PNC Points – PNC Bank’s credit card rewards program – operates on a standard points-based system. Allowing cardholders to earn 4 or 5 points with every dollar spent (don’t get too excited about this, we’ll explain why later on), points can then be redeemed for basic but useful perks (such as a statement credit, merchandise, gift cards and more). Rewarding businesses and consumers alike, the program features worthwhile cards like the PNC Points® Visa® Credit Card and PNC Points® Visa® Business Card.
WalletHub stresses the importance of reviewing various credit card rewards programs, as doing so equips consumers with the information and tips they need when they’re shopping for new rewards credit cards (or if are trying to capitalize on credit cards they already hold). So, read on below for our evaluation of the PNC Points program.
Credit Cards Eligible for PNC Points
Not every PNC rewards credit card is eligible to earn PNC Points, as some of them actually follow their own separate rewards program.
Please refer to the table below to view the business and consumer cards belonging to the PNC Points rewards program:
|Eligible Credit Cards|
|PNC Points® Visa® Credit Card
|PNC Flex® Visa® Credit Card
|PNC Points® Visa® Business Card
|Visa Signature® BusinessOptions SM Card
|PNC Points® Visa Signature® Credit Card (Discontinued)
|PNC Flex® Visa Signature® Credit Card (Discontinued)
*The Visa Signature® BusinessOptions Card must be manually enrolled in the PNC Points program, as cardholders may choose from a total of three different rewards programs (the other two are unique to the card).
Best PNC Points Credit Cards
It’s rather difficult to determine the best PNC Points credit cards given how there aren’t too many options to begin with. Furthermore, none have caught the eye of WalletHub’s editors (who routinely assess more than 1,200 credit cards in order to find the offers that best serve various target consumer groups). However, even with that being the case, there is one offer that can certainly benefit those who want to pay off new purchases at their own leisure:
|PNC Points® Visa® Credit Card – This credit card is a decent option for individuals who are looking to make new purchases – big ones, especially. Offering a 0% APR introductory period spanning 12 months, this card favors consumers who have made big-ticket purchases and will be requiring several months before paying off their bill in full.Furthermore, not only are there no annual fees, but it also provides the same amount of rewards as the PNC Flex® Visa® Credit Card (the only other consumer rewards card currently being offered by PNC Bank).|
Maximizing PNC Points Earnings
Consumer credit cards and business credit cards in the PNC Points rewards program earn at different rates:
|Card Type||Earning Rate|
|Consumer / Personal Cards||4 points per dollar on all purchases|
|Business Cards||5 points per dollar on all purchases|
Don’t get too excited over the high earning rates – they’re merely an illusion of wealth (kind of like an inflation), as the program actually charges you for more points when you’re redeeming for your rewards (as you’ll see in our redemption table later on).
In addition to these base earning rates, PNC Points offers ways for consumers to earn extra. WalletHub stresses the importance of capitalizing on these added benefits since there are no earning limits on any of the participating credit cards.
- Take Advantage of Card Bonuses – The manner in which you can earn bonus points depends on if you have a PNC Points® card or a PNC Flex® card.
- PNC Points® cards can increase their base earnings (bonus earnings from “Purchase Payback” are not applicable) by 25%-75% by opening a personal deposit account with PNC Bank. The amount by which you can boost your points by depends on the type of account you open as well as the minimum balance maintained in the account:
Type of Deposit Account Minimum Balance Required Additional Amount Earned Virtual Wallet Account $500 25% bonus on base points Performance Checking Account OR
Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend
$2,000 50% bonus on base points Performance Select Checking Account OR
Virtual Wallet with Performance Select
$5,000 75% bonus on base points
- PNC Flex® cards can earn extra points on interest charges by opening up a qualifying deposit account:
- Foundation Checking
- Free Checking
- Standard Checking
- Virtual Wallet
- Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend
- Performance Select Checking
- Virtual Wallet with Performance Select
If you maintain a balance of $500–$1,499.99 in the deposit account, you will earn 100 bonus points on every $2 billed for interest. If you maintain a balance of $1,500 or more, you will earn 100 bonus points on every $1 billed for interest.
- Using “Purchase Payback” – This program enables PNC Points® and PNC Flex® card users to earn additional points when shopping at select merchants at certain times. For example, a one month offer at Sports Authority might give you 10 points per dollar instead of the 4 points you would usually receive. To take advantage of these offers, sign into your Rewards Center online to view the current available promotions and activate them for use. Then, claim those offers by using your PNC credit card the next time you shop at the respective retailers.
- No Rotating Categories – None of the PNC Points cards have rotating categories, eliminating the hassle of having to sign-up for certain bonus categories in order to earn them. In fact, all the cards all fairly straightforward, as you earn the same number of points per dollar on all types of purchases.
- No Earning Cap – There is no maximum limit on how many points you can earn.
- No Minimum Threshold – It is not necessary to spend a minimum amount on your credit card in order to begin earning points.
Earning Restrictions to Watch Out For:
- Points Expire – All points expire 48 months from the end of the month in which they were accrued. This is a massive disadvantage compared to the competition, as rewards programs rarely impose expiration dates anymore. PNC also makes it very clear that there is no way to reinstate expired points.
- Points Cannot Be Shared – PNC Points cannot be shared with other members. However, one can combine points from multiple cards into one points account as long as the cards belong to the same person (if you have a business card and a personal card, this would be helpful).
- No Initial Bonuses – Many issuers attract potential customers with lucrative sign up bonuses (such as giving out $100 for spending $3,000 in the first three months), but PNC Bank is not currently one of them.
- “Purchase Payback” is Lackluster – “Purchase Payback” is too restrictive as its offers are few and apply only to select merchants at certain time periods (meaning that you have to constantly check for the latest promotions). Furthermore, you have to active the offer online (through the Rewards Center), which makes it an even bigger hassle.
Redeeming PNC Points for Maximum Value
Now that we’ve discussed how you can maximize the PNC Points that you earn, let’s tackle the next step and determine the best redemption approach. This step is incredibly important, as you want to spend your points in the most lucrative way possible. Thus, the most important question is: Which redemption option provided by PNC Points offers you the most value per point?
Well, we did the math (as you can see below), and it seems like redeeming for travel is the winner. However, we were unable to confirm the fairness of the prices in the travel booking tool, which means travel’s superiority only holds true as long as the prices you find there are comparable to those available elsewhere.
The table below displays a detailed breakdown of the graph above. It specifies the valuations of each point when spent in the different redemption options offered by PNC Points.
|Redemption Option||Dollar Cost||Points Needed||Point Valuation|
|Airfare using booking tool||$100.00||29,000||0.34 cents|
|Hotel using booking tool||$100.00||40,000||0.25 cents|
|Car Rental using booking tool||$100.00||40,000||0.25 cents|
|Store Gift Card||$25.00||11,500||0.22 cents|
|Store Gift Card||$25.00||11,000||0.23 cents|
|Store Gift Card||$50.00||23,000||0.22 cents|
|Store Gift Card||$100.00||40,000||0.25 cents|
|Store Gift Card||$100.00||42,000||0.24 cents|
|Statement Credit||$4.00||3,000||0.13 cents|
|Statement Credit||$15.00||7,500||0.20 cents|
|Statement Credit||$40.00||20,000||0.20 cents|
|Statement Credit||$100.00||50,000||0.20 cents|
|Charity Donation||$10.00||5,000||0.20 cents|
|Charity Donation||$25.00||11,000||0.23 cents|
|Charity Donation||$100.00||40,000||0.25 cents|
- Competitive Point Valuations Across All Redemption Options – When adjusted for inflation, the point valuations aren’t bad at all. None of the redemption options give you anything less than 0.72 cents for your point, whereas other rewards programs give you as little as 0.5 cents.
- “Deal of the Week” – Though this isn’t a massive perk, PNC offers a considerable discount on a popular piece of merchandise every Wednesday. An item typically costing 50,000 points might only charge 30,000 points, if offered as a part of this deal.
- Automatic Redemption – If you’re feeling particularly lazy and don’t feel like manually redeeming your rewards, you can set up automatic redemption and let the program do the work for you:
Redemption Restrictions to Watch Out For:
- Limited Travel Options – If you’re redeeming your points for travel, your only option is to use the program’s internal booking tool. You cannot transfer your points into any external loyalty programs or offset purchases with a travel credit.Furthermore, we were unable to confirm whether the travel prices in the booking tool were comparable to those offered by major booking websites (such as Expedia). Therefore, if the prices are ever unfair, you might have better luck redeeming for cash back and using that money to purchase your ticket elsewhere.
- Minimum Threshold on Redemption – Redeeming for cash back begins at 3,000 points.
- Point Inflation – The fact that this rewards program charges a lot more points than other programs for the same kinds of rewards nullifies the fact that you’re earning more points per dollar spent on your card.
PNC Points Transfer Partners
Unfortunately, the PNC Points rewards program does not feature any transfer partners for travel redemption – which would enable customers to transfer rewards earnings to affiliated travel providers for direct booking. Therefore, if you want to book travel directly using your points, your only option is to use the PNC booking tool.
Pros & Cons of PNC Points
Now that we’ve broken the program down and reviewed the earning and redemption angles, it’s time for the bottom line – what are the major pros and cons of the PNC Points rewards program? Take a look below:
- No Rotating Categories – No PNC Points cards have rotating categories
- No Earning Cap – There is no maximum limit on how many points you can earn.
- No Minimum Threshold For Earning – It is not necessary to spend a minimum amount on your credit card in order to begin earning points.
- Purchase Payback & Card Bonuses – These features enable consumer cards to earn extra rewards.
- Points Expire – All points expire 48 months from the end of the month in which they were accrued.
- No Flexibility for Travel Purchases – If you’re redeeming your points for travel, your only option is to use the program’s internal booking tool.
- Minimum Threshold on Redemption – You need to reach a minimum number of points before you can start spending them on rewards. For example, redeeming for cash back begins at 3,000 points.
- Point Inflation – Saying that you’re giving out 4 or 5 points for every dollar spent gives customers the false impression that they’ll be able to garner more currency value and therefore get more rewards. In reality, however, rewards point prices are also inflated, so cardholders aren’t actually getting more.
- Merchandise – PNC Points are worth about the same amount for both cash back and merchandise, so you might as well pick cash back instead. It’s just more flexible.