Posted by Chuck on May 5, 2016
Credit Card Review

Published on May 5th, 2016 | by Chuck


PNC Launches 2% Travel Credit Card + $300 Signup Bonus

PNC launched the new Premier Traveler which earns 2% back on all purchases in the form of travel credits. It also comes with a 30,000 point signup bonus which can be redeemed for $300 in travel credits.

Card Overview

Direct Link

PNC Bank recently launched the Premier Traveler credit card which offers 2 miles per dollar on all spend, worth 2% back when redeemed against travel charges. It also comes with a 30,000 point ($300) signup bonus and has no foreign transaction fees. There is an annual fee of $85, waived the first year.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 5.20.05 PM

The card is very similar to Barclay’s Arrival Plus and Capital One’s Venture cards which also earn 2% back when redeemed for travel and have no foreign transaction fee.

PNC has long had some cards with complicated rewards systems, so it’s nice to see them introduce a more straightforward option.

Geographic Limitation

PNC only offers their credit cards to people with addresses in the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Washington D.C.


Premier Traveler earns 2 miles per dollar of spend. Rewards can be redeemed in your online login or over the phone.

Travel Credit

Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for a travel purchase.

You can redeem for travel charges of 5,000 points or more. You may redeem for all or part of your travel purchase. For example, if you have 5,000 points and you had a travel charge of $50 or $100, you’ll be able to redeem the 5,000 points for a $50 statement credit.

Travel purchases must be redeemed within 90 days of when the travel charge was made.

Other Redemptions

Miles can also be redeemed for a statement credit at the rate of .5¢ per point. To redeem for cash, you only need a minimum of 1,000 points which will yield a $5 statement credit. This option is useful if you have less than $50 to redeem.

Miles can also be redeemed for travel-related gift cards, but no information is given on what the redemption rates are.

Miles can also be used to book travel directly through a designated provider at a rate of 1¢ per point (minimum of 5,000 points). However, I assume everyone would prefer to book it on their own and then redeem the charge for a travel statement credit.

Closed Accounts

If your account is closed with a miles balance, you will automatically receive the cash redemption option, and you’ll get a credit to your account of .5¢ per point. Amounts of less than 200 miles will be forfeited.

Rewards Terms (PDF)

Signup Bonus

  • Receive 30,000 bonus points, worth $300 toward travel, after spending $3,000 within 3 billing cycles

The wording implies that PNC calculates the 3 months based on the billing cycles, even if it’s less than 90-days. So keep that in mind.


The card has an annual fee of $85 per year. The fee is waived the first year.

No foreign transaction fee.

Rates and fees (PDF)

Miscellaneous Details

  • I’ve seen a couple reports indicating that PNC pulls Experian for credit card applications
  • A couple of reports indicate that PNC is a bit tougher than other banks to approve credit cards
  • You don’t need an existing relationship with PNC to apply for their credit cards

Our Verdict

$300 almost-cash signup bonus isn’t bad, although it’s less than Barclay and Capital One’s $400 bonus.

Once we have the fee-free Citi DoubleCash and Fidelity 2% cards, all these other complicated 2% cards with annual fees attached don’t make a whole lot of sense for most people.

The main reasons people take a look at these travel 2% cards, like the PNC card, Barclay’s Arrival Plus, or Capital One’s Venture is for one of a few reasons:

  • To get the signup bonus; since the annual fee is waived the first year, you can pocket the nice bonuses attached to these cards
  • If you need a card with no foreign transaction fee; all three of these cards (PNC, Arrival, Venture) have no foreign transaction fees while the DoubleCash and Fidelity cards do have a 3% or 1% fee, respectively
  • If you need multiple 2% cards to increase your spend bandwidth or for any other reason
  • If you have trouble getting approved with the other banks

HT: kgarv3 on Reddit

22 Responses to PNC Launches 2% Travel Credit Card + $300 Signup Bonus

  1. stvr says:

    The problem is that it’s a Visa so there’s a shadow foreign transaction fee anyway. If it were a MC, I’d be interested.

  2. Michael B says:

    Is 2% officially the new 1% now?

  3. Mike says:

    Got instant approval 2 days ago with $15k line. Scores of high 700s-800. 20 new accounts in past year (not counting the 3 apps this week, before this card). Have a PNC personal & biz card (originally from NatCity) with $12k and $10k limits that I haven’t used in 4+ years). Closed checking account a few months ago after getting that bonus. I was hoping they’d pull equifax based on the creditboards database, but there is nothing on credit karma so it looks like it was Experian. Not the best deal ever obviously but I’m pretty much out of options with Chase, Citi & Amex right now, so I can spare an inquiry for $360.

  4. Dukie02 says:

    I’m in the same boat as Mike. Approved instantly last week for this card. I’ve banked with PNC for about 10 years. Scores in mid-high 700s, 15-20 accounts in last year, received a $12.5k CL. Nothing shows up on ck or allclear, so must be Experian.

  5. Bill says:

    I’ve seen them HP both TU and EXP.

  6. gabe says:

    Any idea if you can apply with a friend address in one of the approved states? I am afraid my application won’t pass the address verification and then I wasted a HP on nothing.

    • Chuck says:

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a friend’s address, but – as you mentioned – it’s possible it won’t pass verification. It almost certainly won’t go automatically if you never used that address before.

  7. Tory says:

    Re: the geographic limitation, I received a targeted mailing for the card + bonus at my home address in Los Angeles. Did the $400 bonus last year no problems. I didn’t bother applying for the card though, not worth it.

  8. Jason says:

    Denied. 730 FICO. PNC customer for 5 years.

    “Excessive number of credit bureau inquiries, Excessive number of new accounts”

    Oh well.

    • iahphx says:

      Like Jason, I got denied for the same reason — with about an 800 FICO score. No banking relationship with them. I think I’ve applied for 4 or 5 credit cards in the past 12 months.

  9. Nit says:

    FYI, PNC does not count NW Buxx transactions towards minimum spend.

  10. John says:

    Maybe dumb question from Newbie. Got this card with my new Performance Select Virtual Wallet account simultaneously. I need to spend 3k to get 30K mile bonus. I see that 2k visa or MC credit card spend can go to this account. Bad idea to try to fund 2k from PNC visa to a PNC checking account? Has anyone tried?

  11. Conner says:

    MPX doesn’t count as a “travel” purchase, so you can’t redeem points towards MPX charges.

  12. avi says:

    how often can you churn this account?

  13. John K says:

    7/24/17 – applied online, immediately went to pending
    7/31/17 – received phone call from 844-554-9255 to cell which was used on application. Asked for my name, stated they were from PNC and recently received an application from me, wanted to verify I actually applied for the card. I verified (but didn’t provide any other info, just my name). I asked about the status, they said verifying I was the actual applicant was the last thing they needed before it went to underwriting. They then volunteered that it looked like it was going to be approved.
    Hung up, nearly instantaneously received confirmation email that my account was approved.

    Experian pulled on date of application (I live in IL). My info reports 15 open cc, 9 installment (student loans), 2 residential (home and rental), 26 total, no negatives, AAoA 4 yrs 2 mos, 9 closed CCs in last 24 mos, oldest account 14 yrs, 2% usage, 13 inquiries (before PNC inquiry).

  14. gloobnib says:

    Got this in-branch early July at the same time I signed up for the $300 checking account promo. I was taking a long trip to Europe in late July, this card doesn’t have forex fee, and I didn’t have a card waiting for a signup bonus. Figured $360 in exchange for $3k of spending I’d be doing anyway was a good trade.

    A few things that the review doesn’t point out:
    – Points post as soon as the transaction posts, no need to wait until the statement closes
    – The bonus will post as soon as you hit the $3k spend, even if that is mid-cycle
    – The redemption posts same-day as a statement credit

    I really like their interface for redemption. I basically gives you a list of all eligible charges and lets you pick/choose the ones you want to redeem. It helpfully keeps a running tally for you at the bottom, so you can play around toggling different combinations on/off until you get the ‘just right’ redemption amount assuming you have a wide enough variety of charges. I was able to redeem all but 23 of my points!

    I know it isn’t a whole lot of money if you leave 500ish points stranded, but I am just philosophically against stranded points. The other cards (I’m looking at YOU Arrival+) put up so many barriers that you are practically guaranteed to leave some points stranded.

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