This is part of a series of posts titled ‘Weird Wednesdays’, where every Wednesday we take a look at a different credit card that isn’t often talked about. Today we will be talking about two credit cards that are virtually the same: PNC points Visa Credit Card & PNC Flex Visa Credit Card. More posts in this series can be viewed by clicking here.
As mentioned before, this cards are strikingly similar, so before we talk about the differences let’s take a peek at the similarities and main selling points on both of these cards:
- Earn 4x PNC points on all qualifying purchases
- Receive a sign up bonus of 50,000 points after $750 or more in spend within the first three billing cycles
- No annual fee
- Spending bonuses for checking account/direct deposit activity (this is the only difference between the two cards)
- Introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers for the first 18 billing cycles (only for balances transferred within the first 90 days following account opening). Unfortunately there is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.
The sign up bonus is for a limited time (until April 30th, 2015) but I’m really not sure how often a similar bonus comes around.
Like most of these weird Wednesday posts, this card is not available in all geographical locations. You can get this card if you live in any of the following states:
- Washington, D.C
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
As we mentioned previously both of these cards come with bonuses if you have checking accounts linked to them, the bonus you receive depends on the card you have and a few other factors. Let’s look at both cards individually:
PNC Points Visa
You can earn up to 75% bonus points when you maintain certain accounts. You also need to meet one of the requirements listed below each bonus (these are the same requirements that are needed to keep the account fee fee).
- Virtual wallet: 25% point bonus (5x points per dollar spent)
- Maintained a combined average monthly balance of $500 or more in your Spend and Reserve
- Had a qualifying aggregate monthly direct deposit of $500 or more into that account
- Use only ATM, online banking, mobile banking or other self-serve electronic methods to make withdrawals and deposits
- Provide proof of active enrollment in a qualifying educational institution. However, proof of active enrollment in a
qualifying educational institution only has to be provided once, subject to our right to request verification as we deem
- Performance Checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend: 50% point bonus (6x points per dollar spent)
- Maintained an average monthly balance of $2,000 or more in that account (For the Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend, the balance must be in the Spend and/or Reserve Accounts)
- Had a qualifying aggregate monthly direct deposit (such as payroll, pension, or Social Security) of $2,000 or more made to that account (For the Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend, the deposit must be made into the Spend account. See the Consumer Schedule for Service Charges and Fees for your deposit accounts for a definition of “qualifying aggregate monthly direct deposit.”)
- Maintained a combined average monthly balance of $15,000 or more in that account and any linked consumer Free Checking, Standard Checking or Performance Checking, savings, money market, certificates of deposit, retirement CDs, investment, or loan (line of credit, auto, home equity installment, or mortgage loan) accounts for which you are an account owner
- Performance Select Checking account or Virtual Wallet with Performance Select: 75% point bonus (7x points per dollar spent)
- An average monthly balance of $5,000 or more in that account and/or any linked consumer Free Checking, Standard Checking or Performance Select Checking account (For the Virtual Wallet with Performance Select, the balance must be in the Spend and/or Reserve Accounts)
- A combined average monthly balance of $25,000 or more in that account and any linked consumer Free Checking, Standard Checking or Performance Select Checking, savings, money market, certificates of deposit, retirement CDs or investment accounts for which you are an account owner
- Had a qualifying aggregate monthly direct deposit (such as payroll, pension or Social Security) of $5,000 or more made to that account (for the Virtual Wallet with Performance Select, the deposit must be made into the Spend account). See the Consumer Schedule for Service Charges and Fees for your deposit accounts for a definition of qualifying aggregate monthly direct deposit
Having $5,000 tied up doesn’t seem too bad for earning 7x points per dollar, assuming the points are actually worth something (more on this later).
PNC Flex Visa
The PNC Flex earns a bonus based on whether you have a deposit account balance. There are two tiers:
- Qualifying deposit account balance of $500 – $1,499.99: Earn 100 bonus points for every $2 spent (4.5x points per dollar spent)
- Qualifying deposit account balance of $1,500+: Earn 1,000 bonus points for every $1 spent (5x points per dollar spent)
How Much Are Points Worth?
Chances are you’ve just skipped to this section, that’s what I did when I was researching this card. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. 50,000 points + up to 7x points per dollar spent? Yes please, as long as the points aren’t worthless.
PNC are quite good in the fact that they make their rewards catalog available online to everybody here. Points can be redeemed for the usual suspects: cash, gift cards, merchandise, travel and charity.
- Cash rate. The cash rate you receive varies from 0.13¢ per point ($4 cash for 3,000 in points) to 0.2¢ per point ($100 cash for 50,000 points).
- Gift card rate. The value of your points when redeeming for gift cards is slightly better than cash, but not by much. A $10 gift card will set you back 4,550 points (0.22¢ per point), while a $100 gift card will set you back 45,450 points (also 0.22¢ per point. You’re only saving 50 points by redeeming for this much larger gift card)
- Charity rate. You can redeem your points for charity choice cards $10 = 5,000 points (0.2¢ per point) while a $100 card = 40,000 points (0.25¢).
- They don’t make their travel booking viewable without becoming a member, but it’s the same crappy rates.
Merchandise also sucks as per usual. At the very best you’re going to get 0.25¢ per point, but I think a value of 0.2¢ per point is much more realistic.
Let’s assume you get the absolute maximum value out of these points at 0.25¢ and get the highest 75% bonus on points earned, making this a 7x everywhere card. Congratulations, you now have a card that earns 1.75x everywhere when put in comparable terms – I’d much rather a 2% or higher cash back card.
We can also look at the sign up bonus if you like, at their absolute top value this 50,000 point bonus is worth $125 and that is being incredibly generous. I think a value of $100 is much more appropriate. Given that we already know this card is no good for regular spending, it’d make much more sense to get a credit card with a high cash sign up bonus instead.
I hate advertising practices like this, PNC know that nobody would take a second look at this card if it was marketed accurately so they use these points that are worth close to nothing instead. If you want to take revenge, why not get a PNC bank bonus? Those give up to $300 cash and are actually worth looking at.
Further reading, excellent blogger PFdigest has actually covered this card before – you can read this thoughts in these two posts below:
- PNC points credit card: a weird, confusing rewards card with a slight chance of being lucrative
- PNC’s silly marketing strikes again!