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April is Financial Literacy Month and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is offering tips on how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

It’s never too early or too late to take an interest in your personal finances. But for many, the costs and requirements associated with opening a bank account can be burdensome.

Massachusetts law allows any individual who is 18 years of age or younger or 65 years of age or older to open a checking account and a savings account at any state-chartered savings bank, co-operative bank, or trust company without having to pay maintenance or service charges. Credit unions and federally-chartered banks are not required to offer such accounts.

Unlike accounts at most banks, accounts covered by the 18-65 law are also not subject to minimum balance requirements. There is no charge for a deposit or withdrawal, no fees for the initial order or  re-orders of the basic line of checks offered by the bank, and limited insufficient fund fees. In fact, a five dollar fee per transaction is the maximum amount allowed by the Division of Banks that a state-chartered bank can charge when a payment is refused due to insufficient funds. Fees can be charged for some stop payment orders, wire transfers, money orders, and deposit items returned.

If you’re interested, ask your bank! Participating banks are required to post notice of availability of these accounts in all banking locations and must also provide annual disclosure to all depositors regarding the law.  Those under 18 may be required to have a co-signer in order to open an account.  Married couples cannot be denied opening an account as long as one spouse meets the age requirements.

A full listing of all Massachusetts state chartered savings banks, co-operatives banks and trust companies subject to the 18-65 law are available at the Division of Banks website. You should also inquire with your current banking institution if they offer similar programs.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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