woman with coffee cup looking at banking phone app

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through PNC Virtual Wallet if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. This content is not provided by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser.

Our quick take: The PNC Virtual Wallet® offers a combination of online checking and savings accounts with no minimum deposit required to get started. New customers can also qualify for a cash bonus up to $400 with qualifying direct deposits.

Pros:

  • No minimum deposit requirement to open an account online
  • Earn a bonus of $50 to $400 for qualifying activity
  • Access nearly 18,000 ATMs around the country without any fees
  • Qualify for $5 to $20 in reimbursed fees from out-of-network ATMs
  • Overdraft protection

Cons:

  • Not available in every state or region
  • Smaller network of fee-free ATMs than some other accounts
  • Must meet requirements to avoid a monthly service fee in some states
  • Qualifying deposits of $500 to $5,000 required to earn the bonus offers
  • Direct deposits must take place within 60 days of opening your account

Best for: People who can meet the direct deposit requirements to earn a cash bonus of up to $400 as well as those who want a combination of accounts to help them keep up with spending, manage short-term savings and grow wealth for the future all at once.

PNC Virtual Wallet: What you need to know

If you’re looking for a new online deposit account and want to earn a bonus for opening one, you may want to consider an account online with PNC Bank. The PNC Virtual Wallet® is available in several different tiers, each with varying features and minimum balance requirements in order to avoid being charged a monthly fee

All flavors of the PNC Virtual Wallet® have no minimum deposit if you open your account online. You can also earn a bonus of $50 to $400 depending on the state you live in, although your bonus offer also depends on how much you can set up in direct deposits within 60 days of opening the account.

Account holders can access their cash at nearly 18,000 ATMs nationwide without any fees. This isn’t anywhere near the largest ATM network among major banks, but it may be sufficient for your needs if you live in an area where PNC Bank branches are available. Also, depending on your account tier, you’ll get between $5 and $20 in monthly fee reimbursements when you use non-PNC ATMs.

Open an account and earn a bonus of up to $400 with the PNC Virtual Wallet®.

Earn a bonus when you open a PNC Virtual Wallet

It’s possible for new customers to earn a bonus for opening a PNC Virtual Wallet® based on where you live. In the states of CA, TX, AZ, NM, CO, PA, FL, OH, WV, DE, NJ, SC, NC, GA, KY, IN, MI, IL, MD, DC, WV and WI, consumers can consider these options:

PNC Virtual Wallet PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Select
Bonus offer $50 when you set up direct deposits of $500 or more within 60 days of account opening $200 when you set up direct deposits of $2,000 or more within 60 days of account opening $400 when you set up direct deposits of $5,000 or more within 60 days of account opening
Minimum deposit requirement if account is opened online None None None
Monthly service charge $7* $15** $25***
Overdraft protection Yes Yes Yes
Access to digital banking tools Yes Yes Yes
Access to nearly 18,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide Yes Yes Yes
Fee for non-network ATM withdrawals in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands $3 per withdrawal (waived for the first two withdrawals per statement cycle) $3 per withdrawal (waived for the first four withdrawals per statement cycle) None
Reimbursement for ATM surcharge fees charged by non-network banks Up to $5 per statement cycle Up to $10 per statement cycle Up to $20 per statement cycle
Fee for incoming domestic wires $15 each $15 each No charge
Fee for outgoing domestic wires $25 each for self-service, $30 each for agent-assisted $25 each for self-service, $30 each for agent-assisted No charge
*Monthly fee waived on the PNC Virtual Wallet account if account holder is over 62 years of age or a PNC employee, or with a $500 combined average monthly balance in your Spend and/or Reserve accounts or $500 in qualifying monthly direct deposits to your Spend account during the statement period. **Monthly fee waived on the PNC Performance Spend account with a $2,000 combined average monthly balance in your Spend and/or Reserve accounts or a $10,000 combined average monthly balance only across PNC Bank consumer deposit accounts you have chosen to link or $2,000 in qualifying monthly direct deposits to your Spend account during the statement period ($1,000 for WorkPlace or Military Banking customers).***Monthly fee waived on the PNC Performance Select account with a $5,000 combined average monthly balance in your Spend and up to 7 PNC Bank consumer checking accounts you have chosen to link (including Reserve) or $25,000 combined average monthly balance across PNC Bank consumer deposit and/or PNCI investment accounts you have chosen to link or $5,000 in qualifying monthly direct deposits to your Spend account during the statement period. Monthly fee waived on any account if the account holder is a PNC employee.

And in the states of AR, CT, ID, IA, KS, LA, ME, MA, MN, MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, ND, OK, OR, RI, TN, UT, VT, WA and WY, consumers can consider this bonus offer:

PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro
Bonus offer $200 when you set up direct deposits of $2,000 or more within 60 days of account opening
Minimum deposit requirement if account is opened online None
Monthly service charge $0
Overdraft protection Only when linked to a Growth or Reserve account
Access to digital banking tools Yes
Access to nearly 18,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide Yes
Fee for non-network ATM withdrawals None
Reimbursement for ATM surcharge fees charged by non-network banks Up to $20 per statement cycle
Fee for incoming domestic wires None
Fee for outgoing domestic wires $25 each for self-service, $30 each for agent-assisted

Regardless of where you live or which account tier you choose, the PNC Virtual Wallet® can also include up to three different components that work in tandem:

  • A Spend account. This is a non-interest-bearing checking account that’s meant to be used for everyday purchases and bills.
  • A Reserve account. This is a checking account that can be used for short-term savings goals.
  • A Growth account. This is an interest-bearing savings account meant to be used for long-term financial goals.

The fact that PNC Virtual Wallet® accounts can have three different components makes it unique among online banking options, as it’s perfectly suited to consumers who want to manage all their short-term and long-term banking needs in one place. That being said, if you just need an online checking account and want to keep things simple, you can choose a “Spend” account only and leave out the rest.

Know your balance is low with a PNC Virtual Wallet® account.

Advantages of the PNC Virtual Wallet

Opening an account with PNC Virtual Wallet® makes sense if you plan to take care of most of your banking needs online, and if you have plenty of direct deposits you can set up to meet the bonus requirement. We like the fact that no minimum balance requirement applies if you open your account online, and that PNC offers various tools to help you track your spending and grow your savings over time.

The three different accounts within each tier — Spend, Growth and Reserve — are ideal for people who want to keep separate “buckets” of money for different purposes. While the Spend account can help you stay on top of regular spending and bills, having other accounts for your short-term (Reserve) and long-term savings (Growth) can help you prepare for other financial needs. For example, short-term savings can be used to cover budget overages or surprise expenses, whereas long-term savings can be used to plan for a big remodeling project or upcoming college costs.

If you occasionally use random ATMs that don’t fall into a regular banking network, you’ll also like the fact that PNC Virtual Wallet accounts offer tiered reimbursements for out-of-network ATM usage. Regardless of which PNC Virtual Wallet account level you choose, the $5 to $20 in fee reimbursements for non-PNC ATM fees are available for each statement period you have the account.

Separately, it’s also worth noting that PNC offers competitive interest rates on some of their accounts. For example, the PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro with Spend, Reserve and Growth is currently advertising a 0.40% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on the Growth savings account, provided your balance is at least $1.

Budget and spend wisely with a PNC Virtual Wallet® account.

Disadvantages of the PNC Virtual Wallet

The biggest downside of PNC Virtual Wallet® is in the details, and specifically in the fees and fine print. For example, account holders with the basic PNC Virtual Wallet, the PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend or the PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Select will be charged a monthly service fee of $7 to $25 unless they can meet direct deposit or combined average monthly balance requirements.

Interestingly, monthly fees for all these accounts can be waived if you’re a PNC employee, and the monthly fee for the PNC Virtual Wallet can also be waived for individuals who are 62 or older.

Also, make sure to check which PNC accounts you’re eligible for based on your state of residence. Your checking account bonus offer may be limited to $200 if you live in states where only the PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro account is offered.

Which PNC Virtual Wallet is right for you?

PNC Virtual Wallet® options can seem overwhelming, but you really don’t have to make too many decisions to decide on an account. First off, the state you live in will determine which account and bonus options are even available to you. Once you’ve chosen an account tier, you just have to decide if you want a regular checking account for everyday spending, or if you want to add on linked accounts for short-term and long-term financial goals.

Consider a Spend (checking only) account if:

  • You have plenty of network ATMs near you and don’t need any high-end features
  • You mostly just want a checking account you can use for bills and regular purchases

Consider a Spend, Reserve and Growth account if:

  • You want the benefit of overdraft protection in the form of your linked accounts
  • You want the potential to earn interest on long-term savings
  • You want to separate your funds based on different goals you have

When it comes to the account tiers — which are only available if you’re located in the states of CA, TX, AZ, NM, CO, PA, FL, OH, WV, DE, NJ, SC, NC, GA, KY, IN, MI, IL, MD, DC, WV or WI — you can choose to go with more than just the basic PNC Virtual Wallet account.

The PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Select accounts are a better option for people who want free incoming and outgoing wire transfers as well as those who want no non-network ATM fees for withdrawals in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. And the PNC Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend could be a good middle-ground choice if you want an account with a handful of monthly ATM fee reimbursements and a solid bonus but can also meet the $2,000 average daily balance requirement to avoid paying a monthly service fee.

Customize your checking and savings accounts with a PNC Virtual Wallet®.

Should you open a PNC Virtual Wallet?

If you live near a PNC Bank or one of its ATMs and you’re thinking of opening a new online checking or savings account, PNC Virtual Wallet® accounts are worth considering. This is especially true if you can keep a sufficient average daily balance across certain accounts to avoid any applicable service charges, or if you plan to set up sufficient direct deposits to have fees waived. And if you’re lucky enough to live in a state where PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro accounts are offered, you won’t have to worry about avoiding monthly service fees or posting qualifying activity.

It also never hurts to compare other online checking and savings account options, including ones that let you earn a banking bonus. For example, the Citi Priority checking account lets you earn a cash bonus of up to $1,500 with qualifying activity. So compare all your options and make sure you get something back for setting up a new deposit account.

Learn more about the PNC Virtual Wallet® and earn up to a $400 bonus.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.