Our New Website: Same URL. New Look. Enhanced Features.

We have been working hard to be your full service financial institution offering a wide variety of products and services that go beyond your traditional banking needs. We understand that it’s not always easy to stop into your local branch and therefore, place high importance on the ability to help you manage your finances, wherever you are.

That’s why we’re excited to introduce our newly designed website. It’s the same web address, but now it’s easier than ever to navigate. The site will be live this Wednesday!

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While on our new website, you will notice that the address bar will appear Green on most web browsers. This is a new security feature which makes it easier to validate that you are on the correct website and that your session is secure.

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In addition to managing your personal financials on the website, you can:
Open an account online, enroll in online banking and sign up for paperless eStatements.

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Use our mortgage calculators to estimate your monthly payment, locate a mortgage expert near you and begin your application, all online.

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Visit the online education center for tutorials on mobile banking, personal & business online bill pay, Health Savings Accounts, eStatements and more!

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While we’re excited to announce the conveniences that come along with our new website, we will continue to deliver on our promise to you of providing exceptional service. Our Customer Care Center hours have been recently extended in an effort to help serve you better. Our new hours are:

Monday thru Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (CST)
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (CST)

The Customer Care Center can be reached by dialing 800-359-8092.

We hope the convenience of the new website and extension of the Customer Care Center allow you to worry less, spend more time with family and live first.

Helping North Dakota Elementary Students, One Puzzle at a Time

Marketing, First International Bank & Trust 

We first came across the Connected Puzzles project in an application for our Live First Community Grant promotion on Facebook. While it didn’t win a grant, the project and its mission made a lasting impression.

ConnectedPuzzle Puzzles aims to promote geographic literacy through gifting 400+ puzzle maps to every fourth grade elementary classroom in the state. There are 53 pieces to this puzzle, one for each county of North Dakota.  Each puzzle piece is stamped with a QR code, which can be scanned by a tablet or smartphone and leads students to an online resource with more information about that county.

Our strong North Dakota roots and passion for technology made us a perfect match for this project. We loved that the mission of Connected Puzzles is to teach children about the geographic literacy of North Dakota with a fun and innovative experience.

The Connected Puzzles group was ready to hit the road to spread awareness for the project and was in need of a place to interact with the community. We were happy to host the group in our branches across Western North Dakota. On the two-day tour, we covered a lot of ground making stops in Killdeer, Watford City, Williston, Minot, Harvey and Fessenden.

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The support for Connected Puzzles from the communities we visited was amazing! We had a great time showing people the puzzles and even had some friendly competition going on. It’s safe to say our employees are not only experts in banking, but also in North Dakota geography.

Be sure to check out the video of our journey.

Connected Puzzles Shot

We want to thank Connected Puzzles for letting us be a part of their journey and hope that if you have moment, you too will check out how they are benefiting families and communities across North Dakota.

To learn more about Connected Puzzles visit www.connectedpuzzles.com. To donate to the cause, click here!

First International Bank& Trust, Member FDIC

5 Tips in 5 Minutes: How to Avoid, Handle Debit Card Fraud

Eileen Donner, Customer Care Center Manager, First International Bank & Trust, Fargo

Have 5 minutes? Here are 5 tips to avoid and handle debit card fraud.

Another debit card system has been hacked. Another store’s information breached. Intimidated? You’re not alone. The only safe news about debit card fraud is that no one is immune.

Credit Card GalStaying ahead of fraud
Some financial experts say you should act as if your debit card has been compromised as soon as you start using it. That’s a bit discouraging.

So First International Bank & Trust is looking out for you every second. Our customers get debit card fraud protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our experts help stay ahead of fraud for you. All to detect and prevent fraud on your First International Bank & Trust debit cards.

What you can do to help protect yourself
These five steps don’t guarantee all fraud prevention; but they will help you protect your information:

1. Monitor your bank statements closely
Review monthly statements, sign up for online banking and eAlerts. This means you will get text messages when items post to your account, when your balance falls below a certain amount or other milestones.

2. Notify the bank when you will be traveling
If you plan on traveling, make sure to notify your bank ahead of time with the location you are traveling and dates of travel. This will help ensure that your card remains active.

3. Never give out your card number in response to an un-solicited email, text message or phone call
Always be aware of potential fraudsters. Be cautious when opening emails, clicking links and opening attachments, especially when they are coming from an unfamiliar source.

4. Take precautions when checking out at a store, an ATM or a gas pump
Protect your information by covering the card with your hand when entering your PIN. As in any situation, be aware of your surroundings; if something seems suspicious, move to another location.

5. When shopping online, verify that the website is secure
Verify that the site you are visiting is secure. Generally, https sites are considered more secure. Look at the address bar: if it features a padlock and turns green, that is also a good sign.

Using Verified by Visa will help to add an extra layer of security when shopping online. The service helps prevent authorized online use before it happens.

Other things to remember:

  • Draw a line through blank spaces on sales receipts so the total cannot be changed
  • Do not sign a blank sales receipt
  • Cut up old cards
  • Do not carry your PIN in your wallet, purse or pocket
  • Do not write your PIN on the card
  • Utilize Verified by Visa

Of course, if you have any questions about your debit card and security, please give us a call at (800) 359-8092.

Eileen Eileen D.started with First International Bank & Trust (FIB&T) in 2006 and has more than 13 years of banking experience. As the Customer Care Center Manager, Eileen works closely with different aspects of debit cards, deposit operations functions and manages a team that answers calls for all 22 FIB&T locations.

Eileen graduated from Mayville State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Management. In her spare time, Eileen enjoys spending time with her children and attending their numerous activities.

First International Bank & Trust
Member FDIC
EHLlogo

 

5 Tips in 5 Minutes: Health Savings Accounts

By: Michelle Herrly, PHR, VP/Human Resource Manager, Fargo, ND 

With the new Health Care Reform Act taking place, we’re starting to hear more about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), but many are still unsure of what an HSA actually is and what the benefits are. We broke down the top 5 things you need to know about HSAs:

HSA 21. What is an HSA? 
An HSA is an account that is set up like a personal savings account, only the money set aside is used for qualifying medical expenses. The purpose of the HSA is to help defray the out-of-pocket cost until the deductible in your High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is met.

2. Is an HSA right for me?
First things first, eligibility: In order to be eligible for an HSA you must be under the age of 65 and enrolled in a HDHP, which generally offers its own benefits. These may include things such as lower premium costs, a one calendar-year deductible per family, and 100% payment of covered expenses after your deductible is met.

3. What are some of the benefits of HSAs?
HSAs offer many benefits to the account holder, including:

  • You (not your employer or insurance company) are the owner of the funds in your HSA and you decide how to best utilize those funds for qualifying medical expenditures.
  • Your employer may make a matching contribution to your HSA, you own the account and the money is yours even if you change jobs.
  • You control your account funds and therefore, you can shop around for the best quality and cost of your health care.
  • Contributions to HSAs are generally tax deductible from your gross income, the funds in the account may grow tax deferred, and the account holder is usually not taxed on dollars that are used for qualified medical expenses. Everyone’s tax situation is different and therefore you should consult a tax preparation professional about how an HSA may affect you and your tax liabilities if you have any questions.
  • Your HSA dollars remain in your account and roll over from year-to-year (no use it or lose it).
  • HSA dollars can be used for a wide variety of medical expenditures, sometimes even including fuel costs and hotel stays where applicable. You should visit http://www.irs.gov/file_source/pub/irs-pdf/p969.pdf for more information on what is considered a qualifying medical expenditure.
  • You may be able to use your HSA funds for Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket Medicare expenses.
  • After age 65, you may be able to use your HSA dollars for living expenses.
  •  …And more!

3. Are there any disadvantages of an HSA?
Like any health care option, HSAs have both advantages and disadvantages. As you weigh your options, be sure to keep in mind the following:

  • Illnesses can be unpredictable, making it hard to accurately budget for health care expenses.
  • Information about the cost and quality of medical care can be difficult to find.
  • Some people find it challenging to set aside money to put into their HSAs. The elderly and those more susceptible to illness may not be able to save as much as younger, healthier people.
  • Pressure to save money in your HSA might lead you to not seek medical care when you need it.
  • If you take money out of your HSA for non-medical expenses, you’ll have to pay taxes on it.

5. How do I get set up with an HSA?
If your employer does not already offer an HSA option for you, you can set one up at First International Bank & Trust. Remember that you must be under age 65 and enrolled in an HDHP. If you have a spouse who uses your insurance as a secondary coverage, he or she must also be enrolled in an HDHP. The HDHP must be your only health insurance – you can’t be covered by any other health insurance excluding dental, vision, disability or long-term care.

Stop in today to set-up an account or give us a call with any questions you have: 800-359-8092.

_T6K9128_Michelle

Michelle has more than 18 years of HR management experience working in both large and small companies across multiple industries. Michelle specializes in employee relations with experience in all areas of HR management including recruiting, benefit administration, employment law, international HR, mergers and acquisitions, compensation planning and project management.

Michelle is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Fargo-Moorhead Human Resource Association (FMHRA) and Fargo-Moorhead Association for Training and Development (FM-ASTD).

In her spare time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, scrapbooking, music, reading and traveling.

First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC

Have a merry little (affordable) Christmas

By: Chelsea Marcyes, Fraud Specialist, Staples, MN, First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC

Notice that summer holidays are more relaxed? We focus on making great memories—in the back yard, on the water, at the park, with great food and simple fun like sparklers. Even travel seems less stressful.
Why can’t Christmas be more like that?
It can, with a little planning that starts now.
Like you, every holiday season, my husband and I balance the demands of gifts, travel and party hosting. Each year, those costs increase—both in terms of time and finances. Yet the last few years, planning has made our winter holidays more enjoyable.

Family at Christmas

Here are four tips to help make Christmas and winter holidays less stressful:

1.  Set Your Budget
Early on, about six months before the holiday season, we look at our discretionary income. Discretionary income is the amount of money that a household has left for spending, investing or saving after taxes and needs (such as food, shelter and clothing) have been paid. From this, we determine how much we can feasibly spend on gifts, travel and hosting in November and December.

2.  Make a List
Create a shopping plan and be a savvy consumer. This is a way to maximize your spending power and overall spend less. For instance, when hosting holiday meals, take a headcount of actual attending guests. This way you don’t overbuy and waste money on uneaten food.

3.  Get Creative
Consider making homemade gifts instead of buying. This is especially helpful for tackling the ever-growing list of people on your Christmas gift list. My kids and I love to make brownie recipe jars for their teachers. My neighbors always get a batch of my famous cookies tucked in a Christmas tin from the dollar store. This year, I found a festive ‘tea bag’ wreath I want to create for my girlfriends.

Tea Wreath

(Photo credit: http://redredcompletelyred.blogspot.com/2010/12/tea-wreaths.html)

4.  Start Saving Now
Saving early (now!) prevents scrambling to find funds when you realize there are only two months left until Christmas. When I started at the bank, I opened up a ‘Christmas Club Savings Account.’ It’s an account from First International Bank & Trust that helps you save for the holiday season.

Here are the nitty-gritty details: There is no minimum deposit required to open the account. You can make as many deposits as you like for as much or as little as you wish. Here’s the catch (and the part that helps you save), withdrawals are not allowed until maturity, which is November 15 of each year so the term can vary depending on when you open the account. At maturity, the balance in your account must be transferred to another account within First International Bank & Trust. Check out the full details and disclosures here.

It’s an easy way to save for that perfect Christmas! Want to make it even easier? Set up automatic transfers from your paycheck or checking account so that it saves money without you having to remember. Open one at your local branch or visit us online to open a ‘Christmas Club Savings Account.’

With an action plan in mind for taking on the holiday season, you’ll have more time to worry less, live first and spend time making great winter holiday memories, too. Sparklers optional!

Chelsea M.Chelsea is a Fraud Specialist at our Staples location. She enjoys working with the community to educate them about fraud prevention and education. Her family includes her husband Lonnie, their two children Jackson (7) and Bentley (3), two dogs Carly and Hailey, and two horses Elsa and Woody. In the summer, they enjoy gardening, canning and riding horse. As a family, they love to watch football games … especially when the Broncos are playing!

Apply for our $3,000 Live First Community Grant!

Every day we work to help our customers Live First. We strive to provide convenient services that meet all of your banking needs so that you have more time to focus on the things that matter, like family and community.

We value the communities in which we live and work and know you do too! That’s why we’re inviting you to apply for our Live First Community Grant, which awards $3,000 to a project or cause that makes a difference in your community!

Click here to apply for the Live First Community Grant!

Many of our customers and community members are already actively involved with great causes that could qualify for the Live First Community Grant:

Community GivingHow Winners are Chosen
Our team at First International Bank & Trust will choose one project that we feel makes the biggest impact on their community. Even if your project isn’t awarded the $3,000 grant, you still have another chance to win. We’re awarding three runner-up grants for $500 each to the projects that get the most votes from our Facebook fans!

How to Apply
Here’s what you’ll need to apply: An idea for a project or event! How would you use a $3,000 grant to benefit your community? You’ll need to tell us:

  • A name for your project. This is the part people will see when they vote, so make sure it’s catchy and descriptive.
  • How the project will help your community. Be specific!
  • Who will benefit.
  • Organizations that would be part of your project (for example, a 4H chapter, a high school club or your local animal shelter).
  • Budget breakdown of how you would use the $3,000 (and how you would pay for any costs beyond $3,000).
  • The date(s) and location of where your project would take place.
  • A photo that represents your project. This can be anything that captures the spirit of your idea. People will see the photo when they go to vote.

Group Community Giving

Once you’re ready to apply, visit our Facebook page. You can also view the official rules and who’s eligible.

Then, share the entry on your Facebook page so you can ask your friends to vote for you! Just click the “Share” button on your entry.

Share Entry

Come back to the page and share your entry any time you want to remind your friends to vote. Just click View entries, find your own entry, and then “Share.”

Complete Form

Write a quick note telling your friends to vote, and click share!

Vote

Don’t forget to spread the word in other ways, too. You can put up posters, send emails and ask your friends to do the same!

Good Luck!
Best of luck to all applicants – we can’t wait to see your ideas! Applications and voting close at 12:00 p.m. CST on July 31, 2014 – so get started now!

First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC, EHL

Top Budget Tips for New Grads

A mother embraces her daughter on her graduation  day.

Are you a recent graduate? Do you know someone who is? Maybe it’s your daughter, nephew, cousin, friend; whoever it is – we have put together helpful advice for the next stage in their life. Graduation is an important celebration that marks a milestone in your life. It’s a transition from a period of education into a new stage of personal growth. Make the most of this experience by looking towards the future and considering your finances.

No matter what stage of life you are in, there are important elements to keep in mind.

Graduating High School – and Heading to College

Here you are – a high school graduate. You have worked hard for this and your big day has finally come and passed. Now what? If you are like 65.9% of high school graduates in America, you are headed to an institution of higher education. Whether that’s a state college, private university, technical school or other place of education, you have chosen to continue your education. If this is your path, consider this when thinking of your finances:

  • Cost of Attendance

We all hear about how expensive college is, but do you know what elements contribute to the cost of attendance? While tuition may be the bulk of your expenses, additional costs for books, meals and more add up! Here is a breakdown of common costs to budget for and how to potentially lower your out of pocket expense:

      • Tuition – The cost of taking courses varies by school. Seek out scholarship opportunities in your community and through the school.
      • Room and board – Lodging and food costs vary by school. Consider living off-campus your second year to save on living expenses.
      • Books and school supplies – Books and school supplies can be expensive and depend on which course of study you are pursuing. Look into purchasing used books or renting books for the semester.
      • Fees – These vary by school, but can include activity fees and parking fees. Fees are hard to avoid, but look at lowering the cost of these by purchasing a parking pass that is a little further away from campus.
      • Equipment and room materials – This category can include a computer, printer, furniture, microwave, fridge, sheets, towels, etc. Save money by asking your school if they provide printing to you as a student or if they have fridges that you can rent for the year.
      • Travel and miscellaneous expenses – This includes daily commuting to class and travel during holiday breaks. This also can include clothing, mobile and other general living costs. If you travel home over break, one way to save is to see if there are other students who would be willing to carpool with you.

Graduating High School – and Joining the Workforce

You’ve done it – graduated high school. Feeling both relieved and eager, you are ready to prove yourself in the workplace. You are not alone – about 34% of high school graduates in America decide to join the workforce or pursue other non-educational opportunities after completing high school. Don’t let your hard earned money go to waste, keep this financial tip in mind:

  • Emergency Savings

In case of an emergency, or another instance in which you may not be receiving your usual paycheck, it is recommended to keep an emergency savings fund. The general guideline is to have three months’ pay so that you can cover your living expenses until you are back on your feet. To calculate your monthly expenses, use this list of common items:

      • Mortgage/Rent Payment
      • Loans: Car, Student, Credit Card
      • Insurance: Auto, Health, Life, Home/Renter’s
      • Utilities: Gas, Electric, Water, Garbage
      • Food
      • Gas
      • Child Care
      • Cell Phone
      • Cable/Satellite TV
      • Internet Provider
      • Wellness Membership

Graduating College – as a Young Adult

First high school, now college. Congratulations! You have joined the ranks of the over 30% of Americans who hold college degrees. Now it’s time to put that degree to work and begin your career. Before you hit the ground running, take a couple minutes to think through your finances:

  • Student Loan Debt

After you graduate from school, it is important to take a look at the amount of student loan debt you have acquired. It can be overwhelming if your loans are with different lenders, who will all be contacting you to get your payments started. Looking at the amount as a whole can be a daunting task as well. Coming to terms with the thought of paying off your student loan debt doesn’t need to be a painful experience. There is no need to fear, as you have plenty of options. First, see if your lenders offer income-based payments. These are designed to reduce monthly payments based on your annual income. Another option is to consolidate your student loans. Through consolidating, you have one automatic payment amortized over a longer period that usually has a lower interest rate. For more information on repaying your student loan debt, visit the Federal Student Aid website. Keep in mind that once you get going in your career, hitting student loan debit hard will become easier.

  • If you are a North Dakota resident: The Bank of North Dakota recently announced a new loan consolidation program open to residents of North Dakota, entitled ‘DEAL One Loan’. To find out more, visit BND’s website. They offer options for non-North Dakota residents as well.

Graduating College – Later in Life

It takes dedication to return to college and graduate – your passion is what has taken you this far. With work experience under your belt, and now a college degree, the world is yours to take. Keep your traction going, with this financial plan:

  • Retirement Plan

On average, college graduates make about $17,500 more annually than those with high school diplomas only. By leveraging your new-found degree to increase your earnings, you can then begin investing towards your retirement.

To get an idea of how much you need to be investing, first estimate roughly how much money you’ll need to live on in retirement. Once you have this, calculate what will be available to you from other sources, other than your savings. This can include Social Security, pensions and 401(k) earnings. This will give you a realistic idea of what you still have left to save. After this, make goals to reach the amount you’ll need to make up the difference.

If you choose to invest in an IRA, contribute the maximum amount. For contribution limits, visit the IRS website here.

If you choose to invest in employer-sponsored plans, such as a 401(k), contribute the maximum amount to your 401(k). For contribution limits, visit the IRS website here.


Time to Shine

We know that these aren’t the only options after graduation; maybe you are joining the army, traveling with the peace corps or going to graduate school. Whatever path you choose to take or wherever life leads you – remember to consider your finances.

First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC, EHL