Review of PNC Bank's Virtual Wallet, Checking/Savings Account
Update 10/25/10: The APY of the Growth Account has fallen to 1.00% for up to $25K and 0.25% for above.
PNC Bank has a new checking/savings combo called Virtual Wallet which combines a high yield savings account with a checking account along with several online tools designed to help you manage your money. There are actually 3 accounts associated with Virtual Wallet: the Spend Account (checking), the Reserve Account (for short-term savings and overdraft protection) and the Growth Account (the high yield savings account). Some features of the accounts include:
- $25 minimum initial deposit
- no monthly service charges or minimum balance requirements
- Allowed to write paper checks
- 50 cents per paper check if you exceed 3 checks per month
- ATM fees refunded at non-PNC ATMs if combined monthly balance of $2K is maintained in your Spend and Reserve Accounts
- 1.75% APY on balances of to $25K (0.50% for above) in the Growth Account as of 7/07/2009
- 0.10% APY in the Reserve Account as of 1/12/2009
- Overdraft protection included with no setup or transfer fees
- Online tools to help you manage your money
Refer to this PNC link for details about fees. You are still allowed to write paper checks from the Spend Account; however, they charge 50 cents per check when you write more than 3 per month. Like many of these new online checking accounts, they want Online Bill Pay to be the primary way of making payments.
The Reserve Account is designed for short-term savings and is the primary account for overdraft protection. According to PNC's description money will be automatically transferred to your Spend Account, free of charge, when you're at risk of overdrawing your Spend Account. The Reserve Account pays very little interest, currently 0.10%. It would be easier if they just had overdraft protection tied to the Growth Account. Perhaps they want people to keep more money in the low-interest Reserve Account.
Virtual Wallet has an ACH transfer system but it has many limitations. I received a few details from PNC via their online chat. For the first 60 days, you can have 5 external transfer scheduled for one month not going over $2,000 each. After the 60 days, you can have this limit increased up to $25,000. Higher limits also require that you have a history of successful external transfers.
PNC Bank started Virtual Wallet in the summer of 2008. I didn't consider this to be a great deal at that time since there were many alternatives for 3% accounts for the first $25K. With interest rates falling, the 3% is now more appealing. However, like any checking account, this rate may also fall. Refer to this PNC link for the latest interest rates.
Virtual Wallet is available to people in any state. PNC Branches are located in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. With National City now part of PNC the number of branches will grow over the next two years as National City branches are converted into PNC branches. PNC Bank is FDIC insured (FDIC Certificate # 6384).
Growth Account Rate History:
10/25/10: 1.00% APY up to $25K; 0.25% over
03/18/10: 1.10% APY up to $25K; 0.35% over
12/08/09: 1.35% APY up to $25K; 0.35% over
07/07/09: 1.75% APY up to $25K; 0.50% over
06/03/09: 2.00% APY
03/18/09: 2.25% APY
02/09/09: 2.60% APY
01/12/09: 3.00% APY up to $25K; 1.00% over