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Banks Offer Variety of Packages for Students

By Shang-Lin Chuang
News Editor

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

Most banks waive 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.

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.

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 saving packages at five MIT-area banks.

Bank of Boston

The Bank of Boston's Basic Checking Account has no minimum balance and a $2.50 monthly service fee which can be reduced to $.50 with direct deposit. This package allows 10 checks or ATM transactions without charge. Additional checks or ATM transaction costs $1 up to a maximum of $6. For each non-network ATM transaction, there is a $1.25 charge. The savings account has no minimum balance. The bank also offers a debit card for $1.50 a month, 24-hour telephone banking, and home banking. There is no overdraft protection, and a credit card can be obtained but is not part of the package.

The bank emphasizes its merger with Baybank, which means that customers will have access to the Baybank branch in the Student Center as well as 1,500 Bank of Boston and Baybank ATMs without charge.

The closest Bank of Boston branch is located in Harvard Square.

The merger of Bank of Boston and Baybank will take place in the spring of 1997. At that time, new packages and plans will be worked out.

(Diane Greer, spokesperson, 800-229-3278)

Baybank

Baybank emphasizes its Student Value Package which allows customers to write eight checks per month and have unlimited ATM transactions without charge. There is an additional $.75 for each additional check, a $6 monthly charge, and no minimum balance for both the checking and companion saving accounts. The bank offers a debit card, 24-hour phone banking, overdraft protection of $250, and an opportunity to obtain a credit card at no extra charge. Each non-network ATM transaction costs $2. The bank offers a home banking program that is free for the first three months and $3.50 a month after that for the ability to pay bills, all other services are free.

The bank now offers a promotion with Strawberries Records & Tapes which allows customers to receive discounts purchased at the store.

The closest Baybank branch is located in the Student Center.

(Diane Greer, spokesperson, 800-229-3278)

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 eight costs $3.

The bank offers unlimited Point of Sale transactions, which acts like a debit card and can be used in supermarkets and gas station. If the account is inactive for 90 days, there will be a $5 charge. Customers can apply for overdraft protection that can be as much as $2,500 without any charge. The Passport Saving Account requires a minimum balance of $200, allows three withdrawals for free, and charges $1 for each additional.

Students can also choose the Personal Checking account which has a minimum balance of $500, that has no monthly fee. The bank will charge $5 monthly and $.35 per transaction if the minimum balance is not maintained. This package also offers unlimited POS and ATM transactions but does not offer free checks.

Customers can apply for credit cards. There is no home banking, but there is phone banking.

The nearest Cambridge Trust Company branch and ATM are located in Kendall Square. Hours are Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.

(Mark Scherer, customer service, 876-5500)

Fleet

Fleet recommends its Flat Fee Checking Account which allows students unlimited check writing and ATM transactions with no minimum balance. Non-network ATM transactions will cost $1.50. There is a $9 monthly fee which can be reduced to $7 with direct deposit for customers of all ages. Customers can apply for overdraft protection, but there is no computer banking. The bank will print the first 50 checks for free. Customers can apply for a debit card.

Students are offered a waiver of the service fee for the first three months if they open their accounts by the end of August. Students will also receive no fee for June, July, and August each year.

The nearest ATM is located in Lobby 10. The nearest branch is located in Central Square with hours on Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(Kathy Papalionakis, sales area, 800-841-4000)

U.S. Trust

U.S. Trust offers checking with no minimum balance, free checking, and no monthly service charge. Customers can apply for varied amount of overdraft protection with a $12 annual fee. Ten ATM transactions are allowed each day from ATMs of U.S. Trust and any other bank machine without charge. Customers can use phone banking from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday, but there is no electronic home banking.

The bank offers saving accounts with no minimum balance with the same rules on ATM transactions as checking.

With a $300 minimum balance, customers can receive all the same services with interest.

The bank will be offering a debit card in mid-October without fee. The bank's ATM card can currently be used at grocery stores and gas stations, and its functions will increase with the change in October.

The nearest branches are located in Kendall Square and Central Square. The hours are Monday to Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

(Matt Downing, spokesperson, 726-7000)

Stacey E. Blau and Daniel C. Stevenson contributed to the reporting of this story.