Bank options differ

Carla Joy Bengco

Several banks on campus compete for student’s business, but some offer better deals than others.

Bank of America, Golden 1 Credit Union, Wells Fargo and River City Bank operate on Sacramento State’s campus via automated-teller machines and all offer special accounts and packages, but vary in terms of monthly service fees, overdraft fees, interest rates and annual percentage rates.

Bank of America’s Versatel checking account has a $100 opening deposit with no monthly service charge during June, July and August, according to Angie Whetstone, a senior personal banker for Bank of America.

During the school year, there is a monthly service fee of $5.50, but with monthly direct deposit the fee can be waived.

“The Versatel checking account has hit it off with students who are into using computers,” Whetstone said.

River City Bank’s Quick Checking Account has the same $100 opening deposit, but waives its $5 monthly service fee either through monthly direct deposits of $300 or more or maintenance of a $300 balance within the account, according to Wendy Duer, vice president director of marketing for River City Bank.

“We encourage students to open both (checking and savings account) as a cushion in case of financial errors,” Duer said.

The student checking account under Wells Fargo also has a $100 opening deposit, no monthly service fees over the summer and a lower school year monthly service fee of $5, according to Julie Campbell, public relations manager of Northern and Central California for Wells Fargo.

“This account helps younger people, who are first-time account holders, to be more responsible account holders as adults,” Campbell said. “It offers them experience.”

Instead of waiving the monthly service fee altogether like Bank of America and River City Bank, Wells Fargo only offers a $2 discount with qualifying monthly direct deposit of $100 or more.

Unlike all three of the banks’ offers, Golden 1’s student checking account only has a $50 opening deposit and no monthly service fee, according to Paul Kirkbride, a consumer lending manager for Golden 1 Credit Union.

Though Bank of America’s overdraft fee of $5 is lower than River City Bank’s fee of $19 and Wells Fargo’s fee of $30, they cannot compare to Golden 1 which has no fees for overdraft since their student Visa card doubles as overdraft protection.

“The intention is to start an account for people, who have no previous credit, to build a credit history,” Kirkbride said.

With the only student savings account that applies toward college students ages 19 and up, Golden 1’s savings account only has a $25 opening deposit and $25 minimum balance, according to Kirkbride.

Bank of America, River City Bank and Wells Fargo offer a standard savings account that can entail a monthly service fee if the balance falls below $300.

While Golden 1’s savings interest rate stands at 1.69 percent, Bank of America’s and Wells Fargo’s interest rates are at 0.5 percent and 0.25 percent. River City Bank could not provide a quotable interest rate since their rate varies daily according to the market, Duer said.

Students can acquire a student credit card like a Visa or Mastercard through banks and credit unions.

River City Bank offers a College Edition Mastercard with an introduction APR of 5.9 percent for six months. Though it may start out lower than Golden 1’s student Visa with 14.99 percent and Bank of America’s student Visa with 15.74 percent, subsequent to the six months, the Mastercard’s APR will become 15.99 percent.

Wells Fargo’s student Visa card tops not only the others’ APRs falling between 17 to 18 percent, but also in its annual fee of $18.This annual fee can be waived if the Visa is used toward overdraft protection.

No annual fee applies toward the credit cards of Bank of America, Golden 1 and River City Bank.

Though banks and credit unions generate accounts or promotions to lure the college clientele, students do look beyond the tempting offers and take customer service into consideration.

Sacramento State senior Jenny Martinez said she switched from Wells Fargo to Central State Credit Union.

“I left Wells Fargo for the better customer service and shorter lines at Central State,” Martinez said. “If you have any concerns, they (Wells Fargo) don’t offer solutions.”

Since the switch, neither Martinez nor her family has encountered any problems with Central State.

Unlike Martinez, David Kasch, a Sac State graduate, belongs to two banks–U S Bank and Washington Mutual.

“I chose both of these (banks) for the same reason–the free checking,” Kasch said. “Not paying money to a bank is useful.”Information on what students should look for in a bank or credit union is available online.

Bankrate’s Web site, provides definitions on checking account terminology and tips on finding a good student account:

* Compare account fees offered during the first week of school with those offered during the rest of the year

* Ask questions about possible fee increases

* Inquire if certain promotions are limited to specific bank branches

* Watch out for additional charges in banking center teller transactions

* Inquire about the limit of phone calls to check an account’s status before a fee is imposed

* Find out about a debit card’s limit on the amount of point-of-sale purchases per month

*-Find out about an ATM card’s surcharge–how much is the fee for using an ATM at another financial center

* Ask if overdraft protection is included

* Consider credit unions or smaller community banks for basic checking needs

More information on accounts or offers within Bank of America, Golden 1 Credit Union, River City Bank and Wells Fargo can be found in their Web sites.