The PNC bank is a long established financial institution operating from Pittsburgh. In 2010 it received the prestigious Bank of the Year award from The Banker Magazine. It offers several personal checking accounts which have the advantage of being free of monthly maintenance fees, making it a good option for those looking to switch from a checking account that charges.
PNC offers branch based banking or internet checking accounts. The most basic account on offer is the basic checking account that has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirement and online bill pay. The bank promises reimbursement of all non-affiliated bank ATM surcharges through 9/12/11 provided a minimum average daily balance of $2,000 is maintained. There is no limit imposed on the number of free checks. An automatic check re-order service is available. Checking accounts are supported by a PNC Bank Visa check card which can be used for ATM transactions and bill payments.
Overdrafts can be avoided by linking the basic checking account to a PNC savings, money market, or credit account. The bank will transfer funds automatically to prevent any checking transaction from being returned due to insufficient funds. Checking customers can also arrange automatic transfers to a linked PNC saving or money market account to benefit from interest.
The Performance checking account has some additional features. However consumers should be aware that there is a $10 monthly service fee unless one of these caveats is adhered to: direct deposits of at least $2,000 per month; $1,500 average monthly balance; or combined deposits of $10,000 across PNC accounts.
The Performance account pays interest on balances over $2,000. It offers additional benefits including free stops on payments, free American Express travelers checks, free PNC cashier’s checks and a $10 annual discount on the fee for using a PNC safe deposit box. Customers with a PNC Performance checking account also qualify for either one free saving or money market account.
Awards points can also be earned by using the PNC debit card on this account, though there is some indication that the bank is looking to curtail this scheme. The majority of banks have ceased to offer rewards points on debit card transactions. Currently 1 reward point is given for each $1 spent on debit cards, with 2 points per $1 on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. An extra 3,000 bonus points is awarded with the first eligible transaction. Customers attracted by the rewards point scheme should study the small print of the offer and any likely termination dates, in light of increased debit card fees to bankers commencing in Oct. 2011.
The bank has a range of other accounts but for those seeking a relatively simple free checking account both the basic and Performance accounts are worth checking out as an alternative to fee based checking.