5 Things to Know About the PNC Points Credit Card

The good news is this card earns a lot of points, but the bad news is they aren't very valuable.
Robin Saks Frankel
By Robin Saks Frankel 
Edited by Erin Hurd

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The PNC points® Visa® Credit Card might make you feel like you're on an "Oprah" giveaway show. With an annual fee of $0 and an earnings rate of 4 points for every $1 you spend, it seems as if you could practically just show up with the card and walk away with a points-heavy prize package.

But before you get caught up in a rewards-induced rush to spend that cache, you have to take into account the value of those points — and that's where the card stumbles. Here are five things you should know about the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card:

1. If you don't have a PNC bank account, there are application restrictions

The application requirements for the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card vary depending on where you live and whether you bank with PNC. You can apply for this card whether you bank with PNC or not if you live in Washington, D.C., or one of 25 states.

Alabama. Arizona. California. Colorado. Delaware. Florida. Georgia. Illinois. Indiana. Kentucky. Massachusetts. Maryland. Michigan. Missouri. New Jersey. New Mexico. North Carolina. Ohio. Pennsylvania. South Carolina. Tennessee. Texas. Virginia. West Virginia. Wisconsin.

Residents of any other state can only apply for the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card if they already have a relationship with PNC.

2. You'll get a small welcome bonus

Once you're approved for the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card, you'll have the opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus: 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. Offer available when applying through a link on a PNC.com page on which the bonus is offered.

That's a significant number of points for a card with no annual fee. But since the points aren't worth very much (more on that below), that bonus only works out to around $100. That's not bad, but it's smaller than the bonus you'll typically find on similar cards.

Take the the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. On top of 2% cash back on all purchases, new cardholders will receive this offer: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

3. It does earn a lot of points ...

PNC points Credit Card
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The goal with any rewards card is to amass a stash of points that you can redeem for things like cash, travel, gift cards and merchandise. The PNC points® Visa® Credit Card delivers the goods at a fat 4 points for every $1 in purchases. In terms of the number of points you get back, you'd be hard-pressed to find a flat-rate card that tops it.

If your only goal is to pile up points through everyday spending, the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card will help you achieve it. But redeeming those points is a different story since the value of each point is significantly lower than it is with competitors.

4. ... but the points aren't worth much

The value of a PNC point will fluctuate slightly depending on what you redeem it for, but it typically hovers around 0.2 cent. That means if you want to redeem your rewards for a $100 gift card, you'd need around 50,000 points.

By comparison, many other rewards cards earn points that are worth the rough industry standard of 1 cent each, or even more.

Granted, the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card earns more total points per dollar spent than many of its competitors, but all points are not created equal.

The Citi® Double Cash Card, for example, earns 2 points per dollar (1 point when you make a purchase and 1 point when you pay it off). That's only about half the points you'll earn with the PNC points® Visa® Credit Card. But since you can redeem points from the Citi card at a rate of 1 cent per point, fewer points are actually worth more.

5. Loyalty earns you more

You can boost your rewards rate if you qualify for one of PNC's relationship bonuses, which offer an additional 25%, 50% or 75% bonus on base points for those who qualify. This could mean an eye-popping 7 points per dollar spent for those in the highest tier.

In order to snag a higher rate, you'll have to bank with PNC. For the two highest tiers, you'll also need to keep a certain amount of money with PNC, though the exact amount varies depending on where you're keeping that money. For example, to qualify for the 75% bonus, you can keep a monthly average of $5,000 in a single qualifying account, keep a combined monthly average of $25,000 across your PNC accounts, or have a monthly direct deposit of $5,000 or more in a qualifying account.

For other rewards card options, see NerdWallet's list of the best credit cards.

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