Student banking in Kent made easy

Jackie Lloyd

In college, personal finances often take a back seat to classes, homework, part-time jobs and a social life. Assuming you have money to put in the bank, where should you open an account?

There are numerous banks and credit unions in Kent. Every bank offers something unique in hopes of reeling in students.

First Merit Bank launched a new checking account that pays five cents for every debit transaction, online bill pay and direct deposit.

“We tried to listen when we asked people what they wanted from a bank,” said Phillis Sgotto, branch manager of the First Merit on state Route 59.

Sgotto said that, in addition to paying its customers for transactions, First Merit offers additional perks if you work for Kent State.

“KSU employees receive discounts on loans, specials on CD rates and more,” she said.

Huntington National Bank is the only bank that has ATMs on the Kent State campus.

Huntington personal banker Tina Lucas said the bank tries to make itself accessible to students.

“We can even set up your account so you can use your FlashCard as a debit card too,” Lucas said.

Fifth Third Bank’s student checking account allows for five free non-Fifth Third ATM transactions per statement. Although Fifth Third won’t charge a fee for using another bank’s ATM, other banks can.

Unless your bank is Portage Community Bank.

Portage Community Bank is part of a bank partnership that allows customers to use its ATMs and five other community banks’ ATMs without fees. The banks are in 11 different cities.

“So even when you go home, you can use an ATM that is part of our network and you won’t get a surcharge,” said Michelle Hartman, Portage Community Bank customer service representative.

If the idea of banks makes you sweat, try Seven Seventeen Credit Union. Walking inside, there is no sign of a counter, offices or the decor that fills most bank lobbies. Instead, the walls are covered in blue, coral and yellow. The main counter is replaced by a cluster of round stations with computers.

“We have individual stations so we aren’t restricted to a counter. We walk right up to the door and greet customers,” said Kelly Green, branch general clerk at Seven Seventeen.

The Kent Credit Union sets itself apart because it’s a not-for-profit financial institution. It’s less concerned with making money off students through overdraft fees and surcharges and focuses on helping out its members.

“If it’s an honest mistake, we take that into consideration,” said Denise Boyes, vice president of finance for Kent Credit Union. Representatives from Sky Bank and Chase bank declined to comment.

Contact student finance reporter Jackie Lloyd at [email protected].