Banking Options at MIT Offer Range of ServicesBy Gabriel Daleson
This article is the first in a series intended to introduce freshmen to life in Boston and at the Institute. Future installments will deal with other necessities of life at MIT, including long distance telephone services and purchasing textbooks.
The greater Boston area is home to a number of banking options. BankBoston, which has an exclusive right to open new accounts in the Student Center, is the first bank students will likely be exposed to, but several other financial establishments exist nearby, including Fleet Bank, Cambridge Trust, and U.S. Trust.
BankBoston, with branches in the Stratton Student Center and down Main Street from the Coop, offers a student plan with a charge of four dollars per month, which can rise to seven dollars if an account holder uses services other than the automatic teller machine. There is no minimum balance, nor is a deposit needed to open an account.
For students over the age of 18, BankBoston offers X-Press check and reserve credit accounts at the same four dollar per month fee, which lets students use their ATM cards for debit purchases, and which offers three hundred dollars of overdraft protection. If the reserve credit is used, a fifteen dollar fee is incurred for the year. Credit cards can also be obtained.
BankBoston also offers the online HomeLink service, proprietary software which allows customers to check balances and pay bills at a surcharge of $4.50 per month. However, the first three months of the service are now being offered free.
Fleet Bank’s nearest branch is located on Massachusetts Avenue past Random Hall. Students often choose to enroll in Fleet’s self-service checking account at seven dollars per month, or five dollars per month if direct deposit of paychecks is used.
The account provides twenty checks per month with a dollar for every two extra checks and unlimited usage of ATM and debit cards. MasterCard credit cards are also offered by Fleet.
Fleet customers can use both web-based and software banking for free, or $4.95 if bills are paid through the Internet. The web interface, however, must be requested.
Fleet Bank and BankBoston are merging, though this will result in few or no changes for customers. The merger will be complete, according to Fleet, by the fourth quarter of 1999, but all accounts at both banks will remain intact.
Cambridge Trust Company is a smaller bank relative to Fleet and BankBoston, with offices at University Park and Kendall Square. They offer an ATM Convenience account with no minimum balance or monthly fee and overdraft protection.
Customers can write up to eight checks per month with no charge, and unlimited ATM, point of sale, and debit transactions are allowed. Cambridge Trust is also part of the SUM network, a consortium of smaller banks throughout lower New England, and Cambridge Trust account holders incur no charges while using SUM ATMs. However, the ATMs on main campus belong to Fleet or BankBoston, neither of which belongs to SUM.
MasterCard credit cards can be obtained by customers over 18.
Cambridge Trust is fairly new to the Internet, but they allow exclusively web-based online banking at five dollars per month with forty cents per bill paid and two months free.
U.S. Trust is another SUM member. They have two account programs, one for students under 18 or over 65 called the 18-65 account. The account plan has a one dollar minimum balance, with no monthly fee. Checking is free, and the account pays interest at 0.50 percent. There is also a form of overdraft protection, where with a five dollar fee. The 18-65 plan allows both ATM and debit transactions.
The Free Checking account for those over 18 is the same as the 18-65 account, with no interest rate. U.S. Trust is not yet online, but plans to be by the first of the new year.
The information presented in the article was gathered from marketing representatives of the respective banks.