The 3 best PNC credit cards of 2020

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In a Nutshell

If you’re an avid traveler looking to pay down debt with a balance transfer or needing the flexibility of cash back rewards, a PNC credit card could be a good fit for you. Here’s our take on the best PNC credit cards for 2019, what to consider before applying and how to make the most of a bank card.

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If you’re interested in perks like cash back or travel miles, PNC credit cards can be a good addition to your wallet. But to apply for a PNC credit card, you’ll have to live in a state where PNC Bank has a physical branch.

Best for cash back: PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card

Here’s why: The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card offers high cash back rates on everyday spending, has a $0 annual fee and even offers a small sign-up bonus.

The drawback? The potential value of the cash back is weakened by the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card’s limits. Cardholders get 4% cash back for purchases at gas stations (both in-store and at the pump); 3% cash back for purchases at full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast-food restaurants; 2% cash back for purchases at grocery stores; and 1% cash back for all other purchases. But there’s an $8,000 annual cap on purchases eligible for the 4%, 3% and 2% cash back rates.

After you reach that spending cap, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases until your next account anniversary date. Also, your cash back can be redeemed as a statement credit or deposited into a qualifying PNC bank account — as long as you have at least $25 in your PNC cash rewards account.

If you typically make purchases in these qualifying categories, you stand to bank a lot of cash. But the $8,000 annual cap can be a big drawback for high spenders who might benefit from a different cash back card with a constant cash back rate.

Finally, the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card also offers a $150 bonus in the form of a monetary credit that posts to your statement if you apply for the card on and spend $1,000 in purchases within 3 billing cycles of account opening.

From our partner

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card

From cardholders in the last year

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Best for balance transfers: PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card

Here’s why: The PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card has some great offers if you’re looking to make a big purchase or consolidate debt, and it has a $0 annual fee.

The PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card comes with an introductory 0% APR for purchases for the first 15 billing cycles following account opening, and then you’ll have a variable APR of 11.49% - 21.49%, based on your creditworthiness. 

New cardholders can also take advantage of an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles from account opening on balance transfers, as long as the balance transfer is made within 90 days of account opening. After that, the variable APR for balance transfers will be 11.49% - 21.49%, which is also based on your creditworthiness.

If you’re looking to save money by transferring your balance, the balance transfer fees will eat into some of your savings. During the first 90 days, there is an intro fee of 3% ($5 minimum) of the balance. Afterward, the fee rises to either $5 or 4% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. And if you make a late payment, you may lose the intro APR altogether — plus pay a variable penalty APR of 30.49%, which applies until you make six consecutive payments on time.

There are no rewards with this card, so to get the most out of it, make sure you complete any balance transfer you want to make within 90 days. If possible, you should try to create a plan to pay off your debt within the first 15 billing cycles, while the introductory APR still applies.

Read our review of the PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card to learn more.

From our partner

PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card

From cardholders in the last year

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Best for travel rewards: PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Credit Card

Here’s why: With the PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Credit Card, you’ll earn two miles for every $1 spent on all eligible purchases.

The sky’s the limit on the number of miles you can earn with the PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Credit Card. Miles are worth 1 cent each — but since you earn two miles for every $1 spent, you’ll be earning 2 cents for each $1. Plus, you’ll earn 30,000 miles as a sign-up bonus after spending at least $3,000 in purchases during the first three billing cycles after your account opening.

The drawback to the PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Credit Card is the annual fee, which is $85 ($0 in the first year). You can offset that by spending about $375 per month, but you may prefer a travel card with no annual fee. If you do opt for this card, take care not to spend more than you can comfortably afford to pay back.

There are two main ways to redeem miles with the PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Credit Card: Redeem cash back as statement credit for travel purchases made with your card, or redeem directly for travel-related services. If you choose to redeem your cash back for a statement credit or for a travel-related service, keep in mind that you must redeem a minimum of 5,000 miles each time — and services must be booked through Montrose Travel, a travel booking service provider for the PNC Premier Traveler Reward Program. There are other ways to redeem miles for this card, so make sure to read the fine print to learn about all the options available to you.

How we picked these cards

We reviewed all PNC credit cards and identified the best rewards and features on each one and how much those rewards are worth when you redeem them. We also considered how people typically like to be rewarded. Cash back is a flexible reward, but if you’re a frequent traveler, then your spending may align better with a travel credit card. And if you’re looking to save money on a balance transfer, you’re probably eyeing cards that offer an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers. We then analyzed fees and interest rates, noting when cardholders will have to deal with them.

While PNC credit cards offer solid rewards, there’s one major restriction: To apply, you’ll need to live within PNC’s footprint. If you don’t live in an area where PNC accepts applications, check out other cash back and travel credit cards outside of this bank.

How to make the most of a bank’s credit cards

If you’re searching for a new piece of plastic, there’s generally no shortage of options in the credit card world. But if you have a checking or savings account, your bank may offer credit cards with rewards reserved just for bank members. Check out credit card offers from your bank and elsewhere, and compare APR, fees, rewards and special benefits.

As you’re shopping around for the right card, consider these factors.

  • If you already belong to a bank, like PNC Bank or Bank of America, does it offer credit cards with special relationship discounts or perks?
  • If you want a specific bank credit card but you don’t belong to the bank, do you need to join in order to get the card?
  • What are the requirements for getting that relationship reward? For example, you may need to keep a certain amount of money in a checking or savings account. Would you qualify?

Kim Porter started her personal finance career as copy editor at a popular personal-finance website. She’s written articles for, U.S. News & World Report, LifeLock and Credit Karma.