Reviews PNC CashBuilder Visa card review

PNC CashBuilder Visa card review

Published: March 20, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
2.3 rating
2.3 rating
2.3 / 5
Introductory Offer: 2.1
Net Value: 4.3
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

The standard APR on the PNC CashBuilder Visa is on the high side for a balance transfer card and its 12-month 0 percent balance transfer promotion is relatively short.

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0% Introductory Period
12 billing cycles

Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% (whichever is higher)

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Regular APR
13.49-22.49%

Annual Fee
$0

Other Notable Features: Bonus cash for high spenders, dedicated U.S.-based customer service, identity fraud protection, $0 fraud liability, travel and emergency protection

Cash Back Rating:
1.8 rating
1.8 rating
1.8 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.9
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.0
Rewards Flexibility: 3.1
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

While PNC CashBuilder promises up to 1.75 percent cash back on general spending, you cannot obtain this rewards rate unless you spend a large amount on your card each month or have a premium bank account with PNC.

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Rewards Rate

  • 1.25% cash back on general purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on general purchases if you spend $2,000-$3,999 in the previous billing cycle
  • 1.75% cash back on general purchases if you spend $4,000 or more in the previous billing cycle

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$199

APR
13.49-22.49%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Redeem for credit card statement credit, or deposit into savings account
  • Redeem online or by calling customer service

Cons

  • Can’t redeem cash by check
  • High $50 redemption minimum threshold

Other Notable Features: Bonus cash for high spenders, dedicated U.S.-based customer service, identity fraud protection, $0 fraud liability, travel and emergency protection

No Annual Fee Rating:
2.3 rating
2.3 rating
2.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.9
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.3
Rewards Flexibility: 4.2
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

While the PNC CashBuilder Visa promises up to 1.75 percent cash back on general purchases if you spend a large amount on the card each month, you can find better no-annual-fee cards that offer 1.5 percent cash back or more without any spending requirements.

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Rewards Rate

  • 1.25% cash back on general purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on general purchases if you spend $2,000-$3,999 in the previous billing cycle
  • 1.75% cash back on general purchases if you spend $4,000 or more in the previous billing cycle

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$199

APR
13.49-22.49%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Redeem for credit card statement credit, or deposit into savings account
  • Redeem online or by calling customer service

Cons

  • Can’t redeem cash by check
  • High $50 redemption minimum threshold

Other Notable Features: Bonus cash for high spenders, dedicated U.S.-based customer service, identity fraud protection, $0 fraud liability, travel and emergency protection

Rewards Rating:
2.2 rating
2.2 rating
2.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.9
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.9
Rewards Flexibility: 4.2
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

The PNC Cashbuilder Visa rewards moderate spenders and loyal PNC bank account holders with up to 1.75 percent cash back on every purchase, but it doesn’t offer much else to set it apart from other cards.

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Rewards Rate

  • 1.25% cash back on general purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on general purchases if you spend $2,000-$3,999 in the previous billing cycle
  • 1.75% cash back on general purchases if you spend $4,000 or more in the previous billing cycle

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$199

APR
13.49-22.49%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Redeem for credit card statement credit, or deposit into savings account
  • Redeem online or by calling customer service

Cons

  • Can’t redeem cash by check
  • High $50 redemption minimum threshold

Other Notable Features: Bonus cash for high spenders, dedicated U.S.-based customer service, identity fraud protection, $0 fraud liability, travel and emergency protection

The PNC CashBuilder Visa card might look attractive on the surface, but this doesn’t mean you won’t have to jump through some hoops to enjoy its full value. PNC Bank is all about relationships. If you already maintain a premium account with PNC, you will receive more cash back on better terms. If you don’t have such an account, weigh the pros and cons of opening or upgrading your account against your spending patterns, since premium PNC accounts are more expensive to maintain.

Tiered approach

PNC uses a tiered rewards system that offers a higher rewards rate to cardholders who either spend a high amount on their card each month or who have a premium bank account with PNC. All cardholders automatically get a 1.25 percent cash back rate, with no requirement to maintain a bank account. Cardholders get 1.5 percent cash back for spending $2,000-$3,999 or maintaining a Performance Select checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend. Cardholders who spend more than $4,000 during a billing cycle –  as well as cardholders with a Performance Select checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Select – get 1.75 percent back.

The problem is that PNC sets a high bar to obtain the higher cash back rates. There are many cash back cards that offer an average rewards rate of 1.5 percent or higher without requiring you to spend a large amount on your card each month.

Other restrictions and limitations

PNC’s cash back program includes more restrictions than the average card does. You may redeem cash back only after accruing 5,000 points ($50 worth of rewards). And you can only redeem via statement credit or bank deposit — no checks.

On a positive note, PNC offers fairly reasonable fees for maintaining a bank account. Although we would not recommend maintaining a premium banking account solely for the sake of getting more cash back, cardholders will find that fees can easily be avoided by holding a moderate bank account balance.

There are better cash back cards on the market

If you are not a PNC Bank customer, don’t have the desire to become one and don’t put a lot of money on a credit card anyway, this card might not be for you. While 1.25 percent is higher than the standard 1 percent rate that some cash back cards offer, many cards offer a higher general rewards rate, or large bonus categories on top of the general 1 percent rate, along with large sign-up bonuses to lure in new cardholders. Those cards also pay you the cash back without requiring you to jump through a lot of hoops.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • All you want is automatic and uncomplicated cash back that is slightly higher than the standard 1 percent rate.
  • You already have one of the premium accounts with PNC Bank or want to start a premium account with the bank.
  • You normally charge enough to your credit card on a monthly basis that you will qualify for 1.5 percent or 1.75 percent cash back.

How to use it:

  • If you have a Performance Select checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Select account with PNC Bank, you receive 1.75 percent cash back no matter how much you spend.
  • If you don’t have a premium PNC account, try to put more on the card in order to qualify for 1.5 percent or 1.75 percent cash back.
  • No matter what you do, don’t buy something you don’t need just to qualify for the higher cash back rate.

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