Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania’s two largest banks — PNC and Wells Fargo — have agreed to cash federal stimulus checks for both customers and non-customers for free.

Banks typically charge non-customers a fee to cash checks. The agreement with the state treasurer’s office means people without bank accounts will have somewhere to go to cash their stimulus checks without incurring fees.

“The stimulus checks coming in from the federal government are meant to help Pennsylvanians get through this crisis,” state Treasurer Joe Torsella said in a news release Monday announcing the deal. “Now is the time to make sure every penny stays in the pockets of our families and neighbors.”

Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank is the biggest bank in the state with a roughly 23% share of deposits. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, is No. 2 in the state with about 9% of deposits.

The two banks also pledged not to take part of any stimulus payment to offset penalty fees that customers may owe.
Mr. Torsella urged other financial institutions to follow suit.

“If all financial institutions throughout the Commonwealth adopted the same policy, Pennsylvanians could literally save as much as tens of millions of dollars in unnecessary check cashing fees,” he said.

“Subject to availability, and with the proper identification,” PNC will process stimulus checks for non-customers at no charge, said Todd Barnhart, head of retail distribution for PNC. “However, we strongly encourage those with accounts elsewhere to use their own financial institutions to cash their checks,” he said.

People who take their stimulus check to a check-cashing store, supermarket or other retailer to cash should know that there are limits on how much they can be charged for the service.

In Pennsylvania, the fee for cashing a government check can’t exceed 1.5% of the value of the check. On a $1,200 individual stimulus check, the maximum fee would be $18.

The IRS began mailing the first batch of paper stimulus checks in April, but expects it will take at least through the beginning of September to get them all out.