PNC Bank Review: Pros and Cons
- Mobile banking
- Personal finance beginners
- High-yield savings
PNC Financial Services may have a small geographic footprint, but it’s mighty when it comes to its assets.
In fact, PNC Bank, which operates in 28 states and the District of Columbia, is ranked as one of the nine largest banks in the U.S. based on assets.
While living in one of the states with physical branches is ideal for PNC customers, PNC does offer checking accounts and savings accounts to customers outside of its physical locations with the advent of online banking.
In our PNC bank review, we will examine some of the core accounts offered, including the Virtual Wallet offerings and the High-Yield Savings. We’ll also take a look at small business banking, mobile banking, customer service and convenience before weighing the pros and cons of a PNC checking account and a PNC savings account (and the different options available) and tackling any final unanswered questions about PNC Bank.
PNC Checking Accounts
Below we focus on two PNC checking accounts in detail and then touch on its offering for students, which combines checking and savings.
PNC Virtual Wallet
- No monthly service charge with requirements
- 60,000 available ATMs free of charge for use.
ATMs are an important part of checking accounts, as they let you deposit and withdraw money quickly and easily. The agreement with Allpoint ATM Network greatly expanded PNC Bank’s coverage of ATMs available without fee.
In total, PNC Bank customers can use 60,000 ATMs across the U.S. without a surcharge.
However, PNC Bank does offer up to $5 of ATM surcharge fee reimbursement per month and two free a month.
PNC Mobile App
The PNC Mobile App currently has a 4.8 star rating on the App Store (based on roughly 1.2 million ratings) and 4.2 stars on Google Play (based on nearly 218,000 ratings).
The app does everything you would expect an online bank app to do in terms of personal finance. With the PNC Mobile App for your Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend account, you can:
- Perform mobile check deposit.
- Transfer money between PNC checking and savings accounts or even external bank accounts.
- Use Online Bill Pay to track and schedule bill payments.
Android users can also utilize PNC Pay to pay with their mobile devices. Otherwise, you can use the traditional Visa debit card (PNC Banking Card) or the old-fashioned checkbook for the Virtual Wallet account.
Checking with Performance Spend
- No monthly service fees (when meeting certain re
- $25 minimum deposit to open
- Insured by FDIC
APY (Annual Percentage Yield)
PNC’s Virtual Wallet account with Spend does not earn interest. There are plenty of online checking accounts that do accrue interest or reward you with cash back for debit card swipes.
While there is no monthly maintenance fee associated with the PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend account, Virtual Wallet does have other fee types:
- A 3% foreign transaction fee
- A $36 overdraft item fee (max 1 per day)
- A $36 overdraft item fee and returned item fee/nonsufficient funds (max 4 per day)
The overdraft fees stand out here, especially as other financial institutions are doing away with them entirely.
In addition to foreign transaction and overdraft fees, PNC changes fees for ATM statements and outgoing domestic wire transfers and incoming and outgoing international wire transfers.
Low Cash Mode
The PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro with Spend account now comes with Low Cash Mode, which alerts you when your balance is low. It also allows you to determine whether you want certain payments to go through or be returned (and gives you a 24-hour grace period to fund the account).
Virtual Wallet With Performance Select
- Hybrid checking and savings account
- High-yield APY on savings
- No monthly service fees
The core of this account is the same. The Spend portion of the account functions in the exact same way:
- No account interest for checking (Spend)
- No minimum opening deposit
- Insured by FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
- 60,000 ATMs with $5 out-of-network ATM surcharge reimbursement
- Mobile app to perform basic checking activities
- Foreign transaction fees and overdraft fees (more on this momentarily)
- Low Cash Mode
So How Is It Different?
Virtual Wallet with Performance Select does accrue interest at 0.01%. It also allows for up to eight other PNC accounts to be bundled, including the Reserve and Growth accounts which will be discussed now.
Reserve and Growth
The Reserve and Growth accounts are attachments to the Virtual Wallet, Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend and Virtual Wallet with Performance Select checking accounts.
The Reserve account is a separate checking feature for short-term planning. Think of it as a place where you can transfer money for an upcoming vacation, concert tickets or an upcoming student loan payment. This money is untouchable for everyday transactions; it’s essentially a resource to keep you from burning through your rent money on an accidental, wine-influenced online shopping spree.
The Reserve account earns interest at the miniscule rate of 0.01% for all account types, but that is similar to basic checking account interest rates throughout the industry.
This account is a savings account attached to your checking account, serving the purpose of providing long-term storage of cash. The Growth account does accrue interest, starting at 0.02% for the Virtual Wallet account up to a balance of $2,500, then 0.03% for balances above $2,500. For both the Performance Spend and Performance Select account types, the Growth addition offers a promotional rate of 3.60% on balances of at least $10,000 for the first 12 months. Thereafter, Performance Spend Growth accounts accrue interest of 0.03% and Performance Select 0.04%
Compare the three accounts and what is offered with the Reserve and Growth options in each case here.
The Reserve and Growth accounts also serve as overdraft protection. PNC calls it “two layers of overdraft protection.” Essentially, if you are at risk of paying an overdraft fee, PNC will first attempt to pull money from these two accounts to cover the charge.
Virtual Wallet Student Account
PNC does offer a checking and savings account combo for students called the Virtual Wallet Student account. It includes an automatic courtesy refund for your first overdraft but then overdraft fees kick in after that. It provides $5 of ATM reimbursement.
PNC Savings Accounts
PNC offers a high-yield savings account, plus a standard savings, money market and CD options. Below, we take a closer look at the high-yield savings, currently with an APY of 4%.
PNC High-Yield Savings Account
- High-yield APY
- No monthly service fees
- No minimum balance or minimum opening deposit
APY (Annual Percentage Yield)
Like the Growth portion of the Virtual Wallet Checking, the PNC High-Yield Savings account currently boasts a 4% interest rate.
PNC Mobile App
Because this is a savings account only, many of the features that you’d use for personal finance are not applicable. However, you can use the mobile app for account transfers (from external accounts or PNC checking accounts), mobile check deposit and an automatic savings plan.
Funding the Account
You can fund your High-Yield Savings account through wire transfer, direct deposit or an external transfer from a linked bank account.
Other PNC Savings Options
While the High-Yield Savings account is the flagship option, PNC does offer other deposit accounts that accrue interest:
- The PNC Standard Savings account
- The PNC Premiere Money Market account
- PNC CD accounts
PNC Standard Savings requires no minimum deposit, carries monthly maintenance fees that can be waived and is FDIC insured. To waive the fee, maintain an average monthly balance of $300, link your account to a Virtual Wallet or set up an auto savings transfer of $25 or more each month. The fee is automatically waived if you are under 18 years old.
The PNC Premiere Money Market account rewards you for investing more. The more money in the account, the higher the interest rate. However, there are monthly fees that are only waived if you have at least $5,000 in the account or if you have a linked Virtual Wallet account.
PNC Bank offers fixed rate CDs (certificates of deposit) ranging from seven days to 10 years. There is a minimum $1,000 to open with early withdrawal penalties. Alternatively, you can open a Ready Access CD ranging from three to 12 months.
PNC Bank Review: Key Features
In addition to the core PNC accounts, this review will cover banking with PNC as a small business, as well as our analysis of the mobile app, customer service and convenience.
PNC Small Business Banking
Small business owners can choose from several small business checking accounts at PNC:
- Business Checking
- Business Checking Plus
- Treasury Enterprise Plan
- Analysis Business Checking
- MMDA Sweep
- Non-Profit Checking
- Business Interest Checking
- IOLTA – Interest on Lawyers Trust Account
The Business Checking account requires a $100 minimum deposit to open.
The monthly service fee is only $10, but it doesn’t take effect for the first three statement cycles. But you can get that waived if you:
- Maintain an average monthly collected balance of $500.
- Link to a PNC business credit card and use that card to make at least $500 in purchases.
- Maintain a linked PNC Merchant Services account and deposit at least $500 each month.
PNC Business Checking allows for up to 150 transactions and $5,000 in cash deposits per month at no charge.
You can also get free online banking and bill pay as well as set up an overdraft protection for no fee. They charge $2 each month for paper statements, but you can easily avoid that by going paperless.
You can also browse small business savings account options:
- Premium Business Money Market Account
- MMDA Sweep
- Certificates of Deposit
Currently, PNC has physical locations in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
If you’re looking for an ATM, PNC has 60,000 while competitors often have 80,000+. However, PNC does offer a high ATM reimbursement amount each month.
While this review looks at checking and savings options, you can get a full suite of services from PNC, including credit cards, mortgages, car loans, personal loans, lines of credit, student loans, student loan refinancing, military banking and investment accounts.
PNC Mobile Banking
PNC’s mobile app is intuitive and easy to use and has garnered high ratings on the App Store (4.8 stars) and Google Play (4.2 stars). The recent addition of Low Cash Mode is a game changer for beginners.
Many of the financial wellness features mentioned in this review are available on the app. You can set your savings goals and automatic savings deposits. You can create budgets for different categories. It is designed to be an all-in-one banking and budgeting app, which means you won’t need to set foot in a branch if you don’t want to.
PNC Customer Service
Because PNC operates physical locations but also acts as an online bank, customer service is relatively good. You can go into branches if you want in-person help, but you can also chat online or even call for help.
PNC customer service has various numbers and hours depending on your need and account.
Pros and Cons
Our pros and cons about PNC may help you decide if this is the right bank for you.
- No monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance
- Financial wellness tools for saving and budgeting
- Highly rated mobile app
- Low fees for business accounts
- A lot of options for CDs for terms and amounts
- The $36 overdraft fee — which can be issued up to four times a day — is steep
- Sub-par interest rates across the board
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About PNC Bank
Still have questions about banking with PNC? We’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions readers like you are asking.
PNC has a network of 60,000 fee-free ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM and incur a fee, PNC will reimburse surcharges. The max number of monthly reimbursements (or the total amount reimbursed each month) varies by account.
Note: ATM reimbursements apply to domestic ATMs only. PNC will not reimburse fees at foreign ATMs.
While PNC does not operate physical branches in every state, you can open an account from any state online as long as you are a U.S. citizen. The account offerings and promotions do vary by state, however.
You can use Zelle through your PNC mobile app.
PNC has physical locations in more than half of the states in the US, but you can bank with PNC without ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar bank. In that way, PNC can operate like an online bank. Is it just not online only.
PNC offers a few features for overdrafts. That starts with Low Cash Mode, its overdraft prevention feature. If you do overdraft, PNC offers overdraft protection from linked PNC accounts. You can also opt in to overdraft coverage, but this carries hefty fees.
PNC Bank Review: Our Final Thoughts
PNC Bank does not have a monthly fee and does offer interest on its savings products. However, for both checking and savings accounts, there are online banks offering a higher annual percentage yield, no monthly fee, and better convenience. That said, the PNC Mobile App is its saving grace.
Some of the personal finance tools offered digitally through the app can be great for those just learning money management, but the risk of an overdraft (and the high cost to address it) would deter me from recommending this to beginners, for whom those very tools are designed.
Still looking for a savings account that earns you interest and gives you the flexibility you need? Check out our list of the best savings accounts for 2023 before making a final decision.
A note on bank promotions
PNC Bank often makes our list of the best bank bonuses, meaning you can frequently count on a reward for starting an account. Typically, you need to meet some criteria to earn the bonus, like receiving qualifying direct deposits. Qualifying direct deposits are typically direct deposits that come from an employer or the government. Peer-to-peer payments, like Venmo, do not count as a direct deposit.
States where PNC Bank operates
You can find physical branches of PNC in the following states, as well as the District of Columbia:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Timothy Moore covers bank accounts for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He has worked in editing and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012. Information from former contributor Tyler Omoth is included in this report.