Harvard-Area Banks Are Squaring Off in the Race for Your Business

Students Say Free Checking and No-Fee ATM Use Matter Most When Deciding Where to Open Their College Bank Accounts

Free checking and ATM usage with no monthly service fee or minimum balance are the main factors students say they look for when choosing a bank.

"I look for low monthly charges and free checking," Carolyn M. Baker '98 says. "I chose Bay Bank because they have the most locations, you don't need a minimum balance and they don't have any monthly charges before you're 19."

Alex S. Franklin '96 says that the availability of banking services are important to him.

"I look for just accessibility, how many ATM's they have and quick service because I get around a lot," Franklin says. "The deciding factor why I picked Bay Bank because I heard that they have more ATM's."

Emily J. Wood '97 says she's happy with the no minimum balance at Cambridge Savings Bank.

"When I first came here I wanted to make sure all the services wouldn't disappear when I turned 19," Wood says. "I looked for [a bank] with no minimum balance because I can't maintain it," she says. "I chose Cambridge Savings Bank because they seemed like the easiest and my roommates sister had an account there and liked it."

Liz K. Henning '99 said that free checks were important when she considered opening an account at Bay Bank. "I look for no-charge checks and convenience," she says. "I saw an ad for Bay bank in the newspaper and asked a friend before opening the account."

Charisse M. Barron '98 says area banks fell short of her standards so she decided to keep her account at home.

"I have a bank in Houston and it's really good and I don't have to pay any service fees for checks," Barron says. "I don't have to worry about cashing any local checks so it was just as convenient to use my home bank card than it was to open a new account," she says. "It's a personal choice and it was a lot easier for me to manage my account from home."

With six banks competing for customers in the Square, many are offering special packages and bonuses to students who open new accounts.

Giving away a dictionary with every new account and offering the chance to win a free weekend trip for two to Washington D.C. is luring many students to Cambridge Trust, Theresa C. Sullivan, a customer service representative says.

"[Students] comment that they've seen the dictionary advertisement and once they shop around, they do come back to us," Sullivan says. "Over 100 students have opened accounts and yesterday alone we went through 3-4 boxes of the dictionaries which hold 15-16 books, and this morning we've had to open several boxes," Sullivan says. Side By Side: The Most Popular Banking Packages   BANK OF BOSTON  Bay Bank     BANK    USTrust Package  Max. Account      Value Checking Account  Personal Checking Account                Minimum Balance B  $7,500  $0.00  $0.00  $0.00  $0.00  $300   Unlimited  Unlimited  Unlimited  Unlimited  Unlimited  Unlimited Networks  NYCE, Plus, Yankee 24  Cirrus, Express 24, NYCE  NYCE, VISA, Yankee 24  AmEx, Cirrus, Disc, Express Cash, MasterCard, NYCE, VISA, Plus, Yankee 24  Yankee 24, Cirrus, NYCE, AmEx, TX Money Supply  Cirrus, NYCE     $2.00  $1.00    $1.00   Checks Per Month  Unlimited  8  5  10  Unlimited  Unlimited              Credit Line  None  Separate Application  Seperate Application  None  Separate Application  Separate Application              Interest Rate  1%  2.25%  0%  0%  0%  0%