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Glossary of Financial Terms
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Glossary of Financial Terms


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  • 401(k) Plan
    • This retirement plan sponsored by employers allows employees to contribute a portion of their salary to a savings, investing or profit-sharing plan. Some employers partially match their employee's contributions to the plan. Contributions you make to the plan and income your savings or investments earn can grow tax-deferred until you withdraw the funds.

  • 403(b) Plan
    • This retirement plan is similar to a 401(k) plan, but is designed specifically for public employees and employees of non-profit organizations.

  • Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
    • An ARM is a home loan that starts out with a fixed rate for a period of time –– usually 3, 5, or 7 years. After the fixed-rate period ends, the interest rate adjusts up or down based on the performance of the index it is tied to. Learn more about ARMs.

  • Amortization
    • Amortization is the process of a loan amount decreasing over time as payments are made and applied toward the principal. The Amortization Schedule shows the entire term of the loan from beginning to end –– listing each payment due, the estimated amount of principal and interest for each payment, and the resulting balance.

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
    • The APR is the amount charged for borrowing that shows the actual yearly cost of the funds –– including any fees like a loan origination fee. The APR provides you with a percentage you can use to compare when you’re shopping for a credit card, loan, or mortgage. See the current APR on a KeyPoint credit card, auto loan or mortgage.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Appraisal
    • This is a professional opinion of the market value of an asset at a specific point in time. An appraisal is used to determine the value of real estate, a business, artwork, antiques or other asset. To make a valid appraisal, the appraiser must be authorized by a regulatory group that governs the asset being appraised.

  • Asset
    • Anything that has monetary value qualifies as an asset –– including savings, investments, real estate, a business, equipment or a vehicle.

  • Audit
    • An audit is an examination and evaluation of financial statements to make sure that the records are an accurate representation of the transactions they represent. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) performs audits to verify the accuracy of a taxpayer’s returns or other transactions.

  • Automated Clearing House (ACH)
    • ACH is an electronic funds-transfer system run by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA). This electronic network facilitates financial transactions across the U.S. and acts as a financial hub that helps people move money from one bank account to another –– for example payroll, direct deposit, tax refunds/payments, consumer bills and other payment services.

  • Automatic Transfer Service (ATS)
    • ATS automatically moves funds from one account to another –– for example when you set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking to your savings account, schedule monthly bill payments, or activate your overdraft protection or Courtesy Pay Coverage to cover checks when there are nonsufficient funds in the account.

  • Average Daily / Monthly Balance
    • An average daily balance adds the closing balances at the end of each day in a period of time and divides the amount by the number of calendar days in that period. An average monthly balance adds the closing balance at the end of each day and divides it by the number of calendar days in the month. An average balance is used to determine if you meet account balance minimums to avoid account fees.

  • Balance Transfer

  • Bill Pay
    • When you enroll in Online & Mobile Banking, you also get access to Online Bill Pay, which allows you to pay anyone, anywhere in the U.S. using your computer, tablet or smartphone. Simply set up your payees, enter how much you want to pay and the date you want the payment to go out –– and your payments are made automatically. It’s more convenient, secure and cost-effective than writing checks and mailing payments. Learn more about KeyPoint’s new bill payment system.

  • Bonds
    • A bond is a fixed income investment issued to a corporation or government that needs to borrow funds for a fixed period of time. Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states and governments to finance a variety of projects and activities. The interest rate –– called the coupon rate or payment –– is the return that bondholders earn for loaning their funds to the issuer.

  • Cashier’s Check or Certified Check
    • A cashier’s or certified check is written by a financial institution on its own funds and is made payable to a third party. When you purchase a cashier’s check, you pay for the full amount of the check along with a fee for the service.

  • Certificate of Deposit
    • A Certificate of Deposit is a savings certificate with a fixed interest rate and maturity date. Access to the funds is restricted until the maturity date of the investment. There is a minimum deposit required and the funds are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per individual –– and up to $500,000 for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Learn more about KeyPoint Certificate Accounts.

  • Check Image
    • When checks you write are cashed, a digital copy of the canceled check is made for safekeeping. By law, financial institutions must keep copies of the canceled checks for seven years. These copies are available at no charge through Online Banking. Learn more about KeyPoint’s Online and Mobile Banking.

  • Collateral
    • Collateral is property or other assets that a borrower pledges to secure a loan from a lender. If the borrower stops making payments, the lender can seize the collateral to recoup its losses. Since collateral offers security to the lender if the borrower doesn’t pay back the loan, the interest rate on a secured loan is usually lower than loans than an unsecured loan.

  • Combined Balance
    • The total funds in all of your linked deposit accounts –– including checking, savings, money market and CD accounts –– is your combined balance. It’s used to determine if you meet account balance minimums to avoid being charged account fees.

  • Compound Interest
    • Compound interest is calculated on the principal of a deposit or loan plus the accumulated interest accrued by the deposit or loan. It makes the amount grow at a faster rate than simple interest, which is calculated only on the principal.

  • Cooperative (Co-op)
    • In a Co-op, each participant is part owner of an asset or group of assets –– for example, a group that has formed a cooperative to share ownership of a business or apartment building. A credit union is a financial cooperative.

  • Co-signer
    • A person who co-signs for another person’s loan is a co-signer. The co-signer agrees to make payments on the other person's debt if they default. The co-signer assumes equal liability for the loan –– and the payment history of the co-signed loan is reported to the credit bureaus for both borrowers.

  • Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
    • A yearly change in workers' pay to counter the effect of inflation on purchasing power. A COLA is usually an increase in wages or benefits like Social Security that is based on the Consumer Price Index.

  • Credit
    • The promise to pay in the future for the use of funds in the present –– for example, a loan, line of credit or credit card.

  • Credit Bureau
    • A company that records borrowers' credit histories. The three largest U.S. credit bureaus are Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®.

  • Credit History, Credit Report and Credit Score
    • Your credit history is an overview of how you have handled credit in the past. This history is detailed on your credit report, which shows all your credit accounts and your repayment record. Based on your history and report, a credit score is calculated that provides lenders with a rating of your creditworthiness. The most commonly used credit scores are FICO® Scores developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. It weighs a consumer's payment history, amount of debt, length of credit history, new credit and types of past credit to calculate the credit score. KeyPoint members get a free quarterly credit score through Online & Mobile Banking.

  • Creditworthiness
    • A lender's estimate of a borrower's ability to repay a loan.

  • Custodial Account
    • This is a savings account that an adult controls on behalf of a minor under the age of 18. It can also be a retirement account handled for eligible employees by a custodian.

  • Debit Card
    • This card looks like a credit card, but works like a personal check you write. When you use your debit card to make a purchase, the amount is automatically deducted from your checking account –– eliminating the need for cash or checks. You can also use your debit card to withdraw cash at an ATM or get cash back when you make a purchase. Debit card transactions appear on your monthly checking account statement. Learn more about KeyPoint Debit Cards.

  • Debt
    • Debt is borrowed money. It’s used by consumers and businesses to make large purchases they couldn’t afford to pay for right away. So they borrow money with the promise that it will be paid back in the future –– usually with interest.

  • Debt Consolidation Loan

  • Default
    • Default is the failure to make payments on a loan when they are due. Defaults are reported to the credit bureaus and become part of your credit report, which can negatively impact your ability to be approved for credit in the future.

  • Deposit Insurance
    • There are two government agencies that protect the money in your savings, money market and CD accounts if the financial institution they are deposited in fail –– the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Both agencies protect your funds up to $250,000 or more.

  • Derivative

  • Digital or Mobile Wallet
    • This wallet is a device that allows you to make electronic transactions –– like purchasing items online with your computer or using a smartphone or watch to make a purchase at a store. You can also link your bank account to a digital wallet. A digital wallet can also be used to store loyalty card information, digital coupons and airline boarding passes.

  • Direct Deposit
    • This is money deposited directly into your bank account through an electronic funds transfer (ETF) rather than with cash or a check. Common direct deposits are payroll, tax refunds and benefits payments like Social Security. It’s more convenient and secure than mailing paper checks or having to go to the bank to make a deposit.

  • Disclosure
    • A disclosure explains the details of an account and is usually provided in a footnote, link or attachment. Federal and state laws require banks and credit unions to provide this detailed account information to customers –– including finance charges, how interest is calculated, the amortization schedule and the minimum monthly payment due.

  • Discount or Closing Points

  • Dividends
    • A dividend is a distribution of a credit union’s or company's earnings paid to its members or shareholder. The amount of the dividend is decided by the board of directors, and can be issued as cash payments or shares of stock.

  • Dividend Rate
    • This is the percentage or interest that money you save in the credit union will yield. A dividend rate equals the amount of dividends you've earned divided by the balance in your account. So for example, a 6% dividend rate means you'll earn $6 for keeping $100 in a credit union savings account for one year.

  • Dividend Yield
    • This is the annual rate of return earned by a stockholder or credit union member. To calculate the dividend yield, divide the annual dividends paid per share by the stock price. For example, if the total dividend paid was $3 and the stock is trading at $33 per share, its dividend yield is 9.09%.

  • Down Payment
    • A down payment is a cash payment for a percentage of the full purchase price. In most cases, the purchaser makes financing arrangements to the cover the remaining amount of the purchase. For example, a home buyer makes a 10% or 20% down payment on a home, and the credit union or bank will cover the other 80% or 90% of the purchase price with a mortgage loan.

  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
    • An EFT moves money electronically from one bank account to another –– for example payroll, direct deposit, tax refunds/payments, bill payments and other payment services. EFTs are processed through the Automated Clearing House (ACH), the electronic network that facilitates financial transactions across the U.S.

  • EMV Chip Card Technology
    • EMV is a jointly developed global security standard designed by Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) to help protect credit/debit cards and merchant point of sale terminals. EMV cards contain an integrated circuit chip, which encodes every transaction differently. So, if a criminal intercepts data from a chip card transaction, the data cannot be reused to make another purchase.

  • Equity
    • Equity has different meanings. In general, equity is the amount of ownership you have in an asset after all debts associated with it are paid off. For example, if your home is valued at $500,000 and you have a mortgage of $250,000, you have 50% in equity in your home. In investing, a stock is also referred to as an equity because it represents ownership in a company.

  • Federal Reserve System
    • The Federal Reserve System (FRS) is the central bank of the U.S., which regulates our monetary and financial system. The Federal Reserve System –– also known as the Fed –– is composed of a central governmental agency in Washington, DC, a Board of Governors and 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks in major cities throughout the county.

  • FICO Score
    • Developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation, the FICO® score is the most widely used credit scoring model. A FICO score can be between 300 and 850, and is calculated using five different criteria: payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and types of credit used (10%).

  • Finance Charge
    • A finance charge is a fee charged for the use of credit. It may be a flat fee or a percentage of the amount borrowed. A finance charge includes the cost of the carrying the debt, plus any related transaction fees, account maintenance fees or late fees charged by the lender.

  • Fixed Rate
    • A fixed interest rate remains the same for the specified term of a loan. For example, a 30-year mortgage has a guaranteed fixed rate for 30 years, while a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage has a fixed rate for 7 years, then the rate becomes adjustable. A fixed interest rate is ideal if you want a rate and monthly payment that don’t fluctuate.

  • Foreclosure
    • When a homeowner is unable to make full principal and interest payments on their mortgage, the lender can foreclose on the property, evict the homeowner and sell the home as agreed on in the mortgage contract.

  • Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit (HELOC)
    • A home equity loan or line of credit is a second mortgage that allows you to borrow against the equity you have in your home. With a home equity loan, you receive a lump sum of cash and repay the loan over a fixed term at a fixed rate. With a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you can draw on your funds as you need them, and reuse the credit as you repay the balance. A HELOC has a variable rate, which changes as interest rates rise or fall. Learn more about the KeyPoint Home Equity Loan or HELOC.

  • Identity Theft
    • This is the crime of stealing someone else’s identity and personal or financial information to make transactions or purchases. Identity theft can be committed in a variety of ways –– sifting through trash for bank and credit card statements, using fraudulent emails or accessing a corporate database to steal customer information. Identity thieves can ruin your credit rating, so it’s important to safeguard your personal and financial information. Learn more about how you can protect yourself from identity theft at the KeyPoint Fraud & Security Center.

  • Interest and Interest Rate
    • Interest is the amount paid for the use of money. Financial institutions pay customers interest on their savings and money market deposits, and borrowers pay interest for the money they borrow. The interest rate is the amount you’re charged by the lender to borrow. It’s a percentage of the amount you borrow and is expressed on an annual basis known as the annual percentage rate (APR).

  • Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
    • An IRA is a tool to help individuals save for retirement. There are several types of IRAs, including Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs and SEP IRAs. IRAs can include a range of financial products, including stocks, bonds or mutual funds. Learn more about the IRAs offered by KeyPoint Credit Union.

  • Lien
    • This is a claim made on a property to satisfy a debt. Liens are often applied to real estate, although a lien can be placed on any property where a debt or obligation is owed –– for example when a borrower doesn’t pay their mortgage or property taxes, a lien can be placed against the property as a way for the lender or city to recoup what is owed to them.

  • Linked Accounts
    • Bank and credit union accounts can be linked to provide more convenience and lower fees for account holders. Linking your accounts can make it easier to transfer funds and pay bills, and you can see all your accounts together on one statement or online screen.

  • Liquidity
    • Liquidity describes how easily an asset or security can be bought or sold without impacting the price of the asset. For example, funds in a savings account are very liquid because they can be easily accessed anytime without a penalty –– unlike funds in a CD account, which are less liquid since there’s a penalty if funds are withdrawn before the maturity date.

  • Loan or Line of Credit

  • Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV)
    • LTV is a risk assessment ratio lenders look at when you apply for a mortgage. The LTV ratio is calculated by dividing the amount of the mortgage by the appraised value of the property. For example, if you need a $200,000 mortgage to purchase a home valued at $400,000, the LTV ratio would be 50%. The higher the LTV, the higher the risk for the lender. So the interest rate on a mortgage with a high LTV can be higher –– and the home buyer may be required to get mortgage insurance (MI) to offset the risk.

  • Maturity Date
    • The maturity date is used to categorize bonds and other securities into one of three terms: short-term, medium-term and long-term. A short-term bond matures in one to three years, a medium-term bond matures in four to 10 years, and a long-term bond matures in 10+ years. A common long-term bond is the 30-year U.S. Treasury Bond, which offers interest payments for 30 years. Learn more about bonds from a KeyPoint Investment Specialist.

  • Mobile Banking
    • Mobile banking is technology that enables you to bank and make financial transactions using a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet 24/7 –– anytime, anywhere. It provides a convenient way to deposit checks, pay bills, check your balances, transfer funds or find an ATM. Learn more about KeyPoint’s Online & Mobile Banking services.

  • Money Market Account
    • This interest-bearing account, insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), pays a higher interest rate than a savings account. And unlike a CD account, it allows you to access your funds without a penalty. Learn more about KeyPoint money market accounts.

  • Monthly Maintenance Fee

  • Mortgage
    • A mortgage is a loan secured by the collateral of a real estate property, which you agree to pay back over the term of the loan. A mortgage helps home buyers and businesses make a large real estate purchases without having to pay for the property up front.

  • Mortgage Insurance (MI)
    • MI protects a mortgage lender if the borrower defaults on payments, dies or is unable to meet the obligations of the mortgage. It’s also known as private mortgage insurance or PMI.

  • Mutual Fund
    • This is an investment that’s funded by multiple investors that want to invest in stocks, bonds, money markets and other securities. A mutual fund is run by professional money managers, who structure the portfolio of investments to achieve a specific investment objective and earn capital gains for the fund’s investors.

  • National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
    • This is the independent federal agency that regulates, charters, and supervises federal credit unions. Backed by the U.S. government, NCUA operates and manages the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), insuring the deposits of each account holder for $250,000 or more –– just as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) does.

  • Net Income (NI)
    • NI is your income that’s left after subtracting taxes and deductions. It’s commonly referred to as your take-home pay. For businesses, NI is calculated by subtracting the costs of doing business, interest, taxes and other expenses from the total revenues. In investing, NI can be an important measure of how profitable a company is over time.

  • Net Worth
    • Your net worth is the value of the assets you own after you subtract any debts you have. You can estimate your net worth by adding up the current value of your home, vehicles, investments, checking and savings accounts and subtracting your mortgage, credit card balances, student loans, car loans and other debts.

  • Nonsufficient Funds (NSF)

  • Online Banking
    • This technology enables you to bank and make financial transactions electronically using a computer or a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet 24/7. It provides a convenient and secure way to manage your finances, deposit checks, pay bills, check your balances, transfer funds or find an ATM. Learn more about KeyPoint’s Online and Mobile Banking services.

  • Outstanding Balance
    • This is the amount you currently owe on a credit card, mortgage, loan, line of credit or other debt.

  • Overdraft
    • When the amount of a check, debit card purchase or ATM withdrawal exceeds the available funds in the checking account, your account is overdrawn.

  • Overdraft Protection and Courtesy Pay Coverage

  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)
    • This secret numerical code is used in a wide range of financial transactions and is required when using debit and ATM cards.

  • Prepaid Card
    • This card is pre-loaded with funds just like a gift card, and can be used like a credit card until the funds are used up.

  • Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval
    • Getting pre-qualified is the first step in the credit approval process. A lender evaluates your income, assets and debt, and gives you the approximate amount of credit you qualify for. Pre-qualification can be done over the phone or the internet and there’s no cost involved. Getting pre-approved is the next step in the process. You complete an application and authorize the lender to do a credit check. After they evaluate your credit report and financial situation, the lender can give you a specific amount of credit and interest rate you’re approved for. It’s a good idea to get a pre-approval in writing before you start shopping for a house or a vehicle, so you know how much you can afford.

  • Principal
    • In lending, the principal refers to the initial size of a loan –– as well as the amount that’s still owed on the loan. For example, if you get a loan for $100,000, the principal is $100,000. If you pay off $60,000 of the loan, the outstanding balance of $40,000 is also called the principal.

  • Risk Tolerance
    • The amount of risk or volatility you are willing to accept in the investments you choose is your risk tolerance. It’s an important component of investing, so you need to know how big a swing in the value of your investments you can tolerate.

  • Roth 401(k) and Roth IRA
    • This type of 401(k) plan is an employer-sponsored retirement account funded with after-tax money. The account grows tax-free and withdrawals of earnings taken after age 59 -1/2 are not taxed. A Roth IRA is a type of Individual Retirement Account that allows you to make contributions with after-tax money, and the earnings grow tax-free. So, you don't get a tax deduction now, but you won't have to pay taxes on the earnings after age 59-1/2 when you access the funds.

  • Rule of 72
    • This is a simplified way to determine how long an investment will take to double if it has a fixed annual interest rate. Here’s how it works: divide 72 by the investment’s annual rate of return, and you’ll get an estimate of how many years it will take to double your investment. For example, if you have an initial investment of $100 that earns a 10% annual rate of return, it will take about 7.2 years to double.

  • Share Account
    • This is the name for a basic credit union savings account. You can withdraw money from a share account any time without a penalty.

  • Share Certificate
    • This is the name for a credit union certificate of deposit (CD). It has a fixed interest rate and maturity date, and access to the funds is restricted until the maturity date of the investment.

  • Share Draft
    • This is a credit union term for a check, which you use to withdraw funds or pay bills from your credit union account.

  • Short Sale
    • In real estate, a short sale is the sale of a property for less than the outstanding mortgages on it.

  • Stop Payment
    • This is a request you make to a credit union or bank to cancel a check or payment that hasn’t been processed yet. A stop payment order can only be requested by the account holder, and can only happen if the check or payment has not already been processed.

  • Term
    • In lending, the term is the amount of time it takes to repay the loan. For example, a vehicle loan typically has a term of up to five years. But a larger loan –– like a mortgage –– can have a term of up to 40 years.

  • Title
    • This is a legal document that proves ownership of property. For example, when you sell a vehicle you transfer the title to the new owner. And when you purchase real estate, the title proving your ownership is registered with the county the property is located in.

  • Title Insurance
    • This insurance protects both real estate owners and lenders against loss or damage that can occur due to a lien, encumbrance or defect in the title to a property.

  • Transfer
    • When you move funds from one account to another –– for example, from checking to your savings, or from your savings to your retirement account –– you’re making a transfer. The transfer can be between accounts at the same credit union or bank, or from one institution to another. Find out how easy it is to transfer funds between your KeyPoint accounts with Online Banking and Mobile Banking.

  • Treasury Bill (T-Bill)
    • The U.S. government uses the funds from selling T-Bills to fund various public projects like the construction of schools and highways. T-Bills can have maturities ranging from a few days to a maximum of 52 weeks. Typically, maturities are one month, three months or six months. The longer the maturity date, the higher the interest rate the investor earns.

  • Treasury Bond (T-Bond)
    • T-Bonds are another type of debt issued by the U.S. government to finance spending activities. They’re considered to be risk-free since they’re backed by the U.S. Treasury Department. They vary by maturity and can last up to 30 years.

  • Treasury Note
    • This is another type of debt issued by the U.S. government with an interest rate and a maturity between one and 10 years. The only difference between a Treasury Note and a T-Bond bond is the length of maturity –– the bond’s maturity can last from 10 to 30 years, making T-Bonds the longest-dated, fixed-income security available.

  • Unclaimed Property List
    • California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and other entities to submit their customers’ property to the State Controller’s Office when there has been no account activity for three years or more. Common types of unclaimed property are bank accounts, stocks, bonds, uncashed checks, insurance benefits, and safe deposit box contents. The state safeguards this lost or forgotten property for as long as it takes to return it to its rightful owners –– and there is no deadline for claiming it. Click here to search the CA Unclaimed Property List.

  • Variable Rate
    • This type of interest rate fluctuates over time since it’s based on an underlying benchmark rate or index that changes periodically. Revolving credit accounts like credit cards, lines of credit and home equity lines of credit have a variable rate.

  • Wire Transfer
    • A wire is an electronic transfer of funds across a global network, enabling individuals and businesses to safely transfer money and make payments anywhere around the world.

  • Zero Liability Protection