Basic Banking Accounts
New York State law requires that all banks (including commercial banks, savings banks and credit unions) must offer consumers a low-fee bank account that meets specific basic criteria. Banks are permitted to impose certain conditions on opening and maintaining a basic banking account. No matter what name the bank gives to the type of account, anyone in New York State can have a basic banking account if the following conditions are met:
- The initial deposit amount required to open the account cannot be more than $25.
- The minimum balance required to maintain the account is not more than $.01 (one cent).
- The monthly charge for the maintenance of the account cannot be more than $3.00.
- Account holders under sixty-five years of age are allowed at least eight withdrawals per month at no additional charge, and account holders sixty-five years of age or older are allowed at least twelve withdrawal transactions. Withdrawals can include checks, ATM withdrawals and purchases using a debit card attached to the account.
- There is no limit to the number of deposits that can be made to the account per month.
- The law also allows a bank the flexibility to offer an account that is at least as advantageous to consumers as the basic banking account. For example they can offer 12 withdrawal transactions for $4 instead of eight withdrawal transactions for $3.
- The bank may require that you be a resident of New York State.
- The bank can ask you to provide the same information and identification that anyone else is asked to provide when opening an account at that bank. This will vary from bank to bank.
- You may be required to close all other transaction accounts at that or any other bank. You will be given a reasonable period of time (at least 60 days from the date the basic banking account is opened) to do so.
- The bank may require that you use direct deposit, if it is available to you, for any recurring payments like Social Security, pay check, pension payments, etc.
- Fees and charges for services that are not included in your agreement may be charged to your account in the same way that the bank charges its regular account holders (for example, charges for printing checks, bounced checks, certified checks, debit purchases, using another bank's ATM Machine, etc.)
Shop around for the basic low-cost checking account that is right for you since the services offered vary from bank to bank. Find out what the monthly maintenance fee is and how many transactions are allowed per month and compare them to your own monthly banking needs.
Pay careful attention to any monthly fees and/or per-transaction fees that the bank may charge if you go over your transaction limits.
Read and understand your agreement before you sign it. If you have any questions, sit down with someone at the banking institution and be sure that your questions answered to your satisfaction.