Pros: Free checking, free online banking, Friendly service
Cons: Online banking downtime, Long lines
I have been a loyal customer of Eastern Bank for about 4 years now. Formerly, I was a customer of Fleet Bank and moved to Eastern when Sovereign Bank took over my local branch and accounts. I switched because Sovereign did not offer any free checking and savings accounts that fit my needs. I am a college student with very little money, so I only maintain a small balance in my accounts. Eastern Bank offered me a free checking and savings account with no minimum balance. There are no monthly fees, no fees for writing checks, no fees for transactions, no fees for using their ATMs, no fees for any of these things that many of the big banks charge for. I don't use any of Eastern's Investment services or loans, so my review will only cover Eastern's services that pertain to savings and checking accounts.
All Eastern Bank customers are eligible to use Eastern's Quick Connect online banking feature for free. With this feature you can check your balances and recent transactions, see copies of canceled checks, and transfer money between your accounts. The layout is very easy to navigate and intuitive.
For a fee of $5 a month (or free if you have one of their higher level checking accounts) you can use the banks Home Connect feature, which allows you to pay your bills electronically.
There are two small downfalls. I've experienced a lot of downtime with Eastern's online system. I also feel the online system is not very aesthetically pleasing. I've seen examples of some of the bigger banks online systems and they are much more appealing to look at.
Telephone banking offers most of the same features that you can access using Quick Connect on the internet. You can hear your balances, hear recent transactions, and transfer money between your accounts. The phone number is very easy to remember and the feature can come in handy if you don't have access to your computer or their servers are down.
Like any bank, Eastern offers debit or ATM cards through Mastercard. One thing that people who aren't familiar with Eastern Bank might be concerned about is the fact that since they are not a super large bank, what kind of access will they have to free ATM's. Well, fear not, Eastern bank is part of the SUM network, along with Citizen's Bank and many smaller banks throughout New England. What this means is there are over 2,500 ATM's in New England that you can use with no fees!
Friendly Customer Service
I've always been very impressed with the service from both the tellers and the customer service representatives. The tellers are always very friendly and courteous. On the few occasions I've had a problem and had to talk to the customer service people they have always been very helpful and gotten my issues resolved very quickly. I've yet to have a bad experience with a bank employee.
In my area there are Eastern Bank branches all over. No matter which direction I'm going there's always one on my way. Unfortunately, some of the branches are notoriously crowded and the lines can get quite long at peak times.
I strongly feel that Eastern Bank is the best bank in the area. I have all intentions of doing all of my banking through Eastern for as long as I live in the area, and will continue to refer friends there. Eastern Bank has the feel of a local bank, but with the power of the big banks.