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Local Banks and ATMs

Guest Blogger: Gabe Flippo ’16
Gabe Flippo, a PA from the senior class, shares a Cornell insider’s tips to local banks and ATMS for incoming Cornellians. 

Money is important! Everybody needs money. However, on top of needing money, you need to be able to access your money. Out of all of my friends and fellow students at Cornell College, I have had a very pleasant experience using banks and ATMS throughout my three years so far at Cornell. There are three main reasons behind this:
1. I avoid fee charges that many ATM’s carry
2. I have an Mt Vernon Bank account and
3. I learned to budget my money.
This blog post will explain how to have the best banking and ATM experience using some helpful tips I’ve learned over the years.

Avoiding Fee’s at ATM’s
There are a couple reasons why you will be charged a fee while using an ATM. The main reason is that the Bank that your debit card is from doesn’t sponsor the ATM. This can be fixed very easily under step 2, where I will talk about the benefits of getting a Mt Vernon bank account. As for right now, the best thing to do is to be conscientious of what ATM’s will charge you. The most commonly used ATM is on the first floor of the Thomas Commons. This ATM has around a two-dollar fee for non-Mt. Vernon Bank users.

Since my bank before I came to Cornell was Chase, I sometimes use my Chase card and received a fee. Chase also charged me a two dollar fee since it wasn’t their ATM. Long story short, the fees added up and I lost a lot of money every time I used my Chase card. If you are going to use an ATM that has a fee, be sure to withdraw more money at a time, such as withdrawing for the next 2 blocks in order to only get the fee’s once rather than multiple times when you withdraw $10 to order a pizza or get a movie ticket.

Other ATMs in Mt Vernon include an ATM at the Guppy’s gas station, one at the Mt Vernon Bank, and one at the Hills Bank. All of these ATM’s charged me when I used my Chase card. However, the Guppy’s gas station only charges me a two dollar fee when I withdraw money rather than the usual four dollar fee from other ATMs. However, you can bypass nearly all fees by getting a Mount Vernon Bank Account, as I will explain in my next step.

Mt Vernon Bank
Having a Mt Vernon bank account has saved me a lot of money over the years, and its really simple to set up. They are used to having college students set up accounts while enrolled in school. Having a Mount Vernon bank account means you get a cool Mt Vernon debit card (with a ram or Cornell logo on it!) and also access to ATM use with out fees.

Setting up a bank account is also easy. The bank itself is very nice and the people there are very friendly. They will help you set up a bank account and give you a representative to talk to and ask any questions you may have. The only draw back I have experienced with my bank account is that if I never needed any money, for a textbook or class fee, that I had to get as soon as possible, I had to wait two days to receive it on my Mt Vernon card as there is a two day processing time. However, this is minimal if you look ahead of time at upcoming classes and plan in advance.

Overall, I would recommend setting up an account as soon as you can, preferably with your parents when you move in. this account can be used throughout your four years at Cornell, and will save you time, money, and convenience.

The final step to ensure your financial success at Cornell College is to budget your money. If you are using summer job money or graduation money, divide it up amongst different categories. By budgeting your money, you will be more aware of what you spend your money on and make less impulsive decisions on spending. Set aside money for the necessary items, like textbooks or fee’s to go on field trips, and then you can use your leftover money for fun activities, like ordering a pizza one night, bowling, or going to the Bijou!

Bottom Line: Avoid ATM fees early on in your college career by setting yourself up with a local bank account as soon as possible. You won’t realize how much money you’re saving until you hear your friends complaining they can’t withdraw the $21 dollars in their account because it will overdraw from the fees. Also, budget your money to ensure financial success and not to spend it all in one place!

Thanks to Gabe, you now have a comprehensive list of options for your local banking and access to cash in Mount Vernon. I’ve kept my bank account from back home for the past 3 years and have grin-and-bared the Common’s $2 ATM fee when I’ve needed cash fast or I get cash back when I head off campus to Target or Hy-Vee. Debit/bank cards are accepted at most local businesses, but having some cash on hand or accessible is always a good idea. For what it is worth, I know from having friends bank in Mount Vernon that they’ve been very happy with the friendly service and knowing that they can go in and talk to someone in person if need be about their accounts. If you have an on campus job, you can be payed by direct deposit, so cashing a pay stub from campus should not be an issue. 

Weigh your options and what will work best for you to save money and time with banking at Cornell!  Websites, contact, and locations for the Mount Vernon banks can be found here

2 thoughts on “Local Banks and ATMs”

  1. This is such a fantastic and necessary post.

    My name is Viviana and I am a rising Junior. I work at the Mount Vernon Bank and Trust as a teller. Gabe mentioned impulsive spending. This is something I’m definitely guilty of doing in the past! To prevent myself from doing it anymore I opened up a savings account with MV bank. If you end up with one job or multiple jobs (whether it be on campus or locally) it is really useful to directly deposit your earnings into your savings account. This way it is slightly more inconvenient to spend your money (as you typically have to go in person to make a withdrawal when using a savings) . The more money saved in your account the more savings interest you can earn. I have found because of this I withdrawal only what I need from my account because I want to keep my account total as high as possible to accrue more savings interest. I also find that I budget better since I want to withdraw money for only the essentials. MV bank is also great with sending frequent account summaries via mail or email (whatever your preference may be).

    And if you are a future planner such as myself than you may grow your savings and switch from a savings account to a money market account. To open a money market account at MV bank it takes about $2,500 in savings to qualify to make the switch. The benefit is that your earnings interest increases. I should also mention that saving accounts and money market accounts have a limit on how much and how many times you can withdrawal per month. I would definitely recommend this route if you are (or want to be) a super saver or extremely frugal with your money. This is also a great option for those students who may have two jobs. You can direct deposit one of your pay checks into your savings account from one job and direct deposit your 2nd paycheck into another personal account of your choice. This way you are saving money in your savings and having the option to spend a little by using your other personal account.

    1. Viviana thank you so much! What great insight to share; thanks for sharing your know-how! (see, the tellers really are very friendly!) 🙂

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