Higher One Steps Up Its Commitment To Transparency And Value In Banking

Higher One, leader in providing financial services to higher education administrators and students at more than 800 campuses across the U.S., announces its move to new disclosures recommended by Pew Charitable Trust for its three checking accounts offered through its bank partners. Pew’s project “Safe Checking in the Electronic Age” is broadly calling for financial institutions to standardize their disclosure form with the goal of making checking account terms and fees more transparent and simpler for consumers to understand.

“Higher One stood apart a decade ago when it decided to provide banking services with an unusually transparent fee schedule that now utilizes videos and social media to promote the financial literacy of the accountholder,” said President and COO Miles Lasater, who co-founded Higher One on a college campus in 2000. “Today, we can do more. Our online banking products are inspired by listening to fact-based research and to students through social and campus media, surveys, student government, and advisory boards. What we are hearing is the increased need for simplicity and value in banking and that is our direction. We are continuing to build our services, powered by feedback.”

Today, Higher One’s suite of checking accounts is offered as a part of its proprietary OneDisburse® Refund Management® funds disbursement service. Higher One’s automated process provides students with up to three cost-free choices to receive their financial aid refunds which may include direct deposit to any domestic bank account, a paper check in the mail, or a direct deposit into any full-service checking account in the OneAccount Suite (OneAccount, FLEX and OneAccount Premier). Higher One’s popular OneAccount has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement. A head-to-head comparison with national and regional banks names the OneAccount as “one of the lowest cost alternatives” for students. All Higher One checking accounts are FDIC insured and are open to students—regardless of financial or credit history.

As a part of its increased commitment to transparency and value, Higher One is instituting the following with respect to all three of its checking accounts:

Standardized Transparency.

  • Higher One’s current disclosures are more transparent than most other checking accounts, with explanations of fees and fee-avoidance instructions and videos. Higher One is working to develop the Pew-recommended fee-schedule form for all three of its accounts, which allows consumers to compare bank accounts across the market more easily to see which option they feel may be the best choice for them.

Elimination of “Lack of Documentation" Fees.
  • Higher One has eliminated the Lack of Documentation Fee on all accounts, a fee charged to less than 2% of OneAccount holders when each did not provide adequate documentation as required by the USA Patriot Act.

Elimination of PIN-based Fees.
  • Higher One has now eliminated PIN-based fees from two of the three OneAccount options available to students at the time of choosing the delivery method for their refund—FLEX and Premier. As always, with all three accounts, accountholders can swipe and sign at the point-of-sale free of charge anywhere where MasterCard is accepted.

No Overdraft Protection or Credit Line.
  • Higher One does not offer overdraft protection on any accounts. This is a form of credit and Higher One has never issued any lines of credit to customers.

ATM Commitment.
  • All Higher One account users can conduct balance inquiries and withdrawals for free at any Higher One ATM. Higher One has installed more than 700 ATMs nationally. As always, should a campus’ Higher One ATMs not be operational due to any maintenance or repair related issues or be out of cash at any time, Higher One reimburses OneAccount holders at their request for up to $5 per day for fees charged at other ATMs. FLEX and Premier account users are allowed a specified number of out-of-network ATM transactions per month.

About Higher One

Higher One Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ONE) is a leading company focused on helping college business offices manage operations and providing enhanced service to students. Through a full array of services from refunds, payments, electronic billing, payment plans and more, Higher One works closely with colleges and universities to ensure students receive Financial Aid refunds quickly, can pay tuition and bills online, make on-campus and community purchases and learn the basics of financial management.

Higher One provides its services to approximately 6.2 million students at distinguished public and private higher education institutions nationwide. More information about Higher One can be found at HigherOne.com.

Copyright Business Wire 2010

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