Founded in 1852, PNC is headquartered in Pittsburgh. To date, the giant in the financial services industry boasts serving 8 million customers in both personal and small business banking. PNC holds a total of $264 billion of assets and approximately 9,000 ATMs and 2,300 branches scattered throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest.

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Pros
  • Sign-up bonuses for deposit accounts

  • ATM fee reimbursement

  • Wide range of products and services

Cons
  • Harder to open a stand-alone account

  • Tricky to qualify for the higher interest rate on a checking account

  • Caveats to keep in mind to qualify for best interest rates or fees to be waived

Pros Explained

Sign-up bonuses for deposit accounts While sign-up bonuses are more common among credit cards and business accounts, PNC offers a sign-up bonus when you open a Virtual Wallet. Depending on the type of account, you can earn either $50, $200, or $300 when you sync your account with a qualifying direct deposit.

ATM fee reimbursement Depending on which type of deposit account you sign up for, you could either get non-network ATM fees reimbursed or have them dropped altogether. This might include being reimbursed for several specific ATM fees per statement cycle or receiving up to a certain amount in ATM fees back.  

Wide range of products and services – Beyond deposit accounts, PNC offers everything from student loans to auto loans to wealth management to life insurance and much more.

Cons Explained

Harder to open a stand-alone account – PNC takes a slight departure from standard banking products in how it packages its deposit accounts. Its Virtual Wallet offers three accounts rolled into one: “Spend,” which is a primary checking account; “Reserve,” which is an interest-earning checking account; and “Growth,” which is a savings account. PNC’s unique ecosystem for its deposit accounts can be befuddling. You’ll need to sit down and commit to learning the details and getting your head around how it works.

Stand-alone checking and savings accounts are offered, but per PNC Bank’s website, its Virtual Wallet seems to be the de facto type of account. To open a stand-alone deposit account, it typically takes anywhere from two to three weeks, and you’ll need to do it over the phone. If you open a Virtual Wallet, you can do so online, and it generally takes three to seven business days.

Tricky to qualify for the higher interest rate on a checking account PNC features a higher interest rate of 1.24% APY on its savings account. However, to get the bump on some of these accounts, you need to check off a bunch of boxes. There are several requirements you need to meet, and it can be a tad confusing.

Some caveats to keep in mind —There are some caveats to keep in mind if you want to get your monthly fees dropped or to snag the best interest rate. For instance, to get the featured relationship rates, you'll need to link qualifying PNC accounts to your Virtual Wallet. But PNC will only do so at your discretion. The accounts won't link automatically.

Who Is PNC Bank Best For?

PNC should appeal to customers who want a full range of services under a single financial institution. It could be a particularly strong fit for those who want: 

  • To open both a savings and checking account with a single bank 
  • A one-stop shop for banking and financial services
  • To step into a brick-and-mortar location and talk to a human (located in 37 states and the District of Columbia)
  • To bank with a long-standing, established institution

What Does PNC Bank Offer?

As you might expect from one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., PNC Bank boasts a wide swath of financial products and services:

  • Savings account
  • Checking accounts
  • Virtual wallets (which are savings and checking accounts rolled into one)
  • Certificates of Deposits (CDs)
  • Credit cards

Interestingly enough, PNC's online-only offerings in states where it doesn't have branches are actually better than in the states where it does have brick-and-mortar locations.

Virtual Wallet

As PNC’s basic account with a handful of features, the Virtual Wallet includes three accounts that are packaged together. Just as Starbucks uses different words for its beverage sizes, PNC uses different lingo to brand its deposit accounts.

  • Spend This is a regular checking account that might earn interest, depending on the Virtual Wallet account. It has a minimum amount to open an account of $25.
  • Reserve An interest-bearing checking account, it’s designed for short-term savings goals. You need at least a $1 in your account for it to earn interest, but there is no minimum amount to open.
  • Growth – This is a savings account for longer-term savings also with no minimum amount to open.

Products and rates may vary depending on where you live. Not all products and services are offered in all locations. Rates and products vary by location.

The Virtual Wallet has a $7 monthly maintenance fee. You can drop the fee if you:

  • Maintain a $500 combined monthly average balance in your Spend and or/Reserve accounts
  • Make $500 in monthly direct deposits to your Spend account
  • Are 62 or older

If you set up a direct deposit of at least $500 made by an employer or outside agency, you can be rewarded with a $50 bonus. Your direct deposit will need to be made within 60 days of opening your account. You’ll receive your bonus in your account within 60 to 90 days.

Your Reserve account earns an APY of 0.01%. And to snag the higher interest rate of 1.24% on your Growth account, you’ll need to either use your debit card or Visa credit card to make at least five purchases or set up a monthly direct deposit of at least $500. If you do, the APY will get a bump from 1.19% to 1.24% for the following month. (Rates as of May 19, 2020.)

As a PNC account holder, you have access to more than 9,000 ATMs. As far as non-network ATM fees go, if you are a Virtual Wallet account holder, you’ll be reimbursed for the first two ATM transactions. And you’ll be reimbursed up to $5 in ATM surcharges at the end of each statement period. After that, the fees kick in: $3 per ATM visit in the U.S. and $5 for international ATM transactions. There’s also an overdraft fee of $36 per item, with a cap at four transactions per day.

Virtual Wallet With Performance Spend

Like the basic Virtual Wallet, PNC’s Virtual Wallet With Performance Spend only requires $25 in your Spend account to open it. There’s a $15 monthly maintenance fee, which could be dropped if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • $2,000 monthly average balance on your Spend and/or Reserve accounts
  • $10,000 combined average monthly balance across any PNC consumer accounts
  • $2,000 in monthly direct deposits to your Spend account

And like PNC’s other virtual wallets, you can get a bump in the APY rate if you check one or both of the two following boxes:

  • You make a combination of at least five or more debit card purchases or credit card transactions during the prior month.
  • You have at least $2,000 in direct deposits per month.

If you set up a direct deposit of at least $2,000 made by an employer or outside agency, you can get a $200 bonus. It will need to be made within 60 days of opening your account. You’ll receive your bonus in your account within 60 to 90 days. 

If you're using a non-PNC ATM, you can get a refund for up to four free transactions per statement period. When it comes to surcharges at out-of-network ATMs, you can get up to $10 reimbursed per statement period.

Virtual Wallet With Performance Select

While PNC’s Virtual Wallet With Performance Select also only requires $25 in the Spend account to get started, the amounts to nix the monthly service charge are higher.

You’ll be charged $25 a month unless you have one of the following:

  • A combined total of $5,000 in your three Virtual Wallet accounts and/or up to six other PNC consumer or PNCI investment accounts
  • A $25,000 combined monthly average across all your PNC or PNCI investment accounts
  • $5,000 in monthly direct deposits to your Spend account during each statement period

The variable interest rate you can earn on money parked in your Reserve account can get a bump if you either make a combo of five debit card purchases or credit card transactions or have $5,000 in qualifying direct deposits to your Spend account in a given month.

If you set up a direct deposit with a minimum of $5,000, you can get a $300 bonus. Your direct deposit will need to be made within 60 days of opening your account, and you’ll receive your bonus in your account within 60 to 90 days.

With a Virtual Wallet With Performance Select, you won’t be charged any ATM fees whatsoever for both in-network and out-of-network ATMs. For out-of-network ATM surcharges, you’ll get refunded up to $20 per statement period.

There’s also an overdraft fee of $36 per item, with a cap at four transactions per day. As for ATM surcharges from the other financial institutions, PNC will reimburse you up to $20 in fees for a given statement period.

Virtual Wallet With Performance Select Interest Rates
Balance to Earn Interest APY
Spend – $2,000+ 0.01%
Reserve – $1+ 0.01%
Growth (Relationship Rates) – $1+ 1.24%
Growth (Standard Rates) – $1+ 1.19%
(As of May 19, 2020)

Virtual Wallet Student

PNC’s Virtual Wallet Student comes with a handful of attractive features. You can earn a bit of interest in some of the accounts. There is no monthly maintenance fee, and you get reimbursed for the first two fees from non-network ATMs in a given monthly statement period. You also get one courtesy refund on fees the first time you overdraft for a returned item.

Virtual Wallet Student account holders also get one free wire transfer per statement period on their Spend account. As far as surcharges go, you get reimbursed for $5 for non-network fees.

Unlike the other Virtual Wallet products, there is no sign-up bonus. After six years your student account will automatically kick over to a regular Virtual Wallet, at which point standard fees and eligibility rules apply. Depending on where you live, PNC might offer Certificates of Deposits (CDs).

To be eligible for a Virtual Wallet Student account, you’ll need to show proof that you’re currently enrolled in a financial institution.

PNC Bank Virtual Wallets
Account Name Min Opening Deposit Monthly Fee APY (meeting minimum deposit amount)
Virtual Wallet

Spend - $25
Reserve - $0 

Growth - $0


 
$7 Reserve - 0.01%
Growth (Relationship Rates) - 1.24%
Growth (Standard Rates) -1.19%
 
Virtual Wallet With Performance Spend

Spend - $25
Reserve - $0 

Growth - $0


 
$15 Spend - 0.01%
Reserve - 0.01% 
Growth (Relationship Rates) - 1.24%
Growth (Standard Rates) - 1.19%
Virtual Wallet With Performance Select

Spend - $25
Reserve - $0 

Growth - $0


 
$25 Spend - 0.01%
Reserve - 0.01%
Growth (Relationship Rates) - 1.25%
Growth (Standard Rates) - 1.20%
Virtual Wallet Student

Spend - $25
Reserve - $0 

Growth - $0


 
$0 Reserve - 0.01%
Growth (Relationship Rates) - 0.03% or 0.05%
Growth (Standard Rates) - 0.01%
(As of May 19, 2020)

Fixed Rate CDs

Depending on where you live, you could tap into a certificate of deposit (CD). By committing to leaving your money in a CD for a period of time, you could earn a higher interest rate than in a savings or money market account. Usually, how it works is that the longer you park your money in a CD, the higher the rate. There are also different minimum amounts required to open a CD.
The terms range anywhere from 7 days to 10 years. PNC's Fixed Rate CD required minimum is $5,000 for CDs with a term of 7 days to 89 days and $1,000 for those with a term of 90 days to 10 years.

PNC's standard early withdrawal penalties are as follows:

  • If you withdrawal less than three months in, you'll get dinged the amount of interest that you would've earned if you left your money for the full term of the CD;
  • If you make an early withdrawal from three months to a year, the penalty will be three months of interest earned on the amount you take out;
  • And if you make a withdrawal after a year or more, you'll be charged six months' interest on the amount withdrawn.

Ready Access CDs

If you're on the fence about locking in your money with a CD, you might want to consider PNC's Ready Access CD. You're only required to commit for 7 days; after that, you're free to access your funds. Standard terms are 3 and 12 months. Once your CD matures, it'll be automatically renewed.

Callable CDs

This CD is available in 36- or 60-month terms. With a callable CD, you're offered higher-than-market-average rates. The trade-off is that the issuer of the CD can "call," or redeem your CD for the principal amount before it matures. Callable CDs are known to be a bit riskier than typical CDs. In turn, you'll be granted a higher interest rate for bearing the risk.

With the PNC Callable CDs, you'll be locked into the rate and your CD can't be "called" for a certain period. With the 36-month CD, PNC can't redeem the amount in your CD for 12 months. With the 60-month CD, it's 24 months.

Should your CD be called, PNC will give you notice before the actual call date. And you have 10 days following the call to pull your funds out of your CD without penalty. Should you make an early withdrawal from your CD, PNC's standard early withdrawal penalty applies. There's a $10,000 minimum to open a PNC callable CD.

Variable Rate CD

PNC's Variable Rate CD is an 18-month CD with a rate that's tied to the 3-month Treasury Bill. When the Treasury Bill rates go up, so does the rate of this CD. Conversely, when the Treasury Bill rates go down, so does its rate. You'll need at least $1,000 to open the Variable Rate CD. PNC's standard early withdrawal penalties apply.

Stepped Rate CDs

PNC's Stepped Rate CD has a 36-month term. The interest rate gets a bump every six months. What's more, at the end of each six months, there's a 10-day grace period where you can access your funds without getting dinged with a penalty. You'll need a minimum of $2,500 to open an account.

Unless it's during the 10-day windows in between each six-month term, PNC's standard early withdrawal penalties apply.

Credit Cards

PNC Bank offers a small handful of credit cards, including a cashback card and a traveler’s card:

  • PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card
  • PNC Core Visa Credit Card
  • PNC Points Visa Credit Card 
  • PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature Credit Card

Other Financial Products Offered By PNC Bank

PNC also has a robust range of other offerings:

  • Purchase mortgages
  • Refinance mortgages
  • Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit
  • Auto loans 
  • Personal loans and Lines of Credit
  • Student loans 
  • Student loan refinancing 
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
  • Self-directed trading
  • Managed investment portfolios
  • 529 Plans 
  • Custodial accounts 
  • Life insurance 
  • Financial planning 
  • Small business banking 
  • Small business loans
  • Small business retirement accounts 
  • Military banking 
  • Workplace banking 
  • Private banking

PNC Customer Service

There are a number of ways you can get support from PNC. You can visit one of its brick-and-mortar locations, check out its FAQ page, or send customer service a tweet at @PNCBank_Help. Representatives are available to chat seven days a week, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, and you can reach them by telephone or live chat.

PNC has a handful of mobile banking apps available on both iOS and Android devices. With the apps, you can check your account balances, pay bills, transfer money and deposit checks directly from your mobile device. The apps have outstanding ratings, and the PNC Mobile Banking app is currently ranked #59 for all Finance apps on iOS.

How to Bank With PNC

To open a virtual account, you can apply online. If you want a stand-alone checking or savings account, you’ll have to give PNC a call and open an account over the phone.

Verdict

Banking with PNC can be a bit confusing. While you can get a stand-alone checking or savings account, there’s no information online about how to open one. You'll want to spend some time doing your homework before opening an account. Consider combing through the details on the website or speaking to a customer rep to get your questions answered.

If you find PNC’s Virtual Wallet products appealing and meet the criteria to get the monthly maintenance fee dropped, it could be worth your while to open an account. Also, if you prefer to bank with a large financial institution with a host of offerings, it might be right for you. 

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of banks. We collected over 20 data points across more than 80 banks—including products available, interest rates, fees, and accessibility—to ensure that our content helps users make the right decision for their savings and banking needs.