Reviews PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature credit card review

PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature credit card review

Published: October 12, 2017
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Rewards Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.7
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.4
Rewards Flexibility: 4.2
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

A flat 2 percent rate on travel rewards and flexible redemption options make the PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature card another good option for netting a large number of rewards points for airfare.

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Rewards Rate
2 miles per dollar on every purchase

Sign-up Bonus
30,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in first 3 billing cycles

Annual Fee
$85, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$361

APR
16.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles never expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No limit to the miles you can earn
  • Redeem miles for travel through rewards center or purchase from outside sites and redeem for statement credit within 90 days
  • Can redeem miles for only part of a purchase
  • Redeem for gift cards and cash back

Cons

  • No option to transfer miles
  • Miles are only worth .005 cents when redeemed for cash back
  • Minimum 1,000 miles to redeem for cash back

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, free concierge service, Visa Signature luxury hotel collection, lost luggage reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, travel accident insurance, trip delay reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, extended warranty, Apple and Android pay, $0 liability, EMV chip technology

Travel Rating:
3.7 rating
3.7 rating
3.7 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.6
Rewards Flexibility: 4.2
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

Double rewards on all purchases, flexible redemption and no foreign transaction fees make the PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature card a good entry-level option for beginning travel hackers.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate
2 miles per dollar on every purchase

Sign-up Bonus
30,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in first 3 billing cycles

Annual Fee
$85, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$361

APR
16.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles never expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No limit to the miles you can earn
  • Redeem miles for travel through rewards center or purchase from outside sites and redeem for statement credit within 90 days
  • Can redeem miles for only part of a purchase
  • Redeem for gift cards and cash back

Cons

  • No option to transfer miles
  • Miles are only worth .005 cents when redeemed for cash back
  • Minimum 1,000 miles to redeem for cash back

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, free concierge service, Visa Signature luxury hotel collection, lost luggage reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, travel accident insurance, trip delay reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, extended warranty, Apple and Android pay, $0 liability, EMV chip technology

The PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature credit card is probably more appropriate for casual rewards card users, especially if you want to avoid blackout dates or the often-complicated process of trying to find the best value for your points via relationship bonuses or transfer programs.

You’re also not beholden to traveling on certain airlines or booking flights on specific websites. A lack of top-tier travel benefits beyond the industry standard might make seasoned travelers look for a more luxury travel card, but if you’re just starting out in the credit card rewards game, this one is definitely worthy of consideration.

Solid rewards
With two miles per $1 spent everywhere you use the card, the PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature card has one of the best flat-rate rewards in its category. By comparison, most travel cards offer 1:1 rewards on general purchases.

Annual fee kicks in after first year
Like many travel rewards cards, the PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature card’s annual fee is waived for the first year. After that, the fee is $85, which is right in line with most competing cards. Provided you pay your monthly balances in full to avoid accruing interest charges, the miles you’ll earn with this card should easily outweigh the $85 charge.

So-so sign-up bonus
While the PNC Premier Traveler card offers a decent sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles for cardholders who spend $3,000 within the first three billing cycles, it’s worth noting the bonus is a lot lower than what you can get elsewhere.

For instance, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, with which you can earn 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months, and an additional 5,000 points for adding an authorized user and making your first charge within the same timeframe. In addition, the Chase card doesn’t penalize cardholders who choose to redeem points for cash back, unlike the PNC Premier Traveler.

The lesson here? When choosing between travel credit cards, carefully consider your spending habits along with the card’s interest rate, sign-up offer and other incentives to help you make the right decision. 

Book travel your way
The card offers pretty flexible redemption options, at least when you use them for travel: Miles don’t expire, there are no limits to the number of miles you can earn and there are no blackout dates. Plus, you’re not limited to booking travel through the PNC Rewards Center — because PNC provides statement credits for any travel purchases you make on outside websites, you can fly any airline you want.

However, there are a couple of downsides. Cardholders aren’t allowed to transfer miles to airlines’ frequent flyer programs, an option that can sometimes increase the value of your points. You’ll also need a minimum of 5,000 miles to redeem for travel. And while you do have the ability to redeem PNC Premier Traveler points for gift cards or cash back, you should definitely avoid the latter, as doing so cuts the value of your points in half.

Good perks, with some omissions
In addition to no foreign transaction fees — perfect for when those free flights take you outside of the U.S. — the PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature card comes with a slew of other travel benefits, including free concierge service, lost luggage and trip delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance and access to the Visa Signature luxury hotel collection.

That said, the card does lack some of the swankier perks of other travel cards, such as Gold Delta SkyMiles‘ free checked bag and priority seating, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card’s annual companion pass and the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select card’s admission to the American Airline’s Admirals Club lounges.

Why get it:

  • You want to earn travel rewards with few restrictions on redemption, including limits on eligible airlines or hotel chains.
  • You can comfortably spend $3,000 within the first three billing cycles to qualify for the sign-up bonus.
  • You’re looking for a card you can use while traveling abroad without incurring foreign transaction fees.
  • You want to use the 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers to consolidate high-interest debt from other cards. 

How to use it:

  • Spend $3,000 within the first three billing cycles to collect 30,000 bonus miles.
  • Use it as your primary credit card — at least for the first year — to earn maximum miles before the annual fee kicks in.
  • Avoid redeeming miles earned for cash back to avoid cutting their value in half.
  • Transfer any high-interest credit card debt to the card (within the first 90 days) and pay it off within 12 billing cycles at 0 percent APR.
  • Use the card when traveling overseas to take advantage of no foreign transaction fees.

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