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PNC Cash Rewards Visa Card Review

Dayana Yochim

Written by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Andrea Coombes

March 12, 2024

Why trust us? has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.

The PNC Cash Rewards Visa is engineered with drivers in mind, offering a standout 4% cash back on gas, plus 3% and 2% on dining and groceries. But big spenders risk bumping up against the annual bonus spending cap.

The PNC Cash Rewards Visa's gas, restaurant and grocery store cash back rates — 4%, 3% and 2%, respectively — make for a nice rewards trifecta. The tradeoff for nabbing these rates without having to pay an annual fee: an $8,000 annual combined spending cap on those categories, after which all purchases are subject to the card's 1% base rewards rate.

The competitive rewards rate on fuel is what earned the PNC Cash Rewards Visa the 2024 award for Best Cashback Card for Road Warriors. See how it compares to our other picks for Best Gas Rewards Cards.

The basics: Earn 4% cash back on gas station purchases, 3% on dining purchases at restaurants and 2% on grocery store purchases for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually. Earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $200 bonus after making $1,000 or more in purchases during the first three billing cycles. 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles. 3% balance transfer fee for the first 90 days following account opening, and 4% after that.

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Best for Road Warriors

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card Logo
Cashback Per Year
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Want to compare more cards? Use our full calculator.

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card pros and cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • Pays 4%, 3%, 2% cash back on gas, restaurants and groceries, respectively
  • One of the highest gas rewards rates available
  • Standout sign-up perks, including a welcome bonus and 0% intro APR
  • No annual fee

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • $8K annual spending cap on purchases eligible for 4%, 3% and 2% cash back
  • $25 reward redemption minimum applies
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Lacks 0% intro APR on purchases

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card cashback rewards spending categories

The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.

Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (aka the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g., $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”

Category Default Rate Bonus Rate Bonus Spend Cap Bonus Spend Period (Months)
Gas 1.00% 4.00% $8,000 12
Travel 1.00% - - -
Dining 1.00% 3.00% $8,000 12
Entertainment 1.00% - - -
Pharmacy 1.00% - - -
Groceries 1.00% 2.00% $8,000 12
Other Purchases 1.00% - - -

Note: The $8,000 annual bonus spending cap on the PNC Cash Rewards Visa applies to the combined total of purchases in the bonus categories.

What we like

The PNC Cash Rewards Visa hits all the rewards category high points with competitive rates for a no-annual-fee card: Gas (a best-in-class 4%), dining out (a tasty 3%) and groceries (decent 2% rate). All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back.

Earning 4% cash back on gas is easy with this card. My research into the best gas rewards cards uncovered other cards that paid as much or more on gas purchases, but with a catch. For example, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex card requires a USAA membership and limits the 5% rate to the first $3,000 spent on gas and military base purchases combined. The Costco Anywhere Visa gas rate is 4% on up to $7,000 annually, but the required Costco membership will run you $60-$120 per year.

Makes a good second card to use only on the highest cashback categories, if you can switch to another card with a higher than 1% cashback rate on other categories or when you hit the annual $8K combined spending cap. We've got you covered with our top picks for Best Credit Cards for Foodies, featuring a blend of dining and grocery rewards cards.

Offers tempting sign-up door prizes. PNC hits two out of three of the perks I like to see in a card offer: A welcome bonus and 0% intro APR on balance transfers. The only thing missing is a no-interest period on new purchases.

What we don't like

The $8,000 annual rewards spending cap puts a damper on my enthusiasm for the PNC Cash Rewards Visa. It's not uncommon for bonus-category credit cards to impose caps. But in this case, your spending in all three of the card's bonus categories are combined, which can really limit the rewards potential for cardholders who put a lot of expenses on plastic. Mathematically speaking …

Best-case scenario: You spend $666 a month and earn the highest cashback rate — 4% on gas. (Weird spending pattern, but hey, this is just an example.) You'll earn $320 back a year, plus whatever you scrape in at the 1% rewards rate.

The 1% cash back default rate for purchases that don’t qualify for better just feels sad. This is why I suggest pairing a bonus-category card like the PNC Cash Rewards Visa with an unlimited 2% cash back credit card.

Requires some extra thinking before use. Like, how close are you to your annual rewards cap? If you use it to buy groceries at 2% cashback will you be short-changing yourself on the 4% rewards on gas purchases later in the year? Ow, my head.

The $25 reward redemption minimum will take some cardholders a while to rack up. Quick calculation: It'll take $625 in spending at the 4% cash back rate to amass $25 in cash back.

This card charges all the fees: Balance-transfer fees (the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount), cash-advance fee ($10 or 5%), foreign transaction fee (3%), late and returned payment fees (up to $38 each). The only one it doesn’t charge is an annual fee.

The 3% foreign transaction fee doesn’t make it a good foreign travel companion (or the card to use when purchasing hair enhancement serums from overseas shamans).

Sorry, there’s no 0% introductory APR on new purchases perk.

Hmmm … not seeing any travel perks or protections in the fine print.

Watch the clock on the balance-transfer deal. You’ve got 90 days to move money onto the PNC card for it to be eligible for the 0% intro APR (3% transfer fee) for the first 12 billing cycles. Transfer after that, and you'll pay a 4% fee.

The bottom line

Is the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.

PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card fine print

PNC Cash Rewards program details and important stuff about interest rates, fees, arbitration and more.

Does the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card charge an annual fee?

No, the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card charges an annual fee of $0.

tips_and_updates Trivia time!

How common are annual fees? Roughly 17% of the consumer cash back cards we review charge an annual fee. They range from $39 to $99, with an average annual fee of $67.

Does the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card offer a welcome bonus?

Yes, the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card has a welcome bonus of $250.

tips_and_updates Fun fact

More than half (55%) of the consumer cash back credit cards we track in the database offer a welcome bonus, ranging from $30 up to $300. The average sign-up bonus for new cardholders is $197, with the median being $200.

How much cashback can I earn with the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card?

The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $229.08 in cash back per year using the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.

These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card depends entirely on your unique spending habits.

Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.

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The results of the Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.

To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:

  • Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
  • Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
  • Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
  • Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
  • Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.

What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)

About the Editorial Team

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool,, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.