PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Everywhere you turn in downtown Pittsburgh, you can find a bank.
It helps explain Pittsburgh’s high rating by a personal finance website called NerdWallet.
“Pittsburgh was measured as the no. 2 city for consumer banking,” NerdWallet’s John Gower told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
Pittsburgh came in second to Cincinnati — but beat out Madison, Tulsa, Birmingham, Washington, Miami, Irvine, Buffalo and Orlando as a consumer-friendly banking city.
Duquesne University business professor Tom Nist, who spent many years in banking, is not surprised.
“Good news for the region, good news for the city and not surprising in that we have a legacy, a long legacy of having very competitive financial institutions in the area,” said Nist.
With nearly 80 different banks or credit unions in the city, this study found a positive 105 branches for every 100,000 residents here.
So what kept Pittsburgh from beating Cincinnati for no. 1?
Bank fees — they are among the highest in the nation.
“Cincinnati had a much lower median checking account fee at $10 [per month] compared to Pittsburgh’s $14,” said Gower. “Banking fees in Pennsylvania as a whole tend to be much higher than those in Ohio.”
A Pew Charitable Trust study found banking fees higher in Pennsylvania than the national average.
Nationwide, the monthly fee is $12, but $14 in Pennsylvania; the national minimum balance for free checking is $2,000 but $2,500 here; and here’s a kicker — it takes 69 pages for banks to disclose their fees and rules nationwide but 97 pages in this state.
But even in Pittsburgh, adds Nist, “I think you can find a pretty good deal, or even a free deal, if you’re willing to make compromises.”