PNC Bank Review

PNC Bank

Overall Rating

9

Bottom Line

PNC is a traditional bank that’s progressing into the digital age with interest-bearing checking and solid HYSA options.

Pros

  • Big bank with lots of locations in the Midwest
  • Traditional and online accounts
  • High-yield savings option
  • Well-liked mobile app

Cons

  • Low interest rates
  • Too many fees

With more than 2,000 branches in 21 states, PNC Bank is one of the largest financial institutions in the United States.

PNC’s history goes all the way back to the year 1845, when it was first established as the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Company.

Today, PNC serves more than 8 million customers, offering deposit accounts, credit cards, and other financial services. It’s also one of the biggest Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders in the country.

PNC is a big bank, but it’s also regional, so keep in mind the accounts that the bank offers may vary depending on where you live.

Let’s take a look at its current account offerings.

In This Article

PNC Bank Checking

Here are PNC banks current checking account options:

Virtual Wallet Spend

PNC’s Virtual Wallet is an all-in-one banking package with several account tiers, starting with a standard checking account called Spend.

You can choose to open just a Spend account or pair it with a savings option called Reserve and Growth.

Spend has no minimum deposit requirement and comes with a PNC Visa debit card and access to online bill pay and mobile banking.

Spend has three different tiers:

  1. Virtual Wallet: Virtual Wallet is the basic tier, which comes with a 7$ monthly fee and some reimbursements on non-network ATM fees. To avoid the monthly fee, you need monthly direct deposits of at least $500 or a $500 minimum deposit in your Spend account.
  2. Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend Checking: Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend Checking offers more ATM fee reimbursements and earned interest on balances of $2,000 or more. The $15 monthly fee is avoidable with $2,000 in Spend direct deposits or a $2,000 balance in your Spend + Reserve account.
  3. Virtual Wallet with Performance Select Checking: Virtual Wallet with Performance Select Checking also offers earned interest but waives all out-of-network ATM fees. To avoid the $25 monthly fee, you need to maintain a balance or receive monthly direct deposits of $5,000 or more or have at least $25,000 in related PNC accounts.

Virtual Wallet Student

Virtual Wallet Student offers some perks that appeal to a younger banking crowd.

For starters, there are no monthly maintenance fees for the first six years of account ownership, which is great for a student checking account.

After the introductory period is up, the account automatically converts to a standard Virtual Wallet.

Virtual Wallet Student comes with all the same features as the standard account.

Account-holders can also get one automatic refund on an overdraft, one free incoming domestic or international wire transfer per statement period, and the option for free paper statements.

PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa Card

SmartAccess Prepaid card is a low-risk alternative to a PNC checking account.

To be clear, it’s not a checking account — it’s a reloadable, prepaid debit card that can be used for purchases wherever Visa is accepted.

The cardholder cannot spend more than the pre-paid amount, so you won’t have to worry about any overdraft fees (the card will just decline).

You can also track your balance and enroll in email or text alerts through PNC mobile banking.

With all of that said, SmartAccess might be a good option for parents and teens, for example.

PNC Bank Savings

Here are PNC Banks current saving account options:

Standard Savings

Standard Savings is, as it sounds, a standard savings account. There is a minimum opening deposit requirement of $25 and a $5 monthly service charge.

To avoid the fee, you need to maintain an average monthly balance of $300 or more or make automatic transfers from your checking account of at least $25 per month.

Standard Savings account doesn’t earn much on interest with an APY (annual percentage yield) of 0.01%. You may qualify for a relationship rate of up to 0.03% if you link your checking account to monthly direct deposit and hit a monthly deposit minimum (which varies depending on the checking account).

High-Yield Savings

PNC’s high-yield savings option is an online account that currently earns a slightly higher rate of 0.40%.

The account has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees and comes with access to digital banking tools and mobile check deposits.

Virtual Wallet: Savings

To go along with your Spend checking account, PNC allows you to add two savings accounts to your virtual wallet to help work toward your savings goals.

  • Reserve is a short-term savings account that helps you put aside money for upcoming events bills, or for an emergency fund.
  • Growth is a long-term savings account that earns interest and serves as a place to build up toward bigger goals (e.g., a down payment on a home or a new car).

PNC Premiere Money Market Account

PNC’s Premiere Money Market is a savings account alternative that comes with FDIC protection. The interest rates are better than in the bank’s savings accounts, with an APY that pays up to 0.06% on deposits.

There’s a minimum initial deposit of $100, and you need an average monthly balance of at least $5,000 to get around the $12 monthly fee.

If your balance dips under the fee-waiver threshold, the $12 monthly fee can easily wipe away any interest earnings that you are hoping to achieve.

This account is not ideal for people who cannot consistently maintain at least a $5,000 balance.

‘S’ Is For Savings

‘S’ is for Savings is a kid’s bank account that helps young children learn financial basics like saving and budgeting through an interactive, online experience.

The account requires a $25 initial deposit and helps new bankers understand how saving works through easy-to-use goal-setting tools.

It even comes with some tips from Sesame Street. There is no monthly fee for account holders under the age of 18.

PNC Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Fixed-Rate CD

Fixed-Rate CDs come with term lengths that range from 7 days to 10 years. The APY currently maxes out at 0.04% with qualifying deposits totaling at least $25,000.

Ready Access CD

A Ready Access CD also comes with a fixed rate but allows for a little more flexibility if you need access to your deposits.

You can pull funds from the account with no fee for seven calendar days following the deposit.

Ready Access only has two-term lengths: 3 months or 12 months.

With a three-month term, you’ll earn interest at 0.01%, and the APY for 12 months is 0.02%.

Note: CD accounts, in general, are not advisable if you might need access to your funds during the term. Your money can earn just as good, if not better returns, in a top HYSA account, which also comes with easier access to your cash.

PNC Credit Cards

Next, let’s take a look at PNC Bank’s top credit card products.

PNC Cash Rewards Visa

Cash Rewards is a no annual fee cash back credit card that pays 4% back on gas, 3% on dining, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases.

You can redeem cash back any time you have at least $25 in your cash rewards account, and the rewards never expire.

Cash Rewards also comes with an intro APR of 0% on balance transfers for 12 months, making this a solid option to earn rewards while paying down the debt from another card.

PNC Core Visa

Core Visa is a no-annual-fee card that also comes with no interest on balance transfers or purchases for the first 15 billing cycles.

There are no rewards to earn here, but it’s a good option if you’re looking to build your credit or pay down existing debt.

PNC Points Visa

With Points, you can earn four reward points for every dollar spent on purchases.

There’s also an opportunity for bonus points if you hold deposit accounts with PNC, and you can earn up to 75% in bonus points with qualifying accounts.

There’s no annual fee, and you can cash out your points for thousands of rewards, including cash, gift cards, electronics, and travel.

PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature

Premier Traveler is a travel rewards card that earns two miles for every dollar in purchases.

There are no spending categories, so every transaction will earn at the same rate. There are also 30,000 bonus miles up for grabs if you spend $3,000 or more within the first three months of account opening.

Premier Traveler has no annual fee for the first year, but it’s $85 for every year after that.

PNC Bank Features

  • 2,300 Locations In 21 States: PNC has a brick-and-mortar presence in 21 states, with locations throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. Outside of Texas, there aren’t any locations west of the Mississippi River, and PNC has only a few locations in New England.
  • 18,000 Fee-Free ATMs: PNC has 18,000 ATMs throughout its service area, making it the fourth-largest bank in the US in terms of branded ATMs. All of these ATMs are available to PNC customers for fee-free access.
  • Online Banking: PNC’s secure online platform allows you to schedule and pay bills, transfer money, keep track of your eStatements, and set account alerts.
  • PNC Mobile App: Within the PNC mobile app, you can keep an eye on your balance, take care of bills, send money to others, or access customer service. The app is well-liked by current customers, with a 4.8-star (out of 5) rating in the App Store and 4.4 stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.

PNC Bank Fees

Monthly Service Fees

Like most bigger banks, you’re going to see your share of monthly charges with almost every PNC bank account.

The good news is that they’re all avoidable. Here’s a look at the fees for each account:

PNC Account Service Fee Avoidable?
Virtual Wallet Spend $7 Yes
Virtual Wallet With Performance Spend $15 Yes
Virtual Wallet With Performance Select $25 Yes
Virtual Wallet Student $0 N/A
Standard Savings $5 Yes
Premiere Money Market $12 Yes
High-Yield Savings $0 N/A
‘S’ Is For Savings $5 Yes

Non-PNC ATM Fees

PNC has plenty of branded ATMs in the areas that it serves. But if you’re traveling or need to use a non-PNC ATM, you’ll pay a $3 fee, plus whatever the ATM charges you.

Some accounts will reimburse some of these fees.

For example, you can get up to $5 reimbursed per statement with Spend, $10 with Performance Spend, and $20 with Performance Select — but you may need to meet certain balance requirements to avoid monthly fees on those accounts.

Overdraft Fees

If you overdraft your account, it costs $36 per occurrence.

PNC can charge up to four overdraft fees per day. Thankfully, you can enroll in overdraft protection if you have a linked savings account.

Wire Transfer Fees

PNC charges $15 for incoming domestic wires and $30 for outgoing wires. International wires are $15 for incoming and $45 for outgoing.

Some accounts come with a free wire transfer per statement period, so be sure to take advantage of it if wires are a service that you frequently plan to use.

Debit Card Replacement Fees

If you lose your debit card, there’s a $7.50 fee to replace it. If you need a new one in a hurry, it’ll cost you $25 to have it expedited.

On the whole, it is not common for banks to charge debit card replacement fees.

Getting Started

Signing up for an account can be done online, over the phone, or at your local branch.

Online, the process should take less than 10 minutes, and you should get an immediate response about your application status.

All you need is your social security number, a government-issued photo ID, the account numbers for your existing bank account, and possibly a printer (to print, sign, and mail in your signature card).

Once your account is ready, you can make your initial deposit and gain access to online and mobile banking services.

PNC Bank Promotions

Here are the current bank promotions offered by PNC bank:

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
PNC Bank LogoPNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Select $400 October 31, 2021
  • Direct Deposit
PNC Bank LogoPNC Enterprise Checking Account $500 December 31, 2021
  • Minimum Balance
PNC Bank LogoPNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend $250 October 31, 2021
  • Direct Deposit
see all bonuses

PNC Bank Security

Like all banks, security is a top priority at PNC. You can get the whole picture by checking out its online security and privacy center, but here are just a few of the ways that PNC works to keep you and your money safe:

  • Extended Validation Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Encryption
  • FDIC Insurance
  • Security tools and tips to help prevent fraud
  • Customer service on standby if you suspect fraud
  • Customizable account alerts
  • Free online fraud protection software
  • Multi-layered security questions at login

Customer Service

When you need some support, PNC has several different avenues for you to get in touch with customer service. You can call, visit a local branch, email, or hit them up on Twitter.

The customer service phone line is open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 10 pm Eastern Time. On weekends, phone support is available from 8 am to 5 pm.

The website is also full of helpful FAQs and videos for when you’d rather try to figure out a problem on your own.

Overall, customers’ impressions of PNC’s customer service seem to be mixed. The bank currently holds a 2.6-star (out of 5) on TrustPilot.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Big bank with lots of locations in the Midwest
  • Traditional and online accounts
  • High-yield savings option
  • Well-liked mobile app

Cons:

  • Low-interest rates
  • Some accounts available in limited markets
  • Too many fees
  • Mixed feelings with customer service

Alternatives to PNC Bank

If PNC sounds good to you, but you don’t live in one of its main service areas, there are a few options that you could check out.

TD Bank and Capital One both serve more of New England and the East Coast, and have a similar feel being large banks, but not too large, with a mix of online and in-person offerings.

If you’re interested in a bank with more of a national presence, take a look at Bank of America, Chase, or Wells Fargo.

FAQs

Is PNC a good bank?

Yes. Overall, PNC is a good bank. However, you have to be careful to avoid monthly fees and service fees.

If you absolutely hate monthly fees, it might not be the best choice for you.

Is Bank of America or PNC better?

It depends on what you’re looking for and where you are located. PNC doesn’t have a presence in New England, where BoA is everywhere.

In general, BoA has a much wider national presence, so you’ll probably have better luck finding a location when you’re traveling.

That said, some PNC accounts offer higher interest rates. Across the board, BoA’s interest rates tend to be lower and in line with the national average.

PNC also takes the edge when it comes to earning potential on sign-up bonuses.

Finally, BoA doesn’t have any product that comes close to PNC’s high-yield savings account.

Is PNC going out of business?

No. PNC is not going out of business. However, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, PNC is downsizing its physical branches and plans to close nearly 300 locations by the end of 2021.

Expect a heavier emphasis on digital banking in the near future from all banks — not just from PNC.

What is PNC Bank known for?

Aside from the naming rights to its home team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC is known for its ubiquitous presence throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and surrounding regions.

PNC is one of the biggest banks in America and has been well-known in the banking space since the 19th century.

Is PNC Bank Right For You?

To answer this question, the first step is to head to its website, enter your zip code, and see if you qualify for an account.

You might be excited about one of the accounts that we covered here, but since PNC is a regional bank, you may not be able to sign up.

That being said, there is a lot to like about PNC. Between interest-bearing checking accounts, a solid high-yield savings account, and widespread presence, PNC is a model for a traditional bank that’s progressing into the digital age.

Whether you’re looking to open your first account, or seeking out a new banking partner, keep searching until you find the bank that meets your financial goals.