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How to Manage Employee Expenses with Prepaid Debit Cards

We’ve all seen movies depicting employees whipping out the corporate credit card to pay for extravagant meals and entertainment. Business owners shudder at these scenes, and they should. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners tells us that 15 percent of all employee expenses can be categorized as fraud. In another study, 66 percent of employees admit to abusing the company card with:

  • High-priced dinners
  • Office supplies for home use
  • Mobile phone and app purchases and upgrades
  • Airline upgrades

Another portion admit to inflating transportation expenses, getting a cash refund from an expensed item and even creating a fake expense. These last three are full-on fraud. Still, with every opportunity, some people will take advantage. The credit card with a limit of thousands of dollars just trips some kind of spending wire in some employees. When a card’s limit set at $5,000, a $75 dinner for one seems reasonable.

Business owners can reduce their exposure to “expense padding” and fraud when they give their employees secure prepaid debit cards as opposed to credit cards. Like a teen with a set spending amount, employees must budget within a the debit card’s finite amount.

When presented positively, the prepaid debit card can be just as appreciated by employees as the credit card. Simply explain that the debit card works best for your taxes and/or accounting structure. Make this expense tool a decision based on business goals, not something to keep employee spending in line. Avoid mentioning potential expense abuse or fraud all together.

Other benefits of the prepaid debit card for business includes:

  • Easy availability: get instant approval from the best online sources. With online banking now as secure as traditional, bricks-and-mortar banking, anyone can apply for and receive prepaid debit cards within days of ordering. Pay using your credit card or business bank account.
  • No credit card dings: prepaid debit cards do not intersect with your business’s credit rating in the least. From the moment you buy it until the moment the employee spends the last $5, the debit card involves only up-front cash transactions.
  • Convenience: Prepaid business cards are accepted everywhere the issuers’ cards are accepted. In-store, online and phone purchases all work with a prepaid debit card.
  • Better employee spending controlLoad the card with a set limit of money and task the employee to stay within that amount. As with a credit card, debit cards allow you to track exactly what the employee spends. Some companies even let you monitor business card transactions from your computer or mobile app. Business owners can even freeze and unfreeze the debit card as needed.

Prepaid Debit Cards Control Employee Spending So You Don’t Have to!

Some businesses choose company credit cards rather than debit cards because of the potential for rewards and the lower fees. Debit cards can also come with more fees than credit cards. Still, when compared to the financial losses due to abuse, these fees are negligible.

When a small business becomes a mid-sized business, expenses accounts follow quickly, especially for sales professionals. Then, additional office locations can mean travel expenses. Debit and credit cards empower employees to make their own decisions while keeping spend under control.

Credit Score Hit by Holiday Shopping? How to Rebuild with Credit Cards

 

The bill for the holiday fun comes due in January when the credit card statements arrive. You may even have used a quick cash advance to get all your gifts purchased during November and December. Prepare now to tackle those bills AND improve your credit score throughout the new year.

Step 1: A Few Clicks Gets Your Credit Report in Your Inbox

The first of the year inspires all kinds of resolutions. If you want this new year to be when you get your financial house in order, it’s time now to tackle that daunting document: your credit report.

You’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. Annualcreditreport.com is the only free site authorized by the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission. Don’t be intimidated. Just fill out a few fields, check some boxes and it comes right to you.

Step #2: Take a Look at Your Credit Utilization

Statement in front of you? Good. We’ll take it step by step.

The first element of your credit card examine is your credit utilization–basically, how much credit you have used compared to the total that banks are willing to lend you. Those using 50% of their available credit on any one account or 50% of credit offered across ALL accounts have lower scores than card holders using less than that halfway point. If you’ve spent $10,000 of a $15,000 limit, you’re using 67% of your available credit. Your annoying brother-in-law using only $5,000  of a $15,000 limit has a 33% credit utilization rate.

Credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your score. It’s also rather simple to improve. How? Apply for new credit cards and ask for the highest limits. Then, assuming you start with the $15,000 credit limit we discussed above, an additional $10,000 in new credit available to you gets you to a new limit of $25,000.  $10,000 out of an available $25,000 credit line creates a 40% credit utilization, far lower than 67%. Keep working on it and you’ll be below 30% in no time.

Credit card limits are tricky. Even if a credit card issuer approves you for $10,000 or $20,000, it doesn’t mean they think you have the income to spend all of that. Approved for $20,000? Best to keep your debt to $10,000 and under.

Your new January approach will be to work your credit card balances down below 50% of your limits or the amount your bank permits you to borrow. Whether that’s through paying down balances or opening new credit lines depends on your financial situation.

Step 3: Look at Late and Missed Payments

Where credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score, late payments impact it even more. Even one payment that’s late 30 days starts shaving points, but 60 and 90 day late payments wreck real havoc. At 120 days, most card issuers hand the account over to a collections agency. Now you’re talking about having your credit score drop into the 500s.

If you see that you have late payments, don’t despair. These three options may get them removed:

  • Ask the creditor for a “goodwill adjustment,” based on the responsible payments you have made.
  • Tell the creditor you will sign up for automatic payments debited from your bank account if they remove the late payment.
  • Claim the late payment is inaccurate. This works only if you have documentation, however.
  • Employ a professional to negotiate with the creditor.

After you’ve addressed your credit utilization and payment history data, you can go forward knowing exactly how to put your best foot forward in rebuilding your credit.

Step 4: Rebuild with Secured Credit Cards

With a firm understanding of how credit scores are calculated and how your behavior contributes to them, you can be confident about finding credit cards that will stabilize your finances.   

Keep that positive in mind when you find out that you most like will need to start out by using “secured” credit cards that have fees, low limits and may even require a deposit. Banks and the U.S. government want you spending, so the secured credit card is the way they make it happen.

These credit cards work just like a regular credit card, except you deposit often the same amount of cash collateral that they permit you to spend. What’s the benefit, then? These secured credit cards report to the three credit bureaus ( Experian, TransUnion and Equifax ) that you’ve shown responsible use of your secured credit card. Every on-time payment gets documented.

Eventually, the secured credit card company should approach you about using an unsecured credit card, where you don’t have to put up the cash. If they don’t after six to nine months, by all means apply for a different unsecured credit card or approach your current company for the same opportunity. The credit card company will consider how you’ve managed –not only your secured card– but all of your credit cards and loans.

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Once you get the unsecured card, your collateral from the secured card comes back to you, given you’ve paid all charges.  

Come Back from Your Holiday Spend the Smart Way

Holidays are not ALL about the gifts, but they sure make these few days out of the year more fun. And the fun is not just in receiving, but giving. In fact, studies have shown that those who spend money on others feel happier  and have more of a sense of purpose than those who don’t. Gift exchange has promoted connection and well-being since prehistoric times. If your generosity is crushing your credit score, rest assured you can work your way out slowly but surely.

 

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.

 

 

Merchant Services

Convenient Credit & Debit Card Processing

High Risk Merchant Services: Click Here

Rates as low as 0.10% and $0.03 per transaction for qualified merchants.

As a leading American provider of merchant services, First Financial helps you accept consumer credit and debit cards so that your products and services sell quickly and easily. Since 1996, we have facilitated more than 50,000 merchant accounts for all kinds of businesses, including ecommerce, professional services, local stores and more. See our full list below. Our dedication to merchants has won us an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Merchant Services Help You Increase Your Sales – Call 1 (800) 950-0212

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Today’s consumer expects the option to pay with credit and debit cards, and most ecommerce shoppers use them predominantly. But the advantages are not just for consumers. Businesses, too, benefit when they offer payment by credit and debit cards.

First, research reveals that those paying with credit cards spend more than if they just used cash. Even credit card logos appearing on a storefront or website prompt consumers to spend more. More, consumers report that they have more confidence in businesses that accept these cards. Finally, today 77 percent of shoppers use debit and credit cards. Just 12 percent use cash.

First Financial directly focuses on each merchant’s individual needs to create a custom solution that boosts sales and keeps costs low. After submitting your request, we will reach out to you to discuss your merchant services options within 24 hours.

Curious about how merchant services and credit card acceptance fits with the industry you are in? We’ve provided specific information for these niches:

We answer many more questions on our merchant services FAQ page.

A+ Rated Better Business Bureau

Payment Processing is Easy with High-Quality Merchant Services

In the past few years, alternative payment methods have joined credit cards as convenient payment methods. Millennials and Gen Zers love Venmo, PayPal, Google Wallet and even prepaid debit cards.

Never fear, First Financial is here.

Our processor’s “customer engagement device,” aptly named Genius, helps merchants easily select from payment types, whether they are credit or debit cards, QR codes, bar codes, or NFC and EMV options. It handles Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Venmo, PayPal KB: Please verify! Is your provider still doing this Genius Solution?  and integrates with gift, loyalty and rewards programs, too. When new payment types arise, a simple download of the application from the Genius Solution Center makes custom development and integration work obsolete.

Ecommerce and Mcommerce Demand Credit Cards

With consumers embracing ecommerce, it was only a matter of time before mcommerce (or mobile ecommerce) became the way to buy. Today, more consumers feel perfectly comfortable ordering items from their smartphones, whether they first found them on social media, via an app or through mobile search.

In 2017, mobile ecommerce sales made up 34.5% of total ecommerce sales. Business research giant Statista predicts that by 2021, mobile ecommerce sales will rise to 54% of all ecommerce transactions. Credit cards are the payment option of choice for those buying via phone or laptop. Having credit card acceptance capabilities will help that money fly faster and farther. Go with the resource that more than 50,000 merchants have trusted since 1996 to get your share of ecommerce and mcommerce.

Cutting Edge Merchant Services Technology

We searched hard for a company that was both RELIABLE (they’re handling money, after all) and REASONABLE (as far as fees and prompt customer service). Our processor was the top in both categories.

Since they opened their doors, the company has been awarded with Information Management’s Innovative Solutions Award, Inc. Magazine’s Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Company award, the Electronic Transaction Association’s ISO of the Year award and Business Solutions’ Channel Vendor of the Year award. They even received a 4.5 out of 5-star rating from industry watchdog and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

With fees lower than big banks offer, our processor makes sure most sales stay with the merchant. But low fees aren’t the only reason our processor consistently ranks high in the credit card processing industry. The instant sign up process allows you to start processing in 5 minutes. Large banks and other virtual merchant services take days to weeks to get accounts established and linked. And customer service? Merchants rave about the availability and knowledge the 24 /7 support staff offers both for merchant account services and equipment issues. These dedicated folks undergo weeks of training to provide honest and clear answers to all questions. Our customer service is never out-sourced.

In short, when you secure your merchant services through First Financial, you’ll get:

  • The lowest overall costs on your processing services
  • No contracts or commitment obligations
  • No application, setup, programming, annual or termination fees
  • A knowledgeable dedicated account manager
  • Free Analysis & honest review of competitive quotes or offers
  • A fully disclosed merchant processing agreement

With over 20-years’ experience in the merchant services industry, we know what business owners need most. More we stay current with the trends in merchant services to ensure you provide the most popular payment options.

High Risk Merchant Services from A+ Rated First Financial

With our low-cost guarantee merchant accounts, you get the lowest overall costs now and in the future. You have the power & control over your account. Why lock yourself into long-term contracts with expensive rates & fess when you can be in control. Call us today or submit a request and we will contact you to discuss your needs.

Merchant Services Help You Increase Your Sales – Call 1 (800) 950-0212

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First Financial

First Financial ® Corporate Headquarters 2850 Womble Road Suite 100-604 San Diego, CA 92106

Client Service Center:  Main: 1-800-315-7791  Fax: 1-800-215-0217 (Monday–Friday 5:00am–6:00pm Pacific or 8:00am–9:00pm Eastern)

Merchant Services / High Risk Merchant Accounts: Main 1-800-950-0212  Fax: 1-800-215-0217

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