PNC Cash Rewards℠ Visa®: Is It Any Good?

PNC Cash Rewards℠ Visa®: Is It Any Good?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Citi is an advertising partner.

The newly released PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card can be great for low-spending consumers who primarily shop at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. The card provides an above average rewards rate in these categories - Earn 2% on grocery store purchases, 3% on dining purchases at restaurants and 4% on gas station purchases for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually. 1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time. The elevated rewards are capped at a combined spending of $8,000 per year, a feature high spenders will likely find highly limiting. Still, since it has $0 annual fee, the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card can be a good secondary card at worst.

Note: This credit card is currently only available to residents of the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Washington D.C.

Good for...
Bad for...
People spending well over $8,000 on gas, groceries and dining out each yearIndividuals who spend a lot on gas, groceries and at restaurants
Anyone with varied spending that doesn't conform to traditional credit card rewards categoriesConsumers looking for a big sign-up bonus, or to maximize short-term rewards

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Review: Our Thoughts On The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is an excellent choice for anyone who predominantly shops at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. The card is fine tuned for these categories: Earn 2% on grocery store purchases, 3% on dining purchases at restaurants and 4% on gas station purchases for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually. 1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time. The card is useful primarily for low spenders, because the 4% - 2% categories are capped at a combined $8,000 per year. Therefore, if you spend well over that in the bonus categories, you’d benefit more from a fixed 2% cash back credit card. You don't need a PNC bank account to qualify, but the card is only available in states where the bank operates.

Comparing Cash Back Rewards For The Average Consumer

Credit Card
Year 1
Year 2
PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card$427$327
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer$343$343
PNC CashBuilder® Visa Credit Card*$257$257
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The table above is based on average consumer expenditures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

*Based on 1.5% cash back rate

Though the welcome bonus on the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card isn’t bad, it’s not great either. The card awards a $100 Bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening. Today, it’s not difficult to find cash back credit cards with bonuses that are $50 or even $100 greater than this. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ lets you Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Bottom Line: The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is a good $0 annual fee credit card for the average consumer. It provides above average rewards rates on gas, restaurant and grocery purchases that make it worthy of most people’s consideration.

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card Benefits & Features

With the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card, you'll Earn 2% on grocery store purchases, 3% on dining purchases at restaurants and 4% on gas station purchases for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually. 1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time. The $8,000 cap resets every cardmember anniversary. Therefore, if you signed up June 17, 2020, your next account anniversary will be on June 17, 2021.

Currently, the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card offers a sign up bonus: $100 Bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening. This is an average bonus for a $0-annual-fee credit card. However, if you’re after getting the biggest possible sign-up bonus, there are cards that award $150 or $200 for that same level of spending. Note that to attain this bonus, you must meet the threshold through purchases only. Balance transfers and cash advances will not count towards this minimum.

The rewards you earn through your PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card can be redeemed for monetary credit to either your credit card account or a deposit PNC account. Whichever you choose, you may redeem a minimum of $25 in cash back each time. So long as your account remains in good standing, the cash back rewards will not expire. Therefore, you can reach that minimum $25 redemption threshold as slowly as you want.

Balance Transfer Features

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card can help you pay down your existing credit card debt. You’ll receive 0% for the first 12 billing cycles following account opening when the balance is transferred within the first 90 days following account opening (then 14.74%-24.74% Variable APR.) Keep in mind that the 0% period begins the moment you open your account. Therefore, if you wait 89 days to transfer a balance, you will have less time with the 0% APR than you would if you acted immediately.

There is a balance transfer fee for carrying out this transaction: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer during the first 90 days following account opening, whichever is greater. After that, either $5 or 4% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater.

If you are only interested in this card’s balance transfer feature, know that there are superior options available. Some cards completely waive the balance transfer fee, while others provide significantly longer 0% periods.

How Does The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card Compare To Other Credit Cards?

When you’re considering applying for a credit card it’s always best to think about your other available options. We looked at how the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card compares to some of its competitors, and which will serve you best.

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is one of the top cashback cards for optimizers. If used correctly, it has the potential to provide you with significantly better cash back than the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ lets you Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card doesn't offer an ongoing bonus on grocery purchases, making the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card a potentially better option for groceries. However, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card's 5% bonus on rotating categories can be extremely rewarding for cardholders who can manage to hit the $1,500 spending limit each quarter.

Also note that the Chase Freedom® is a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card. You can transfer the rewards that you earn with the card to a premium travel Ultimate Rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and redeem them for travel with a 25% to 50% bonus, or transfer to one of Chase's travel partners for even better deals on travel.

Highlights

  • Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening..
  • $0 annual fee

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card vs Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

  • On Citibank's Secure Website

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is one of the best cash back credit cards for people who value simplicity and those who aren’t optimizers. The card lets you Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Figuring out whether this card will get you more cash back than the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card requires some math and can get complicated.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t have any bonus. Anyone who is going earning a lot of cash back in a short span of time will not be able to get that through the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

Highlights

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • $0 annual fee

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card vs PNC CashBuilder® Visa Credit Card

The PNC CashBuilder® Visa Credit Card is the other premier cash back credit card from PNC Bank. This card is best for high spenders who don’t necessarily want to be locked into the categories that are staples of the PNC CashBuilder® Visa Credit Card – gas, groceries and restaurants. The PNC CashBuilder® Visa Credit Card awards anywhere between 1.25% and 1.75% back on all purchases, depending on how much you spend month-to-month or how much money you have deposited into a PNC bank account.

Highlights

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • $0 annual fee
Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).