Banking & Finance

Savings/Local Banks

and a Credit Union

While joining a national bank may seem like a convenient option for a young Wellesley student, there are many reasons why joining a local savings bank or credit union may be in your best interest. In the past, national banks have made risky loans and have harmful lending practices that can lead to economic trouble (read: 2008 economic collapse). Moreover, as the years progress, national banks have found it in their best interest to raise fees, charge their customers every time they use an ATM or debit card, and raise minimum monthly balances. Altogether, national banks, while they are convenient, may not make as much financial sense as local savings banks or credit unions. Additionally, local banks and credit unions are, in general, ethically responsible, and do a lot to give back to their communities. Across the nation, and as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, people have begun to call for individuals (like Wellesley students!) to take their money out of national banks and put them somewhere more local & sustainable. We’d like to show the alternatives that are available, as well as some of the benefits to joining these banks. We are not partial to any particular bank, and do not endorse any bank, but merely wish to show what else is out there for you to make a well-informed and sound financial decision.

Savings Banks

Middlesex Savings Bank

Location closest to Wellesley College:

278 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
(781) 237-5233
(within biking distance or available by commuter rail)

http://www.middlesexbank.com/

Minimum CD balance: $250
Minimum monthly balance on savings account: $10
No monthly fees
Starting interest rate on savings account: .10%
Online & mobile banking available

One of the largest savings banks in Massachusetts, Middlesex Savings Bank has 29 locations around the state. They are FDIC backed and guarantee account security and protection. As with many other savings banks, they do not charge for use of an ATM and often give a free visa debit card and free online banking with the opening of an accounting. Additionally, Middlesex Savings Bank gives back to the communities it resides in, including scholarships for college-bound seniors, rebuilding homes that have been destroyed, sponsoring local town days and concerts, and encouraging employees to partake in community service projects. Middlesex Savings Bank also gives grants to nonprofit organizations and loans to small businesses that are starting up in the community. More importantly, the bank is not owned by any stockholders, and does not engage in any business practices that could prove deleterious to its customers. Locally owned, locally used, this is the local savings bank of eastern Massachusetts.

Cambridge Savings Bank

Locations closest to Wellesley College:

1374 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 441-4155
(from the Senate Bus Harvard stop. There is also an ATM in Kendall Square)

https://www.cambridgesavings.com/

Minimum CD balance: $1000
Minimum monthly balance on savings account: $1.00
No monthly fees
Starting interest rate on savings account: .05%
Online & mobile banking available

While this savings bank is not located in Wellesley, it is located all over Cambridge and the Boston area. Given that Wellesley students may go there from time to time, it is a valid choice to consider. Cambridge Savings Bank has 16 locations around Cambridge and Boston, and is FDIC insured. Unlike other banks, Cambridge Savings Bank also offers a refund for debit fees if a customer has to use an outside ATM (and thus using the Bank of America ATM in the campus center would not cost extra money). Like other local banks, Cambridge Savings Bank tries to give back to the community as well, offering scholarships to local college-bound seniors, grants to small businesses and non-profit organizations, and offering a “teach children to save” program within schools and local towns, which teaches children from a young age to save their money in a smart way. Furthermore, if going into Cambridge to open an account seems like too much work, CSB offers a way to open an account online. Locally used, CSB is the savings bank of Cambridge and Boston.

Local Banks

Local banks occupy a niche around Wellesley College, as we currently have 3 in the area. While they are not savings banks, and some have stockholders (where noted), they are locally-owned and operated, and still may serve as a better alternative to large profit-driven commercial banks.

Wellesley Bank

*This bank has stockholders and is traded on NASDAQ, thus while it is local and community-based, it is worth considering that the bank has a bottom-line

Location closest to Wellesley College:

40 Central Street
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02482
(781) 235-2550
(right across from Peet’s)

http://www.wellesleybank.com/

Minimum CD balance: $250
Minimum monthly balance on savings account: $10.00
No monthly fees
Starting interest rate on savings account: .10%
Online banking available

Located right outside of Wellesley College, and with several locations throughout the town of Wellesley, Wellesley Bank is a local bank recently incorporated in January 2012. With the low rates and balances of a savings bank, Wellesley Bank provides its customers with personal attention, and because they are so small and centrally located, will most likely know your name when you walk in the door. It is highly convenient, and is located right outside of campus and also down Linden Street. WB also offers a full refund for ATM fees from other SUM banks, which does not include Bank of America but may include other ATMs you can find yourself using around the area. They are member FDIC, and like other banks listed, involve themselves within the community through a host of sponsorships and grants to local businesses.

Needham Bank

Location closest to Wellesley College:

458 Washington Street

Wellesley, MA 02482

(781) 237-0210

(within walking distance, located right before Whole Foods supermarket)

https://www.needhambank.com/Index.aspx

Minimum CD balance: $1000
Minimum monthly balance on savings account: $10.00
No monthly fees
Starting interest rate on savings account: .10%
Online & mobile banking available
Formerly a cooperative bank, Needham Bank is not traded on the stock market but has a Board of Directors and an Advisory Council. However, all members of these committees are from the local community and reside within the towns where Needham Bank is located. It is FDIC backed and has 5 locations in Wellesley and neighboring towns. As with other local banks, Needham Bank tries to give back to the community through donating to local charities and matching the donations of its customers, sponsoring community events and days, and partnering with local non-profits, small businesses, and charities to raise money for many different causes (including, but not limited to, cancer, boys & girls club, arts foundations, historical societies, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital). While no longer a cooperative bank, Needham Bank is the only local bank (around Wellesley) that is not traded on the stock market, and thus, truly remains a bank run by and for the community.

Brookline Bank *This bank has stockholders and is traded on NASDAQ, thus while it is local and community-based, it is worth considering that the bank has a bottom-line

Location closest to Wellesley College:

448 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
(781) 235-4555
(within walking distance, right across from Whole Foods supermarket)

https://www.brooklinebank.com/home/home

Minimum CD balance: $1000
Minimum monthly balance on savings account: None
No monthly fees
Starting interest rate on savings account: Varies based on account
Online banking available

With over 20 locations in the area, Brookline Bank is a local bank that has grown a little larger in recent years. Nonetheless, it is a local bank that is committed to the community, personal savings, and small business. It is FDIC backed and has free ATM use, which means it will reimburse you for uses of outside ATMs (such as the one in the campus center). Brookline Bank makes it a priority to give to charities and organizations that benefit the communities in which it resides. Their Charitable Giving Campaign specifically targets communities that request grants that will go right back into the community. Because Brookline Bank is also slightly larger, it offers an overdraft protection service, which means that it will cover up to $800 if you use or spend more than is in your checking account. Overall, Brookline Bank is another local option that, aside from being traded on the stock market, provides a useful and convenient alternative for students looking to take their money out of large corporate banks.

Credit Unions

Credit Unions differ from savings banks and commercial banks in that they are owned by their members, which are also their customers. Every person with an account is a member of the bank, and with that, part of the union. Members can make decisions about how the bank is run, where and how loans are distributed, and benefit from better rates due to being in a union. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives serving their members. They are also purely democratic, with the manta “one member one vote”, meaning that every person in the bank has an equal say in the business. Additionally, many credit unions will treat members of outside credit unions as members of their own – meaning, in plain speak, if you are a member of one credit union, and go to another, you will be treated as a member of that other credit union and be able to take out money/deposit/etc. Members also receive certain benefits such as being entered into raffles for prizes and discounts at partnered local stores.

Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)

Location closest to Wellesley College:

60 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01702
(781) 235-4555
(within walking distance from the Saturday Mall bus – Barnes & Noble stop)
https://www.dcu.org/

Minimum CD balance: $500
Minimum monthly balance on savings account: $5
No monthly fees
Starting interest rate on savings account: .05% or .10% if under 19
Online & mobile banking available

DCU is one of the largest credit unions in the state of Massachusetts, with 15 locations and even more ATMs. DCU is NCUA backed (like FDIC, but for credit unions). They offer low interest rates on loans (including refinancing mortgage loans, auto loans, etc.) and free checking accounts to their members. Customer service is a top priority, and because they are non-commercial and run by the members, they have more ethical practices. Specifically for students, DCU offers special savings accounts, computer loans, and other services that help students out as they journey through college. DCU also proudly sponsors various charities in the community. Including the Children’s Hospital in Boston, the Jimmy Fund and “Adopt-A-Classroom”, which provides classrooms the resources they need to best serve their students (crayons, books, etc.) Overall, DCU is an interesting alternative for students looking to be more wary of where they put their money and looking to become an owner in how their money is invested and where it goes.

While there are other credit unions in the area and around Boston, most are not easily accessible to a Wellesley student. Furthermore, there are many other local banks or savings banks around the state; they may just take some walking. The general take-away is that there are many alternatives to Bank of America, CitiGroup, Citizen’s Bank or other larger banks in the area. Look into the options, and it will quickly become apparent that savings and local banks, and credit unions, offer some of the best rates and deals for students. More importantly, however, is the fact that these banks are often giving back to their communities in more ways than one. Unlike large commercial banks, these banks do not look to make risky bets and increase the size of their bottom line; rather, the banks most important asset is you, the customer (or member). By doing so, they spend more time investing back into the communities, either through scholarships, grants, sponsorships, or charity donations. In the spirit of solidarity, look towards the banks with the better ethical practices and care for their customers, and decide for yourself what bank can be right for you.

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