Successfully working with a financial institution like a bank could seem overwhelming if it’s something you’ve never done before. That’s because it’s not a skill most people learn in school; in fact, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s 2021 annual report, only 20% of students in U.S. public high schools were guaranteed to take a standalone personal finance course prior to graduation. 

However, there are a number of reasons it’s important to turn to a reputable bank to help with money management. Whether you’re new to banking or just want tips on how to work better with your bank, here are five best practices to creating a successful relationship.

1. Keep an eye on your balance.

Wondering how much money you have in your account? Sometimes it’s not as easy as just looking at the ATM screen. That’s because there is a difference between your actual “account” balance, as in what you’ve deposited, and the “ledger” balance, which is the amount that is available to you at that moment. Some of your money might be available as soon as you deposit it, but typically the entire amount isn’t available until the first business day after your deposit is received.

There may be other variations depending on how and where the money was deposited; for example, if you deposit cash in a non-PNC ATM, it could take up to four business days for those funds to be available in your account to spend. Using the PNC Mobile app[1] can keep you apprised of all your account fluctuations and provide tools to help you manage through times when funds in your account are low. 

2. Use safe banking practices.

While banks are the safest place to keep your money, it’s still possible to fall victim to fraud. Here are some basics to keep in mind:  

  • Choose a strong password that’s easy for you to remember without having to write it down — but hard for a thief to guess. Avoid obvious choices like any part of your name or your birthdate, which a criminal can research online. Include a mix of capital and lower-case letters, numbers and special symbols.
  • Only use mobile banking features on your own WiFi connection. When you tap into a public hotspot, someone could make note of your credentials or personal information and use them to compromise your account.
  • Visit the ATM during the day, preferably not alone. If someone appears to be loitering, you may want to return at another time, and if you are taking cash out, discreetly put it away so as not to attract attention.  
  • Elect to receive paperless (online) statements instead of getting them in the mail to avoid potential fraud. Similarly, ask stores and restaurants to email you receipts. If you do have a paper copy, shred it as soon as you can so someone can’t steal your information.  

If you notice suspicious activity on a PNC account, contact the bank right away at 1-888-PNC-BANK (1-888-762-2265).

3. Understand how your specific account works.

The best way to avoid accruing fees is by knowing the rules of the bank and your account type. It is important to understand the account you have so that you can take advantage of all the features and benefits it offers.

For example, PNC’s Virtual Wallet® products come with a technology called Low Cash Mode[2], which can be especially helpful to those who are newer to banking. It alerts you when your balance is low and offers a few safety nets, such as a minimum of 24 hours Extra Time[3] where you can bring your balance back to at least zero, and a daily maximum on what you’ll be charged on overdrafts.

Once you have an understanding of your financial habits and patterns, you’ll be able to research the account features that are best for you, whether it’s a tool to help avoid overdrafts or ATM reimbursement.

4. Understand the basics of money management and available budgeting tools.

Establishing a solid relationship with your bank is a key part of financial wellness. Banks want to partner with their customers in building financial skills, and many have created a support network that makes it easier to manage your hard-earned money. For example, with the PNC Mobile app and certain checking products, you can see all your expenses in various categories at a glance and even link your eligible PNC credit cards to compile a more complete picture of your financial situation. It also offers a variety of alerts that can help you avoid inadvertent money missteps, such as a tracker that allows you to see how much money you spend over a given time as a guide to wise budgeting between paychecks.

5. Talk to the bank if you have questions or problems, and consult with them on your financial goals.

Whenever you have a question about your account — maybe you’re unsure about a charge or you don’t see a deposit you thought was available — it’s best to call the bank and ask for clarification. PNC serves as a partner on your financial journey and can work with you on a plan to achieve your financial goals.

Have more questions about your PNC account? We are here to help. You can find a host of answers to commonly asked questions here, or call 1-888-PNC-BANK (1-888-762-2265) to talk with a financial professional about your financial wellness.