Cash Competition

By Amy Schweigert
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 28, 1996

The days of saving money under a mattress are gone as today's numerous financial institutions compete for your cash.

That means students have a lot of options when trying to decide where to put their money as they begin college.

Bank of America, Bank One, Saguaro Credit Union, Norwest and First Interstate, which officially becomes Wells Fargo Bank Oct. 5, all offer checking, savings, and student loan options.

The savings and loan options among banks in the Tucson area are similar. For instance, interest rates on regular savings accounts range from 1.8 percent at Norwest to 2.52 percent at Saguaro Credit Union.

Bank of America and Bank One require savings accounts to be opened with $50. Saguaro Credit Union, First Interstate and Norwest require a savings account to maintain a $25 balance.

Although banks finance loans for college, including the Stafford and Plus loans, the rates at the institutions are equal. This is because the Stafford and Plus loans are federal loans, said Nancy Brown, marketing director for Saguaro Credit Union. The government controls the rates of these loans, she said.

The Stafford Loan is for students, and the Plus Loan is offered to parents. The loans have variable rates.

Cheryl Oglesby, the manager of Bank One's University Branch, 947 N. Park Ave., said the Stafford Loan rates range from 7.66 percent to 8.25 percent. The Plus Loan ranges from 8.72 percent to 9 percent, she said.

Checking services vary greatly among the banks around town.

Dawn Donohoe, a public relations officer of corporate communications of Bank of America, said BofA offers Versatel Checking, a free account with unlimited check writing and automated teller use. In order for this account to remain free of charges, all transactions must be made at the automated teller, she said.

Cheryl Oglesby said Bank One offers Basic Checking. She said this account has a $3 monthly fee, unlimited check writing and ATM use.

Saguaro Credit Union offers a checking account free of monthly charges as long as only five checks are written per month, Nancy Brown said. She said people are charged 30 cents per check after five checks are written.

Norwest Bank offers a free unlimited checking account, Jason Feldman, a Norwest marketing specialist, said. This account must be opened with $100, he said.

Tom Ellis, media relations officer for First Interstate Bank, said they offer a student checking account. This account allows eight checks to be written before any charges are incurred, he said. If more than eight checks are written in a month, 50 cents per check is charged, Ellis said.

Brown said that when choosing a bank, students should consider the bank's location. Saguaro Credit Union has three branches in town, she said.

Donohoe said Bank of America has 24 branches in Tucson. Bank One has 38 branches in town, and 10 of those are located in Fry's Food stores, Oglesby said.

Norwest Bank has 17 branches within Tucson, Feldman said.

Ellis said First Interstate has 25 branches, but will soon be expanding into Smith's Food and Drug Centers Inc., Bashas', and Safeway Stores Inc. grocery stores.

Dewey McDonald, the president of McDonald Dewey Financial Services, a California-based investment firm, recommends that students discuss the services a bank offers with the branch manager.

"Generally," he said, "local banks are more community-oriented than national banks."

However, establishing a good working relationship with the branch is critical, McDonald said.