Voluntary Program Launched in 1994 Still Expanding Access

Boston, MA – Ranging from small community banks to large regional institutions, forty-two banks and credit unions are offering low-cost checking and/or savings accounts to consumers in Massachusetts according to an update provided by the Partnership for Financial Equity (formerly the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council).

Basic Banking for Massachusetts was launched in 1994 as a product of our Banking Services Committee to expand access to bank products and services and to encourage those with modest incomes to establish banking relationships.  Banks participating in Basic Banking for Massachusetts voluntarily provide low-cost checking and savings accounts that meet the guidelines below.

Our Banking Services Committee is co-chaired by Jason Andrade, Director of Financial Services, Compass Working Capital and Lena Buteau, Vice President, Retail Administration Officer, Monson Savings Bank.

Basic Checking Account Guidelines

  • Requires no more than $25.00 to open the account
  • Charges a monthly fee of no more than $3.00
  • Provides at least 15 free withdrawals, including at least eight (8) checks, per month
  • Charges no more than $1.00 for each withdrawal over the allowable number of free withdrawals

Basic Savings Account Guidelines

  • Requires no more than 10.00 to open the account
  • Charges no monthly fee on account balances of 10.00 or more
  • Charges a monthly fee of no more than $1.00
  • Pays interest on all account balances of 10.00 or more

Basic Banking accounts cannot be conditional, e.g. limited to those who open both a checking and savings account or to those with Direct Deposit.

To help meet the goals of Basic Banking for Massachusetts, Partnership for Financial Equity also recommends that participating banks adopt the following procedures:

  • Under Basic Banking for Massachusetts, it is expected that participating banks will use their customary account opening guidelines.  However, banks are strongly encouraged to exercise flexibility by accepting alternative forms of identification.
  • Banks should fully disclose all services counted as a checking account withdrawal.
  • It is expected that participating banks will use controls to assure that an applicant has not had prior difficulties with deposit account(s).
  • Both the basic checking and savings accounts should only be closed for the same reasons that other accounts are closed.

Persons with a basic checking or savings account should not be limited exclusively to ATMs or any form of non-teller related services.