PNC Bank's Virtual Wallet has changed quite a bit since I first reviewed it in 2009. The good news is that it's still easy to keep it free without monthly fees. Considering how many of the large banks have added monthly fees and debit card fees to their checking accounts, PNC's Virtual Wallet is noteworthy. The bad news is that you don't get rewarded like you used to. Another downside is that it has become more complicated. Virtual Wallet has never been simple. It's composed of three different accounts:
- Spend Account (checking)
- Reserve Account (for short-term savings & overdraft protection)
- Growth Account (high-interest savings account)
PNC has made this more complicated by adding two differnt Virtual Wallets:
- Virtual Wallet
- Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend
Only Virtual Wallet is free of monthly service charges, and it requires that you do not exceed 3 paper checks per month (50 cents per check after 3). To have monthly service charges waived for the Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend there are minimum balance requirements or direct deposit requirements.
Another new complication is that you have to work to qualify for the high interest rate of the Growth Account, and the "high" in the high interest is not really applicable. As of 10/07/2011, it's 0.85% APY for balances up to $25K. To qualify for this rate, you must now have 5 or more debit card or credit card purchases per month.
If you don't want to be charged fees at non-PNC ATMs, you'll need the Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend. Only that account reimburses other banks' fees for non-PNC ATMs (up to $8 per month). Also, there are no PNC charges when you use a non-PNC ATM.
Another perk with the Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend is free check orders. Only the first set of checks is free with the plain Virtual Wallet.
PNC Mobile Deposit
PNC highlights many of the special features in its Virtual Wallet website. One notable feature is the iPhone remote deposit. PNC calls it mobile deposit, and it allows you to deposit checks using your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Unlike Chase's QuickDeposit, it doesn't appear to support Android phones yet.
PNC Free Checking - Will It Stay Free?
If this is too complicated for you, PNC does still offer a plain free checking account with no minimum balance requirements and no monthly service charge, and unlike Virtual Wallet, it doesn't charge you when you write more than 3 checks per month. Hopefully, PNC won't follow the other giant banks with monthly service charges and debit card fees. It has already ended its points program for most accounts and they have increased ATM and paper statement fees.
PNC Bank Overview
PNC is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S. It had grown to over 49,000 employees and over 2,600 locations. Most of PNC branches are in the Northeast. It also has hundreds of branches in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida.
The bank has an overall health score at DepositAccounts.com of 4 stars (out of 5) and a Texas Ratio of 18.17% (average) based on June 2011 data. Please refer to our financial overview of PNC Bank for more details. The bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 6384).