PNC Cash Rewards Visa Review: Is It Any Good?

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Review: Is It Any Good?

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is a great choice for low-spending cardholders with its $0 annual fee and a simple, yet competitive, points structure

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

Jump to: Read full review

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is a $0-annual-fee PNC credit card offering unlimited cash back on a variety of 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 also comes with a conservative sign-on bonus.

Although this card is less competitive for high-spenders due to its $8,000 limit on its bonus categories, it is a great card for low spenders due to the relatively low cap but relatively high and competitive cashback rewards rates structure.

Note that the card is only available to those in states where PNC operates which are: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin

Pros

  • Up to 4% cash back in popular categories
  • Competitive rates on gas, dining and grocery purchases
  • $0 annual fee

Cons

  • Low annual cap on competitive rewards rates
  • Less competitive sign-on bonus
  • Limited options for redeeming rewards
{"backgroundColor":"butter","content":"\n\u003Cdiv class=\"full pad align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"half pad align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n \u003Ch3 class=\"ShortcodeList--title\"\u003EPros\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--icon-check-circle\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Up to 4% cash back in popular categories\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Competitive rates on gas, dining and grocery purchases\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n $0 annual fee\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"half pad align-left clearfix\"\u003E\n\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n \u003Ch3 class=\"ShortcodeList--title\"\u003ECons\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--icon-times-circle\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Low annual cap on competitive rewards rates\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Less competitive sign-on bonus\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Limited options for redeeming rewards\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n","padding":"none"}

Earn $100 cash bonus

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card offers a conservative sign-up bonus:

$100 Bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening.

Although the spending threshold will be attainable for many cardholders, the minimum spending requirement for the PNC bank bonus is a bit higher than other cards for the reward earned, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® which lets you Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Additionally, many other cards offer slightly more competitive sign-on bonuses that may be worth exploring.

Up to 4% cash back

One of the best features of the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is the points structure that allows low spenders to maximize their rewards.

All purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back rewards, but many purchases can earn much more.

With this card, the points structure is only applicable to the first $8,000 in purchases in the gas, dining and grocery categories annually. So how do PNC cash rewards work? The points breakdown is as follows:

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.

After hitting the annual $8,000 cap, all purchases, including gas, dining and grocery purchases will accumulate only 1% cash back. That reason is why this card is particularly good for low spenders who will not be at risk of exceeding $8,000 in spending in these categories.

Average awards earned per $1 spent

$0.024
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$0.021
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$0.02
PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card
$0.02
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
$0.02
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$0.019
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
$0.017
Discover it® Cash Back
$0.015
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

As shown in the graph above, the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is equally competitive to other top cashback cards such as the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, earning an average of $0.020 in rewards per dollar spent based on the typical spending behavior. The one cashback card that greatly surpasses the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which charges an annual fee.

Note that if you are a high spender, the Citi® Double Cash Card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited® may be better choices for you because of the $8,000 earning cap by the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card on its bonus categories.

Redeeming cash back

There are not many options in regards to receiving or using your cash rewards payments making the process pretty inflexible. The two options for redeeming your credit are:

  • Getting your cash back as a statement credit
  • Getting your cash back deposited into a qualifying PNC account

PNC Cash Rewards can be redeemed at any point once you have accumulated $25 in your cash rewards account in your PNC rewards center, which is a higher threshold than some competitors, such as Chase bank or Bank of America, who have no minimums on statement credits or account deposits. On the bright side, once you have accumulated your cash rewards with PNC, they never expire as long as you keep the account active.

Rewards portal redacted
Rewards center

Other PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card benefits

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card’s main benefit is its robust points structure that heavily rewards purchases that are common for most customers, such as gas, dining and groceries. However, the card is sparse on additional benefits.

One great benefit you can get, however, is an intro APR on balance transfers of 0% for the first 12 billing cycles following account opening when the balance is transferred within the first 90 days following account opening. After that, there is a 13.99%-24.99% Variable APR.

PNC Virtual Wallet® is PNC’s mobile offering for their users. Within the app, you can deposit checks, schedule payments, balance your budget, check your credit score, track and transfer funds, pay your credit cards, send money with Zelle®, access your rewards center and more.

Although the app might not be the fanciest, the level of functionality offered makes it a major perk for users and might make most trips to brick and mortar locations unnecessary. If that is something that appeals to you and your needs, then Virtual Wallet could be great for you.

How does the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card compare to other cards?

Unsure about the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card? Here's how the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card stacks up next to some of our favorite cashback cards:

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card vs. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is great for people who want flexibility in their rewards.

The card allows people to select 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases On top of a $0 annual fee.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe card allows people to select 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category\/grocery store\/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases On top of a $0 annual fee. \n","padding":"double"}

Note that for the 3% and 2% categories, you will only get cash back for the first $2,500 in spending each quarter, after which you will only earn 1%.

Similar to the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card, the redemption options are not diverse: You are limited to statement credits or transfers to eligible Bank of America® and Merrill accounts.

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 is a great choice for people who value simplicity and who are less concerned with optimizing their rewards.

The card has a $0 annual fee and 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.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe card has a $0 annual fee and 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.\n","padding":"double"}

Determining whether this card will get you more cash back than the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card requires some math because of the tiered structure of PNC’s rewards and could become complicated as a result.

Keep in mind that the Citi® Double Cash Card does not have a sign-on bonus, so this may not be the right card for someone earning a lot of cash back in a short span of time.

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

On Chase's Secure Website

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is one of the most valuable cashback cards. If used in the most optimal way, the card has the potential to earn even better cashback rewards than the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a $0 annual fee and lets you Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a $0 annual fee and lets you Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards\u00ae, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.\n","padding":"double"}

Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ does not offer consistent bonuses for grocery purchases, making the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card a potentially better card for grocery shopping. 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 Flex℠ is a Chase Ultimate Rewards® credit card. This means that rewards earned with the card can be transferred to premium travel Ultimate Rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and redeemed for travel with a 25% to 50% bonus, or transfer to one of Chase's travel partners for even better deals on travel.

Is the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card worth it?

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is great for low spenders who will not be putting more than $8,000 or people who want to maximize the cash rewards by reserving this card for gas, dining and grocery purchases. Once the cap is hit, the earning rate at 1% is less competitive than many other cash rewards cards.

If you are someone who will easily exceed the $8,000 cap, then it may be best to have another cashback credit card with no rewards cap or switch to another card when you reach your yearly cap. Ultimately, if looking for an overall solid cash rewards card, maybe something like the Citi® Double Cash Card might be a better fit.

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card FAQs

Does the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card have foreign transaction fees?

Yes, the foreign transaction fees are 3% of each foreign transaction in U.S. dollars.

Does the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card have an annual fee?

No, there is a $0 annual fee on the card.

Do PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card rewards expire?

Your cash back never expires as long as your account is open.

What is the minimum rewards balance to cash out for the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card?

The minimum balance to redeem rewards is $25.

When will I find out if I was approved for the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card?

After filling out your application, you will receive a response immediately regarding your approval. If approved, your card will arrive in seven to 10 business days.

How do I use my PNC cash rewards?

By going to your rewards center in the PNC app or online and selecting redeem. Can only be done when you have met the redemption minimum of $25.

The information related to PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card, Discover it® Cash Back and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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).