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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.

If you don’t have a bank or credit union account where you can cash or deposit checks, you should consider getting one. Using check cashers or payday lenders can be very costly: they often charge high fees for each transaction and have high interest rates. You could save hundreds of dollars each year by using an affordable bank or credit union instead.

Many state banks and credit unions in Massachusetts offer low cost checking accounts for residents.

  • Basic accounts can be opened with a starting amount of only $25 or less.
  • There is a maximum monthly charge of $3, capping off at $36 each year.
  • Basic accounts offer at least 15 free withdrawals per month, a $10 minimum balance, and 8 free checks per month.

What are the benefits of a Basic Banking Account?

  • Your deposits in FDIC or NCUA insured institutions are insured against institution failure.
  • You can establish a relationship with your bank which could help to increase your access to credit and other banking services at lower costs and interest rates.
  • You can have paychecks directly deposited into your account and transfer funds to pay bills online and through mobile banking.
  • You have better protections from theft and reduce your vulnerability to discriminatory or predatory lending.
  • A bank account allows a safe way to save for emergencies and larger expenses such as college tuition, a car, or a home.

For more information on the Basic Banking Program in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Community & Banking Council’s website.  For a full listing of all Massachusetts state chartered financial institutions, visit the Division of Bank’s website.

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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