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Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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PNC Bank Announces It Will End Free Checking Accounts


PNC Bank had been one of the few large banks that had a free checking account with no monthly service fees regardless of balance, direct deposit or use of tellers. That will be ending. On Monday PNC announced that it will be phasing out free checking. Customers will have plenty of time for this change. According to the PNC website:

Effective June 2014, your Free or Free Checking Classic account will transfer to Standard Checking.

No monthly service charge on Standard Checking if you meet any ONE of the following:
  • $500 average monthly balance in this account
  • $500 in combined, qualifying monthly direct deposits
  • Account holder is age 62+
  • Otherwise, the monthly service charge for Standard Checking will be $7
  • There is no charge for paper statements if you meet the above requirements. If not, there will be a $2 fee.

PNC will no longer allow customers to open a free checking account starting August 18, 2013.

PNC’s online checking account, Virtual Wallet, is also changing, and it’s becoming more difficult to avoid a monthly fee. According to the PNC website:

Virtual Wallet

Effective December 9, 2013

No monthly service charge on Virtual Wallet if you meet any ONE of the following:
  • $500 combined average monthly balance in the Spend and/or Reserve accounts
  • $500 in combined, qualifying monthly direct deposits in the Spend account
  • Use of only ATMs, online banking, mobile banking or other electronic methods to make withdrawals, deposits, and to cash checks
  • Proof of active enrollment in an educational institution (monthly service charge waiver expires 6 years after it is assigned)
Otherwise, the monthly service charge for Virtual Wallet will be $7

A PNC spokesman provided some reasons for this change in this Cleveland.com article:

"For current customers, the impact will be minimal," PNC spokesman Pat McMahon said. "Nine out of 10 are banking this way already with balances that exceed the minimums."

PNC said it's making the change to "encourage more customers to make us their primary bank" with larger balances or direct deposits and other relationships with the bank, such as loans, credit cards or investments.

"This is part of our long-term strategy to remain financially strong and invest more in technology and the services that enable customers to bank when and where they want," McMahon said.

And as mentioned in this fools.com article, the market agreed that this change is a good financial move for the bank. PNC’s stock price closed roughly 2.5% higher on this news.

Is the end of free checking bad news for savers? Probably not. Most savers can easily meet the minimum balance requirements if they find a reason to open a PNC checking account. One reason to open the checking account is to take advantage of a new-account bonus. PNC continues to offer a $150 bonus for opening its Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend.

Another reason to open a PNC checking account is to take advantage of a CD special, but with PNC’s current CD rates, that’s no longer something to consider. Finally, savers may want a PNC checking account to reduce the cost of specific banking services like a safe deposit box, or they may want easy access to PNC branches and ATMs.

Do you have a PNC checking account or a checking account at a large bank? Why did you open the account?

Related Pages: PNC Bank, checking account

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  |     |   Comment #1
" Do you have a PNC checking account or a checking account at a large bank? Why did you open the account? "

Yes and Yes, it was opened because of convenience or free checking or bonus. I'm still keeping them to facilitate easy access to my money or free ATM when I travel across the states.
  |     |   Comment #3
Watch PNC's customers start running to Capital One!
  |     |   Comment #4
I never did business with PNC until it bought out a bank I had quite a lot of CDs with.  The failed bank had some great CD rates and what I really appreciate about PNC is that they allowed us to keep the same high rates as was on the failed bank's CDs  even after rates crashed.  I felt badly when the CDs matured and I had to take them someplace else because PNC could not give decent rates.  Now "no" bank is giving decent rates but we can always hope it will get better.
  |     |   Comment #5
PNC is great w/ the free checking, and because there is no limit on how many external accts that can connected to your PNC acct. I've had as many 20! But now that we'll have to have $500 to avoid a fee and pay bills, HECK I WILL BE CHEAPER TO PAY BILL W/ A .46¢ STAMP! Unless you $500 divided by .46¢ = 1,086 bills to pay before you save $500. 


If you want a FREE Checking acct that PAYS YOU TO PAY BILLS ONLINE then go with MARQUETTE BANK, Welcome to Marquette Bank
  |     |   Comment #6
pnc is a third rate bank stay away
  |     |   Comment #7
I refuse to park the required mimimum $500 in a non-interest bearing checking account to avoid paying a monthly fee. I bank with USAA (former military) and enjoy not having to wonder if this will happen there like it has at many other large banks. It's possible it might come to this someday, but because USAA does cater to a very large military population, I doubt it.
  |     |   Comment #8
Goodbye PNC, Hello Ally!
  |     |   Comment #9
I look forward to the day when free checking is no longer available, and a minimum balance is necessary to avoid a monthly maintenance fee.

Too much dead weight is keeping banking costs high and profits low.  If somebody can't maintain a average monthly balance of $2k, he's cheating the system.  That kind of person needs to stay out of banks, and cash his check at the neighborhood liquor store.  More than likely, that's where he spends most of his money anyway. 

Once we flush out these undesirables, we'll see banks competing for good customers by offering reasonable fees (no $30 NSF nonsense) and attractive yields on deposit accounts (something that at least keep up with inflation).
  |     |   Comment #12
I have been with PNC for about 15 years, because of online banking issues, and the increase in fees, it is time to go.  Just in the past week, I've found out that they are regiving out my new credit card information to businesses that I had reccurring accounts in the past, that I have been trying to end a relationship with, they have been reposting transactions that have already posted, and today my information is not displaying my current transactions!  When I spoke to a representative, I was told they were haveing problems in past couple of weeks but they cannot help me but I should speak to the venders.  That would be fine if the issue was with one vender but with several this is an occurance.  My relationship with PNC will be over this week!
  |     |   Comment #13
Try Sun National Bank if your looking for a high interest checking account with all the bells and whistles! Refundable Non-Sun ATM fees; Free online banking/bill pay and e-statements; 1% interest rate on balances of $2,500 or more. Also free cashier's checks; money orders; travelers checks and a safe deposit box to boot!

There's a location on 571 AKA Princeton-Hightstown Rd. West Windsor, NJ.

  |     |   Comment #14
I have been thru three bank buyout and stayed with them because they said no changes would be made in tranactions. With this new way of handling my account I say "GOODBYE".
  |     |   Comment #15
$7 charge to deposit $20? I'm taking my $13 and leaving.
  |     |   Comment #16
I will be leaving PNC to go to Genisys Credit Union. Goodbye PNC you are losting a customer of 15+ years

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