PNC has launched a new credit card that gives cardholders up to 4 percent cash back on items they use every day, including gas and food.
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In addition to earning cash back, cardholders enjoy the following benefits:
- 0 percent intro APR – Cardholders pay no interest on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles when you transfer the balance within the first 90 days.
- $100 sign-up bonus – For a limited time, get a $100 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three billing cycles. This offer is valid for new accounts opened on or before Aug. 31, 2017.
- No annual fee – PNC does not charge a yearly fee for using your card.
How do the bonus categories compare?
The PNC Cash Rewards Visa card happens to offer a bonus on three of the most heavily used everyday-spending categories: gas, restaurants and grocery stores. It is rare to find all three categories on a single card. Also, the card is generous in its definition of restaurants, including both fast food and full service establishments in the category.
The average cardholder can earn a great rewards rate by putting all their spending onto the PNC Cash Rewards Visa card. However, as with most cards, the offer comes with a caveat: It puts a strict cap on its bonus categories. Once you reach $8,000 in combined purchases in the bonus categories, the cash back rate drops to 1 percent on all your spending for the remainder of the year. By our estimates, a cardholder who spends an average amount on the card (at least $1,000 per month) and allots an average amount of spend to each category could easily reach the cap before the year ends.
As you can see from the following table, several popular cash back cards offer more headroom on their bonus categories.
PNC Cash Rewards Visa versus other cash back cards
|Credit card||Bonus categories||Bonus cap||Which is better?|
|Costco Anywhere Visa Card||• 4% gas|
• 3% travel and restaurants
• 2% Costco purchases (Note: You must be a Costco member)
|$7,000 yearly limit on gas purchases||This card if you want: Unlimited bonus on travel and restaurant purchases|
PNC card if you want: Gas bonus with a higher cap
|Chase Freedom||• 5% quarterly rotating categories (groceries, gas, restaurants, etc.)||$1,500 quarterly limit||This card if you want: More bonus options with higher bonus rates|
PNC card if you want: Simplicity, a higher cap on bonuses or bonuses focused in a couple of categories
|Amazon.com Rewards Visa||• 3% Amazon.com purchases|
• 2% restaurants and gas
|No limit||This card if you want: Unlimited bonus on gas and restaurants plus a bonus on Amazon purchases|
PNC card if you want: Bonus focused in the gas category
|Capital One Premier Dining Rewards Card||• 3% restaurants|
|No limit||This card if you want: Unlimited bonus on restaurants and grocery purchases|
PNC card if you want: A single card with bonuses on gas, restaurants and groceries
|Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express||• 3% U.S. supermarkets|
• 2% U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
|$6,000 yearly limit on U.S. supermarkets||This card if you want: A higher rate on grocery purchases or a higher cap on gas and grocery purchases combined|
PNC card if you want: A higher cap on just the grocery bonus or a single card with bonuses on gas, restaurants and groceries
|Discover it||• 5% quarterly rotating categories||$1,500 quarterly limit||This card if you want: More bonus options with higher bonus rates|
PNC card if you want: Simplicity, a higher cap on bonuses or a bonus focused in a couple of categories
The Costco Anywhere Visa has a lower cap of $7,000, but the cap applies only to gas purchases, giving you more wiggle room on gas purchases and unlimited wiggle room on the other bonuses. AmEx’s popular Blue Cash Everyday card has a seemingly lower cap of $6,000, but the cap only applies to its supermarket category, which amounts to a lot of leeway on grocery purchases and unlimited spend on the other categories. Also, there are several cards, such as the Amazon.com Rewards Visa and the Capital One Premier Dining Rewards card that don’t enforce any spending limits.
In deciding whether to choose the PNC Cash Rewards Visa card over these other options, think carefully about your spending habits. If you want to collect bonuses on multiple categories, you may be better off with one of the above cards with a higher overall limit. If you want to use a card for spending on a single category – i.e., gas or restaurant purchases – the PNC Cash Rewards Visa card may be the best option, since the spending limit, when applied to only one category, is very generous.
On the other hand, you may opt for convenience: a single card that you can use for all of your spending without having to keep track of bonus categories. In this case, the PNC Cash Rewards Visa card also comes out ahead, since the rewards rate is high until you hit the $8,000 limit. However, if simplicity is your main goal, there are better options: The Citi Double Cash card offers up to 2 percent back on all of your spending, with no caps.
Transferring credit card balances
Although the PNC Cash Rewards Visa offers a 0 percent introductory APR for balance transfers, it does not have an introductory offer for purchases. While this does not make the card ideal for those interested in carrying a credit card balance or financing big-ticket items, it is ideal if you plan to pay your bill in full each month or want to transfer a balance.
To maximize the card’s benefits, make all your gas and food purchases using your PNC Cash Rewards Visa, and pay off your balance transfer in full within the first year of opening your card account.
Comparing balance transfer cards
Check out how the PNC Cash Rewards Visa compares to similar balance transfer cards that also offer rewards programs:
Balance transfer credit cards with rewards programs
|Credit card||Intro APR for balance transfers||Sign-up bonus||Rewards|
|PNC Cash Rewards Visa||0% for 12 billing cycles||$100 after $1,000 spend in first 3 billing cycles||• 4% cash back at gas stations|
• 3% cash back on dining
• 2% cash back at grocery stores
• 1% cash back on everything else
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards||0% for 15 months||$150 after $500 spend in first 3 months||• 1.5% cash back on all purchases|
|U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature||0% for 12 billing cycles||$150 after $500 spend in first 90 days||• 5% cash back on 2 categories of your choice ($2,000 purchase limit per quarter)|
• 2% cash back at gas stations or grocery stores
• 1% cash back on other purchases
|Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express||0% for 12 months|
Regular APR after that: 15.24%-26.24%
|$200 after $1,000 spend in first 3 months||• 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year), then 1%|
•3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select department stores
•1% cash back on all other purchases
|Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card||0% for 12 billing cycles||$150 after $500 spend in first 90 days||• 3% cash back on gas|
• 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
As you can see, these cards offer similar benefits, including sign-up bonuses that range from $100 to $150 and rewards on all purchases. They also carry no annual fee. The most significant difference is that some offer a 0 percent introductory rate on purchases, while others do not. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card offers a 0 percent intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 0 percent for 12 months and the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card offers 0 percent for 12 billing cycles. This will come in handy if you plan to carry a balance for purchases made using your card.
If are interested in transferring a balance, but don’t want to pay it off in 12 months, there are cards available that offer longer introductory periods on balance transfers. To compare balance transfer cards, click here.
Keep in mind that many of cards carry a standard balance transfer fee of $5 or 3 percent of the transfer – whichever is greater – each time you transfer a balance over to the card.
How much can you save?
Before choosing which balance transfer card is right for you, it is important to see which card offers the most savings. CreditCards.com provides a tool that helps users calculate the amount of interest you can save by transferring an existing balance to a lower rate credit card. To see how much you can save by transferring your card balance, check out our Balance Transfer Calculator.