PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Starting next year, PNC will do away with completely free checking, but says it will only affect a small percentage of customers.
It seems like a growing trend among larger banks.
Beginning June 2014, the options for keeping PNC’s current free checking account is to maintain a $500 average monthly balance or $500 in combined monthly direct deposits – or be 62 years of age or older.
The bank says it’s investing in technology and the services that help customers bank when and where they want. And they’re communicating with customers about other ways to avoid checking fees.
During an era when traditional bank lobbies are smaller and internet banking is growing, banking customers had mixed reactions.
“You know, what are you going to do?” said John Burns of the North Side. “You can’t fight big business.”
“I happen to be a state employee and we have a credit union in the state that offers free checking – in fact, I believe that they actually pay us,” said Maryanne Wesdock of Aspinwall. “They give us a little bit of interest even on our checking account, so yeah, I’m definitely sticking with the credit union at the state.”
Smaller banks like Brentwood Bank still offer their “simply free” checking. They have lower overhead and fewer offices, but say they have a different focus than their larger competitors.
“They have shareholders to oblige and they’re looking for revenue anywhere they can,” said Thomas Bailey with Brentwood Bank. “We take a longer term approach to building customers relationships and in that regard we found that free checking is not a detriment, but helps us build relationships with customers.”
For now, Brentwood Bank’s checking is still free, but nobody’s certain what will happen in the banking industry within the next year.