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The PNC CashBuilder® Visa® Credit Card is a cash back credit card with no annual fee and a tiered cash back earning system that rewards cardholders based on how much they spend each month and whether they have banking relationships with PNC Bank, the card’s issuer.
With PNC CashBuilder Visa, light spenders earn 1.25% cash back on all spending, moderate spenders earn 1.50% cash back on all spending, and heavy spenders earn 1.75% cash back on all spending. Cardholders can avoid the monthly spending thresholds (which can be steep) by maintaining qualifying deposit accounts with PNC Bank. Accumulated cash back can be redeemed for statement credits and direct deposits to cardholders’ bank accounts.
PNC CashBuilder Visa also has a 12-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion, which is great news for cardholders with existing high-interest credit card balances. However, unlike many competing cards, it doesn’t have a sign-up bonus.
If you’re in the market for a cash back credit card with a solid earning rate and some other useful benefits, PNC CashBuilder Visa deserves your attention.
Earning Cash Back
The PNC CashBuilder Visa Credit Card has a semi-complicated, 3-tiered cash back program. All 3 tiers are tied to monthly spending in the previous billing cycle.
If you spend between $0 and $1,999.99 in the prior month’s billing cycle, you earn 1.25% cash back on all spending in the current billing cycle, regardless of how much you spend in the current cycle.
If you spend between $2,000 and $3,999.99 in the prior cycle, you earn unlimited 1.50% cash back in the current cycle.
And, if you spend upwards of $4,000 in the prior cycle, you earn unlimited 1.75% cash back in the current cycle.
You can avoid the spending requirements in the 1.50% tier simply by maintaining a PNC Performance Checking account or PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend and meeting the minimum direct deposit requirements necessary to waive the $25 monthly service charge on both account types. You can avoid the spending requirements in the 1.75% tier by maintaining a PNC Performance Select Checking account or PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Select and meeting the minimum deposit requirements.
Redeeming Cash Back
Once you accumulate at least $50 in cash back, you can redeem for a statement credit to your PNC CashBuilder Visa account or a direct deposit into a linked PNC checking account.
There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 4%. Late and returned payments cost up to $35.
PNC CashBuilder Visa has a 0% APR promotion on balance transfers for 12 months following your account opening date. However, there is no introductory promotion on purchases.
Once the introductory APR period ends, PNC CashBuilder Visa’s balance transfer APR rises to range between 14.49% to 23.49%, depending on prevailing interest rates and your personal creditworthiness. The purchase APR falls within the same range from day one. The cash advance APR is set at 23.49% from the day you open your account, but can vary thereafter with prevailing interest rates. The penalty APR is 30.49%.
PNC Bank Virtual Wallet Integration
PNC CashBuilder Visa integrates directly with PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet accounts, allowing you to manage your scheduled spending calendar, track purchases by spending category, and set customized spending alerts (for instance, when you spend more than a specified amount in a single transaction).
- No Annual Fee. PNC CashBuilder Visa does not charge an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who wish to avoid a recurring charge that eats into their cash back earnings, as well as for those who spend too lightly to offset any annual fee.
- Nice 0% APR Balance Transfer Promotion. This card’s 12-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion is a nice enticement for cardholders with existing high-interest balances on other credit card accounts. If you’re able to transfer such balances and pay them off in a timely fashion, you could save hundreds of dollars in interest charges with this card.
- Guaranteed to Earn No Less Than 1.25% Cash Back on Spending. The PNC CashBuilder Visa Credit Card earns no less than 1.25% cash back on spending, no matter how much you spend in a month or what you spend your money on. That’s a better deal than many cash back cards, whose baseline cash back earning rates amount to just 1%.
- Heavy Spenders or PNC Checking Customers Earn Up to 1.75% Cash Back. If you spend more than $4,000 in a given billing cycle, you earn unlimited 1.75% cash back the following billing cycle. If you’re not a high roller, no worries – just open a qualifying PNC Bank checking account or Virtual Wallet and earn cash back faster without hitting the required spending thresholds. Either way, you’ll earn cash faster than with the many flat-rate cash back cards that stick to 1% or 1.5% cash back.
- No Rotating Spending Categories. This card doesn’t have any rotating cash back categories to worry about. That’s a big advantage over competing cards such as Chase Freedom and Discover it, both of which have quarterly rotating 5% cash back categories that can be difficult (and annoying) to stay on top of.
- No Sign-up Bonus. The PNC CashBuilder Visa Credit Card has no sign-up bonus. That’s bad news for cardholders looking to boost their cash back earnings right out of the gate. Many other cash back credit cards, including Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards and Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, have sign-up bonuses worth $100 to $200.
- $50 Minimum Redemption Threshold. You can’t redeem your accumulated cash back until you earn at least $50. If you don’t use this as your primary credit card or just don’t spend very heavily, it could take many months to reach this threshold. In that case, you’re better off with a card that lets you redeem cash back in any amount, such as Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. That’s problematic for cardholders who regularly travel out of the U.S., and is a major drawback relative to cash back cards that waive foreign transaction fees, such as Discover it.
- Has a Penalty APR. PNC CashBuilder Visa charges a penalty APR. That’s bad news for cardholders who sometimes miss payments due to liquidity issues or other problems. Some competing cards don’t charge penalty interest, so if you’re worried about paying late, look to them first.
- Cash Back Program Is Confusing. This card’s 3-tiered cash back program is needlessly confusing. If you’re not a heavy spender, you’ll want to understand the spending threshold waiver requirements. Unfortunately, they’re pretty vexing, especially for first-time PNC customers. For a turnkey cash back experience, look to flat-rate cards like the Citi Double Cash Card, which earns unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.
The PNC CashBuilder® Visa® Credit Card makes a big deal out of its spending tiers. It heavily promotes the fact that you can earn 1.75% cash back when you spend $4,000 or more in the previous billing cycle. That’s certainly a big deal, but it overshadows a potentially much easier way to earn: opening a qualifying PNC Bank checking account or Virtual Wallet and meeting the minimum direct deposit requirements. With no spending thresholds to clear, you can focus on saving more of your earnings and rest easy in the knowledge that you’re earning cash back faster than many of your card-toting peers.