Medical Area Federal Credit Union is one of Boston's smaller lending institutions, but in the first five months of the year the $25 million-asset credit union opened 225 checking accounts, three times the number it would usually open during that period.

The explanation: "We've had a tremendous onslaught of new accounts since the Fleet merger," said president Anthony C. Terrizzi, referring to the union last year between Fleet Financial Corp. and Bank Boston Corp. "They're coming to credit unions because the fee structures of banks have driven them to look at other institutions." It is a similar story at Harvard University Employees Credit Union in Cambridge, Mass. The $115 million-asset institution typically opens 50 checking accounts a month, but in May it opened 400, president and chief executive Eugene J. Foley said. While he credited Harvard's no-fee checking product for bringing in some new customers, the real push, he said, has come from "folks who don't want to get their accounts sold again."

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