PNC points Visa Credit Card Review

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The PNC points Visa Credit Card makes it easy to earn a lot of rewards points, but they’re worth so little that most people are better off with any number of cash-back cards on the market. The one way to get a decent value is to maintain a big balance in a qualifying PNC checking account. 

PNC points® Visa® Credit Card

overall rating
3.5
PNC points® Visa® Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.49% - 23.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4 points per $1 on purchases
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.8
for Fees
1.9
for Rewards
4.8
for Credit
0.7

Current Offer:

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you make $750 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening of a PNC points Visa Credit Card.

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
    Deal Seeker
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    Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
    Road Warrior
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
    Adventure Seeker

At first glance, the PNC points Visa Credit Card has a pretty impressive rewards rate: 4 points for every $1 you spend, and even more if you are an eligible PNC banking customer.

But PNC points are worth a fraction of a penny each, so for most people, the rewards are quite meager. In fact, 4 points per $1 wouldn’t even get you 1% cash back—the baseline for most rewards cards. 

If you have an eligible PNC checking account, you can earn up to 75% more points on every purchase, but even then, you’ll earn no more than 1.4% of every dollar if you redeem for cash back. That’s not terrible, but definitely not compelling, especially with the hoops you have to jump through to get it. (We’ll get to the account balance requirements in a minute.)

The one worthwhile use of your points may be travel bookings, which are the most valuable of the redemption options. But even then, you’ll need the rewards boost from an eligible PNC account to get a competitive value. In other words, if you aren’t a frequent traveler and don’t keep thousands in the bank, there are plenty of more rewarding credit cards with simpler structures.

Plus, you’ll likely need an excellent credit score to qualify for this card, while many competing cards are only looking for a good credit.

Pros
  • One rewards rate on all purchases

  • Relatively low APR

Cons
  • Terrible redemption values

  • Maximizing rewards requires legwork (and money)

  • No bonus for new cardholders

Pros Explained

  • One rewards rate on all purchases: Some credit cards have a tiered program that offers different rewards rates on different types of purchases. Some even cap how much you can earn in these categories. With this card, you can avoid keeping track of all that, and you’ll earn a more predictable—and unlimited—stream of points that’s less apt to fluctuate. (That is, unless you bank with PNC and your balance changes).
  • Relatively low APR: While incurring finance charges is an easy way to erase the benefit of any rewards, if you have to carry a balance from time to time, it’s nice to know this card’s ongoing APR for purchases and balance transfers is so competitive. The low end of the range—offered to the most creditworthy applicants—is a good 2.5 percentage points lower than the average for comparable cards.

Cons Explained

  • Terrible redemption values: Points are worth a fraction of a penny: 0.2 cents each if redeemed for cash (an effective cash-back rate of just 0.8%), and in many other cases, 0.15 cents to 0.3 cents each. Even with the opportunity to earn a bunch of points on every dollar, this is well below the 1 cent per point standard for the credit card industry.
  • Maximizing rewards requires legwork (and money): You’ll get a 25% points boost just for having an eligible PNC account, but to get 50% or 75% you have to have even more specific accounts and meet minimum balance or direct deposit requirements. Any month you don’t meet the minimums, your effective rewards rate will drop.
  • No bonus for new cardholders: Many rewards credit cards offer a new-customer bonus to sweeten the deal. With many cash-back credit cards, for instance, you can get $150 or $200 if you meet minimum spending requirements in the first three months. The lack of an incentive here makes the other drawbacks even more unappealing.

Earning Points & Rewards

The PNC points Visa Credit Card offers a flat 4 points per dollar on every purchase you make. If you have one of the bank’s eligible checking accounts and meet other requirements, you could qualify for up to 7 points per $1. Again, it may sound like a lot, but the rewards rates are misleading, since the redemption values are so meager. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 25% bonus: Earn 5 points per $1 if you have a Virtual Wallet, Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend, Virtual Wallet with Performance Select, Performance or Performance Select checking account. You don’t have to meet any balance or direct deposit requirements for this bonus level.
  • 50% bonus: Earn 6 points per $1 if you have a Performance checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend. Also, you’ll have to maintain an average monthly balance of at least $2,000, receive monthly direct deposits of $2,000 or more, or maintain a combined average monthly balance of at least $15,000 across your PNC consumer deposit and investment accounts.
  • 75% bonus: Earn 7 points per $1 if you have a Performance Select Checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Select. You’ll need to maintain an average monthly balance of at least $5,000, receive monthly direct deposits of $5,000 or more, or maintain a combined average monthly balance of at least $25,000 across your PNC consumer deposit and investment accounts.

Redeeming Rewards

Redemption values are the other half of the equation when assessing the value of a credit card rewards program, and in this case, they are very low. You can redeem your points for cash back, travel fare, gift cards, or merchandise, and there is no limit to how many points you can earn with the card. Travel redemptions are the best bang for your buck: 

  • Travel: You can book airfare, hotel stays and all other eligible travel at a redemption rate of 0.30 cents per point, according to a bank spokesperson.
  • Cash back: You can redeem your points for cash at a redemption rate of 0.20 cents per point. Redemption options include a statement credit or a deposit to a PNC or other bank account, according to a bank spokesperson. You can also use the PNC Pay mobile app, using your points to cover contactless purchases made in stores.
  • Gift cards: Redemption values vary. We found a $25 Walmart gift card for 11,793 points, giving you a value of 0.21 cents per point.
  • Merchandise: Redemption values vary. For instance, you can purchase an electric scooter for 338,407 points through PNC or $519.99 directly from the manufacturer. That gives you a value of 0.15 cents per point.

The best-case scenario—earning 7 points per $1—translates to a cash-back rate of 1.4%. Many competitors, by contrast, offer 1.5% (the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Quicksilver, for instance) and the Citi Double Cash even gives you the chance to earn 2% back as you pay your balance.

Don’t let your points go unused for too long because they expire 48 months after they’re added to your rewards account.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

The best way to maximize the value of the PNC points Visa Credit Card is to qualify for the 75% relationship bonus on points, and then always use your points to book airfare, hotels or other travel through the bank’s rewards portal. This would give you an average 2.1 cents per $1 value, better than what you’ll get on flexible travel cards including Discover it Miles or Capital One VentureOne.

Also, take advantage of the card’s introductory 0% APR promotion to finance a large purchase or transfer a balance from another higher-APR card. Just make sure to transfer any balances within your first 90 days to get the 12-month interest-free period, and don’t forget to make sure you’ll save on interest after factoring in the 3% balance transfer fee.

Depending on how much you finance through the 0% APR period and pay off before the period ends, it could save you hundreds of dollars on interest.

Customer Experience

PNC ranked “among the best” in regional credit card companies in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, scoring second place among 11 issuers.

The bank received five out of five stars in every category, including communication, terms and rewards. So while the PNC points Visa Credit Card’s rewards may not be the most lucrative, PNC customers seem happy with their rewards rates and ease of redemption.

The bank provides access to customer service seven days a week (but hours are limited). Also, you can chat with an agent through the bank’s website and manage your account online or via the PNC Bank mobile app. In addition, you get complimentary access to your credit score through PNC’s partnership with Experian, one of the three main credit reporting agencies.

Security Features

Cardholders can lock their credit card if they misplace it, a handy feature that can prevent someone from making unauthorized purchases while you look for it.

The card can be contactless, too. You can tap your card on a contactless-enabled reader instead of swiping or inserting it. This method is just as secure as using your card’s chip but provides a faster checkout experience.

Fees to Watch Out For


The card’s fees are pretty typical for a rewards credit card. One thing to note is that the balance transfer fee increases from 3% to 4% after the initial balance transfer promotional period expires.

For PNC points® Visa® Credit Card
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CURRENT CARD
PNC points® Visa® Credit Card
overall rating
3.5
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.49% - 23.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4 points per $1 on purchases
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. PNC Bank. "PNC points® Visa® / PNC points® Visa Signature® Important Information About Rates and Fees." Accessed March 10, 2020.

  2. PNC Bank. "PNC Points Visa Credit Card." www.pnc.com/content/dam/pnc-com/pdf/personal/CreditCards/points-rates.pdf Accessed March 10, 2020.

  3. J.D. Power. "2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study." Accessed March 10, 2020.

  4. J.D. Power. "2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study (Regional): 10168ENG." Accessed March 10, 2020.