PNC Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

PNC Bank is a solid choice for checking, but you'll find better rates on CDs and savings elsewhere.
Jul 14, 2022

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Overall bank rating

PNC
  • Savings

  • Checking

  • CD rates

  • Banking experience

  • Overdraft fees

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

PNC Bank is the sixth-largest bank in the country by assets. Through a series of acquisitions in 2021, PNC has absorbed all former BBVA and Simple customers. PNC offers a combo checking, short-term planning and long-term savings account called Virtual Wallet. The trio of products — named Spend, Reserve and Growth, respectively — comes with a nice set of online financial management tools. But the interest rate on short-term savings is low, and it takes effort to avoid monthly fees on the checking account.

Best for: Those who want a combination checking and short-term savings account, receive direct deposits and don’t need to earn the highest interest rates.

Pros

  • Strong online and mobile money management tools.
  • Many customer service options.
  • About 60,000 fee-free ATMs and 2,600 branches in more than 25 states and Washington, D.C.
  • 24-hour grace period for overdrafts.

Cons

  • Expensive overdraft fee.
  • Rates depend on location: Much better savings rates are available to customers in certain regions of the country.

Full review

PNC Virtual Wallet Growth
PNC Virtual Wallet Growth

Savings

Member FDIC

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.01%
With $1 min. balance for APY

PNC offers two savings options in the Virtual Wallet bundle: Growth and Reserve. For greater returns, savings can be shunted into Growth, a long-term savings account, which can earn a slightly higher rate if you meet other qualifications, such as having five debit card transactions post to the Spend checking account each month, or having $500 in qualifying direct deposits to the Spend account. Customers in certain regions, where Virtual Wallet Checking Pro is available, may earn a higher rate on their Growth accounts.

The Reserve account, which didn't factor into our ratings, is meant for short-term savings and earns 0.01% APY, below the national average of 0.10% APY and far below the competitive interest rates you could get with a high-yield savings account.

» Want to see where rates are higher? Check out the best high-yield online savings accounts

PNC Virtual Wallet Spend
PNC Virtual Wallet Spend

Checking

Member FDIC

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Monthly fee
$7.00
Waived with direct deposit or $500 minimum balance

Virtual Wallet Spend, one of PNC’s basic checking accounts, has free mobile banking and online bill pay. If you use a non-PNC ATM, the bank will also reimburse some ATM usage fees, though the machine’s owner could still charge a separate fee.

Virtual Wallet Spend has a $7 monthly fee that can be avoided in a few ways, including monthly direct deposits of $500 and average combined balances of $500.

The account offers tools that let you schedule bill reminders, track your balance and set up budgets and alerts.

PNC CD
PNC CD

CD

Member FDIC

1.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
1-year APY
0.02%
3-year APY
0.02%
5-year APY
0.02%
Minimum deposit
$1,000

PNC's fixed-rate CD yields are low. Other banks and credit unions have lower minimums and much higher yields on CDs. Compare PNC's CD terms with other banks' using our tool.

» Looking for the best CD rates? See what banks are offering this month

Banking experience

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

Customer service representatives are available Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Support is also available via live chat and Twitter. PNC Bank earned second place in the 2021 J.D. Power National Banking Satisfaction Study; it performed highest in resolving customer problems, according to the study.

The PNC mobile app also earns good ratings: 4.2 stars out of 5 on Android devices and 4.8 stars out of 5 for the iOS version.

» Want to compare? See how PNC stacks up against the other best banks and credit unions for mobile banking

Overdraft fees

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

PNC Bank has high overdraft fees but it also offers some easy, free ways to avoid them. If a transaction causes your account to go more than $5 negative, the fee is $36 per item and can be charged a maximum of four times per day. But for customers who enroll in PNC's Low Cash Mode program, the maximum goes down to one charge per day. PNC doesn't charge for overdraft transfers if you link an account as a backup.

With Low Cash Mode, customers also get a 24-hour grace period to bring negative balances to $0 or higher to avoid overdraft fees. Plus, customers can decide whether certain transactions should be paid or returned to avoid balances going negative, though the bank has the final say on how to handle transactions. The Low Cash Mode program is available with Virtual Wallet accounts.

PNC Virtual Wallet Growth
PNC Virtual Wallet Growth

Savings

Member FDIC

4.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
APY
0.01%
With $1 min. balance for APY

PNC offers two savings options in the Virtual Wallet bundle: Growth and Reserve. For greater returns, savings can be shunted into Growth, a long-term savings account, which can earn a slightly higher rate if you meet other qualifications, such as having five debit card transactions post to the Spend checking account each month, or having $500 in qualifying direct deposits to the Spend account. Customers in certain regions, where Virtual Wallet Checking Pro is available, may earn a higher rate on their Growth accounts.

The Reserve account, which didn't factor into our ratings, is meant for short-term savings and earns 0.01% APY, below the national average of 0.10% APY and far below the competitive interest rates you could get with a high-yield savings account.

» Want to see where rates are higher? Check out the best high-yield online savings accounts

Methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, banking experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star. How we rate banks, credit unions and other financial service providers.