize that working together for financial fitness by cooking meals together, going to resale and thrift shops and competing for better money saving strategies will get you talking and sharing more. Also, make sure you include your family members’ long- and short-term goals in your planning. Study after study reveals that children and spouses prefer experiences and time spent together over material goods anyway. Shared experiences just connect us better and for longer than shared material consumption. Use that research if you have to!

Your new financial fitness system may benefit from gratitude journals. Everyone should jot down at least one thing they’re grateful for every day. Sharing is optional, but when these grateful moments that include others are shared, it strengthens bonds. These journals, particularly effective when an individual is feeling particularly short-changed, have proven to increase happiness significantly.

Overlooked Benefits of Credit Card Usage

Want to maximize your money and scrutinize your spending? Use credit cards! Most come with no monthly fee, and if you pay them off every month, no interest accrues. In addition to convenience at the parking structure exit and online store, credit cards make life easier in so many ways.

Credit Cards Protect Your Purchases

Hopefully, you choose your purchases only after careful consideration. If you want extra protection, however, use credit cards for online purchases and even large in-person transactions. Money transferred via debit card, check or cash is far tougher to retrieve if the purchase turns out to be defective or not what you have expected. With credit cards, however, you can call the issuer and dispute the charge. This puts the financial transfer on hold until the vendor can satisfy the buyer, until the vendor agrees to return the money, or the bank sides with the consumer and refuses to pay. The protections afforded by the credit card give you a chance to try out the product so you can make sure you’ve gotten what you expected.

Consider, too, putting home and lawn remodeling on a credit card to protect yourself. If you cut a down-payment check up front, that money is gone. A landscaper can leave your yard an excavated mess and never show up again. If you put the down-payment on a credit card, you can dispute the charges and hopefully get your money back from the bank. While a dispute is pending, you won’t have to pay interest charges according to federal law.  If your credit issuer decides in your favor, you won’t owe anything.

Credit Cards Protect You from Fraud

Barely a month goes without hearing about how a large company’s customer data has been hacked. Your financial liability for charges resulting from identity theft depends how quickly you find out about it and alert the card issuer. Federal law mandates that your liability for credit card fraud can never be more than $50.00.

You Want Vacation Benefits

Hotels, restaurants and car rental companies know your credit card most likely has a higher limit than the money in your checking account. They want you to use your credit card and will offer all kinds of incentives if you pull out the plastic. All you need is a little self-discipline to take advantage of the perks without getting into over-spending. And, whatever you do, don’t fall for messages that you can afford more. Stick to your budget. They’re happy to run your credit cards up to the limit, but you have ultimate control.

The cards themselves, too, pass along incentives from time to time. If you read your credit card agreement, you may find extended warranties on large purchases, insurance coverage on rental cars or price guarantees on products bought with the card. Want to leverage every penny you earn? Read your credit card fine print! You won’t find rewards on debit cards.

Transacting business in the United States today often takes credit cards. They not only make life convenient, they make it safer and filled with more fun perks. If you want a credit card that fits your lifestyle and helps you achieve your goal, don’t hesitate to review First Financial’s wide variety of credit cards here.

What Your Peers Are Spending & Borrowing for Cars in 2019

Get some perspective on your auto goals by analyzing the budget others are advocating for transportation. Today, many pundits consider the car to be a consumer’s biggest high-tech device. With voice-enabled navigation, communication and entertainment options standard, really, we have to agree. Then, too, technological advances like near-automated steering and emergency stop assistance (should driver lose consciousness) are making cars safer. With all of these dream features, higher price tags follow.

To ensure drivers get into these space-age vehicles, the car and car loan industries are adapting with better deals and longer loan terms. If you haven’t bought a car for a while, knowing industry averages will help guide your decisions.

Experian’s analysis of 4.7 million auto loans reveals that the average American car payment is $523 per month. Buyers of new cars, trucks and SUVs borrow an average of $31,453 to get their new rides onto their driveways. The average length of a car loan is five years and nine months, not too far away from the typical five-year term, but revealing that people are taking out longer term loans as mentioned above.

Today, many new and used car buyers are getting their loans online before heading to the dealership. After all, with the loan issues taken care of, buyers can better negotiate car price. They also have the confidence to walk off the dealer lot when they are qualified for financing. Car shop on your terms when you secure your auto loan through A+ rated First Financial.

When and Why to Use a Personal Loan to Buy a Car

Given that they’re secured loans, auto loan interest rates can be low, making them the obvious choice for buying a car. Still, there are certain situations where a personal loan for a car purchase makes sense, too.

First, ever seen a line of cars outside of your favorite grocery store? They’re all for sale, and often several buyers are milling around looking to get a cool ride at a great deal. Sellers always want money immediately, and they certainly don’t want to mess around with being paid over months. That means you need the cash on hand in the form of a cashier’s check. The online personal loan puts the funds in your checking account within days. If you have it ready to go when you make an offer, you have a better chance of getting the car.

Then, if tail fins and hood ornaments are your thing, you have classic cars on the brain. Vintage collectors know that lenders hesitate to finance a car if it’s under a certain age or is over 200,000 miles. Personal loans come in handy to snatch that old Corvette or Mustang from the market.

Finally, low-credit-score borrowers can sometimes get lower interest rates when they go the personal loan route. Some lenders, like First Financial, specialize in providing personal loans to those with credit challenges.

Online lenders have the fastest, easiest processes for winning personal loans. You find out in minutes how much you qualify for and get the money the next day in most cases. Have more questions? Review our personal loan FAQs. Ready to apply?

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What personal loan amount can I get?

Happy merchant avoiding EMV chargebacksIn general, personal loan amounts range from $2,000 to $50,000.  Borrowers with credit scores over 680, low debt utilization and robust income win amounts toward $50,000. Those not hitting those marks tend to get less. What are the criteria for determining personal loan amount?

It’s certainly not what you need, no matter how much you need it. Your wedding expenses bill of $30,000 or your remodel estimate of $50,000 doesn’t win you that amount automatically. The amount you can borrow with a personal loan depends on your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio and the purpose for the debt. Lenders evaluate how much you’re most likely to pay off, not what you need. Of course, those with higher credit scores will get better rates, but even those with fair, poor and bad credit can qualify for personal loans should their DTI and borrowing purpose warrant it.

Since 2012, lenders have been assertive about asking the purpose of the loan. Unlike with a quick cash advance, lenders are more generous when the purpose may strengthen the borrower’s financial health. A remodel or debt consolidation put a twinkle in lenders’ eyes.  Lenders actually consider some purposes frivolous these days. They’ve been known to turn down vacations, hot tubs, and other non-essentials, particularly if DTI is high. In the end, however, most consider the purpose of the personal loan an “influencing” factor rather than a primary one.

The debt-to-income ratio measures the amount going to debt service every month compared to the income coming in. A good debt-to-income ratio is 35 percent or below. At just eight points higher—43 percent—most lenders will not approve a borrower for a loan. Debt includes personal loans, student loans, car loans, mortgages and credit card bills. Your cable bill, rent, and car insurance do not figure into this debt calculation. Calculate your debt to income ratio and know your credit score so you can understand whether your loan amount offers are the best you can get.

A+ Rated First Financial Specializes in Low-Credit-Score Personal Loans

You may be surprised to learn that different lenders like to specialize in niche loans and borrowers. Some go for very short-term loans with high amounts. Others want to write only loans for borrowers with excellent credit. They create loan “products” that work well for the needs of that audience and don’t want to spend the time and money finding clients in other niches.

Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, First Financial has developed a specialty in serving those with fair, poor and bad credit scores—also known as “subprime” borrowers. We get you the money you need, all in the comfort of your home. You will know whether you qualify in five minutes or less with NO IMPACT to your credit. Apply today!

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Know the 4 Most Common Auto Loan Mistakes Before you Go to the Dealer

cash and car for auto loan
Be aware of auto loan pitfalls and save! 

 

Want to hear something scary? “The big mistakes are made in the financing office,” explains Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com, the auto research website. “Making the right decisions can save thousands over the life of the loan.”

A car is a big purchase with a lot of moving parts. Dealers makes their profits between the gaps in buyer’s knowledge and they may try to confuse by unleashing lots of terms like “negative equity” and “origination fees.” Use these recommendations from experts to save thousands over the life of your car loan.

Don’t let the dealer define your credit score or credit “worthiness.”

Walk into the showroom with your credit report snugly in your back pocket. Otherwise, you run the risk that the salesperson leaves your negotiation only to come back with bad news about your credit. And of course that score isn’t high enough to get you the best rates. Who knows if he or she was checking your scores or playing a quick game of hacky sack? Dealers know that most consumers do not check their credit before being lured in by deals. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to this unethical treatment.

We discuss how to find your credit score easily in our previous blog post on rebuilding your credit (LINK). Just go to Annualcreditreport.com, fill out a few fields and your report arrives in you inbox instantly. Trust these results from the only free site authorized by the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission. Typically, anyone with a credit score of 720 or higher gets the lowest interest rates as they’ve demonstrated the most responsible money management. Still high 600s to low 700s is considered a “good” score. Those with lower scores can still get loans, but they will pay more in interest and fees.

Another way to check your credit is to get pre-approved from an outside lender like your bank or by applying for an online auto loan.  If you can manage to shave just 1 percent from your car loan, you’ll pay hundreds less over the next five or six years.  

Don’t make the wrong choice between a loan interest rate and a cash rebate.

Sure, the cash rebate feels enticing. And it might be the right choice if you use it to pay off other, higher interest loans like cash advances or credit cards. Basically, you need to decide if you want a lump sum up front or lower monthly payments over the next five or six years. Of course, not every car buyer is offered low-interest car financing, only those with the best credit scores. Again, know your score before you go to the dealership.

Don’t roll negative equity forward.

Some like to get new cars every two years. Often, they walk into the dealership with their auto loan “upside down.” That means they still owe more on the car than it’s worth. While those loving shiny new cars can get their next ride even if their loan is upside down, they’re putting themselves on a downward financial spiral.

Dealers don’t care what financial shape the car buyer puts themselves in. They will just add the negative equity–what you owe–into the purchase price of the new car. Chances are, this frequent buyer will just roll even more negative equity into the next new car, too.

Rather than enter this vicious cycle, consider buying a used car. A car loses much of its value in the first two years off the lot. And today, most cars are built to last 250,000 miles. Consider keeping the car longer and buying used to get the most for your car budget.

Don’t finance costly add-ons.

Just as movie theaters make most of their money on the popcorn, 37% of auto dealer’s profits come through aftermarket add-ons. These add-ons include  extended warranties, fabric protection and paint sealant and they are always less expensive from vendors other than the dealer. These costs feel like a no brainer when amortized over the life of the loan. The salesperson is quick to tell you that they add just a few dollars to every payment. Still, even $20 more over 60 payments is an additional $1200–real money.  

Don’t hesitate to question all fees.

With the deal wrapping up, a buyer’s guard is down. Salespeople know this well. The deal takes so long for a reason. It’s at the end that a salesperson may bring up unusual fees that may have official sounding names. Review all of the legitimate fees here and don’t hesitate to push the salesperson to drop anything that sounds suspicious.

A+ Rated First Financial Approves Auto Loans Up to $45,000

Better Business Bureau A+ rated First Financial has helped arrange over 1,000,000 auto loans, some with approved amounts of up to $45,000. We have loans for borrowers with all credit scores, even fair poor and bad credit. Take three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan and get your answer fast!

 

How to Get a Personal Loan for a Remodel

 

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

-Jane Austen

a man nailing a board in a home remodel

Home has a magical place in Americans’ hearts, and lenders know it.

Because much of the U.S. economy is built on home ownership, the federal government encourages banks to lend to homeowners looking to remodel. If you want to get a personal loan for a home remodel, rest assured, many lenders will be happy to help. Interest rates on personal loans range from as low as 3.49% to as high as 36%. On average, they run from 10% to 32%.  Those going for a 32% loan typically plan to remodel the house, sell it fast and repay the loan as quickly as possible.

Today’s remodeler can get more money than ever (even with bad credit), but finding the right deal has gotten challenging. Use these guidelines to get clear on your needs and limitations before evaluating different lenders. Your first step is understanding how much you will need.

A Shortcut to Your Estimated Remodel Costs

HomeAdvisor.com provides estimates of how much your remodel will (or should) cost. It gives you the high, low and average prices. You can even fill in your zip code to get the most accurate figures. Lenders will ask for an estimate and accounting of your costs. They will also want a bid from a contractor that specifies labor, materials and other costs.

Create a spreadsheet or list of all the new features you’re looking for. In our kitchen example, a new stove can run anywhere from $400 to $5,000 for a premium gas range. In the bathroom, color-bathing with LED lights is the new rage. Get on board with your spouse or anyone else determining what will go into your remodel. Create a spreadsheet or list of all elements and their prices using a checklist from the internet that focuses on your specific room. Baseboards may be boring, but they cost money and that should be figured in (plus they make a room look really finished!)

Some costs homeowners tend to forget include:

  • Permits
  • Equipment rental
  • Clean-up and hauling charges

Going to a contractor with a spreadsheet of remodel elements sends the message that you know prices. When he or she then estimates labor, you can check those figures against. Labor typically runs 30 to 35% of the entire remodel. Once you get all potential charges, add 20% to 30% because, as contractors often say, “there’s always a wrinkle in the rug.” Unexpected issues will arise.

Elements that Figure Into Your Loan Amount and Terms

Lenders consider two elements when evaluating how much of a personal loan you can get for a remodel: your credit history and your income

To prepare for lenders’ offers (several is better than one), use CreditKarma or another service to uncover your credit score. The highest loan amounts and best interest rates go to those with good or excellent credit (no late payments in the last year and credit utilization (LINK to other blog post) 50% or lower). Still, as mentioned above, lenders like home remodeling loans because the federal government likes them. Therefore, even those with fair credit can get a personal loan for a remodel. You’ll just pay more in interest and possibly get a smaller amount.

To lower their risk, lenders evaluate your ability to make your monthly payments by examining how many other debts you currently have. They add up your monthly credit card, auto and student loan payments and then divide that figure by your monthly gross income. Many banks see a debt-to-income ratio or DTI of 35% as manageable. They recognize that you have some spending money left after paying your bills. They want this extra spending money to come to them, and will be eager to provide a personal loan.

A DTI of between 36% and 49% doesn’t mean you won’t get a loan. Lenders may want you to have a cosigner. Make these calculations before you apply for a personal loan so you can be prepared to select the right loan with the best terms.

Ready to Apply

The last piece of information you need when choosing a personal loan is the interest rate and fees the bank will charge. Lenders do NOT do a “hard pull” or serious credit inquiry when evaluating personal loan applicants. Instead they run a “pre-approval” or “pre-qualification” check.  This means you can review several offers before making a decision without any impact to your credit score. Once you select your lender, they make the hard pull ONCE.

A+ Rated First Financial Has Personal Loans for All Credit Scores!

Don’t let important home remodels go. A leaking roof can cause damage that multiplies your costs. First Financial has helped arrange tens of thousands of low-cost personal loans for home remodels. We have MORE loans for MORE applicants because working 100% online helps us reduce costs. Apply today!

 

Pay Off a Cash Advance with a Seasonal Job

nylon display in retail store

You can do anything for a few weeks, right? You might even have fun selling in a fast-paced department store. You’ll certainly get some deals. And if the extra income helps you pay off your cash advance, all the better! More, paying your cash advance off early saves significant money. Keep all the income from your paycheck and use only your side-hustle money to pay off your cash advance.

This year, the National Retail Federation estimates that their retail clients will hire nearly 700,000 seasonal or temporary workers. You can get work anywhere, including “big box” stores, local dollar shops, department stores and warehouses. You may even get a gig singing holiday wishes!

Perks of Seasonal Jobs

Seasonal retail jobs can offer some surprising benefits. Temporary employees can get the same protections and benefits as part-time or full-time workers; the U.S. Department of Labor mandates it. This includes being paid overtime and receiving at least the state’s minimum wage.

Seasonal work can also be more stable than it first appears. Your first job sets you up to come back for that same job the next year. You may even get an offer to stay on permanently, even if it’s just a one-day or two-evening per week shift. Extra money, particularly early in your career, sets you up to meet long-term financial goals.

Holiday seasonal work is not just about cash however. Retail workers typically get 20% to 30% discounts on store items they couldn’t afford otherwise. In some cases, a retail store will pay to fly you to their location and put you up in a hotel. It is a zero-employment economy after all. Stores are getting desperate for workers who will push their merchandise during the busiest time of the year. The National Retail Federation tells us that retailers make between 25% and 30% of their annual revenues just during November and December. If they’re pushed to their labor limits, they will bend over backwards to get your behind a cash register.

Working seasonal jobs can also be a way to “try out” different brands and locations to explore what you want. Applicants without experience have a much better chance of getting a job during the holiday rush than other times of the year. Build your resume while exploring your work options.

Seasonal Job Limitations

While the opportunity for extra cash and exploration seem irresistible, these benefits may not cut it for some. Keep in mind that you may be working while friends and relatives are getting together to celebrate. You will miss out. Consider whether you will be willing to work on Christmas Eve, Hanukkah, or other holidays. Also, saying you can’t make a certain shift isn’t going to impress a boss desperate to fill shifts.

Working during cold and flu season may be a risk as well. If you are sick, you don’t get paid time off or sick days. You just miss out on that day’s pay. Finally, health insurance or retirement plans may be limited.

Those currently getting unemployment benefits may have them suspended or limited if they take on seasonal work. Check with your state’s labor expert to get reliable answers.

Non-Holiday Seasonal Jobs

Those who find themselves thriving in the seasonal workforce can extend their adventures. In January and early February, temporary work forces are looking for people to staff super-bowl and Daytona 500 related events. By March, they need Easter bunnies to keeps squirmy kids engaged in high-end restaurants at Easter brunch. In the summer, it’s not hard to find a tour guide job in most major cities. By Halloween, why not put on the face paint and stalk haunted house visitors, moaning with arms stiff in front of you? It could be the role you were made for!

How to Find Your Pick of Seasonal Jobs

Today, the first place we all go for good information is the internet. Those exploring to discover their options can start broad by first going to:

  • Monster and Indeed which list thousands of seasonal jobs. Search in your area to limit results.
  • com: founder Bill Berg started this site after finding his dream job in Yellowstone National Park. Search admin, educational, jobs with fish, ranch jobs or even jobs specifically for teenagers.
  • com brands itself as a “working-travel” website. Search summer jobs, ski jobs, gap year jobs, childcare, hospitality and sports, water and outdoor positions.

Already have a dream retailer in mind? When you see how many workers your favorites need during holiday 2018, your confidence will soar. We’ve linked each retailer with its job listings here:

Amazon Seasonal Jobs –  adding 100,000, all starting at a rate of $15 per hour.

Kohl’s Seasonal Jobs – adding 90,000 in 1,100 stores, distribution and fulfillment centers.

Target Seasonal Jobs – adding 120,000, all of whom will receive 10% discounts and opportunities to earn extra pay on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

UPS Seasonal Jobs –  adding 100,000 full- and part-time seasonal workers from November through January 2019. 35% of company’s seasonal workers get permanent jobs after the holidays.

Macy’s Seasonal Jobs – adding 80,000 seasonal workers. Employees also typically get 20% off on top of sales and discounts.

FedEx Seasonal Jobs – Adding 55,000.

J.C. Penney – adding 39,000.

woman working in retail

BBB A+ Rated Cash Advances for Everybody!

Emergency cash needs befall nearly every American. First Financial provides the quick cash advance and payday loan offers so that you can:

  • Avoid bounced checks and credit dings
  • Keep cars, computers and other work-related equipment running that keeps your income consistent.
  • Avoid late fees.
  • Avoid pawning the meaningful family jewelry and heirlooms that pawn shops pay cents on the dollar for.

First Financial is America’s leading source of short-term cash advance – payday loan offers for everyone, even those with low and bad credit scores. We put you first by letting you arrange the cash transfer from home through easy online transfers. Once you’ve completed the process by filling out the final page of the form, your cash is deposited in your bank by the next business day. Apply for a convenient cash advance today!

Know these 2019 Auto Loan Trends Before You Buy a Car

aston martin with a good auto loan

There are some pretty sweet 2019 automobiles hitting the markets right now.

Acura redesigned their luxury compact RDX. Subaru is doing it’s Outback one better with its the 3-row Ascent SUV. Pickup trucks have been re-tooled as well. The compact Ford Ranger gets a sporty new design, and Chevy has modernized its powerful Silverado.

And then there are the high-tech features!

Internet connectivity, which sounded space-age just a few years ago now comes standard on many models. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto puts a range of entertainment and navigation options at drivers’ fingertips.

But before you let these new models and technological advances bewitch you, understand the trends in 2019 auto loans so you can get a deal.

Trend:  Slowing car sales

Why?:  Millennials and urban dwellers are avoiding buying cars because they find Uber and public transportation sufficient. Millennials also put less focus on material possessions reflect status. They are not enthusiastic buyers of cars OR homes.

For You:Car manufacturers and dealers will offer more incentives. Car prices will stay steady from 2018 to 2019.

Trend:  Lower loan origination fees

Why?:  Cloud processing, automated application review, and digitized documents mean dedicated, in-house loan analysts now have to get jobs at Subway. It also means lower labor costs for lenders.

For You: In the competitive auto loan market, lenders have to compete on price. Therefore, the buyer has more power to negotiate the 1% to 2% loan origination fee.

Trend:  Eight-year car loans

Why?:  Cars are lasting longer. Toyotas and Hyundais tend to get the most praise for working well after 200,000 miles.  According to autobytel.com, however, American models like the Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse hold up well into the 200,000 mile range as well. “Every new car today is built to last a quarter of a million miles,” explains Mike Calkins, AAA technical services manager. Taxi drivers brag that their Priuses make it to 600,000 miles!

For You: Car buyers who like to keep their cars for a long time can get more car for their budget with an 8-year car loan. While they’ll be in for more interest payments, using that money in other better-performing investments offsets auto loan interest costs.

Trend:  Rising interest rates

Why?:  With the economy thriving, the federal reserve has raised the federal funds rate eight times since the end of the Great Recession. It’s now at 2.25%. Most economist predict “The Fed” will bump rates up three more times in 2019 and then at least once more in 2020. With a federal funds rate at 3.25%, you bet the average auto loan cost will rise.

For You:   The tricky thing is, as happens with homes, when auto loan interest rates rise, car manufacturers tend to compensate with lower prices. They know about how much their consumers can spend each month on a car payment. Still, when you go into the dealership, don’t be surprised that the 1% interest rates have disappeared.

A+ Rated First Financial Cuts Auto Loan Costs to the Bone

Are you in the market for a new or pre-owned car? Better Business Bureau, A+ rated First Financial has auto loans for all credit types, even bad credit! Since 1996, we’ve helped arrange over 1,000,000 auto loans, some with approved amounts of up to $45,000. Take three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan at the lowest rates!

5 Best Budgeting Apps for People Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Man walking using a budgeting app

These apps take a little set-up, but after that, enjoy taking the brainwork out of every spending decision. Whether you’re just trying to cut down on needless spending or saving up for a big purchase, these apps help you reach your goal quicker.

Every Dollar

Available on Android, iOS and on desktop, Every Dollar has a very simple user interface that makes budgeting simple. User can expect to take less than ten minutes setting their first budget. The service ditches spreadsheets and offers many helpful visuals so you can see where your money is going. Tracking your spending and managing your money is super convenient with the app, and it syncs across devices so whenever you open it, you’re looking at the most up to date information. Every Dollar lets you budget confidently – the app is based on a proven plan that has helped millions of people get out of debt.

Mint

Available on both iOS and Android, Mint is one of the most popular money managing apps. Users can easily view all of their bank accounts in the app and categorize all of their expenses by category, such as utilities or food. Unique to Mint is that it lets you set spending limits for each category, and will send you an alert when you are approaching the limit. Users can also get a free credit score within the app. Lastly, users should feel safe using Mint, as it was developed by Intuit and backed by their security system.

Digit

Digit it perhaps the most unique app on this list. It does the basics like connecting to your bank account and view your transaction history just like the others. What sets it apart is that it analyzes your income and spending habits over time, and by using a unique algorithm it sets aside small amounts of money into a separate “Digit savings” account that it thinks you would have spent wastefully. Many users claim it has helped them save a lot of money, but if you don’t like it you can easily transfer the money back to your checking account for no fee. Lastly, the service has a “no overdraft guarantee” and promises to not take more money than you can afford out of your account.

Level Money

Level money is a great app for people who know the importance of saving and want to do it, while also spending their hard money however they choose. Level money lets you set a savings goal for a time period and helps you plan for future expenses, like bills. The app then informs you of any money you have left over – called spendable money – and illustrates this nicely with a helpful graph. The app also has a daily spending guide to help you stay focused on your financial goals, and will alert you if you’re spending more than usual.

Spendbook

This one is only for iOS users, and will cost $1.99. Spendbook has built in expense tracking and lets you set budgets. The app is very user friendly, adding a new income stream or expense transaction can be done with just a swipe down. The app lets you take photos of receipts and items you have purchased and then categorize them. Lastly, the app gives users a daily and monthly summary of their expenses, as well as charts and infographics to help users spot trends in their spending habits and look for ways to improve.

 

7 Tough Financial Situations a Small Personal Loan Can Solve

woman sad at need for personal loan

The small personal loan has gotten many out of difficult situations.

Did you know the personal loan has interest rates 5 to 10 points lower than a credit card? Read these situations where a small personal loan makes more sense than additional credit card debt.

Finance a Funeral with a Small Personal Loan

 Unfortunately, death is a fact of life and often strikes at the most unexpected times. Not only is it hard to go through the emotional trauma of losing someone close to you, but making the funeral arrangements in just a few short days, while also figuring out how you’re going to pay for them is extremely rough. Funerals aren’t cheap, even with relatively affordable caskets the cost can still easily run up to the thousands. If the deceased person’s assets cannot cover the expense of the funeral service, taking out a small loan with a low interest rate is one of the best routes you can take to cover the cost and work your way towards paying it off. 

A Small Personal Loan Consolidates your Debt

Most people who receive a small personal loan get one to consolidate their debt. Consolidating your debt allows you to combine multiple types of debt, such as car loans or debt accumulated from credit cards, into one total loan with a fixed interest rate, consistent monthly payment, and a closed-end term. Doing this can have multiple advantages. It can lower the interest rate on the debt, and you may also qualify to have a lower monthly payment that is paid off over a longer period. Either way, consumers with multiple outstanding debts should definitely explore consolidation.

hand of man calculating costs of small personal loan

Escape Credit Card Debt

Another effective use of a small personal loan is to use it to pay off credit card debt. Of course, this may sound counterproductive, taking out a loan and possibly going into debt again just to pay off existing debt. However, many loans are available at a low rate, which limits the amount of interest you will have to pay, along with along with an end date to help you plan out your financial future. According to Ryan Bailey, who is in charge of consumer deposits, payments, and non-real estate lending at a TD Bank branch, who says that “With an unsecured loan, you pay it off in 5 years, generally at a much lower interest rate, so it saves payment, and you actually get it paid off.”

Paying off HealthCare Bills

 Life is unpredictable and sometimes you or a loved one may end up in the Hospital. Even with health insurance, costs can often be extremely high, especially for long stays. That is why so many people take out personal loans to cover unexpected health care costs. Don’t wait to do this – credit reporting agencies may be notified of missed payments and this will damage your credit score. A personal loan can allow you to pay off your medical expenses while keeping your credit score intact.

 Make a Big, Critical Purchase

Did your old car suddenly break down and you need to buy a new one but don’t have enough money saved? Or can you afford one, but don’t qualify for a secured loan because of your credit history? A personal loan could very well be the answer. People who qualify for personal loans are more than free to put them towards a big purchase, such as buying a car, motorcycle, a small house or a boat.

Pay for a Wedding with a Small Personal Loan

Your wedding day will be one of the most unforgettable moments of your life, and it is totally reasonable that you may want to spare no expense. You already know the cost is going to add up quickly. Between the reception, the dress and tuxedo, to hosting possibly over a hundred guests, weddings are very expensive. This does not even include the cost of the rings as well as a possible honeymoon afterwards. Many couples look to personal loans to help them finance their big day. They can be used towards the expenses previously mentioned, and can ensure your wedding day will be one of the highlights of your life.

Finance Unplanned Expenses with a First Financial Personal Loan

A+ Rated, 100% Online Service

As you’ve gathered from reading this article, personal loans have many practical uses and cover a wide variety of expenses. First Financial knows how unpredictable life can be and how hard it is to keep a large sum of money sitting idle just waiting for something to happen. That’s why our loans cover more than just mentioned above. A small personal loan can also help you finance veterinary care for your pet. Or say a loved one in a different country has suddenly fallen very ill and you have to find a way to be there with them. Whatever it is, rest assured that our loans are consumer friendly with low interest rates and set end dates. In a perfect world, money shouldn’t decide if your pet can get a surgery to extend its life or if you can visit a sick relative, and with a loan from First Financial, it doesn’t have to.

How to Stop the Cash Advance Habit

saying no to a cash advance

Like any financial option, the cash advance serves consumers well when used properly. We reveal the best ways to manage the cash advance in our previous posts about when to use it and strategies to pay it off.

While a cash advance can help you keep your computer, car or apartment, some use a second cash advance to pay for the first and then get caught up in an ever increasing interest rate and fee cycle. This habit erodes your long-term financial health.

When you get your very first cash advance, to ensure you can pay it off, try to make these lifestyle changes:

  1. Check your credit card statements every month: too often, what an online service told you would cost $1, ends up having a subscriber fee of anything from $9 to $99 per month. They disguise this fact adeptly.
  1. Pay yourself automatically with automatic transfers from checking to savings or retirement IRA. Money left in checking is far easier to spend on unnecessary items.
  1. Schedule a time to take a “money minute:” monitor expenditures for the day. Check each account each day.
  1. Establish an effective spending “mantra.” This can be “I spend only on essentials” or “I treat myself with walks, books from the library or time with friends. . . not new clothes or furniture.” When we articulate our values, we feel guilty when we do not abide by them. Create a specific spending mantra to remain in control.
  1. Let a friend know about your money goals. Go an extra step and ask them to check in with you about how well you’re meeting these goals. Knowing you’re accountable will help you avoid spending.

While the cash advance does come in handy in many situations, before applying for a cash advance, make sure you can answer the following questions positively.

  1. Can you pay the money back at a designated date?
  1. Is the cash advance your best or only alternative?
  1. Do you really need what you want to buy or pay for (like cars, living arrangements, computers that keep you earning?)

Break the cash advance habit to save

A+ Rated First Financial Gets You Money without Eroding Your Credit

When considering personal loans, don’t forget that online lenders have the automation and reduced overhead to offer the best loans and terms. First Financial is the national leader in providing cash advances for borrowers of all types, even bad credit borrowers. Just fill out some forms, upload documents and get the money in your account in a matter of days. The Better Business Bureau rates First Financial A+ because we make customer service our highest priority.

 

 

Cash Advances: 3 Best Times to Use Them

Even though people love their plastic debit card, cash still serves in many situations. For years, groups have lobbied for the end to the penny and even the nickel. The American people won’t have it. Cash is convenient. It makes discounts possible. Many times, it even makes sense to get a cash advance.

Cash Only Transactions

With Craigslist, Close5 and more consumer to consumer marketplaces gaining in popularity, sellers tend to want cash. Considered, the most convenient mode of payment, they also unlock discounts. Stores that don’t take credit cards (yes there are some!) can put you through the wringer if you’re trying to write a check. Handing over cash just makes everyone happy.
Sometimes, too, vendors have a credit price and a cash price, with the cash price coming in 10 to 15% lower than credit or debit. We’ve run into this at small, independent auto and computer repair shops, as well as thrift, pawn, and antique stores. Many pet breeders also insist on getting cash.
If you’re able to pay off the cash advance within the month time frame, using a cash advance to get what you need makes sense.

To Capture an Immediate Opportunity

When an individual or company is selling something that many want, a buyer can stand out from competition by offering cash. Industries that respond well to cash offers typically include real estate, automotive, antique and jewelry.
Having cash on-hand can be smart when you’re going to shop at thrift shops, swap meets, antique stores and more. Be it from being able to have discounts off your favorite goods to grabbing an opportunity that otherwise unattainable.

Lending to a Loved One

It can be tough to lend money to family member or friend because you run the risk of not getting it back. Your borrower, particularly when struggling, may quickly put you at the bottom of the repayment list. This leads to resentment and a loss of trust.
One way to offload the responsibility is to use a cash advance and make it clear what the interest rate is and your debt to the lender. This can add the pressure to your borrower to make sure that he pays the money that he owes. This way you would be quite sure that he is certainly going to pay you back.
A very good example of this would be a typical home scenario wherein the son, employed but without a credit card, goes to you as his parent for help buying something he cannot afford in his monthly salary. To teach him a lesson about paying on time and paying regularly until such time that the debt is fully paid, make sure he understands that you will have to pay the debt soon. Even 20-year-olds need financial lessons.

Trust A+ Rated First Financial Secure and Speedy Cash Advances to Get You What You Need!

When considering a cash advance, don’t forget that online lenders have the automation and reduced overhead to offer the best loans and terms. First Financial is the national leader in providing cash advances for borrowers of all types, even bad credit borrowers. The Better Business Bureau rates First Financial A+ because we make customer service our highest priority.

Successful Marketing Tactics for the Web Design Company

web design presentation

Web designers with a niche can command higher fees. 

 While the growing demand for web design is something to celebrate, it also brings new designers to the market, making competition fierce. The freelance web designer needs to be an able marketer, coder and creative artist to earn a living.

Conquer the marketing aspect of running your own web design company by reading these tried-and-true tactics. 

  1. Get a Niche

Today, the business website is critical not only to bring in new customers, but to establish credibility.

Capturing the true size of the market only starts with every business having a mobile-friendly website. Anymore, businesses are putting up separate websites for events they put on, books they write and communities they establish. Further, every entrepreneur starts one business only to spin off two or three others. As we discussed in our post, Web Design Outlook for 2016 and Beyond, demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024, but the American economy will call for 27% more web developers and designers.

Long story short: there’s enough business to go around. Designers with niches (restaurants, finance, healthcare, retail, etc.) can begin to build deep expertise. They learn characteristics not only of their clients, but their client’s target audiences and referral partners. Further, they learn the legal limitations and opportunities for everything they can say on the website. When a web designer can convince a prospect they learned from the successes and failures of past attempts, they gain credibility . . . and more money. Most businesses would prefer to pay a little more to get the job done right the first time.

 

  1. Network in the Niche

Everybody knows how to network through their Chambers of Commerce where they meet people in all industries. Finding niche networks helps the web designer hear all of the participants’ pain points, complaints, opportunities and successes. This information eventually becomes very valuable, as the informed web designer can explain the prospect’s issues before he or she even has a chance. Networking events also gives you opportunity to meet new talented people, create connections with them and eventually find potential customers.

Putting on a presentation or attending a meet-up in your niche also gives you the opportunity to connect on a personal, face-to-face basis. Even volunteering your skills for an organization showcases your talents to your selected niche.

web designer with client

 

  1. Set up a Good Looking Portfolio

This is the best way to show off all your skills and experience on web designing. This lures customers and make them interested in your capabilities. You can attached this to your own website or any owned social media accounts.

You can go general in your portfolio. Do not just limit your portfolio to skills and experience related to web designing. You can go general and make people see your other talents. They might serve as an additional asset so keep your portfolio versatile.

  1. Make Valuable Partnerships

You can collaborate with field related businesses like web hosting companies or web developers. In this way, you are actually operationally putting your skills to the test. You can also offer more to your clients with the additional features and services from your partner companies, an advantage in keeping up over other competing web designers.

  1. Making it Personal

If you want to make your customers happy, you need to make them feel that you genuinely care for them and can provide them quality service and output with personal intentions even after you are done making your work and have been already paid. There are customers that need to be wooed and need to be given nice gestures, compliments to win them. Gifts and like chocolates and cupcakes, as well as holiday greetings or anything that reflect you as devoted and friendly can win them over. This also includes your way of advertising your service. Try to be a bit provoking and trendy that can catch someone’s attention.

 

These are the 5 most helpful tips in marketing planning for web designers like you to be successful in the industry. Remember that you have to be versatile to new strategies and techniques so that you keep up with the new trends and demands. Attract customers, make them happy, and you will be successful. When you go to collect credit card payments, remember to apply at A+ Rated First Financial, where high-risk businesses like web designers get the best merchant accounts.

 

Where to Get On-Shore & Off-Shore Tech Support Reps

TECH support reps with headsets

 Software and software-as-a-service products have been booming for the past 20 years. Anymore, it’s not just computers and cars that need software. It’s high-end coffee-makers, showers (really!), and the refrigerator. The Internet of Things (IoT) makes it so.

When these ubiquitous household devices need setting up and troubleshooting, chances are, the average American becomes incredibly FRUSTRATED. That’s when they get online with tech support.

IBISworld.com, the leading premiere business industry research website, has found that the tech support industry will grow “faster than the average for all occupation.” over the next ten years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) concurs in its findings that computer/tech support specialist will increase 17% from through the year 2022. The U.S. Department of Labor also mentioned that the computer systems services industry is one of the economy’s “largest and fastest sources of employment growth.”[1]

If the proliferation of the Internet of Things doesn’t convince you, consider the software-as-a-service companies like DropBox, Sales Force, and Google Apps. Even Microsoft Office 365 now lives in the cloud. Downloading a $600 program will be replaced by a $20 monthly subscription that the provider hopes lasts three years or more. Where once, Photoshop and the graphic designers who used it cornered the market, today, consumers have turned to SaaS products like Canva and PicMonkey, much of which can be used for free. And yet . . . they can be confusing to a large portion of the population. U.S. based technical support services have no place to go but up.

The tech support company’s potential is most often hampered by capacity. After all, one forward-thinking entrepreneur can’t answer all the calls 24/7. Every tech support company needs a reliable workforce. Where then, can an American entrepreneur find the professionals who can help him or her competently guide consumers past their set-up instructions and general confusion? More, where can a technical support entrepreneur find people at a labor cost that will keep him or her in business.

Off-shore v. On-shore Technical Professionals

 To pay one-third or less for technical support staff, entrepreneurs must go overseas. Those who aren’t off-shore human resources specialists must depend on third parties who’ve become experts in these fields. A few include:

  • Info link– Provides resources and services for outsourcing technical product and IT support. 915-577-9466
  • Invensis Technologies– Provides outsourced contact center, help desk, IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing services globally. 302- 261-9036
  • J-Curve Technologies – Provides technical and operational callcenter outsourcing solutions. 602-792-6100
  • Nirix – Provides remote IT support, offsite data backup, on-site computer services, managed email hosting. 780-414-1556

Once these services provide you with candidates, you can vet them with you own list of questions. We suggest choosing from the following:

  • What makes you a superior technical support specialist?
  • How do you approach customer service?
  • How do you calm upset, frustrated customers?
  • What positive or negative feedback from a customer has made you a better tech support specialist?
  • What has been your best strategy when you don’t know the answer to a question?
  • How would you go about becoming a subject matter expert for your employer?
  • Scenario: “My software isn’t _________________. How would you help me fix it.”

A+ Rated First Financial Helps Tech Support Companies Stay in Business

Anymore, every business owner must be able to process credit and debit cards via the internet, particularly tech support.

If you’ve learned that banks consider your tech support business to be high-risk, you may have to consider alternative merchant services providers to make monthly payments possible. With lower marketing costs and overhead, reliable internet merchant services providers provide all the traditional bank safety at reasonable rates.

Aware that categorization as high-risk can be arbitrary, First Financial specializes in these cutting-edge, often new, industries. The computer hardware industry was once considered high-risk because banks considered PCs and Macs unproven. Now every family has one or more for each member! Apply for our tech support merchant services today here!

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Computer Support Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm

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