Banking

PNC Bank review: It has branches in 22 states, but you’ll earn the highest savings rate if you bank online

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  • The rules about which PNC accounts you can open depend on if you live in a market with branches.
  • You can qualify for a high-yield savings account if you live in a market without PNC branches.
  • PNC doesn’t offer a standalone checking account but instead offers a three-account package.
  • See Insider’s list of the best high-yield savings accounts »

This post was last reviewed and updated on July 22, 2021. 

Overall bank rating

Pros and cons

Savings

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

0.40% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • No minimum opening deposit or account balance
    • No monthly service fees
    • Mobile check deposit
    Cons
    • Only available for residents of states where there are no PNC Bank branch locations
    • Limited customer service hours
    • Only available to residents of states where there are no PNC branch locations
    • Minimum account balance of $1 to earn APY
    • No monthly maintenance fee
    • No minimum opening deposit

    The PNC High Yield Savings Account is probably the bank’s best product. It pays a competitive APY and doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees. It also doesn’t require an opening deposit, and you only need a balance of $1 to earn interest.

    This account is only available online, and only to residents of states where there are no PNC branches. You aren’t eligible to open a PNC High Yield Savings Account if you live in one of the following states:

    • Alabama
    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Kansas
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • Missouri
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • North Carolina
    • Ohio
    • Pennsylvania
    • South Carolina
    • Virginia
    • Washington DC
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin

    Note that PNC does have one branch in Texas, but residents of Texas can still open a PNC High Yield Savings Account. PNC does offer other savings accounts for in-person bankers, but rates are significantly lower, and there are monthly maintenance fees.

    Checking

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    For people who live near a branch, it’s — Spend: None. Reserve: 0.01%. Growth: 0.02% to 0.03%. If you don’t live in an area with a branch, it’s — Spend: None. Reserve: None. Growth: 0.40%

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No minimum opening deposit
    • No monthly service fees
    • Budgeting tool
    • Access to Spend (checking account), Reserve (interest checking account), and Growth (savings account)
    • Earn competitive APY on Growth balance
    • Reimburses up to $5/month in out-of-network ATM fees charged by providers
    • Reserve and Growth funds can act as overdraft protection for the Spend account
    • Low Cash Mode helps prevent overdraft fees on Spend account
    Cons
    • Spend and Reserve balances do not earn interest
    • $3 out-of-network ATM fee
    • Limited customer service hours
    • 1 Virtual Wallet is actually 3 accounts: Spend (checking), Reserve (interest checking), and Growth (savings)
    • Low Cash Mode gives you 24 hours to bring your account balance to $0 before you’re charged overdraft penalties on your Spend account
    • You can just have Spend, or choose to add Reserve and Growth at no extra cost
    • Earn $50 if you open a Virtual Wallet and receive $500 in direct deposits in first 60 days, $200 if you open a Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend and receive $2,000 in direct deposits in first 60 days, $300 if you open a Virtual Wallet with Performance Select and receive $5,000 in direct deposits in first 60 days
    • 2,400 branch locations and 9,000 ATMs
    • FDIC insured

    PNC has an online checking account called PNC Bank Virtual Wallet. Even though it’s a digital product, you can open a PNC Bank Virtual Wallet if you live in a market with branches.

    PNC calls its everyday checking features Spend. At no extra cost, you can also open a PNC Bank Virtual Wallet package with two additional buckets: Reserve (interest checking) and Growth (long-term savings). You’ll earn a high interest rate on your Growth balance.

    You may qualify to earn a $200 sign-up bonus when you open a PNC Bank Virtual Wallet account. You can earn a $400 sign-up bonus when you receive $5,000 in direct deposits in the first 60 days and live in an area with a PNC branch. 

    CDs

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.01% to 0.03% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Terms up to 10 years
    • Low-to-standard early withdrawal penalties
    Cons
    • Low APY
    • $1,000 opening deposit
    • Only available for residents of certain states
    • Terms ranging from 7 days to 10 years; promotional terms ranging from 9 to 61 months
    • Only CDs with terms between 3 and 36 months can be opened online
    • Branches in AL, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WI, and WV
    • For terms under 3 months, early withdrawal penalty is all the interest earned; from 3 months to less than 1 year, early withdrawal penalty is 3 months interest; for terms greater than 1 year, early withdrawal penalty is 6 months interest


    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

    PNC offers more types of CDs than most banks, including regular term CDs and a Ready Access CD, which doesn’t charge a penalty if you withdraw funds before the CD matures.

    Rates are comparable to or higher than what you’ll find at many other brick-and-mortar banks, but still low compared to what

    online banks
    pay. 

    PNC Bank does offer more term options than most banks, so if you want to open a CD with a term shorter than three months or longer than five years, PNC Bank could be a good option. However, CDs are only available to residents of states where there are branches, so if you don’t live in one of 21 states or DC, you’re out of luck.

    Money market

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.02% to 0.10% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Comes with a debit card
    • Earn a higher rate with higher balances if you have a Performance Select Checking account
    Cons
    • Low APY
    • $100 opening deposit
    • Maximum opening deposit of $10,000
    • No paper checks
    • $12 monthly service charge
    • Limited customer service hours
    • Minimum balance of $1 to earn APY
    • Avoid the $12 monthly service charge when you maintain a $5,000 average monthly balance
    • Earn Relationship Rates with Performance Checking
    • Earn Relationship Rates with Performance Select Checking, and increase rate with a higher balance

    The PNC Premiere Money Market Account isn’t a very strong product. Rates are low, and your opening deposit must be between $100 and $10,000. You also have to maintain a $5,000 balance to avoid the $12 monthly service charge.

    The PNC Premiere Money Market Account does come with a debit card, but it doesn’t include paper checks.

    How PNC Bank works

    PNC Bank has 2,310 branches across 21 US states and Washington DC. Here are the states with brick-and-mortar locations:

    • Alabama
    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Kansas
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • Missouri
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • North Carolina
    • Ohio
    • Pennsylvania
    • South Carolina
    • Texas
    • Virginia
    • Washington DC
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin

    Your decision to bank with PNC could largely depend on whether you live near a branch. You have to live in a state with branches to open a CD. However, you can only access high-yield savings options if you live in a market where there are no branches, with the exception of Texas.

    PNC offers an easy-to-use mobile app, which has received 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple store and 4.4 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store. You’ll download a separate app if you have a Virtual Wallet, and the Virtual Wallet app has 4.4 stars in the Apple store and 4.3 stars in the Google Play store.

    PNC has a feature for its Spend account to help avoid overdraft fees called Low Cash Mode. The perk, available through the bank’s mobile app, gives you 24 hours to bring your account balance to $0 before you’re charged overdraft penalties. You also have the option to pay or return individual checks and payments made using your checking account when your balance is negative. 

    To contact customer support, call Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. ET, or weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET. The bank also has a live chat function, but you’ll have to check back later if all representatives are busy; there’s no way to queue. 

    Your PNC accounts are FDIC insured for up to $250,000, or $500,000 for joint accounts.

    Is PNC Bank trustworthy?

    The Better Business Bureau gives PNC Bank an A+ in trustworthiness. A good BBB rating signifies a company responds effectively to customer complaints, has honest advertising practices, and is transparent in how it handles business.

    Despite PNC’s great BBB score, the bank has had one recent public scandal. In 2019, PNC was accused of aiding a man in carrying out a fake debt relief project, which cost customers a total of $85 million. In 2014, PNC had suspected the man of running a scheme and closed his bank accounts. But nine months later, the bank let him open more accounts.

    How PNC Bank compares

    We’ve compared PNC with one bank that has both physical and

    digital banking
    capabilities (Capital One), and one bank with branches in the same parts of the US as PNC (Wells Fargo).

    PNC Bank review vs. Capital One review

    Capital One is primarily an online bank, but it does have branch locations in eight US states and Washington DC. You may like Capital One if you’re comfortable banking online, and you’ll get the best of both worlds if you live near a branch.

    Unlike PNC, Capital One doesn’t have rules about what you can access if you live in a market with or without branches. It pays competitive rates on savings accounts and CDs, and unlike PNC, it lets you open a standalone checking account.

    You still may prefer PNC if you want to open a money market account, though. The PNC Premiere Money Market Account may not be its strongest product, but Capital One doesn’t have a money market account at all.

    PNC Bank review vs. Wells Fargo review

    Wells Fargo is a brick-and-mortar bank. Although it has online banking capabilities, there aren’t any online-specific accounts. Wells Fargo has branches in more states than PNC, so if you prefer in-person banking and live near a Wells Fargo branch, you may prefer it to PNC.

    However, you don’t have any high-yield options with Wells Fargo. PNC will pay higher rates on CDs, and you may qualify for a high-yield savings option if you live in certain markets. If earning interest is important to you, then you’ll probably like PNC.

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