Best Banks for Checking Accounts
If you're looking to switch banks, you'll likely want to open a new checking account. In our search for the best checking accounts for Pennsylvania residents, we focused on banks that charge no monthly fees or require a low minimum balance to waive the fee.
Best Free Checking: Santander Bank
The Simply Right Checking account from Santander Bank is an excellent option for Pennsylvanians looking for free checking. The account can be opened with $25 and offers free checking as long as you make one transaction per month—otherwise, there's a $10 fee. For the majority of consumers, meeting this transaction threshold shouldn't be an issue.
As one of Pennsylvania's 10 largest banks, Santander has accessible banking locations with around 150 physical branches located throughout Pennsylvania. The bank also offers mobile banking, check deposit and online bill pay for consumers inclined to do their banking online. Santander is even a good option for Pennsylvanians who frequently travel, since the bank has 650 branches and more than 2,000 ATMs nationwide.
Best Checking for Students: BB&T Bank
BB&T's student checking account package goes above and beyond the traditional student offering by including a no-fee savings account and two no-fee cash withdrawals from non-BB&T ATMs. The checking account is free of monthly fees and comes with a U by BB&T banking app that helps students with money management.
One downside of banking with BB&T is that its physical branches are only in certain eastern states and in Texas. If you're relocating to a different region after you graduate and you value having physical branch access, you may want to consider opening a student checking account at a national bank, like Chase or Bank of America. Otherwise, BB&T is a great option for Pennsylvania students, since it provides dozens of solid checking and savings account options for post-graduation.
Best for Branch Access: PNC Bank
PNC Bank is the largest consumer bank in Pennsylvania, with more than 400 locations spread throughout the state. In the state's biggest cities—Philadelphia and Pittsburgh—PNC has 98 and 95 branches, respectively. In addition to its convenient branch access, PNC's Standard Checking account provides great value for Pennsylvania consumers. The account can be opened with as little as $25, and the $7 monthly fee can be waived by maintaining a $500 average monthly balance or by receiving at least $500 in direct deposits to the account each statement period.
Middle- to high-income consumers who want to bank with PNC for their branch access should also consider the bank's interest-earning checking accounts. For example, the Performance Select checking account—with a $25 monthly fee that can be waived with a $5,000 balance or $5,000 in monthly direct deposits—earns interest on balances above $2,000.
Best for Savings Rates: Citizens Bank
Through the Platinum Plus Savings account, Citizens is one of the few banks to offer a savings option with no monthly maintenance fee. This account can be opened with a little as a dollar, and the interest you earn increases as you deposit more into the account. On balances lower than $25,000, the Platinum Plus earns a 0.03% APY— and for higher balances, the APY can go up to 0.07%.
While Citizen's APY range of 0.03% to 0.07% isn't as high as what you could find at the best online banks, the Platinum Plus' lack of monthly fees and the bank's convenient branch access make this account a competitive choice. Citizens is the second largest bank in Pennsylvania with 329 branches in the state, and it also has more than 1,000 physical locations nationwide.
Best for Small Business: TD Bank
TD Bank is a great choice for small business owners in Pennsylvania due to its established Northeast presence and its excellent small business customer service. The bank consistently places high on the J.D. Power Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study, which ranks businesses on their services and relationship management skills.
The Business Convenience Checking account from TD Bank has a $25 monthly fee that can be waived if you maintain a $1,500 combined balance across all of your open accounts at the bank. The account can be opened with a $100 deposit and it allows 500 transactions per month—which include checks, debits and deposits. TD bank charges 50 cents per transaction once this limit is reached, which is a standard fee across the banking industry. It's important to consider how many transactions you make per month before deciding on a business checking account, as the penalty fees can add up.
Summary of the Best Banks in Pennsylvania
The perfect bank account for you depends on your specific needs and your banking priorities. If you're intent on having the option to bank in person, you can compare branch locations on banks' websites. If having brick-and-mortar access is less important, you could consider opening an online savings account—which tend to offer higher interest rates. As you continue to research, you can use this guide and the table below as a reference for comparing other accounts you come across.
|Best For…||Bank Name||Monthly Fee|
|Checking & Branch Access||PNC||$7.00|
|Small Business Checking||TD Bank||$25.00|