What Is PNC Bank, and Are Its Credit Cards Right for You?

The bank offers multiple credit cards, but you'll need to live in certain places or have an existing banking relationship to apply online from anywhere in the country.
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Written by Craig Joseph
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Edited by Kenley Young
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PNC Bank, a subsidiary of PNC Financial Services Group, is a full-service bank headquartered in Pittsburgh. The bank has physical locations in nearly 30 states and Washington, D.C. You’ll need to live in one of those locations or have an existing banking relationship with PNC to apply online for one of the bank’s multiple credit cards.

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Are PNC Bank credit cards good?

Some of PNC Bank's credit cards are better than others. For example, the issuer offers a credit card that earns 2% back on all eligible purchases, a rewards rate that automatically places it among some of the best flat-rate cards on the market.

But generally, credit card offerings from PNC Bank lag competitors. The bank doesn’t issue a true travel rewards card, at least not in the traditional sense. And other PNC cards feature drawbacks like reward caps, low point values or high security deposits.

Whether you’re looking for a sign-up bonus, rich ongoing rewards, or a reprieve from interest on purchases or balance transfers, you can probably do better with a card from a different issuer — most of which won't require you to have an existing account with that issuer.

Here's a closer look at PNC Bank's credit card offerings.

PNC Cash Unlimited Visa Signature Credit Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
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The PNC Cash Unlimited Visa Signature has a $0 annual fee and earns an unlimited 2% cash back on all qualifying purchases. Cash back can be redeemed for a statement credit, gift card, travel or deposit to a PNC checking or investment account. The card also has a sweet sign-up bonus that's one of the best among flat-rate cash-back cards. New Cash Unlimited cardholders can get $250 after spending at least $1,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Other highlights include no foreign transaction fees, a 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers and cell phone insurance up to $800 per claim. The sum of these features make the Cash Unlimited a standout product.

If you need a break from interest on purchases, too, consider instead the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. It earns an unlimited 2% cash back on all qualifying purchases and has the following no-interest period: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR.

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card

The $0-annual-fee PNC Cash Rewards Visa is a tiered cash-back card that earns 4% back at gas stations, 3% back at restaurants, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% back on all other purchases. Those are good reward rates across a wide swath of household spending — but there's a catch.

The card imposes an $8,000 annual cap on purchases across all of those bonus categories, which resets on your cardmember anniversary date. After that spending cap is hit, you'll earn only 1% back on all purchases until the cap resets. Since it's a combined cap (covering gas, dining and groceries), you're likely to reach it earlier than you think.

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card
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As of this writing, the card offers a sign-up bonus equal to $200 cash back after spending $1,000 in the first three months, but there are better options that offer uncapped bonus rewards in select categories (with a sign-up bonus to boot).

For example, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has a $0 annual fee and earns an unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, streaming and grocery store purchases. New cardholders can also grab a sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

PNC Core Visa Credit Card

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
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The PNC Core Visa has a $0 annual fee, doesn’t earn rewards and offers new cardholders a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. A variable APR will apply after the introductory period ends (depending on your creditworthiness).

Fifteen months is a solid 0% APR period, but if you’re looking for a longer introductory period, a better choice might be the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card. New cardholders can grab the following offer: 0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% Variable APR.

PNC points® Visa® Credit Card

The PNC points® Visa® Credit Card has a $0 annual fee and earns a baseline of 4 points per $1 spent. (You can increase that rate to up to 7 points per $1 spent through PNC's relationship bonuses, but it depends on what kind of account you have with the bank, as well as your average monthly balance within that account.)

As of this writing, new cardholders can qualify for a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

A bonus of that size, on top of a flat rewards rate ranging between 4x and 7x, seems eye-popping indeed. But the catch is that points are worth a paltry 0.2 cent each — far, far below the industry-standard valuation of a full penny per point. A bonus of 100,000 points, then, is redeemable in this case for $200 in cash back, merchandise, travel or gift cards.

It's also worth noting that PNC Points expire 48 months after they were added to your account.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
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By comparison, other rewards cards issue points that are more valuable and that never expire. The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, for example, earns cash back issued in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® that are worth 1 cent each. You can earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase's travel portal, 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% cash back on other qualifying purchases. You’ll earn fewer points per purchase, but those points are significantly more valuable, making that card a better deal for ongoing spending.

PNC Secured Visa credit card

The PNC Secured Visa is a credit-builder that can help establish or strengthen your credit. Your credit line can be secured with a cash deposit between $300 and $2,500. This is the only card issued by PNC Bank that requires an in-branch application — you can’t apply online.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

A minimum security deposit of $300 is high for a secured credit card. If you would like to build credit with less out-of-pocket expense, consider the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, which may allow you to get a $200 credit line with an initial deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for those who qualify. You can also be considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months with no additional deposit needed.

Is a PNC Bank credit card right for you?

The PNC Cash Unlimited Visa, with its 2% flat rate on purchases, and the PNC Core Visa, with its decent introductory 0% APR offer, are competitive offerings. But beyond that, you can probably do better with a different bank.

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