The Best Checking Accounts in Pennsylvania for 2021
Your checking account is an essential part of your day-to-day financial life. When you get paid, you deposit your paychecks to your checking account and when you pay your bills you use the money from your checking account.
Because you use you’re checking account almost every day, it’s important that you choose a checking account that’s easy to use and that has the features that you need.
Customers who open a checking account tend to stick with a bank for a while. That means that banks will compete heavily to draw new people to their checking accounts. That means that if you take the time to shop around, you can find a good deal.
If you live in Pennsylvania and want to open a new checking account, these are some of the best options available.
The Largest Banks in Pennsylvania
The largest banks in Pennsylvania, by deposits, are:
- PNC Bank
- Wells Fargo
- Citizens Bank
- Bank of America
- First National Bank of Pennsylvania
- TD Bank
- Truist Bank
- Santander Bank
- M&T Bank
- Fulton Bank
This list contains mostly national banks, but these aren’t your only option for opening a checking account.
Best Checking Accounts from Local Pennsylvania Banks
If you want to open a new checking account, one of the first places that you should look is at regional and local banks. National banks have advantages, but they’re not perfect for everyone. For example, if you work with a national bank, you’ll likely wind up with the same account as everyone else that works with that bank. They don’t do much to tailor their accounts to local needs.
Local and regional banks serve smaller areas, meaning they can tailor the accounts and features they offer to meet local needs.
These are three of the best banks for people in Pennsylvania to work with.
First National Bank of Pennsylvania
The First National Bank of Pennsylvania offers a fee-free checking experience with unlimited check writing. The only requirement to avoid the fee is signing up for electronic statements.
The account has no minimum balance requirements and offers free withdrawals at every First National Bank of Pennsylvania ATM.
M&T Bank’s EZChoice checking is the bank’s most popular checking account.
It has no monthly fees and comes with the features you’d expect from a checking account, including online bill payment and access to Zelle to easily send money to friends and family.
Fulton Bank’s Simply Checking account is another checking account that has no minimum balance requirement or monthly fees.
If you open the account in a branch, there’s no minimum opening deposit either.
One nice perk of the account is that it offers fee rebates for up to four fees charged by other banks’ ATMs (maximum four fees per statement period).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Local Banks
If you’re thinking about opening a checking account, you should take the time to look at multiple accounts and compare your option.
Working with a local bank is a good choice for many people. They’re more likely to provide personalized service. If you open an account with a larger bank, it’s likely that you’ll just be a face in the crowd.
However, smaller banks aren’t perfect. They usually have much smaller ATM and branch networks. If you leave the service area of your bank, you might struggle to find an ATM or branch that you can use. That means you’ll have to pay hefty fees to use another bank’s ATM.
One benefit of national banks is that you’re never far from an ATM you can use, regardless of where you are.
Online Checking Accounts Available Nationwide
Online banks are a great alternative to national and regional banks alike. They offer a lot of advantages over both and have grown far more popular in recent years.
Great Features, Great Price
One of the most compelling reasons to work with an online bank for your checking account is that their accounts tend to offer great features at a low cost.
Online banks are much cheaper to run than brick-and-mortar banks. Where a traditional bank has to build, staff, and maintain a network of hundreds or thousands of branches and ATMs, online banks can build just a couple of office buildings to house their entire operations. That can be a massive cost savings, and most online banks pass those savings on to their customers.
Most online checking accounts have no monthly fee and no or low minimum opening deposits. Many offer additional perks like ATM fee rebates or paying interest on your account’s balance.
Security is something that people frequently worry about with online banks. With a brick-and-mortar bank, you can see the building and feel safe that your money will be safe. It’s hard to trust a bank that you can’t see.
The good news:
Online banks are just as safe as brick-and-mortar banks.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offers the same protection to both types of banks and any deposit you make in an insured bank is automatically covered. If the bank can’t return the money you’ve deposited, the FDIC will reimburse you for the loss.
FDIC insurance covers up to $250,000 per depositor, per account type, per bank. The vast majority of people will never get close to exceeding that limit, making it nearly impossible to lose money by depositing it to a checking account, online or otherwise.
What Kind of Account is Right for You?
Online banks are great for many people, but they won’t be the best fit for everyone. Before you open an account, you have to ask yourself a few questions.
First: how well you deal with customer support over the phone?
If you have trouble with your account at a traditional bank, getting help is as simple as stopping in at your local branch and speaking to a person there. If you need help with your online bank account it means getting support by phone, email, or chat.
Second: how often do you visit your current bank?
If you’re already doing most of your transactions online, from your phone, or at an ATM, moving to an online bank won’t require a significant change in your habits.
Finally: how good are you with technology?
Online banks make their systems easy to use, but they still require some basic computer skills. If you struggle with the internet or smartphones, you might want to stick with traditional banks.
The Four Most Important Features of a Checking Account
Comparison shopping to find the best account is essential if you want to find an account that works for you. When you’re shopping around, consider these four factors.
Many banks charge monthly fees to keep your account open. Often, there is a way to avoid the fee, but jumping through hoops can get annoying quickly.
These fees will eat away at your balance over time and leave you with less money to spend on the things you want to buy. Whenever possible, choose an account with no monthly fees or with a monthly fee you can easily avoid.
If you use cash on a regular basis, it’s important that you can easily make deposits and withdrawals. Make sure that your bank has a strong network of ATMs and branches so you don’t have to pay fees to use other bank’s ATMs.
Keep in mind that some banks refund other banks’ ATM fees, making it easy to use any ATM you find.
Most checking accounts don’t pay interest, but there are some that offer a small amount. If you can find an account that pays interest, it’s a nice bonus.
Almost every bank offers a mobile banking app, but the quality of the app can vary widely. If you want to do a lot of banking while on the go, make sure that the bank you choose has a serviceable app.