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Students Have Bank Options

ATM Accessibility and Account Types Matter When Choosing a Bank

By Rima Arnaout

NEWS AND FEATURES DIRECTOR

Ah, the wonderful world of student finance. The guarantee that at some point during your four years here you’ll be forced to pay back a friend with a check for three bucks because you didn’t have food truck money on you.

The hope that, after tuition and housing are paid for, you’ll get a job that will earn you some money. And for that you will need a bank account. Fleet Bank and Cambridge Trust are two nearby banking options, each of which has pros and cons.

Both banks have branches and ATMs close by. Cambridge Trust’s closest branch is on Main Street across from the MIT Coop, while Fleet’s is on the first floor of the Student Center, with another ATM in the Infinite Corridor. Locally, Cambridge Trust is pretty convenient, with branches and ATMs not only in Kendall Square but in Harvard Square and in University Park.

But Fleet is by far the bigger bank, with branches and ATMs throughout Massachusetts and New England. If you decide to bank with Fleet, chances are that you will find plenty of participating ATMs.

Cambridge Trust participates in the SUM ATM program, which includes hundreds of other local banks. The good news is that if you use an ATM with the SUM symbol on it, you won’t have to pay a fee. The bad news is that Fleet bank will charge you a surcharge, and Fleet ATMs are among the most common.

The problem with both banks is that they keep banker’s hours; Cambridge Trust does a little better than Fleet Bank in the Student Center, with hours from 8:30am to 5:00pm during the week. The University Park branch even has Saturday morning hours, but chances are you’ll be asleep.

Perhaps, for this reason, both banks offer personal accounting services (pretty much everything except actually withdrawing or depositing cash) over the Internet.

Cambridge Trust and Fleet offer a few different checking and savings accounts, some with a minimum balance and some without; some with interest, some with waivable monthly fees that can range from about $3 to $10 a month. Again, Fleet’s size allows it to offer a greater variety of options. For example, Fleet offers a checking account designed for students, where monthly fees are waived during the summer if you go home and leave your account inactive.

Fleet and Cambridge Trust both provide an account where you can use your bank card as a debit card affiliated with Visa or MasterCard. This will allow you to spend money from your account (or that of your parents) at any store that accepts credit cards.

As for the type of credit cards you get advertisements for in the mail, I’m sure you’ve heard whatever warnings are necessary either from your parents on reruns of Growing Pains, so you’ll have to use your own judgement.

For details about the different accounts, stop by the banks or visit their web sites, and .