In the digital age, online security is a fear for many consumers. Credit card information for millions of Americans is routinely hacked, wreaking havoc on those who thought they were secure. According to the Financial Conduct Authority, the retail banking sector suffered 17 different incidents in 2017 — the highest number of attacks experienced in the industry as a whole. That’s a jump of approximately 80 percent when compared to the previous year.
Financial institutions, like Philadelphia-based Ardent Credit Union, are doing their best to make their clients feel a stronger sense of security. Will Crosswell, the credit union’s VP of Services and Sales, spoke with RewardExpert on how they continue to protect their clients and their finances.
Ardent Credit Unions Puts Customers First
People often wonder why they should bank with a credit union instead of a traditional bank. Crosswell explained that banking with credit unions has certain perks, like higher savings rates, lower loan rates and minimal or low fees. Credit Unions can accomplish that because everything that’s earned goes back to the members.
“With a focus on putting members first, credit unions have a different mindset that results in excellent customer service,” he said. “Ardent has been honored quarter after quarter for our high marks in member services and relations.”
Ardent Credit Union holds monthly meetings, called the Startup Garage, with their staff members to brainstorm new ways to help their customers and to provide general feedback. Will Croswell explained that ideas are thrown on the “wall” to be discussed and vetted, and these meetings have actually led to the launch of some of their current products and services.
Another way Ardent serves their customers is by hosting monthly events and webinars that cover a wide range of topics, such as home buying, budgeting and stress management. “It’s a great benefit that many of our members take advantage of,” he added.
Giving Control Back to the Customer
Ardent has a few really cool tools for their banking members that lets them control and protect their accounts. Ardent teamed up with SecurLOCK Equip in early 2017 in order to give their members an extra layer of control and security for their debit and credit cards.
The SecurLOCK app, which is utilized by numerous national financial institutions, allows cardholders to control how, when and where their cards are being used, all from their mobile device. App users can turn a card “on” or “off,” and set location-based controls, which can block international spending, for example.
“Many of our members have taken advantage of this benefit, which in addition to providing peace of mind has also empowered them to take control of their finances. If a member senses fraudulent activity, they can freeze their card right from the app. It’s a great benefit.”
Another feature Ardent provides to its members is ClickSWITCH , an automated account switching solution that changes the way financial institutions attract and retain primary account holders. Crosswell explained that Ardent’s members can utilize the service for transfer and deposits in a variety of ways, including:
• Direct deposits that can enter a member’s account as early as the next pay period
• Moving new members into the “bill pay” system on a whim
• Closing old accounts and easily moving funds with the ability to select the date the funds are moved
Bank Local with Ardent
Ardent Credit Union does offer credit cards and lines of credit that are available to those who live, work, volunteer or worship in Ardent’s five county areas and membership is a requirement to bank with Ardent Credit Union. Ardent offers auto and home loans, personal and student loans, and other specialty loans.
They currently offer four credit cards: Visa Gold, Visa Platinum, Visa Classic and Visa Secured. The Visa Secured card is a no-frills credit card that’s perfect for young adults with no credit or someone who needs to build their credit history.
The Visa Gold, Platinum and Classic cards all offer an introductory APR of 1.99% for the first 12 billing cycles and have no balance transfer fees. The Visa Gold and Platinum offer either one point or 1 percent back for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for Visa ScoreCard Rewards. Rewards can be used for Merchandise, Travel or Experience rewards.
“Once approved, we’ll complete the member application with them in just a couple of minutes, so they can receive the card,” Crosswell said. Applicants can find out if they’re approved or denied within 24 hours.