PNC Bank Review

PNC Bank started out as Pittsburg Trust and Savings, and these days, it’s one of the largest banks in the United States. It operates primarily in the Northeast, South, and Midwest, and has an extensive network of branches, ATMs and services. This bank serves retail, commercial and small business customers.

PNC Bank offers a digital suite of products called a virtual wallet that’s designed to help people with balancing their daily spending with short- and long-term savings.

PNC also has some great digital banking tools, and there are some great interest rates available in certain areas and certain states.

How PNC Stacks Up

Pros
  • High savings APY (in certain areas)
  • Extensive network of ATMs and branches
  • Many customer service options
  • Above-average app and online services
Cons
  • High overdraft fee can be charged several times a day
  • CD rates are low, and CDs must be opened in person at a branch
  • Website lacks information and comparative tools for various services
  • Options for moderate income buyers to avoid private mortgage insurance

 

What’s interesting about PNC Bank

As with many other large banks, a large network of branches and ATMs is an advantage. With around 2,600 branches, over 9,000 of their own ATMs and 18,000 you can use through partner providers, there are plenty of options in the areas where the bank has a presence. If you live in one of the states where they are located, the PNC savings rates are pretty decent, too.

The virtual wallet offered by PNC can be a great tool, and there are even unique alerts that will tell you when you are likely to run out of money at your current spending rate and even more. If you like financial health analytics, this may be the very tool you’re looking for. Customer service is available seven days a week, although not 24 hours a day.

Things to consider

Here’s the downside: savings rates are low if you live outside the areas where the banks are located, which span 20 states and Washington D.C. Their overdraft fee is higher than average and can be charged up to four times a day, which means even a small bank error can turn into something quite costly.

Essentially, this is a regional bank with an online presence. It’s something to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to open an account with them.

Checking Accounts

First, the virtual wallet account is a good option for a lot of account holders, but has a $7 a month fee. This can be waived, but avoiding other checking fees can be a bit tricky, unless you carry a high balance in both savings and checking. ATM fees that other institutions charge are refunded, but only up to $10 per statement period, which essentially means more than 3 withdrawals from outside their network means you’re paying out of your own pocket.

Savings Accounts

As stated above, rates are good if you live in certain states, but are not so great otherwise. To get that best APY in some markets, you’ll need a $2,500 balance and a checking account with them. Even if you do live in the right state, there are higher rates out there than that of the PNC High Yield Savings.

Still, with no monthly services charges and an ATM card available, the PNC savings account could be a good option for some.

Money Market Accounts

Rates are good on money market accounts if you’re within the PNC primary market. To get the very best APY, however, you’ll need a minimum of $100,000. While there is a PNC banking card available with these accounts, you won’t have check writing privileges. For many customers this won’t matter, but for some could be a deal breaker.

Much like the savings rates, if you live outside certain states, you may want to bank elsewhere for the best MMA rates.

CDs

There are many different options at PNC when it comes to CDs, including step-up CDs with automatic rate increases. Stepped Rate, Ready Access, and Fixed Rate CDs are also available. Some do require a $1,000 minimum deposit, but that’s pretty standard for most banks.

The downside is that you must open CDs at a branch; there’s no way to open one online. Interest is also compounded monthly rather than daily for fixed-rate CDs, meaning that you may earn less compared to similar products found elsewhere. Therefore, yields on all of their CD products are lower than those of other online banking institutions.

IRAs

PNC offers tax-advantaged IRAs with two options to choose from: traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Contributions to Roth IRAs are made after tax, but earnings remain invested tax-free. Withdrawals from the Roth IRA are tax-free during retirement, and there is no tax on qualified distributions after age 59-and-a-half. Taxes on traditional IRAs are due at the time of distribution or withdrawal, but there are immediate tax advantages and contributions may be tax deductible.

Credit Cards

There are several credit card options with PNC bank, including some with 0% introductory APR and several reward options as well. Rates are competitive, especially on balance transfers. There are also business rewards cards available that are a good option for small business owners who need to either track spending or operate with some credit margin for working capital.

The only thing to be cautious about is the fine print, just like with other cards. Introductory APRs go up after a certain period if you carry a balance, and some rewards are multiplied if you also have a PNC checking account. It pays to live in their region and already be associated with the bank in most cases.

Personal Loans

If you’re looking for an unsecured personal loan from PNC, the good news is that you can borrow anywhere from $1,000 up to $35,000, and the approval process averages about three days. Origination fees don’t apply and there is no penalty for paying the loan off early. PNC personal loan rates are reasonable with respect to the national average — the highest you may see is around 11%. For amounts of $15,000 and greater, excellent credit secures established customers at a rate of 5.99% APR in a zip code near the bank’s western Pennsylvania headquarters. Repayment terms range from six to 60 months, and rates bump up a point at 48 months, and then again at 60 months. Fee-wary shoppers might shy away due to the penalty for late payments, which is the greater of $40 or 10% of the payment amount.

Mortgage Loans

While PNC has locations in about half of the nation’s states, its home mortgage business has a countrywide reach. Hopeful homeowners can choose from conventional, jumbo, VA and FHA loan programs. The FHA loan requires a 5% down payment and features a 30-year fixed rate of 3.375%. The PNC mortgage rate is below the national average and compares favorably to competitors such as Citizens Bank. If registered for the bank’s Home Insight Tracker, applicants receive automated updates at meaningful stages of the mortgage process. The unique PNC Community loan option allows moderate-income borrowers to forgo private mortgage insurance with a 3% minimum down payment, but expect rates to be higher than those of FHA offerings.

Mortgage Refinancing

All the same choices that apply to first mortgages with PNC also extend to refinancing options. The one agreement that differs from traditional refinancing programs is the Home Equity Rapid Refinance product. With this option, the loan does not levy the heavy up-front fees that would be incurred by opting for a conventional or government mortgage. There are minimal fees in certain states that involve recording deeds and property searches. Fixed rates can be selected, and the repayment periods begin with 10-year terms and extend out to 30 years.

Home Equity Loans and HELOCs

Aside from the refinancing product which is targeted at supplanting a first mortgage, PNC offers a basic home equity loan option that sets minimum amounts at $1,000. Like many other loan products, a quarter-point rate reduction applies to payments automatically pulled from a PNC checking account. Fixed rates vary depending on the amount financed. A $25,000 loan commands a 5.24 percent APR while a $150,000 disbursement can be had for a 3.79-percent rate. The home-equity line of credit variable rate repayment periods also extends out to 30 years, with draw periods of seven years for interest-only arrangements and 10 years for principal and interest contracts.

Car Loans

The PNC auto loan process can be initiated by phone, online or in person. A convenient facet of the program comes after the application is approved, which can happen in minutes according to the bank’s website. After the bank green-lights the loan request, a blank check can be sent to the customer via the PNC Check Ready program. The amount that can be tendered for purchase will range from the required minimum of $15,000 up to the maximum amount approved by the bank. Depending on credit standing, rates for model years 2018 through 2020 start at an appealing 3.49 percent and max out at 10.34 percent, reflecting the auto-pay discount previously mentioned.

The Final Word

Overall, PNC is a good banking option if you meet a few basic criteria. The first is that you live in one of the states where they have branches; another is that you maintain a high balance of at least $500 in your checking account. The more banking products you use, the better benefits you will realize. Also, if you need help with tracking daily expenses and achieving short- and long-term savings goals, the virtual wallet they offer might work very well for you.

This may not be the bank for you if you keep lower balances in checking or if you live outside the region they serve. In that case, you will get better rates by banking elsewhere, and will likely have access to in-network ATMs and will incur fewer fees.