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Local Banks Offer Students a Variety of Packages

By Shang-Lin Chuang
Chairman

Choosing a bank is usually one of the first priorities of incoming students. In gathering banking information, applicants 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.

Students under the age of 19 are eligible to have a checking account free of most service charges in accordance with the Massachusetts 18/65 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 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 six banks in the MITarea. For a map of where the banks are located and when the banks will have representatives in the Student Center, refer to the guide to banking published by the Undergraduate Association, which can be picked up at The Source on the first floor of the Student Center.

BankBoston

BankBoston, formed in May, 1997, when Bank of Boston and BayBank merged, emphasizes its Student Value Checking package which allows customers to write eight checks per month and have unlimited ATM transactions without charge. There is an additional $0.75 fee 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 $300, and an opportunity to obtain a credit card at no extra charge. Each out-of-network ATM transaction costs $2. The bank offers a home banking program that is free for the first three months and costs $3.50 a month after that for the ability to pay bills; all other services are free.

The closest BankBoston branch is located in the Student Center.

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 per month costs $3.

The bank offers unlimited Point of Sale transactions, which act like a debit card and can be used in supermarkets and gas stations.

The Statement Savings Account requires a minimum balance of $200, and assesses a $2 monthly fee if the minimum balance is not kept.

Students can also choose the Personal Checking account which has a minimum balance of $500, that has no monthly fee and no limit on the number of checks written each month. The bank will charge $5 monthly and $0.35 per transaction if the minimum balance is not maintained. This package also offers unlimitedPoint of Sale and ATM transactions but does not offer free checks.

The nearest Cambridge Trust Company branch and ATM are located in Kendall Square.

East Cambridge Savings Bank

East Cambridge Savings Bank offers a Student Banking Package that allows nine free checks and unlimited ATM transactions for $3 a month. The bank allows six free out-of-network ATM transactions per month, and charges $0.75 for each additional check after nine or each addition foreign ATM transaction after six.

Customers can also apply for a credit card with no annual fee.

The monthly fee will be waived for customers under the age of 19.

The closest branch is located at Inman Square on 1310 Cambridge Street.

Fleet Bank

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 $10 monthly fee which can be reduced to $8 with direct deposit for customers of all ages.

If customers link their Regular Savings Account with their Flat Fee Checking Account, the monthly fee will be waived. Otherwise, customers have to pay $4 each month if the minimum balance of $500 is not kept.

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.

U.S. Trust

U.S. Trust offers checking and savings accounts with no minimum balance and no monthly service charge. There is no limit on the number of free Point of Sale and ATM transactions, including those made at other banks.

Customers can apply for varied amounts of overdraft protection with a $12 annual fee. Customers can use phone banking 24 hours a day, 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 also offers a debit card without charge, which can be used at grocery stores, gas stations, and other stores and restaurants.

The nearest branches are located in Kendall 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.

Wainwright Bank & Trust Co.

With a $500 minimum balance or direct deposit, customers can write an unlimited number of checks for no monthly fee at Wainwright Bank & Trust Company. Otherwise, there is a charge of $3 per month, and $0.25 per check.

There is no limitation on ATM transactions, and there is no charge for the first five transactions at other banks' ATM machines.

The Statement Savings Account waives its $2.50 monthly fee if the minimum balance of $250 is kept.

The bank offers 24-hour telephone banking, a debit card, and overdraft protection at no fee.

The nearest branch is located in Kendall Square at One Broadway. Its hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.