Agencies Team Up To Offer NYC First Account Program
Encourage Young NYers To Use Banks
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav have announced the NYC First Account, a safe bank account designed to encourage young New Yorkers to open a bank account as they enter the workforce for the first time.
The account is available to all DYCD Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) participants between the ages of 18 and 24. The NYC First Account is regarded as the next step in DCA’s efforts to develop safe banking products and encourage New Yorkers to become banked.
“There are approximately 825,000 New Yorkers who do not have bank or credit union accounts, so our goal is to not only find a way to connect them safely to the banking mainstream, but also to break the unbanked cycle,” said Mintz. “These priorities led us to develop the Citywide NYC SafeStart account and now the NYC First Account. We’re pleased to have banks and credit unions, large and small, local and national, who have agreed to go beyond traditional outreach partnerships to offer specific and safe accounts for New Yorkers.”
“We are delighted to be partnering with the Department of Consumer Affairs to bring smart banking options to our SYEP participants,” said Commissioner Mullgrav. “This initiative builds on the innovative debit-card payment system that DYCD introduced in 2004, which streamlined the payroll process and allowed participants safe and convenient access to their earnings. The NYC First Account will familiarize young people with the advantages of traditional banking and saving and set them on a path for long-term financial stability.”
The NYC First Account is a “checkless” checking account with identical terms and conditions for at least two years at all institutions. Features include:
• Debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo;
• No monthly fees;
• No minimum balances;
• No overdraft fees. If sufficient funds are not available, purchases will not be authorized;
• Free withdrawals at sponsoring bank or credit union ATMs; and
• Free online banking and free bill pay.
In addition, participating banks and credit unions have agreed not to market fee-based overdraft plans to program participants. The account is being offered in partnership with CheckSpring Bank (Bronx), Citibank (Citywide), Cross County Federal Savings Bank (Brooklyn and Queens), JPMorgan Chase (Citywide), Municipal Credit Union (City- wide) and New York Community Bank (Citywide).
DYCD’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provides New York City youth between the ages of 14 and 24 with summer employment and educational opportunities. Participants work in a variety of entry-level jobs at government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises and retail organizations. Since the program started, more than 2,000 of the eligible participants have opened NYC First Accounts.
In February 2010, DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) announced the findings of its Citywide Financial Services Study, which for the first time quantified the number of unbanked adults in New York City. The study found that more than 825,000 adult New Yorkers do not have bank accounts, but instead use fringe financial services like check cashers to pay bills, cash payroll checks, buy money orders and conduct other financial transactions.
To help New Yorkers transition from using high-cost fringe financial services, DCA created NYC SafeStart Account, the City’s first banking product available to all New Yorkers. Opening an NYC SafeStart Account is the number one tip in DCA’s recently launched Protect Your Money public awareness campaign, which aims to help New Yorkers save and make the most of their hard-earned dollars.
The NYC SafeStart Account is an ATM-based starter account designed to help New Yorkers protect their money by avoiding costly fees, like overdraft fees or monthly fees. City data shows that those fees are the top reason unbanked City residents do not use, or stop using, banks or credit unions. The account is offered in partnership with Amalgamated Bank, Bethex Federal Credit Union, Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, Capital One Bank, Carver Federal Savings Bank, Checkspring, Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, M&T Bank, Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union and Union Settlement Federal Credit Union. Any New Yorker is eligible to open an NYC SafeStart Account, which, for the first two years, includes:
• No overdraft fees;
• No monthly fees, provided minimum balances are met;
• Minimum balance requirements of $25 or less; and
• an ATM Card.
For more information about how to open an NYC SafeStart Account, City residents can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/ProtectYourMoney.
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