Here are our recommendations for the best banks in the Steel City.
Best for Checking: First National Bank of Pennsylvania
We chose First National Bank of Pennsylvania as the best place to get a checking account in Pittsburgh, thanks to its convenience and diverse product selection. FNB provides Pittsburgh residents with 77 branches across the city and a great free checking option in its Freestyle Checking account. This account has no monthly fee, no minimum balance and no minimum opening requirement—so long as you open one in person at a branch.
FNB stands out as one of the few banks that offer a truly free checking account in Pittsburgh. Another advantage at FNB is that the free account isn't limited in its features. Freestyle Checking has all the features you would find in a standard checking account at a major bank like Bank of America. These features include online and mobile banking and free bill pay. Overall, this account is a great hassle-free choice that gives you flexibility and the convenience to bank how you want.
Best for Branch Access: PNC Bank
PNC Bank is Pittsburgh's most convenient bank for branch access, with almost 100 branches open throughout the city. As the nation's fifth-largest bank, PNC also has its customers covered across 18 states beyond Pennsylvania. Besides its wide network of service locations, PNC's broad range of financial products and services make it a convenient bank for a diverse group of users.
When compared to competitors, the PNC Standard Checking account gives you a standard set of features at a slightly cheaper price. You can waive the low $7.00 monthly service fee on PNC Standard Checking by maintaining an average monthly balance of $500 or receiving the same amount in direct deposits. Overall, PNC gives Pittsburghers the advantages of a major banking brand with affordable requirements and great local accessibility.
Best for Students: First National Bank of Pennsylvania
First National Bank of Pennsylvania is an excellent bank for students as well, with an account that packs in features specifically geared toward students. These features include two non-network ATM fee rebates per month and unlimited check writing. FNB also gives students local access to its services, with many FNB branches operating near major schools in Pittsburgh like Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh.
For Pittsburgh's more budget-conscious students, the FNB-U Student Banking Package is also a relatively cheap option. The account requires no minimum balance or any monthly fees as long as you sign up for paperless eStatements. Banking with FNB will be particularly convenient if you plan on taking out any student loans with the bank. Having your loan and checking account at the same place should allow you to make payments more easily than if you kept them at separate institutions.
Best for Savings: CIT Bank
Because most banks around Pittsburgh don't offer great savings rates for low fees, we looked at online banks instead, which lack branch presence but give users better interest rates. CIT Bank had one of the highest interest rates of any in the nation, online or traditional. Although banking online sacrifices the ability to receive service in person, it does give you access to fewer fees and higher interest rates.
CIT Bank's money market account is the best example of this trade-off. The CIT money market account currently has an interest rate of 1.30% annual percentage yield (APY) on all balances, requires only $100.00 to open and charges no monthly fees. The drawback to CIT is the lack of a checking account option, which can be inconvenient if you're used to banking on a single platform or like to transfer money quickly. This limitation is typical of other high-yield savings accounts that are online, such as Marcus and Synchrony.
Best for Small Business: KeyBank
We picked KeyBank as the first choice for Pittsburgh entrepreneurs who are looking to open a business checking account. KeyBank has the local branch presence that small-business owners often need, with more than 40 branches across Pittsburgh. It also offers many products and services that cover other business needs, such as payment processing for retailers.
Although KeyBank's opening requirements are relatively standard, the bank stands out as a more affordable option due to a low monthly fee and minimum balance. When it comes to ongoing expenses, KeyBank gives you an unusually high 200 free transactions a month and a maximum cash deposit of $25,000. Typical basic small-business checking accounts only provide 50 free transactions and a maximum cash deposit of $5,000. At other banks, similar account offerings would cost you a monthly fee of $20 or more.
Finding the Right Bank for You
Deciding on a bank account is difficult with the many banks and account options out there. If you can't find a bank that fits your banking preferences above, use our criteria as a baseline to compare any other competitive accounts you may find. Remember that fees aren't the only thing to consider. So long as you can meet the requirements to waive a monthly account fee, you'll want to look closely at the features you'll receive.
If banking with a national brand isn't a high priority for you, then you may want to check out your local credit unions or online bank options, which usually offer better terms but fewer branches nationwide. Finally, be sure to read the fine print of your account agreement to avoid being ambushed by account usage fees. Depending on your banking needs, it may make more sense to pay for a premium account in order to access free features for which you'd otherwise pay.