Have you ever gone to check out at a store and taken out the plastic to pay, only to find out that the transaction won’t go through? If you have, you know that it can be a frustrating and an embarrassing situation. Luckily the technology exists to help you avoid these little boo-boos in the future.

How to do it

Financial institutions like State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) usually make it very easy to set up account alerts via their website. SDFCU makes it very easy to set up account and credit card alerts. In most cases, it’s just a matter of checking a few boxes and hitting “Save.” After you are done, you will be all set to begin to receive alerts.

When you set up your alerts, you have the flexibility in how you receive alerts and what types of messages you get. For example, you can choose if you want updates for your credit card(s) or your checking accounts or both. Additionally, you get to select whether you want the messages sent to your email address or to your phone via text message for credit card alerts. There are also a number of types of triggering events you can select. Common options are:

  • Have an email message sent when your checking account drops below a certain dollar amount.
  • Receive a text message or email when a credit card purchase has been made above a certain amount, or when your credit card has been accessed outside the country.

Why it matters

Having regular updates on your accounts can certainly help you to avoid uncomfortable situations at the cash register, but there are a number of other benefits.

First, it can save you quite a bit of money over the long haul. If you are charged a fee for overdrawing your checking account or for going over your credit limit, you can help avoid these costly penalties by being better aware of your balances.

Next, account and credit card alerts can be invaluable in helping you stave off identity theft. By knowing when unusual activity is happening in one of your accounts, you can catch fraud early and thus make it much easier to clear up.

If you tend to live paycheck-to-paycheck, you probably find yourself in situations where you have to wait for money to be deposited into your account before you can make certain larger purchases, like groceries. Setting up an alert for any time a deposit is made into your account saves you from having to check every five minutes to see if your money came in.

Lastly, account and credit card alerts make the process of sharing an account much easier. If you have a joint account, you may not always know when the person you share it with has made a purchase or deposit. By setting up an alert to let you know when a change has been made, you can avoid the negative consequences that can result from a lack of communication or misunderstanding.

There aren’t a whole lot of free services out there that make your personal finances significantly easier. SDFCU alerts are definitely in that category though, so take advantage if you have the opportunity.

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