Shopping around for a new bank can be tricky. There are many options to choose from, many of which offer both excellent rates and great features to meet all of your financial needs. These might include products like:
- Checking accounts
- High-yield savings accounts
You might also desire a variety of features from your bank, like:
- A mobile app for account management on-the-go
- ATM access and/or checks
- Mobile check deposit
- FDIC-insured protection
- Brick-and-mortar locations in your area
There are quite a few national banks offering all of these services (and more), along with competitive interest rates and convenient access to your funds. Today, we are going to focus on two of them that definitely fit the bill: TIAA Bank and PNC Bank.
We are going to look at the differences between each bank, the features you’ll find, and what you should remember when considering either one. By the end of the article, you’ll know everything there is to know about each bank and be able to determine which is the right place for you and your money.
With that said, let’s get started.
|Money Market Account (MMA)
|Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
The primary reason you’ll start searching for a new bank is likely to find the right checking account for you and your money. This is true whether you are still an old fashioned check-writer or simply want a safe place to deposit your paycheck each month. For your everyday spending funds, a checking account is a financial must-have.
You may also be looking for a good savings account, to store your funds for future plans. While finding a bank that offers both account types is convenient — and may even provide the ability to use your savings account as a overdraft protection for your checking account — it can also tempt you to overspend. So, keep this in mind when shopping around for your next bank.
There are also a few features you may want to consider regarding today’s checking accounts. Many banks offer interest-bearing checking accounts; while the rates are usually significantly lower than savings account rates, it’s still nice to have your everyday funds earning interest.
Additionally, you’ll need to weigh the important of a bank’s mobile app, with features like mobile check deposit. This is especially important if you don’t have a local branch nearby to deposit paper checks. Then, you’ll want to look at things like monthly service fees, minimum deposit amounts, and whether the bank will provide you with a free debit card.
Here’s a look at how PNC and TIAA banks’ checking accounts measure up.
|Checking Account Offered?
|ATM debit card
|Local branch access
(can be waived)
|$25 or $5,000
|$7-25 (can be waived)
TIAA Bank: Checking Accounts
When searching for the perfect checking account, you’ll have two options to choose from at TIAA Bank. Depending on your financial needs and spending habits, they offer a Basic Checking account as well as Yield Pledge® Checking. Basic Checking only requires $25 to open a new account, while Yield Pledge® requires a $5,000 initial deposit.
Both of these accounts include great features, such as:
- Account access via phone, web, and mobile app
- Mobile check deposit
- Free online bill pay
- Free Visa® debit card
- Free use of TIAA Bank ATMs
- Monthly reimbursement for out-of-network ATM usage
With Yield Pledge, you’ll enjoy an account that’s free of monthly service fees or balance minimums. With Basic Checking, you can avoid the $5 monthly fee as long as you keep a low minimum of $25 in your account.
No matter which account you choose, TIAA will reimburse you for all ATM fees charged by other banks, as long as you keep a $5,000 minimum balance in your account. Drop below $5,000 and TIAA Bank will still reimburse you for $15 worth of ATM fees each month.
By opting for the higher-tier account, you’ll also earn very competitive interest on your checking account balance. The rates offered on TIAA’s Yield Pledge® checking accounts are actually higher than most banks’ savings account rates! As of this writing (May 22, 2019), you’ll enjoy a 1-year introductory APY of 1.21%, with rates between 0.25% and 0.71% APY beginning your second year.
Considering that the average savings account interest rate is about 0.08% APY right now, this is an excellent checking account offer.
PNC Bank: Checking Accounts
There are three PNC Bank checking account options to choose from, depending on how you bank and the features you need. All three accounts include:
- Free use of PNC Bank ATMs across the country
- Out-of-Network ATM fee reimbursement (the amount reimbursed varies for each account type)
- Free PNC Visa Debit card
- Unlimited check writing
- Overdraft protection with no setup or transfer fees
- Mobile banking
- Free online bill pay
- Qualifying for Relationship Rates on your savings account(s)
- The ability to earn cash with PNC Purchase Buyback
- In-person banking at PNC branches in over 20 states
The three PNC checking account options are Standard Checking, Performance Checking, and Performance Select Checking. How do they differ?
- ATM fee reimbursement: up to $5/statement cycle with Standard, up to 4 charges with Performance, and up to $20/cycle with Performance Select
- Monthly service charge: $7 for Standard, $15 for Performance, and $25 for Performance Select (These fees can be waived by maintaining a minimum average monthly balance or receiving a certain amount in qualifying direct deposits each month. Requirements vary by account type chosen.)
- Domestic incoming/outgoing wires: $15-30 for Standard and Performance, free for Performance Select
- Stop payment: $33 for Standard and Performance, free for Performance Select
There are a few other features that vary between the three checking account types, though these are the most common.
Your money will earn interest while in your PNC checking account though, as with most checking accounts, the rate isn’t too impressive (0.01% APY as of May 22, 2019). If you want your funds to work even harder, keep reading below for savings, money market, and CD options.
Summary: TIAA Bank offers two checking account options (with significantly higher interest rates from Yield Pledge® accounts), lower monthly fees, and better ATM reimbursement terms.
While it’s obviously important to have a checking account that makes spending and budgeting easy, you should also have a savings account that meets your needs. This allows you to safely save for a rainy day, while still giving you access to your funds when you need them and, ideally, earning a decent amount in interest along the way.
|High-Yield Savings Offered?
|Above-average interest rate?
|Local branch access
(waived with $25 balance)
(can be waived)
TIAA Bank: Savings Accounts
If you want a basic savings account with low requirements and high rewards, TIAA Bank delivers. They offer only one savings account option — Basic Savings — and it’s the ideal accompaniment to with your TIAA Basic Checking account.
Don’t let the name fool you: while this account is basic and easy-to-understand, that doesn’t mean it’s lacking features. With TIAA’s Basic Savings, you’ll enjoy the following:
- A low $25 minimum deposit
- No monthly maintenance fee (as long as you keep $25 in the account — otherwise, it’s a low $5 service fee)
- Mobile check deposit
- Interest rates that are well above the national average
- The ability to connect to your Basic Checking account and use savings as an overdraft protection buffer
The interest rate you’ll earn on your Basic Savings balance is one of the best benefits. As of this writing (May 22, 2019), TIAA is offering 1.10% APY on savings balances, significantly higher than the 0.08% national average. This allows your money to continue earning, even after you put it away in savings.
PNC Bank: Savings Accounts
A savings account is an important part of any financial plan. This allows you to safely store your money while saving for future plans, or just a rainy day… all while earning interest along the way.
At PNC Bank, you can open a savings account in as little as 10 minutes, with a minimum opening deposit of only $25. There are two savings account flavors to choose from: the standard savings and ‘S’ is for Savings. The latter is designed for children and teens, and offers a number of benefits for under-18 account holders.
With PNC Bank savings, you’ll enjoy the following perks:
- Easy access to your account via web, phone, or app
- A free PNC Banking card
- No fees for withdrawals or transfers
- No limits on deposits (deposit as much as you’d like and at any time)
- Savings are FDIC-insured
- Mobile app with check deposit
You can easily enroll in Auto Savings, allowing you to automatically transfer funds into your account each month. Plus, if you connect your savings account to your PNC Bank checking account, the balance can be used as overdraft protection. This feature alone could save you quite a bit in fees.
Currently, the national average interest rate for savings accounts is about 0.08% APY. You will earn 0.01% APY if you only take advantage of the standard rates or if you open the ‘S’ is for Savings account. However, by qualifying for Relationship Rates through PNC (done by meeting certain criteria, such as linking an eligible PNC checking account or receiving eligible direct deposits), you can earn up to 0.10% APY (rate current as of this writing, May 22, 2019).
There is a monthly service charge of $5 on the standard savings account. You can easily get the fee waived by either maintaining a $300 average monthly balance or setting up a monthly Auto Savings transfer of $25+ from your PNC checking account. This fee is automatically waived for account holders under 18, as well.
Summary: Both banks only require $25 opening deposits, though TIAA has a lower minimum balance to waive the monthly service fee. TIAA also offers a significantly higher interest rate on savings.
Money Market Accounts (MMAs)
You might not understand the difference between a savings account and a money market account, or MMA. And if you don’t, you’re in good company! The two account types are very similar, but have a few key differences that are important to note.
Both account types are designed for your savings — not everyday spending (that’s what your checking account is for). With an MMA, you’ll enjoy additional flexibility with your funds, while typically still earning a comparable interest rate. Many MMAs even offer higher returns if you carry large balances, when compared to savings account rates at the same bank.
Some banks offer checkbooks and/or debit cards for money market customers, which aren’t often given to standard savings account customers. These can make it easy when you need to use your savings for a big purchase, eliminating the need for a funds transfer or branch visit.
|Money Market Account Offered?
|ATM debit card
|Above-average interest rate?
|Local branch access
(but can be waived)
|Yes (with certain account options)
TIAA Bank: Money Market Accounts
Opting for the TIAA Yield Pledge® Money Market Account makes sense for many banking customers, especially if they are carrying savings balances of over $10,000. That’s where this MMA really shines.
At TIAA Bank, you’ll enjoy an introductory 1-year interest rate of 2.10% APY on your new MMA. Beginning with the second year, this rate will shift to 1.10% for balances under $10,000, 1.20% for balances $10,000 to $24,999.99, 1.65% for balances $25,000 to $49,999.99, and 1.75% for balances $50,000 to $99,999.99, and 2.00% for balances between $100,000 and $10,000,000. (Rates current as of May 22, 2019)
As you can see, if you’re carrying less than $10,000 in your MMA, you’ll be earning the exact same interest rate as the Basic Savings account offers. In this case, you’ll need to consider which account type best meets your savings needs. Any balances higher than $10,000, though, will earn more by choosing an MMA over a savings account at TIAA Bank.
TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge® MMAs also include:
- $5,000 minimum deposit to open
- No monthly maintenance fees
- Free Visa® Debit card
- Mobile check deposit
- Access to your account via phone, web, or mobile app
- $15 in ATM fees reimbursed if your balance is under $5,000; unlimited ATM fee reimbursement if your balance is greater than $5,000
There are no fees for deposits, transfers, or withdrawals with the TIAA Bank MMA. However, you’ll be required to adhere to the federal 6-withdrawal limit each month. Going over this number will incur an excess transaction fee of $10 per, as well as subject you to warnings or even account closure.
PNC Bank: Money Market Accounts
If you want to earn even more on your savings — and have a notable amount saved up — you could earn 200 times more in interest by opting for a money market account, or MMA. These savings vehicles are ideal for those customers with at least $10,000 to deposit, and can earn you even more if you open multiple accounts with PNC Bank.
By depositing less than $10,000 into a PNC money market account, you’ll earn a starting rate of only 0.03% APY, which isn’t much to write home about. However, connect an eligible PNC Bank checking account, then make 5 qualifying purchases each month or meet the direct deposit requirement, and you’ll qualify for their Relationship Rate. With that qualification, your funds would earn up to 1.50% APY on that same $10,000 balance. Save $100,000 or more, and you’ll bump that rate as high as 2.00% APY.
With that said, you can still open an MMA at this bank with as little as $100. There is a $12 monthly service charge, unless you maintain a $5,000 average monthly balance, and you’ll receive a free bank card with your account.
There are no charges for funds transfers or withdrawals, and you’re welcome to make as many deposits or transfers into the account each month. Just keep in mind that federal law limits savings accounts to no more than 6 withdrawals per month. Go over that number and you’ll be subject to warnings, penalties, or even account closure.
PNC Bank offers a mobile app for easy access and account management, to include mobile check deposit. You’ll also be able to easily access your account over the phone and on the web, as well as at any of their brick-and-mortar branch locations across the country.
Summary: TIAA Bank has a better interest rate, especially for lower savings tiers, as well as no monthly service fee (a minimum balance is required to waive this fee at PNC Bank). However, you can open an MMA at PNC Bank for as little as $100, whereas TIAA Bank requires a $5,000 starting deposit.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
If you know that you’ll be saving up for a longer period of time — and that you can absolutely, positively avoid touching that money along the way — you might want to consider a certificate of deposit or two. These savings vehicles, referred to as CDs, are a great way to set your savings out of reach while earning even more competitive interest rates.
This makes CDs a good choice for savings such as the down payment for your next home, a future car purchase, and the like. You can choose a CD with terms that best match your financial plans, and can even opt to build a CD ladder with multiple deposits.
|Term CD offered?
|No-Penalty CD offered?
|Early withdrawal penalties
|Above- average interest rate?
|3 – 60 months
|45 – 456 days’ interest
|7 days – 120 months
|30 – 365 days’ interest
TIAA Bank: Certificates of Deposit
You’ll find multiple CD options to choose from at TIAA Bank. These make it easy to find the product that perfectly fits the rate you’re seeking, along with the terms and flexibility you need.
TIAA offers the following:
- Basic CDs
- Yield Pledge® CDs
- Bump Rate CDs
- CDARS® Service
So, what’s the difference between them?
The Basic CD is exactly how it sounds: it’s a term CD ranging from 3 months to 5 years in length. You’ll need $1,000 to open one of these CDs, which include automatic rollover and are IRA eligible. Rates range from 1.75% APY to 2.65% APY, depending on the term you choose (rates current as of May 22, 2019).
Have more tucked away and want to earn a higher rate? Consider the Yield Pledge® CD, with a minimum deposit of $5,000. With this option, you will enjoy many of the same features — terms from 3 months to 5 years, IRA eligible, automatic rollover, etc. — but with even higher earnings. Rates currently range from 2.00% to 2.90% APY (as of May 22, 2019).
TIAA Bank’s Rate Bump CD is a fixed-term product, offering only a 3.5-year option. Deposits range from a $1,500 minimum to a $250,000 maximum, are also IRA eligible, and have an impressive rate of 2.83% APY as of this writing. The great thing about the Rate Bump CD option is that if rates go up during those 3.5 years, you can request a one-time rate boost. This gives you the opportunity to increase your earnings, without any added risk!
Lastly, TIAA Bank offers the CDARS® Service. What is this? Well, with FDIC-insured banking products, your money is protected up to $250,000. However, if you are looking to put more than that into CDs — up to a maximum of $12.5 million — only a small portion of your money would be protected.
That’s where TIAA can help. Thanks to CDARS®, the bank will distribute your funds into CDs across their secure network of banks. This allows you to still earn great CD rates while protecting all of your savings in the process.
There are currently no penalty-free CD options at TIAA Bank. If you think you’ll need to touch your savings before your CD term matures, you may want to stick with a savings account or MMA instead as early withdrawal fees can be significant.
PNC Bank: Certificates of Deposit
Banks will typically offer you a variety of CD types, so you can pick the one that best suits you, your savings, and even your future financial plans. PNC Bank is no different.
There are five certificate of deposit options at PNC, with terms ranging from 7 days all the way up to 120 months. These include a Fixed Rate CD (terms of 7 days to 10 years), Ready Access CD (3 to 12 months), Callable CD (36 months or 60 months), Variable Rate CD (18 months), and Stepped Rate CD (36 months).
The Fixed Rate CD is your typical term product, while the Variable Rate CD is a straight 18-month CD that is tied to the 3-month Treasury Bill. This makes the latter a great product if rates are climbing, but can also cause you to lose out if rates drop.
With a Callable CD, you will earn a higher rate at deposit, but the bank will have the option to “call” your CD if rates drop. Choose the Stepped Rate CD and you’ll enjoy an interest rate that climbs every six months of your 36-month term. Lastly, the Ready Access CD is the no-penalty option, which allows you to access your funds without fee, at any time after the first seven days.
Minimum deposit requirements vary from CD-to-CD, though the smallest amount you’ll need to deposit in order to open a certificate of deposit at PNC Bank is $1,000. There are no maintenance fees with their CD products, though, and you can even snag a no-penalty CD option.
As of this writing (May 22, 2019), PNC Bank CDs were available in the following terms and interest rates. Rates are contingent on the specific CD product chosen and the initial deposit amount:
- 1-month CD, up to 0.05% APY
- 3-month CD, up to 0.09% APY
- 6-month CD, up to 0.12% APY
- 12-month CD, up to 0.19% APY
- 18-month CD, up to 1.65% APY
- 24-month CD, up to 1.75% APY
- 36-month CD, up to 1.50% APY
- 48-month CD, up to 1.50% APY
- 60-month CD, up to 1.50% APY
- 84-month CD, up to 1.56% APY
- 120-month CD, up to 1.65% APY
As with most banks, you are better off choosing a high-yield savings account or MMA if you plan to tuck your money away for less than 18 months. That’s because savings account rates are significantly higher than almost all 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month CD options. Plus, you’ll have access to your money if you need it.
However, if you know that you won’t need to touch those funds for a longer period of time, opting for a longer-term CD will ensure that you get the biggest return possible.
While we are on the topic: the most important factor when choosing to save with CDs is that you absolutely do not touch your funds until the term matures. Pulling your principal deposit early not only eliminates any interest you would have earned in the future, but you’ll also be subject to often-significant fees.
Early withdrawal penalties on CDs at PNC Bank are as follows:
- For CD terms of less than 3 months, your penalty is all interest earned
- For CD terms of 3 months to less than 12 months, your penalty is 3 months’ interest
- For CD terms more than 12 months, your penalty is 6 months’ interest
On Callable CDs, the early withdrawal penalty is a flat 12 months’ interest. With Ready Access (no penalty) CDs, there are no fees for withdrawals, after the first seven days from account opening.
The impact of these fees depends on how much you initially deposited, the term you chose, and how long your money had been earning interest in the CD. For many, these penalties can really sting, eating away all of the interest you’ve earned or even dipping into your principal deposit. It’s wise to avoid them if at all possible.
Lastly, your money is FDIC-insured while in a certificate of deposit at PNC Bank.
Summary: Both banks offer CDs with comparable opening deposits and terms. However, TIAA Bank’s rates are higher than PNC Bank’s, on average.
When choosing a bank, you’ll likely be looking for one that offers higher interest rates and lower fees than the others. You may be comparing online bank options versus your local brick-and-mortar institutions, too.
While those are still important, you’ll also want to make sure to find a bank that offers the services and features that you’ll need most in your day-to-day account management. Without these features, you may find it difficult to access or manage your money, stay on top of your budget, or might feel less secure about the funds you keep there.
Here are some of the most in-demand banking services and features, and which of these two banks offer them.
Your funds will be safe whether you choose PNC or TIAA banks. Deposits that are FDIC insured are protected up to established limits — currently set at $250,000 per depositor, per institution, and per ownership category.
Verdict: It’s a tie.
Many customers opt for online banks these days, as the interest rates are typically higher. However, an online bank can also make certain things more difficult. For instance, you won’t have the ability to stop by your local branch and ask questions, or make a large withdrawal in cash.
Luckily, banks like PNC and TIAA give you the best of both worlds: with either institution, you’ll find tech-ready accounts, easy access, and interest rates worth mentioning, all while retaining access to local brick-and-mortar branches.
TIAA Bank has 146 bank locations in the U.S., spread across 45 states. You’ll also have access to more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs in the TIAA Bank network.
You will also get brick-and-mortar bank access with PNC Bank. They have an impressive 2,400 locations, though this bank is limited to only 20 states (mostly concentrated in the central and eastern US). You’ll also have access to more than 9,000 in-network ATMs with PNC.
Verdict: TIAA Bank is in almost every state, making the bank accessible to customers from all over. It’s true that they don’t have as many locations as PNC, but their spread across the country doesn’t eliminate access for those in the western U.S.. Plus, TIAA Bank has substantially more network ATMs to choose from.
You’ll receive an ATM card when you open a checking or money market account at either PNC or TIAA banks. PNC Bank also offers a bank card for savings account customers, so you can deposit or withdraw funds at your convenience.
Both banks offer free cards, and both offer free access to network ATMs. As mentioned, TIAA Bank has more than 80,000 network ATMs across the country, while PNC Bank offers only 9,000. If you use your ATM card to withdraw funds from an out-of-network machine, both banks will reimburse you (though the amount reimbursed differs).
You won’t receive a bank card with TIAA savings accounts. If you need to access those funds, you’ll need to make a transfer online, over the phone, or through the mobile app. You can also request a bank check, though this will take a few days to receive.
Verdict: PNC Bank wins here.
These days, most of us do the majority of our banking on our smartphones. The right mobile app can make this process quick and easy, or be a pain in the you-know-what.
Luckily, both TIAA and PNC banks offer versatile mobile apps that allow you to check balances, transfer funds, initiate wires, open new accounts, and more. You’ll have access to your money at your fingertips (literally) and can even make check deposits from the comfort of home, using the your phone’s camera.
The app offered by PNC Bank has 4.8 stars in the App Store, with over 435,000 reviews. In fact, it’s ranked #53 out of all finance apps on the platform. The TIAA Bank app is still well-rated with 4.5 stars, though it only has 450 reviews at the time of this writing. Because of this, PNC Bank has a slight advantage.
Verdict: PNC Bank wins here.
Mobile Check Deposit
There are a few reasons that even the most tech-savvy customers like to have a brick-and-mortar bank branch nearby. The biggest reason is likely so they can easily deposit and cash checks.
Thankfully, most banks today offer mobile check deposit using your smartphone or even computer. That way, you can still deposit checks on-the-go regardless of your nearest branch location.
Both PNC and TIAA banks offer mobile check deposit capability through their mobile platforms. The functionality between them is comparable, and there doesn’t seem to a difference worth noting.
Verdict: It’s a tie.
Which Bank Is Right for You?
No one can choose your bank for you. The decision is one based on many personal factors: how you spend and save, your future financial plans, and the features that you need most from your bank. You’ll also need to determine how important it is for you to have a local bank branch, for in-person banking services.
Your banking needs may also change as time goes on. As your savings grow, your budget shifts, and you make new plans for your future finances, you’ll require different things from your bank. The bank you need today may not be the bank you’ll need a few years from now; conversely, the bank that was perfect for you five years ago may no longer provide what you need most.
Finding the bank that provides the things that are most important to you — while also giving you a competitive rate on your savings — may require a bit of research. Luckily, both PNC Bank and TIAA Bank are comparable (and popular) institutions, offering excellent features and products to suit your banking needs.
Even still, one of these banks likely stands out more than the other as a better fit for you and your money. We hope that this guide serves to narrow down your search a bit further, as least as it pertains to these two trusted — and popular — banking institutions.