PNC HELOC review: Variable or fixed rates

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PNC HELOC at a glance

  • Fixed or variable rate: Variable, with the opportunity to convert to fixed
  • How to withdraw funds: Checks, Visa Choice Access Card (except in Texas)
  • Origination fee: Paid by PNC Bank, but must be repaid if HELOC closed in the first 36 months
  • Loan-to-value ratio: Up to 80% to 89.9%, depending on the state
  • Time to fund: Three-day holding period after closing (when primary residence is used as collateral)

PNC Bank’s home equity line of credit allows borrowers to access up to 80% or more of their home equity. PNC says its HELOCs have competitive interest rates — though they’re not listed on the site — and you can choose between a variable- or fixed-rate option

Pros

  • Ability to convert between a variable and a fixed rate
  • Credit lines ranging from $10,000 to $1 million

Cons

  • Many possible fees
  • Full appraisal required
  • Not everyone will qualify for the best rates

4 things to know about a PNC HELOC

Here’s a look at some of the key features of a PNC HELOC.

1. Switch between variable and fixed rates

You have the option to convert all or part of your PNC HELOC ($5,000 minimum) to a specific fixed rate at any time during the draw period. Doing this allows you to lock in a rate that won’t change and make the same fixed payment every month.

This may be especially helpful if you watch the market and lock in rates when they’re low. Having a consistent payment can also help with budgeting.

The fixed-rate part of your HELOC can have a term of five to 30 years (five to 20 in Tennessee). You can have one or more fixed-rate portions and have the option to unlock your fixed rate and return to the variable rate.

2. Many different types of fees

PNC’s HELOC has a variety of fees, including a $50 annual fee and a $100 balance transfer fee each time you lock or unlock your interest rate.

Title insurance may be required for loans of $500,000 or more and for some other types of properties. This expense can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $16,000, and is required as an account opening fee.

PNC Bank also pays certain closing costs on your behalf. But if you close your account in the first 36 months, you’ll be required to reimburse the bank for a prorated amount of these costs.

These fees are not consistent among lenders, and you may be able to find a lender that charges fewer fees or none at all.

3. Rate discount for automatic payments

Borrowers can receive a 0.25% interest rate discount on the variable rate after the introductory period ends by setting up automatic payments from a qualifying PNC bank account. This must be set up at closing.

Note that if you cancel your automatic payments at any time, you will lose this discount.

4. Helpful online tools

Getting a HELOC can be a big decision, and there are many factors to consider. PNC Bank helps support borrowers by providing resources such as a tool to help estimate the amount of your home equity and a home improvement cost calculator.

How long does it take to get a HELOC from PNC Bank?

The amount of time from application to approval varies. Once your information has been approved, PNC Bank will contact you to confirm and let you know about any closing stipulations. Then, you can schedule your closing date.

Keep in mind that because PNC Bank requires an appraisal, your funding time will likely be longer than HELOC lenders that don’t require an appraisal.

If you’ve used your primary residence as collateral, you’ll receive a legally required three-day rescission period after you close, which allows you to cancel your HELOC if you change your mind. Once the three-day period has passed, you’ll be able to access your funds. 

Who is a PNC HELOC good for?

A PNC HELOC can be a strong choice for homeowners who want to watch the market and lock or unlock their interest rates during their draw period. The ability to get a large ($1 million) or small ($10,000) HELOC also makes it a viable option for people who want to use their home equity for anything from small home repairs to large home improvements, debt consolidation or major purchases. Since it offers a fixed rate and allows you to only pay interest on the funds you withdraw, this HELOC can also be a good alternative to a cash-out refinance.

How to apply for a PNC HELOC

Applying for a PNC HELOC is fairly simple, but it does require significant documentation and verification. While you can begin the application process online or over the phone, you must close on your loan in person.

To qualify for a PNC HELOC, you must meet the lender’s minimum requirements. During the review process, PNC will examine your credit scores and credit history, verify your income, employment and ownership of the property, and confirm the value of the property by ordering an independent appraisal.

You can start your application online, over the phone or in person at a PNC Bank branch. If you’re approved, you’ll schedule a closing appointment, where you’ll sign your paperwork.

Not sure if PNC is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Bank of America: This national competitor offers a HELOC with no application fee, no annual fee and no closing costs, as well as an option to convert to a fixed rate without fees.
  • Aven: This unique, hybrid setup is a home-equity-backed credit card with cash-back rewards.


About the author: Beth Deyo is a personal finance freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in Finance from the University of South Florida. She is also a Certified Financial Planner™ with 14 years of wealth management experience. She … Read more.