PNC Bank, relatively new to metro Atlanta and Georgia, is joining its major competitors in ending free checking. Customers won’t be able to sign up for free checking after Aug. 18 and those with free checking accounts will lose the privilege in June 2014.
Current customers with free checking will be moved to PNC’s standard checking option, which will assess a $7 monthly service charge unless clients maintain at least a $500 average monthly balance or $500 in direct deposits. The service charge also can be avoided if a customer is age 62 or over.
Customers can also avoid the service charge by opting for accounts that carry higher balance requirements.
PNC entered the metro banking market after acquiring RBC last year and converting its branches to the PNC brand.
PNC Spokesman Pat McMahon said nine out of 10 of its customers already carry average balances that exceed the minimum requirements. McMahon said the bank had kept its checking account free as competitors dropped the option.
Wells Fargo instituted checking fees for former Wachovia customers last year. Wells Fargo’s $7 monthly fee can be avoided by maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or a total monthly direct deposit of at least $500. If either of those requirements is missed, the fee kicks in.
Other banks also charge monthly fees, such as Bank of America’s $9 fee; JPMorgan Chase’s $12 fee CitiGroup’s $10 fee and US Bank’s $6.95 fee. The fees can be avoided with certain balance requirements or affected by whether a customer receives a paper or paperless statement.
Obvious fees, however, may not be the only ones, according to a recent study by Pew Charitable Trusts, which found the industry “doesn't always make it easy for customers to know all the charges, fees and penalties—especially overdraft charges—associated with their checking accounts,” according to a CNBC report.
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