After tiring of paying a monthly service charge with my local bank, I decided to look for a better alternative. And of course the first place that I began my search was online. I read reviews for about a dozen different “big” banks, all of these banks offering supposedly “free” checking accounts. Reviewers tended to love their PNC free checking accounts, so I began to think that maybe they were onto something. We don’t have a local PNC branch in my town, but we do have one in a larger city nearby. I was able to apply online for a free PNC checking account, and was approved right away.

Still being skeptical, I opened my account with the bare minimum deposit - $25, which I paid via credit card, right on the PNC site. At the same time, I also applied for the PNC debit card and was approved. After submitting picture identification via email, and printing out and returning via snail mail the signature card documents, my debit card arrived in the mail about a week later, followed by a box of paper checks, and under separate cover, the PIN number for my debit card.

I have to say that although I have had this free PNC checking account for less than a year, I think it is the best checking account around. Some of PNC free checking high points:

No monthly fees. What can be better than free? Like I mentioned earlier, I have a real problem with paying a monthly fee just to have an account. My account always has a positive balance, so why should I pay ANY bank for the pleasure of holding my money for me? After all, I’m sure that they are making money on the interest that they make when they lend out money that is on deposit with them. With PNC free checking, I don’t have to watch my balance slowly be eaten away by unnecessary nickel-and-dime fees.

Overdraft protection. We are all human. We all make mistakes. I am certainly no different. But with my free PNC checking account, I also get overdraft protection. If I ever forget to write down a transaction and think that I have more money in the bank than I really do, which can result in overdrafts, I’m covered. The only thing that I had to do was link a credit card to my account. If I try to use my PNC debit card and there is insufficient funds to cover my purchase, PNC pays the charge and then charges my credit card. I haven’t had to use this service yet, but we are all subject to make a banking error. Only now it won’t cost me a fortune if I do!

Online statements. If I need to look up an older transaction, no problem. My PNC free checking account allows me to view transactions all the way back to when I opened my account. Paperless statements aren’t just good for the environment, which is something that I love, they are also more convenient. Who wants to store their old statements on paper when they can view them online and easily look up transactions from their computer?

Spending alerts. Another great feature that I really like with my PNC free checking account are free text message or email alerts. If my card is declined, or if it used in an online transaction or phone transactions, or if there are international transactions with my card, gas transactions, or if a transaction is greater than whatever dollar amount I select – I will get a text and/or email alert notifying me of the transaction. What this means for me is that if my card information is compromised without my knowledge, I can be alerted to possible fraud on my account instantly. That is true peace of mind.

Automatic bill payments. And finally, a true review of my PNC free checking account would be remiss without mentioning that my account offers online automatic bill payments. I set up my recurring bills, such as my mortgage, car payment, car insurance, and other monthly bills to be paid before they are due each month – and forget it. I don’t have to worry with visiting multiple websites, making out multiple checks, or calling multiple lenders to make a payment. Everything is done for me. I don’t even need a postage stamp to pay my bills and I know they are paid on time.

All in all, this is the best checking account that I’ve ever had and I’m super happy that I chose PNC for my banking needs.

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