Closings and delays

PNC to introduce no-surcharge ATMs in Sheetz stores

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Gaining traction with customers, particularly as a relatively new competitor in North Carolina, is behind PNC Financial Services Group Inc.’s strategy for introducing no-surcharge ATMs in Sheetz convenience stores.

The Pittsburgh bank, the eighth largest U.S. bank, entered North Carolina in February 2012 when it bought RBC Bank for $3.45 billion.

PNC is installing ATMs into about 480 Sheetz stores in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia during January and February. Non-PNC customers still may face an ATM transaction fee from their own bank.

“When you combine nearly 70 Sheetz stores, plus 152 Harris-Teeter stores throughout the Carolinas, we greatly expand access to ATMs for our customers while increasing awareness of PNC Bank given the popularity of these stores,” said Jacob Newsome, PNC’s regional manager for the Triad.

There also is no surcharge fee to use the bank’s ATMs in Harris Teeter stores, including 19 in the Triad and northwest North Carolina. PNC put in those ATMs in 2012.

PNC is expanding its surcharge-free ATM initiative at a time when most banks have become increasingly dependent on fee revenue as demand for loans is tepid. According to Bankrate.com, the average ATM surcharge is $2.60 per usage.

Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst, said having surcharge-free ATMs in convenience stores and other retail locations “are still the exception rather than the norm.”

“You attract more customers with honey than with vinegar, so a surcharge-free policy does establish goodwill among those shopping in the store and could incrementally bring additional customers,” McBride said.

PNC, like most non-N.C.-based financial institutions, has been challenged to attract customers and build market share beyond what it gained through buying RBC, which was based in Raleigh.

In the five-county Winston-Salem metropolitan statistical area, PNC held a 0.27 percent market share, good for 13th place, with deposits of $106.4 million, according to the latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. It has the smallest market share of the five national and regional banks serving the Winston-Salem metro area.

In North Carolina, PNC ranks fifth with a 2.37 percent market share and $8.24 billion in deposits. It trails Bank of America Corp., BB&T Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. in the state.

Joe Sheetz, president and chief executive of Sheetz Inc., said in a statement that Sheetz agreed to partner with PNC to give its customers “another way to accomplish many, if not all, of their daily tasks in one stop.”

McBride said Sheetz should benefit as “the presence of a surcharge-free ATM should boost foot traffic in the store.”

Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte, said that financial institutions try to gain exclusive rights to place their ATMs in convenience stores, malls and transportation terminals because customers in those locations tend to be a captive audience.

“It’s really uncommon for banks to provide retail point-of-sale ATM facilities in a public environment without charging noncustomers the usage surcharge,” Plath said. “It’s more common to see it with credit unions.

“Thus, PNC’s announcement here is substantive. It’s a signal to the retail market that PNC would really like to capture a greater share of retail deposits and new customers from the legacy banks in its growing retail footprint.”

By Richard Craver/Winston-Salem Journal