PNC Corp. said it has introduced two small-business accounts, one for customers with few monthly transactions and another for those with many.
The accounts will replace the company's current small-business account, said Guy Molde, PNC vice president and senior product manager.
"The key in banking is relationships," Mr. Molde said. "We start the relationship with a good, strong checking account and grow from there."
Mr. Molde, who joined $72.4 billion-asset PNC last fall from Barnett Banks Inc., said the accounts were designed to retain customers rather than generate additional fee income for the bank.
"The first thing new businesses do is set up a checking account," he said, "so the ability to provide an extremely competitive checking account is very important."
The low-volume account, dubbed Business Checking 25, carries a monthly fee that averages $9.50 across the six states where PNC operates. It is designed for customers with no more than 25 deposits or payments per month, and it charges 40 cents for each additional transaction.
The Business Checking 100 account, which carries a fee ranging from $14.50 to $16.50 per month, depending on the market, allows up to 100 deposits or payments a month and charges 40 cents per additional transaction.
PNC will waive monthly fees for customers with balances above a certain level, which varies depending on the market. The balance requirement for a no-fee account ranges from $3,500 to $5,000 for customers with low transaction volume and $7,500 to $10,000 for high-volume accounts.
Both accounts are interest-bearing and are designed for businesses with less than $1 million of sales, Mr. Molde said.
"We had a single product that allowed us to appeal to low-volume customers," he said. "But if we tried to appeal to the higher-volume customers at the same time, we ended up in no man's land."
The bank's previous small-business account set fees each month depending on the number of transactions.
According to Les Dinkin, a director at Oliver, Wyman & Co. in New York, entrepreneurs are likely to be pleased by PNC's new accounts because the fee structure is easier to understand than most other banks'.
"Small-business owners tend to be among the most time-starved customers, so the simplicity of this account will appeal to them," he said. "Most banks use a very complex structure to price their accounts."
The bank began marketing the accounts May 1 via direct mail. Customers got letters that suggested which of the two accounts would be appropriate for them, on the basis of their prior transaction volume.
Customers can sign up for the accounts by calling a toll-free number. PNC expects to have all its current small-business accounts converted by June 24. No customer will be asked to fill out any form to switch accounts, Mr. Molde said.