Question: What is Heritage South’s history?

Answer: Heritage South Community Credit Union was originally EPCO Credit Union. We changed our name to Heritage South in 2006. Established more than 50 years ago, our membership originated with the employees of Empire Pencil Company in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our office was at their plant site and membership initially was only available to employees of that company. We have grown tremendously over the past 50 years, and our board chose to expand our services in 2006 to include everyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Bedford, Marshall and Rutherford Counties. We received our community charter in 2006, which allowed us to expand our membership.

Question: Who qualifies to join your credit union?

Answer: Heritage South is a community chartered credit union. This means that anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Rutherford, Bedford or Marshall Counties can join our credit union. To join, a $5 deposit is required in a savings account, referred to as a “share account” in credit unions. You will also pay a $1 membership fee. This will provide you all the benefits of membership and ownership of the credit union. HSCCU is known for attractive savings and lending rates. Checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, personal loans, mortgages, IRAs, internet banking, debit cards and credit cards are just a few of the credit union products provided. Since Heritage South is a not-for-profit organization, we return to our members any annual profit in the form of lower rates for loans and higher rates paid for savings. Essentially at a credit union, every member is an owner. This way, everyone who does business with Heritage South benefits from its success. The more members we have, the better the benefits for each member.

Question: Why should I join a credit union?

Answer: It’s easy and financially smart. According to the Credit Union National Association, credit unions generally provide benefits to members through lower loan rates, high savings rates, and fewer fees than banking institutions. For example, financing a new $25,000 car for 60 months at a Tennessee credit union results in average savings of $236 a year over what you might pay at a bank. Credit union membership cost may vary with different organizations, for example our members pay a dollar one time for membership with at least a $5 deposit, and of course deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Question: How are credit unions different from banks?

Answer: Banks and credit unions differ in their core values and structure. As a credit union member, you are an owner of the credit union not just a customer. Credit union members have a say in the products provided and future of the organization through a volunteer board and committees. Credit unions are not-for-profit and all earnings are returned to members. Banks have a paid board and exist to make a profit for their stockholders. You can become a member/owner of Heritage South by opening a share/savings account with a minimum of $5 plus the $1 membership fee. Anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Bedford, Marshall or Rutherford Counties in Tennessee is eligible to join Heritage South.

Question: Is my money at Heritage South safe?

Answer: Most credit unions, including Heritage South, have deposit insurance just like the FDIC insurance frequently discussed today, providing coverage for up to at least $250,000. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is the federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions and insures savings in Heritage South Community Credit Union through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. The NCUA is very similar to the FDIC in the insurance coverage limits provided and the fact that both are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Question: Each month I receive my Social Security check in the mail. Is there a more convenient way to receive the money safely?

Answer: You should immediately call your local Social Security office and ask them to change your delivery to automatic deposit in your checking account. To do this, they will ask you some security questions that verify your identity. Once they conclude that you are the person who should receive the payment, they will ask for your bank or credit union account routing number and the checking account number. These are found in the bottom, left corner of your checks. Only give them the information once your identity has been confirmed. NEVER give this information to anyone who calls you. You can also visit the Social Security office if you prefer. We believe that having your check automatically deposited in your account is the safest method.

Question: Are the fees similar for a credit union as with a bank?

Answer: Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that there are more than 90 million credit union members in the United States. CUNA estimates members save $8 billion a year because they receive better interest rates and reduced fees as a credit union member. Credit union-issued credit cards, for example, tend not to have annual fees or to charge punitive interest rates for a single late payment. Most credit unions also offer free checking accounts, and penalties for overdrawing those accounts tend to be lower: a $20 or $25 fee may be typical, compared to $30 or more at most banks. The mission of credit unions is to provide affordable service to members. This is generally done through lower rates on loans and higher rates for savings.

Question: When I use my debit card, some businesses ask if I want it to be credit or debit. Why should I use it as a credit instead of debit?

Answer: Even though you use your debit card as “credit”, the funds are still deducted from your checking account. Using your card as “credit” requires that you sign for the transaction vs. entering your PIN on a debit transaction. When a credit union member uses their card as a “credit” it benefits the credit union because the transaction costs less to process. This in turn benefits all the member/owners in the form of better rates and fees. As a not-for-profit organization, the more members Heritage South Community Credit Union has, the better the return to each member in the form of higher savings rates and lower lending rates. With that in mind, we monitor our expenses very closely and encourage members to help us save on operating costs, such as transaction fees applied to debit card usage.

Question: How much do you recommend as a down payment on a new home?

Answer: You should pay as much as you can comfortably afford on the down payment for your new home. First time homebuyers may cringe at that, but their alternatives are different from a homeowner selling a home and moving to another. If you are a first time homebuyer that will not be living in the home you are buying for more than five years, 10% or less may be adequate as a down payment. If you have previously owned a home, you have multiple options. The equity you acquire in your previous home sale should be applied to your new loan as down payment. When financing your new home, it is important to make sure the value of the home is not inflated and that your monthly payments are at a level that will not strain your budget. In today’s market, you need to lock in your interest rate and avoid variable rate loans.

Question: When is the best time to refinance a mortgage?

Answer: We suggest that you consider several factors before refinancing. While today’s rate may be lower than your current adjustable rate, the savings per month on a new loan may not be worth the expense of obtaining that new loan. You will need to look at your break even point comparing the monthly savings to the overall costs of obtaining the new loan. Also, determine if your current mortgage has a prepayment penalty and if so, factor the penalty into the break even point. Consider this break even point as it relates to how long you intend on living in this property. Of course, if a rate and payment increase has caused a strain on your monthly budget, it would be a good idea to look into refinancing immediately. We strongly suggest that you talk to one of our mortgage lenders to determine the need to refinance.

Question: If I co-sign on a car loan will it affect my credit?

Answer: Co-signing on any loan or financial account will be reflected in your credit report. The activity, payments and non-payments or late payments, will be reported. While today it may seem like a good idea to help your brother obtain this loan, remember that you are liable for payment of the loan, too. If he should miss a payment, it will show up on your credit report (as well as his) as if you had missed the payment. If he were to continue to miss payments, the lender will contact you to make those payments or take responsibility for paying the loan off. If you should have to take over payments on the loan, the bad reports on your credit could take 7-10 years to move off your credit report. This will influence your ability to get credit in the future and the interest rate you may be charged. Think carefully before agreeing to co-signing loans.

Question: I have a car loan and I’m behind a payment. What should I do to get my loan payments caught up?

Answer: You need to talk to your lender immediately and let them know your situation. Many lenders, like Heritage South, offer a “skip a payment” program that excuses a payment when you are in a situation such as yours and adds the skipped payment to the end of the loan. Check with your lender and see if that is an option for you. It may be that you can work out a plan that includes making the monthly payments with an additional payment going toward the delinquent amount when your financial situation improves.

Question: What is a Christmas Club account and how does it work?

Answer: Heritage South offers a Christmas Club account to help save for holiday purchases. You can determine how much you want to save in your account, but you cannot withdraw from the account until you have contributed to it for 12 months. Many of our members have payroll deduction or automatic deposit into their Christmas Club Accounts. Members normally receive their savings check the third week in October. That same week, you could open an account for the following year. The Heritage South Christmas Club is an excellent way to prepare for those holiday expenses that seem to grow every year. If you find that you need a little extra money boost for this year, we do have a Christmas Loan special in November and December that might help you meet holiday expenses, too.

Question: Can a member of Heritage South get a mortgage to purchase a home outside of Tennessee?

Answer: Yes! We can do a secondary market mortgage loan to purchase a home in all 50 states. You do not necessarily have to be a member of Heritage South for us to process a secondary market mortgage, although we think membership is a great idea. Contact our mortgage department to learn more about secondary market mortgage loans.