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Is the PNC Points Card a Good Deal for Travel?

Is the PNC Points Card a Good Deal for Travel?

Million Mile SecretsIs the PNC Points Card a Good Deal for Travel?Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Million Mile Secrets reader, John Young, commented:

Do you have any information about the PNC Points Visa from PNC bank?  I was targeted to earn 50,000 PNC points after spending $500.  But there is NO information on their website about how many points it takes to redeem for an airline ticket.

I called them and was transferred to 3 different people.  None of them gave me any information on the value of the points when redeemed for an airline ticket.  All they told me was it takes a minimum of 50,000 PNC points to redeem for an airline ticket.

This may be a good card or it could be the biggest credit card sham going on.  I can’t tell because they won’t give me the information.

Excellent question, John!  There’s a reason you don’t hear about this card very often.  That’s because it’s NOT a good deal.

Is The PNC Points Card A Good Deal For Travel
The PNC Points Card Is NOT Good for Big Travel

I’ll explain why.  And give you better options for cash back and travel rewards cards!

The PNC Points Visa Is NOT a Good Deal

PNC has branches in 19 states and offers the PNC Points Visa card.

The card offers 4X PNC points on all purchases.  And you earn bonus points if you have certain PNC checking accounts, a minimum amount of direct deposits, and/or a minimum balance in your account.

Is The PNC Points Card A Good Deal For Travel
You’ll Earn 4X PNC Points Per $1 Spent On Purchases with the PNC Points Visa

You can redeem the points through their online rewards catalog for airline tickets, gift cards, merchandise, and more.

Is The PNC Points Card A Good Deal For Travel
You Can Redeem PNC Points for Gift Cards, Travel, and More… but the Rate You’ll Get Is Terrible

Even though you’ll earn 4X PNC points per $1 spent, each point is worth ~1/5 to ~1/4 of 1 cent, depending on how you redeem them.

So that effectively makes this card a 1% cash back card at best.  Even with the 75% bonus you’ll receive with certain checking accounts, it still doesn’t compare to other cash back credit cards that do NOT have those strict requirements.

And as John already found out, the customer service with PNC is bad.  They wouldn’t give John (or me!) any information about their PNC points program.  I recommend sticking with banks that make their award redemption policies easily available!

Is The PNC Points Card A Good Deal For Travel
You Can Redeem PNC Points for 1/5 of 1 Cent Each for Travel, Which Is Awful! I Do NOT Recommend This Card!

I was able to find out (after speaking with multiple people, as John found out) that 50,000 PNC points are worth $100 toward the cost of a coach flight on any US airline.  At that level, the value you’ll receive is 1/5 of 1 cent per point.  So this is NOT a good card to use for Big Travel!

Other bloggers and folks on FlyerTalk have found similar results.

How Do PNC Points Compare to Other Cards?

According to PNC, the most popular points redemption is for gift cards, including hotel gift cards.

Is The PNC Points Card A Good Deal For Travel
Some of the Bad Gift Card Options for PNC Points

Let’s take the Hyatt gift card as an example.  You can redeem 47,000 PNC points for a $100 Hyatt gift card.

At 4X PNC points per $1 spent, you’d have to spend $11,750 on purchases to earn a $100 Hyatt gift card.  And even if you jumped through hoops for the bonus points, the least you’d have to spend is close to $7,000.

I’ve written about other cash back cards and how much you can get back.

Here a few better options:

1.   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

You’ll always earn at least 1% cash back with the Chase Freedom.  The best perk of this NO annual fee card is 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories.

All of the points earned are worth at least 1 cent per point.  You can increase their value when you pair the Chase Freedom with another card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or (the no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold.  That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valuable for Big Travel.

Even without the bonus categories and transfer options, you’d still earn more cash back than the PNC Points card.

2.   Citi Double Cash

Link:   Citi Double Cash Card

With the Citi Double Cash card you’ll get 1% cash back on all purchases.  Then another 1% cash back on payments, as long as you meet the minimum payment.  Get all the details on this card and see how it stacks up to other cash back cards in my review.

Because it earns 2% cash back, it offers a better earning rate than the PNC Points card.

3.   Discover It

Link:   Discover It

The Discover It card recently announced double cash back for the 1st card year for new members.  You’ll have the opportunity to earn up to 10% cash back.  And currently you earn $50 after your 1st purchase.

When you consider the double cash back and quarterly 5% bonus categories, it comes out way ahead of the PNC Points card.  Especially the 1st year.

Check out my review of the card.

4.   US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa

Link:   US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa

This card earns 3X points when you give to a charity and 2X points on the category where you spend the most (airline, gas, or grocery) and most cell phone expenses.

If you want to redeem FlexPerks for flights, you’ll get a far better value than the PNC Points card.

5.   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

And if you want a points system with easy award redemptions, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a good choice.

The Arrival miles you earn with the Barclays Arrival Plus card can be redeemed starting at 10,000 miles for $100 as a statement credit towards a $100+ travel purchase (plus 5% miles back).

You effectively get 2.1% cash back on travel purchases with this card.  So if you have a lot of $100+ travel expenses, this is probably the best cash back card!  Although, I prefer cards that earn miles & points for Big Travel.

Bottom Line

The PNC Points Visa card is NOT a good option for cash back OR travel rewards.  There are many better cards available that earn more valuable points.  Like the Chase Freedom, Citi Double Cash, or Discover It cards.

When you compare how much you’ll have to spend in purchases on the PNC Points card to similar cards, the terrible value of PNC points becomes clear.

I love to get Big Travel with Small Money and I’ll always tell you about the best deals.  The PNC Points card is NOT 1 of them.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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PNC is a big scam!!!! The 50,000 points gets you nothing and when you go to use the points – the travel agency charges $25 fee per ticket!!!! CLOSED my account after this waste!

Thanks so much for this article. I just received the 50k offer from PNC and this was an incredibly useful breakdown of the card!

As always, thanks for great review – I have a checking account with PNC and they keep sending me offers and even calling my cell with this PNC Visa offer. The first time I heard about 50,000 points, I assumed these points are similar in value to MR or UR, tried looking what I can get and didn’t find any information whatsoever (the link to redemption catalog on PNC website didn’t work). This made me think that it was something shady going on here – and here I found your review… Thanks, you saved me a wasted pull.

I have had the PNC points card since before it was PNC (National Bank). The first time I found the card was a bad deal was when I inadvertently had a very low blood sugar when I booked a flight to, and immediately from, Orlando. No one was willing to help to fix the mistake (due to a disability), so I had to purchase a return fare on another airline as well as a hotel stay the night of departure. Between USAir (at the time) and PNC, it was a miserable experience, and PNC was useless.

This time I am attempting to book a first class flight to/from Orlando, and can select a first class seat between Cincinnati and Atlanta, but it says “first class seats are reserved for those in the Elite part of our frequent flyer program. Yet PNC is readily willing to let me spend those points on a seat in the economy section. I cancelled the transaction, and will call tomorrow to see if they can help in any way. If not, I am switching to a credit card with points that go towards an airline.

Finally, PNC does not offer any kind of discounted rate on mortgages for loyal customers, either. We went with another bank for a refi because of this. I have lost faith in PNC and am shopping for a more user friendly organization.

I disagree completely, I am a regular credit card user, have been for years, I am always looking for the best card. I use PNC because I bank with them and combined with my account I rack up points pretty quickly. I have all my bills automatically paid, on top of earning the 75% bonus each month, and not mentioned anywhere in the comments , is how the PNC adapts to your shopping habits and offers tons of bonus points based on your spending habits. For example I currently have over 38 offers for extra points, most offers are in the 40 points for every dollar range, Some offers include Starbucks, Popeyes, sports authority, etc. I use this card often and have done my research. This is a good card. Not to mention the 12 months interest free on purchases. I paid for my vacation and I did not have to pay any interest and I earned my points.

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