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Local Area Banks Offer Variety of Student Packages

By Eva Moy
Staff Reporter

Choosing a bank is usually one of the first priorities of incoming students. Students should consider more than just monthly fees and interest rates - convenience, service, and the ability to add features such as overdraft protection and bank credit cards are important elements of bank packages.

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

Roma Mayur, assistant treasurer of Cambridge Trust Company in Kendall Square, offers a few suggestions to students shopping around for a bank. "First of all, [look for] the convenience of banking," she said. Reasonable prices are also important for students who cannot maintain a high balance.

Mayur emphasized the importance of good service. "That's what sets us apart from the bigger banks," she said.

According to state law, banks must waive the monthly service charges for people under 19. While some students may find a good deal while they are under 19, they should keep in mind any charges they will incur later.

"It costs enough to go to college, and [students] look for anything that you can get for free," said Caroline Kemp, senior personal banker at Shawmut Bank in Central Square.

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 five MIT-area banks.

Bank of Boston

The Bank of Boston's First-Up Checking Account has no daily minimum balance and a $2 monthly service fee which can be waived with direct deposit. This package allows 10 checks, four ATM withdrawals, two ATM transfers, and two ATM inquiries per month without charge. Each additional transaction costs $0.75, and there is also a $1.25 charge for each non-network ATM transaction. The Companion First-Up Savings has a $10 charge to open and $1 per month service charge.

Starting in September, the Bank of Boston will offer its own credit card.

(Nancy Faganich, sales and service associate, 1-800-252-6000)

Baybank

Baybank emphasizes its Student Value Package. Customers can write eight checks per month and use the Baybank ATMs without charge. There is a $0.75 fee for each additional check. The savings account requires no minimum balance, unlimited ATM access, and a $3.50 per month service fee.

Students over 18 can opt for reserve credit overdraft protection up to $250. Students 19 and over are charged a $6 monthly service fee and may also choose to get a Baybank Visa or Mastercard.

(Garreth Cooke, sales specialist, Baybank booth in the Student Center)

Cambridge Savings Bank

Two of Cambridge Savings Bank's packages are geared toward students. The Personal Checking Account has no minimum balance and no monthly charge. ATM transactions are unlimited, while outside transactions cost $1 each.

The Statement Savings Account costs $1 to open and has a $10 minimum balance requirement. CSB offers overdraft protection, but charges interest daily.

(Marina Santos, statement clerk, 864-8700)

Cambridge Trust Company

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. ATM transactions at non-Cambridge Trust machines cost $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.

Customers can also apply for overdraft protection and a bank Master Card.

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

(Roma Mayur, assistant treasurer, 876 5500)

Shawmut Bank

Shawmut Bank offers no-frills checking and savings accounts, with no minimum balance, no service charges, and a $2.50 per month service fee which can be waived by using direct deposit. Checks in excess of 10 per month are charged $0.75, and the first 50 checks are printed at no cost. Customers receive a free ATM card, and they are charged $1.50 for each non-Shawmut transaction.

Students may also apply for overdraft protection and credit cards.

(Caroline Kemp, senior personal banker, 499-3597)