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Local Banks Offer Wide Variety of Packages

By Eva Moy
Staff Reporter

Choosing a bank is usually one of the first priorities of incoming students. Banks offer a wide variety of packages and benefits, including monthly service fees, automatic teller machine access, and free checks. Students should also consider the location of the closest branch and automatic teller machines.

Most new students will save some money this year, because banks must waive monthly service charges for people under 19, according to state law. While some students may find a good deal while they are under 19, they should keep in mind any charges they will incur later.

Most banks allow both checking and savings withdrawals, as well as money transfers and balance inquiries. Some banks charge a service fee for ATM transactions made at machines owned by another bank, so called "out-of-network" transactions.

Erin Lovett, branch manager of the Student Center Baybank, suggested that students shop around and talk to several bank representatives before making their final decision.

A bank account can be a way to learn financial independence and build a good credit rating. While some students may be more interested in skipping the basics and investing their money in stocks or money market accounts, this article will cover the basic checking and savings packages at eight MIT-area banks.

Bank of Boston

The Bank of Boston's First-Up Checking Account has a monthly service fee of $2.50, which allows 10 checks and four ATM withdrawals per month for no charge. People can also choose the Minimum Balance Checking Account for $6 per month. The charge is waived with either a minimum of $1,000 in checking or $2,000 in savings. The Maximum Checking Account charges $8 per month, but offers unlimited check-writing and ATM withdrawals, with 10 additional out-of-network ATM withdrawals.

For savings accounts, the Bank of Boston offers a $1 per month account withno minimum balance and no ATM charges.

Baybank

Baybank emphasizes its Student Value Package. For $6 per month, customers can write eight checks and use Baybank ATMs without additional charge. There is a $0.75 fee for each check after the eighth, and the non-Baybank ATM fees depend on the other bank.

The savings account requires no minimum balance, unlimited ATM access, and a $3.50 per month service fee.

Cambridge SavingsBank

Two of Cambridge Savings Bank's packages are geared toward students. The Personal Checking Account can be opened free of charge with an initial $100 deposit. Non-CSB ATM transactions cost $1 each.

The Statement Savings Account has no fees and no minimum balance. Customers also enjoy ATM overdraft protection.

Cambridge TrustCompany

Cambridge Trust Company's ATM Convenience Account has no monthly service fee and requires no minimum balance. The first 50 checks are also printed free. Each ATM withdrawal costs $1, and each check after the first five costs $3.

Statement Savings Accounts require either a $200 minimum or a $2 per month fee. Three free ATM withdrawals are allowed, with a $1 charge for each subsequent withdrawal.

For all accounts opened in September, Cambridge Trust offers a free American Heritage dictionary.

Cambridgeport Bank

Cambridgeport Bank offers a Value Checking Account, with no monthly fees and no minimum balance. The 10-free check limit can be waived by either a $500 average daily balance each month or a direct deposit arrangement. Otherwise, each additional check costs $1 apiece. The account also features unlimited Cambridgeport ATM withdrawals and three free out-of-network ATM withdrawals, with a $1.25 charge thereafter.

Customers can open a Statement Savings Account with a $10 minimum, and maintain the Account with either a $200 minimum or a $1 service fee per month.

EastCambridge SavingsBank

East Cambridge Savings Bank highlights three of its accounts for students. The Basic Checking Account costs $3 per month, with no minimum balance and nine checks free. Each additional check is $1. The Now Account's monthly $4 service fee and $0.30 check fee can be waived with a $600 minimum daily balance. Non-ECSB ATM withdrawals and balance inquiries are charged $0.75 each.

The only restraint for the Passbook Savings Account is a $10 minimum, and there are no fees for normal transactions.

Shawmut Bank

Shawmut Bank offers no-frills checking and savings accounts, with no minimum balance, no service charges, and a $0.50 per month service fee which can be waived by using direct deposit. Checks in excess of 10 per month are charged $0.75. The minimum balance is $10 per account. There are no ATM charges.

USTrust

US Trust has a more complicated set of fees and benefits. In Choice Checking One, customers who keep a daily minimum of $100 can avoid the $8 monthly service fee. There is also a $0.35 charge for US Trust ATMs and $1 for non-US Trust ATMs. Benefits include 200 free checks, preferred rate loans, overdraft protection, credit card protection, travel advantages, and interest for accounts over $500. Choice Checking Two offers many of the same benefits at $5 per month, but with no minimum balance required.

US Trust's Savings Account requires either a $250 minimum or a $3.50 charge per month.