PNC Bank Review

We recommend products and services based on unbiased research from our editorial team. We may receive compensation if you click on a link. Read More.
Ling Wong

By Ling Wong Contributing Writer

Ling Wong has nearly a decade of experience as a content strategist and creator. She’s covered data security at financial institutions, e-commerce and many other online trends.

PNC Bank Review

PNC Bank has been in business for over 160 years and is the eighth-largest bank in the U.S. by assets. It offers a wide range of products for individuals, small businesses, corporations, and government entities, with branches in 21 eastern states, plus Washington, D.C. PNC provides robust mobile and online tools for customers to manage their budgets and savings, plus on-campus banking services and financial education for college students.

The interest rates on PNC’s deposit accounts are highly variable, meaning you could get an excellent APY in one state and a dismal one in another. The bank also imposes some monthly fees — an inconvenience that you can avoid by meeting certain minimum requirements. Overall, though, PNC Bank is a good choice if you prefer to conduct your day-to-day banking activities using online tools and mobile apps. PNC scores highly in J.D. Power’s study of the online banking experience, which is especially important if you live outside of PNC’s main service area.

Pros
Cons
Robust online and mobile account management tools
App-based savings and budgeting solution
15,000 fee-free ATMs and 2,400 branches
Interest rates vary by location
Limited in-person service area
$36 overdraft fee that can be charged up to four times per day

The Claim

PNC Bank promises to empower customers to take charge of their financial well-being by catering to their unique accessibility needs with a variety of tools and services to make banking safer, easier, and more convenient.

Is it true?

Yes, for the most part.

PNC Bank has a wide range of financial products to meet the needs of customers from all walks of life — including students and military members. Its Virtual Wallet pairs checking and savings accounts with a suite of digital tools to help customers keep track of their money. It also offers business banking, loans, and wealth management services on top of the many standard financial products, such as checking, savings, credit cards, prepaid cards, and debit cards.

However, with branches only in 21 eastern states, convenience is not top-of-mind for customers who live in other regions. While many may be satisfied with PNC’s great online resources, the lack of a nearby physical branch may be a detriment if you have urgent or detailed questions. Additionally, depending on where you live, you may not feel “empowered” by the rates available to you. In Washington State, for instance, a savings account could net you a 1.90% APY, but savings accounts cap out at 0.10% in Indiana. Before signing up, make sure to check out rates in your area using PNC’s Interest Rate Center to see how PNC stacks up against other options.

What PNC Bank Offers

Checking accounts

Pros
Cons
Variety of account options
Overdraft protection Some non-PNC ATM fees reimbursed
Monthly maintenance fees on all accounts
Low interest rates

PNC offers three different checking accounts: Standard, Performance, and Performance Select. All three are fairly standard checking accounts, although they all come with monthly fees unless you meet minimum balance requirements — $500 for Standard, $2,000 for Performance, and $5,000 for Performance Select. All three offer free access to PNC ATMs and some reimbursement for non-PNC ATMs, plus unlimited check-writing privileges. If you’re looking to earn interest on your checking account, Performance and Performance Select both offer it, although rates currently sit at a very low 0.01% for both accounts.

Virtual Wallet

Pros
Cons
Robust online tools
Flexible checking account
Automatic savings rules
Monthly fees unless minimum requirements are met
High account balance required to qualify for the best APY
Interest rates vary by location
Virtual Wallet combines three accounts: Spend (checking account), Reserve (short-term savings account), and Growth (long-term savings account with higher rates). Virtual Wallet is PNC’s shoe-in with the market outside of its service area — you can apply online and manage all of your finances through PNC’s online banking or mobile app. For people who like to keep all of their finances in one place, Virtual Wallet could be a great option, although keep in mind that offers and rates may vary based on your location. Many of the Virtual Wallet account tiers come with hefty monthly maintenance fees, as well, though you can bypass these by maintaining minimum balances or making qualifying direct deposits each month.

Savings accounts

Pros
Cons
Automatic transfers from checking to savings
Link to PNC Bank checking account for overdraft protection
Potentially low APYs
$25 fee if you close your account within 180 days of opening
Minimum balances in some areas

Depending on your location, a savings account from PNC could be a great option for earning high returns. Some areas can benefit from PNC’s high-yield savings account, which has no minimum balance requirements or monthly service charges. With this account, rates climb to a 1.90% APY — higher than rates from competitors like Capital One. PNC’s other savings account options, however, are less desirable. If you’re in an area where this high-yield account isn’t available, a standard savings account APY caps at 0.10%. Additionally, this standard account charges $5 per month if you don’t maintain an average monthly balance of $300 or make an automatic savings transfer of $25 or more per month from your checking account. Combined with low rates, this is an inconvenience that’s hard to overlook.

Premiere Money Market account

Pros
Cons
Opportunities to earn higher rates
Rates comparable to those from most brick-and-mortar banks
Free PNC Banking card
Rates vary by location

If you’re not in an area that offers PNC’s high-yield savings account, PNC’s Premiere Money Market is a way to earn higher interest rates with higher balances. However, while APYs are comparable to those of many brick-and-mortar competitors, they’re not the highest in the industry — and they also vary by location. A look at two sample states illustrates this difference: The highest APY for a money market account in Indiana is 1.00% (for balances of $100,000 and above), while the highest APY in Washington is 1.20% (for balances of $500,000 and above). If you have less than $25,000 to invest, rates cap out at 0.70% in both states. PNC could still be worth looking into if you live in an area with decent rates, but know that you could get a better deal with online banks like Ally.

CDs

Pros
Cons
Many types of CDs
Terms as short as seven days
Interest compounded monthly
Low APYs
CDs can only be opened in a bank branch

PNC advertises multiple types of CDs with a variety of terms, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs. These include a standard CD, a CD that allows you to access your funds within the first seven days, a “callable” CD, a variable rate CD, and a three-year CD with increasing interest rates. Unfortunately, CDs are only available in areas with a physical branch, so you’re not eligible if you live outside of PNC’s 21-state service area. Additionally, APYs for all types of CDs are unimpressive, so unless one of the unique features appeals to you, it’s likely not the best option for saving.

Product Overview

  • In business since: 1845
  • FDIC-insured: Yes
  • J.D. Power 2019 Online Banking Satisfaction Study score: 4/5
  • States served: 21 plus Washington, D.C.
  • Number of locations: 2,400
  • Pros: High customer satisfaction scores, all-in-one checking and savings option
  • Cons: Limited locations, potentially low rates

Features

Virtual Wallet
Bundled checking and savings accounts
Send money with Zelle
Bonus rewards for opening account
Checking accounts
Unlimited check-writing
Some out-of-network ATM fees reimbursed
Overdraft protection
Savings accounts
Auto Savings tool
Overdraft protection
$25 initial deposit
CDs
Fixed Rate CD
Ready Access CD
Callable CDs
Variable Rate CD
Stepped Rate CD
Money market account
Rates vary by state
PNC Banking card included

All information accurate as of December 13, 2019.

Online account management tools

To make up for a limited service area, PNC Bank offers great online tools. Its online experience earned four out of five stars from J.D. Power, and its apps are generally well-reviewed — including its mobile banking app (which allows you to transfer funds, pay bills, and send money via Zelle) and its Virtual Wallet app.

PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet app offers convenient online banking tools designed for customers who want to better manage their budget, track their spending, and increase their savings. For example, the app can show potential Danger Days when you’re at risk of overdraw. Meanwhile, the Money Bar feature enables you to visualize your spending power, the amount you have set aside for bills, and how much you’re saving to meet your financial goals.

Perks for students

PNC could be a particularly attractive option for students looking for simplified banking. PNC partners with many colleges to provide on-campus banking services and financial education classes, and it doesn’t charge any monthly fees on a Virtual Wallet as long as a student is enrolled. Additionally, the online account management tools provide a great way for college students to learn how to manage their personal finances.

Wide range of financial products and services

PNC Bank offers a variety of financial products geared toward specific groups, so you should be able to customize your account to fit your needs. There are three different tiers of the Virtual Wallet, for instance, with additional benefits based on how much money you keep in your account. And if you’re active military or a veteran, you can enjoy an account with lower requirements for waiving monthly service charges.

Potential drawbacks

Limited locations

PNC Bank has branches in only 21 eastern states, plus Washington, D.C., and it doesn’t operate in New England. You can still open up an account with the company if you live outside of its service area, although there are some caveats. CDs can only be opened at a physical branch, and APY rates on all accounts vary widely — so your potential earnings depend on where you live. And if you like the comfort of knowing that you have in-person help around the corner, PNC may not be able to meet your needs.

Fees and charges

PNC has monthly fees and other charges on almost all of its accounts unless you meet certain criteria, such as a minimum monthly balance or total qualifying direct deposit. While not uncommon, these fees are annoying on accounts that already have subpar APYs. Additionally, if you don’t set up overdraft protection, PNC charges a hefty $36 overdraft fee (which can be charged up to four times per day).

The Competition

PNC Bank** Chase** Ally Bank Capital One
Our review Our review
J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Online Banking Satisfaction Study score
4/5 4/5 N/A 4/5
Minimum checking requirement*
$500 for Standard Checking $2,000 for Performance Checking $5,000 for Performance Select Checking $1,500 for Chase Total Checking $15,000 for Chase Premier Plus Checking $75,000 for Chase Sapphire Checking $0 $0
Minimum savings requirement*
$0 for High-Yield Savings $300 for Standard Savings $300 for Chase Savings $15,000 for Chase Premier Savings $0 $0
Maximum savings account APY
1.90% for High-Yield Savings 0.10% for Standard Savings $0.01 for Chase Savings $0.09%-0.11% for Chase Premier Savings 1.70% 1.70%
One-year CD APY
Up to 0.22% Up to 0.05% 2.00% 2.00%
Monthly maintenance fees
$5-$25 or $0 with minimum account requirements $5-$25 or $0 with minimum account requirements $0 $0
24/7 customer service
Number of states served
50 Branches in 21 states plus Washington, D.C. 50 50 50
Check rates Check rates Check rates Check rates

*Minimum required balance to waive monthly fees (if applicable) **Rates pulled for Indiana and Washington ZIP codes

Information accurate as of December 2019.

PNC Bank FAQ

How can I waive PNC Bank’s monthly fee?

All of PNC’s accounts offer ways to avoid a monthly service fee — usually by maintaining a minimum balance in the account or making qualifying direct deposits. PNC’s basic Virtual Wallet, for instance, waives the monthly service fee under the following conditions: a minimum of $500 in total qualifying direct deposits, at least $500 in average monthly balance, or an account holder age 62 or older.

How many locations and ATMs does PNC Bank have?

The bank currently offers access to approximately 2,400 branches in 21 eastern states plus Washington, D.C, and 15,000 fee-free ATMs in 37 states and Washington, D.C. While there’s a $3 out-of-network ATM access fee, PNC reimburses the first two charges per month on some accounts.

Is it easy to get customer support from PNC Bank?

PNC Bank offers multiple ways for you to get in touch with customer service, including access to the FAQ database, phone, tweets, emails, and local branches in select areas. It offers dedicated phone numbers for each service or financial product, so you can reach the right department faster.

The Bottom Line

PNC Bank offers a balanced blend of brick-and-mortar and digital banking. Its Virtual Wallet gives you the convenience of managing your savings and checking in one place, and its workplace banking, student banking, and military banking offerings are great for customers with specific needs. However, PNC’s interest rates are lower than those offered by most online banks. While the rates are comparable to many brick-and-mortar retail banks, its limited locations means that you don’t get branch access if you’re outside of the 21 eastern states it serves. Before signing up with PNC, make sure to check its Interest Rate Center to see what products and APYs are available in your area — if rates are low, you may be better off with an online bank like Capital One or Ally, which offer great APYs and no monthly fees.