Will Merger End Bargain Checks?

NEW YORK -- For almost a year, Manufacturers Hanover Corp. has been bragging that its no-fee checking account is a better deal than ones offered by its competitors, including Chemical Banking Corp.

Indeed, the company offers an account that requires a minimum balance of $1,500, about half that mandated by its major New York City competitors.

Now that Hanover and Chemical are on the verge of merging, however, the fate of the low minimum is in question.

Promotions Continue

Hanover continues to promote the no-fee checking account with large advertisements in local newspapers. But it will not say what the minimum balance requirements will be after the merger.

The company recently sent a memo to branch managers urging them to continue opening the accounts, and telling them to promise that balance requirements will remain at $1,500 through the end of 1992.

Robert Hutchinson, Hanover's senior vice president in charge of retail marketing, would not say whether the offer will continue under the same terms after the holding companies merge at the end of the year -- or whether it would be extended indefinitely or until the lead banks combine toward the middle of the year.

No Word on Outcome

He also would not say how many new no-fee accounts Hanover has opened since reducing the balance requirements last January.

Customers who ask about the effect of the merger on no-fee checking and other products are being referred to a toll-free telephone number. Customer service representatives at the number said the bank doesn't know what products would be offered after the merger.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.