PNC Bank Review – An Old Dog With New Tricks

If you’re looking to open a checking and savings account or are considering switching from your current bank, there are an overwhelming number of banking options available. What makes this search even harder is that many banks appear to offer the same features, rates, and services. This can make it difficult to find the right checking and savings account for your lifestyle.
To help, I’m going to walk you through one of the top banking options in the country — PNC Bank. I’ll take you through all of their available checking and savings options, so you can decide if they’re a good fit for your finances.

What is PNC Bank?

PNC Bank first opened its doors in 1852 as Pittsburgh National Bank. The bank changed names a couple of times and merged with a few different banks, before officially becoming PNC Financial Corp in 1983.
Today, PNC Bank is the 7th largest bank in the world (by assets) and has over 2,300 locations across the United States, with most locations in the Midwest and East Coast. They currently offer personal checking, savings, credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, home loans, student loans, home equity products, business services, investing, and retirement services and provides mobile banking for all of them. Of course, a bank this size is FDIC-insured and provides all you need for your financial goals. Learn all about PNC in our view of PNC bank review.

How do PNC Bank checking and savings accounts work?

PNC offers four checking accounts and three savings accounts to choose from. They also provide access to over 18,000 fee-free PNC ATMs across the country, which is particularly beneficial if you live in a state without a PNC branch.
It’s easy to open a checking or savings account online or in-person through PNC. You can open an account by visiting any branch or by signing up directly online. You will need to provide some personal information to open a PNC Bank account, just as you would at all U.S. banks.

PNC checking account options

  • Virtual Wallet - Best for anyone needing a no-frills, low-cost checking account with ATM access.
  • Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend - Best for anyone with slightly higher deposits coming in per month looking to earn interest on money sitting in their checking account.
  • Virtual Wallet with Performance Select - Best for high-income earners with high deposits coming in each month looking to open more than one checking account.
  • Virtual Wallet Student - Best for students looking for a fee-free checking account with long-term benefits.
I’m a big fan of the options PNC provides and the perks each checking account offers. I love that each account comes with a savings account and a reserve account, to allow you to manage your money in three separate ways. Best of all, you can opt out of opening a savings and reserve account and only opt into the spend (checking) accounts if you choose.
I’m also a big fan of the fact that PNC waives monthly service fees for seniors over 62 on their basic Virtual Wallet Account. Lastly, I love that there is a no-fee student checking account that locks in a no monthly fee guarantee for six years.
On the downside, I wish PNC had more branch locations spread across the country, though PNC mobile apps and no-fee ATMs might be enough to compensate for a lack of a west coast presence.

PNC savings account options

PNC Reserve - Best for anyone looking to save for short-term goals. The Reserve account is a part of PNC’s Virtual Wallet product, complete with a Spend (checking) and Growth (savings) account. PNC Growth - Best for anyone looking to earn interest on long-term savings. PNC Standard Savings - Best for anyone looking to earn more interest than with a traditional growth account. PNC Kids Bank Account - Best for parents looking to save money for their children. PNC High-Yield Savings Account - Best for anyone looking to earn the highest APY available at PNC.
I’m a fan of PNC’s many savings account options, but I don’t love how low PNC’s rates are — especially when compared with competitors. Even their high-yield savings account (which is only available in limited locations) is relatively low.
In addition, PNC also offers a money market accounts (0.02% - 0.10% APY).
Now that you have a better idea of the types of accounts PNC offers, I’ll show you all of the fees and requirements to open and maintain PNC accounts.

How much does PNC Bank cost?

PNC offers free checking and savings accounts for seniors and students, but no free options for anyone in between. On the bright side, PNC makes it easy to waive monthly fees, particularly for its basic accounts.

Checking account costs

Checking Account TypeMonthly FeeFees are waived if:Minimum Deposit Amount
Virtual Wallet$7$500+ direct deposits/monthly balance$0
Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend$15$2k+ direct deposits/monthly balance or $10k+ in all accounts$0
Virtual Wallet with Performance Select$25$5k+ direct deposits/monthly balance or $25k+ in all accounts$0
Virtual Wallet Student$0N/A for 6 years$0

Savings account costs

Savings Account TypeMonthly FeeFees are waived if:Minimum Deposit
ReserveLinked to checking + feesChecking fees$0
GrowthLinked to checking + feesChecking fees$0
Standard Savings$5$300/mo or $25/mo auto transfer or under 18$25
Kids Bank Account$0N/A$25
High-Yield Savings$0N/A$0

PNC Bank Features

Next, I’ll walk you through some of the top features PNC Bank offers so you can see where this bank shines.

Free accounts for students and seniors

It’s hard to find free checking and savings accounts at traditional, brick and mortar banks. While PNC does not offer free accounts for everyone, it does provide them for students and seniors, which is commendable.

Flexible account options

Another perk I appreciate about PNC is its flexible approach to banking. While they offer a suite of products you can pick from, you can also customize your Virtual Wallet Account to include Spend (checking), Reserve (short-term savings), and Growth (savings) or simply opt for checking only options at all tiers.

Easy waiver requirements

I’d love it if PNC offered a no-fee basic checking account, but this bank’s low waiver requirements are certainly a plus. You only need to have a direct deposit of $500 placed into your checking account each month to waive the basic checking fee or maintain an account balance of $500. Many competitors have much higher requirements.

Robust digital tools

If you love bells and whistles when it comes to digital products, you’ll enjoy PNC’s online experience and mobile app. PNC’s digital tools offer unique features, including a visually pleasing money bar to help you see how much of your money is in each account, money management tools to view where you’re spending your money, and unique savings features. I particularly enjoy their “Punch the Pig” feature, which allows you to click on a piggy bank to automatically transfer a small amount to savings.

Who is PNC Bank best for?

High school & college students and seniors

When you’re in school or retired, paying to keep your money safe should be the last thing on your mind. In addition to the free accounts PNC offers, I also think college students, in particular, will benefit from PNC’s digital tools that allow you to assess how much of your money is spent in particular categories, so you can create a better budget.

East Coast and Midwestern account seekers

PNC has thousands of locations all across the Midwest and East Coast, so if you want the best of both worlds — streamlined digital tools and in-person banking access — PNC might be a good fit for you.

Anyone seeking an affordable checking solution

PNC’s monthly fees are very easy to waive and their basic checking monthly charge is already pretty low at $7 per month. Still, if you receive more than $500 into your account per month, you’ll be able to avoid this monthly service fee.

Who shouldn’t use PNC Bank?

Some account seekers outside of PNC Bank’s range

Banking no longer requires living in a state where your bank has a physical branch. However, I do understand that having a local branch nearby is important for some individuals. If you’re one of these people and you live in the Southwest, on the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, you should seek banking services elsewhere.

Anyone looking for high interest rates

As much as I love PNC’s account options and digital features, their savings rates are simply not competitive. Even their high-yield savings account tops out at 0.65%, which is admittedly high, but not as high as many online banks. Plus, this rate varies depending on where you live (assuming you’re in a location where this product is offered). This bank’s basic savings accounts have disappointingly low rates.

PNC Bank Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Access to 2,600+ branches and 18,000+ fee-free ATMs. PNC certainly falls short in offering branches in all 50 states, but they do still have a good amount of locations and an overwhelming number of no-fee ATMs. This is especially important for anyone banking outside of PNC’s designated service areas.
  • No minimum deposit requirements. Another benefit PNC offers is no minimum deposit requirements for many of their accounts. This is especially great if you’re opening your first checking account while waiting to receive your first paycheck.
  • Money transferring services. If you need to transfer money to friends and family, or to pay your rent, PNC offers different money transfer options. Members have access to Zelle, where they can send money for free. You also have the option to send money through PNC PopMoney, which allows you to deposit directly into another person’s bank account.
  • Cutting edge digital and mobile app features. Every major bank has a mobile app and digital presence now, but PNC’s mobile app and digital features offer more than most competitors. I find their digital interface to be extremely intuitive, visually easy to read, and I love the robust tools they offer members.
Cons
  • High overdraft fees. No one loves overdraft fees, which is why I’m glad many online banks are limiting these fees or providing additional options and protections. PNC, however, can charge you a steep overdraft fee of $36 as many as four times a day. This can really add up if you’re unaware you do not have the funds to cover purchases you’re making.
  • Disappointing interest rates. If you’re looking to earn interest while storing your money in a savings account, I can’t recommend PNC as the best option. This bank’s savings account rates are very low and even its high-yield savings account rates are not as competitive as other national and online banks.

PNC Bank vs. competitors

BankMinimum DepositMonthly FeeSavings APYOverdraft FeeBranches
PNC Bank$0$7 - $250.01% - 0.065%$36 each/4 per day2,300
Wells Fargo$25$100.01% - 0.04%$35 each/3 per day5,400
Citibank$0$4.50 - $300.04% - 0.70%$34 each/4 per day700

PNC Bank vs. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is one of the top competitors of PNC Bank. While both banks offer similar services and account types, there are some key differences.
Both PNC Bank and Wells Fargo have free checking and savings account options for students and seniors, which is not a feature all national banks provide. On the downside, both of these banks also have high overdraft charges that can quickly add up. Both also have relatively average, even low, savings rates.
Wells Fargo does have more locations nationwide than PNC and has branches in more states, which is a major plus. On the downside, Wells Fargo does have minimum deposit requirements, which makes PNC a better choice if you’re not ready to fund your account at the time of opening it.

PNC Bank vs. Citibank

Another top competitor of PNC Bank is Citibank. Like most major national banks, these two financial institutions have some similarities and a few notable differences worth reviewing.
Both Citibank and PNC Bank offer a wide selection of account options, most of which have no minimum deposit requirements. They also have high overdraft fees and charge monthly account fees (which can be waived more easily at PNC Bank).
On the plus side, Citibank has one of the best high-yield savings accounts on the market (0.70%) although it’s only available in certain locations. On the downside, Citibank has far fewer branch locations than PNC Bank.

FAQs

Which PNC Bank account is savings?
If you sign up for PNC Virtual Wallet, you have access to two savings accounts: Reserve for short-term savings and Spend for long-term savings. PNC also has a separate standard savings account, high-yield savings account, and kids' savings account.
Does PNC charge for a savings account?
PNC accounts do come with a monthly charge. If you sign up for Virtual Wallet, your monthly charge will be between $7 - $25, with options to waive these fees. If you sign up for standard savings, you’ll be charged $5 per month, with options to waive these fees. There is no monthly charge for minors, student, or senior (62+) savings accounts.
Does PNC have a minimum balance requirement?
No, PNC does not require minimum balances to keep your accounts open. However, in some cases, a minimum balance might save you from paying monthly fees.
Is PNC Virtual Wallet a checking or savings account?
PNC Virtual Wallet consists of three accounts: Spend (checking), Reserve (short-term savings), and Growth (long-term savings).

The bottom line

PNC Bank is one of the country’s oldest financial institutions and it continues to be one of the largest banks in the world. I like PNC Bank’s approach to flexible checking and savings accounts and their large access to fee-free ATMs. I’m also a big fan of their free accounts for students and seniors, as well as their impressive digital tools and savings features.
You don’t need to live in a state with a PNC Bank branch to enjoy this bank’s features and accounts, and their online tools can make managing your money digitally a breeze. However, if you’re looking for competitive savings rates, I suggest looking elsewhere.
You can learn more information at pnc.com.

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