Virtual Wallet Spend vs. Performance Spend

| August 7, 2011 | 3 Comments

If you’re about to open a PNC Virtual Wallet account (read my Virtual Wallet review first, to learn the basics), you need to understand the difference between the regular “Spend” account and the “Performance Spend” account. If you do not sign up for the Performance Spend account, you are literally wasting money. Learn the benefits of the Performance Spend account and take advantage of all Virtual Wallet has to offer.

Spend Account

In PNC Virtual Wallet, the regular Spend account is meant to be used mainly for your everyday living expenses. When you sign up for a Spend account, you will receive a brand new Virtual Wallet Visa Check Card to make purchases (which are deducted from your Spend account) or use to withdraw money from ATMs. The Spend account is what you’ll use to pay bills by check or through Online Bill Pay as well. Best of all, it works in harmony with your Reserve account, so whenever you overdraft from Spend, it will automatically pull money from Reserve and cover the difference.

Performance Spend Account

Performance Spend, which was unveiled by PNC Bank in 2011, can be chosen by customers during the Virtual Wallet account application process. Alternatively, current PNC Virtual Wallet users can upgrade to Performance Spend at any time if they had previously signed up for a “regular” Spend account. The Performance Spend account provides a number of advantages over the regular Spend account, including:

  • Unlimited check writing
  • Free non-PNC ATM transactions
  • Interest on your Spend account balance
  • PNC points for your check card purchases

The best part? You can sign up for a Performance Spend account at no cost. In fact, PNC has been known to offer bonuses in certain states for signing up for Performance Spend. For example, PNC recently offered a $100 bonus for opening a Virtual Wallet account (Note: It was only available to residents of DC, DE, FL, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, NJ, OH, PA, VA and WI).

PNC Virtual Wallet $100 Promotion

Screenshot of a $100 PNC promotion to open a Virtual Wallet account

If you’re interested in signing up, I recommend searching on Google for “Virtual Wallet bonus” and asking a sales representative about any current promotions if you sign up by phone or in a branch. If there are any bonuses available, make sure you take advantage of them!

Spend vs. Performance Spend

Performance Spend has multiple advantages over the “regular” Spend account. There are a few features which will be changing in September 2011, which I’ve specified in the full feature comparison chart below:

Feature Spend Performance Spend
Free Check Writing 3 per month, then a fee of $0.50 per check Unlimited
Free use of PNC ATMs Yes Yes
PNC fees for use of non-PNC ATMs 2 per month will be reimbursed starting 9/12/2011 Unlimited reimbursement
ATM surcharge fees charged by other banks No reimbursement starting 9/12/2011 Reimbursed up to $8 per month starting 9/12/2011
Interest on Spend account No Yes
Eligible for Student edition Yes Yes
Enrolled in PNC Points and earn points with check card Only through 4/30/2011 Yes
Bonus rewards on credit cards Yes (on points Visa and Flex Visa) Yes (higher rewards on points Visa, Flex Visa, and CashBuilder Visa)
Bonus rates on select CDs No Yes
Interest rate on Growth Yes (with 5 credit or debit card transactions/month starting 9/12/2011) Yes (with 5 credit or debit card transactions/month starting 9/12/2011)
Free check orders First set only Yes
Free identity theft protection No Yes (up to $5,000)
Safe deposit box discount No Yes ($10 annually)
Monthly service charge None Waived if conditions met.

The monthly service charge is an important difference between the two accounts. Before you sign up for a Performance Spend account, make sure you can meet one of the criteria required to avoid the monthly service charge of $10. You must do one of the following:

  1. Maintain a $1,500 combined average monthly balance in your Performance Spend and/or Reserve accounts OR
  2. Maintain $10,000 combined average monthly balance in linked PNC consumer checking, savings, money market, line of credit, auto or home equity installment loan, mortgage loan or investment accounts OR
  3. Maintain a qualified aggregate monthly direct deposit (such as payroll, pension or Social Security) of $2,000 or more per statement period in your Spend account ($750 for accounts in the Workplace Banking program).

After the Upgrade

As previously mentioned, current Virtual Wallet users can upgrade their regular Spend account to Performance Spend. Once you upgrade to Performance Spend, your Virtual Wallet control panel will appear entirely the same with only one small difference. Specifically, at the top of your Virtual Wallet screen, you’ll see your account shown as “Perf Spend/Reserve” after upgrading to Performance Spend. If you switch from regular Spend to Performance Spend, here are some other things you need to know:

  • Your account numbers, checks, check card and online banking User ID will all stay the same and you can continue to use them as normal.
  • Any bill payments or transfers you’ve already scheduled will go through just as they would normally.
  • PNC will start to calculate interest on your Spend account on the day after your upgrade on balances of $2,000 or more. It’s credited on every monthly statement.
  • If you’ve already written more than 3 checks the month of your upgrade, don’t worry, you will not have to pay the penalty. As long as you have Performance Spend when your statement is created, you won’t get charged for them.
  • If your PNC Virtual Wallet is a joint account, all owners on the account will be upgraded.

Conclusion

I’m am a huge proponent of the Performance Spend account in Virtual Wallet. The benefits of the account are great and you can’t beat the price: FREE! If you are currently using regular Spend, I recommend upgrading to a Performance Spend account as soon as possible unless you cannot meet one of the criteria required to avoid the monthly service charge (see above). If you cannot avoid the monthly service charge, then your goal should be to increase your revenue or save more money until you can meet one of the criteria. Once you can, then upgrade and start saving even more money!

Please share your questions and experience with Performance Spend in the comments section below.

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Tags: banking, online banking, pnc bank, PNC Virtual Wallet

Category: Personal Finance

Comments (3)

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  1. Darren says:

    A few thoughts:

    As noted, the web interface with virtual wallet leaves a bit to be desired. It’s Flash and Java intensive, and ran slowly on my multi-processor Mac.

    Virtual wallet also does not work with Quicken (or anything like Quicken) via direct connect. It’s web connect (manually download files and import them) only, and even that option does not work really well. Lots of errors and duplicated transactions, so if you use personal finance software (as I do) this probably isn’t the account for you.

    For me, Virtual Wallet was one of those things that seemed neat, but in practice turned out to be more trouble that it was worth.

    PNC’s Performance Checking offers the same benefits as Performance Spend, but without the hinky web interface, and it works perfectly with direct connect. I just converted my virtual wallet into Performance Checking and a PNC Money Market account, and ditched the reserve account entirely. It’s simpler, works better for me and I don’t have to deal with the buggy Virtual Wallet web interface.

    Just my $0.02

    • Joe says:

      Darren,
      I have yet to research Virtual Wallet’s compatibility with other personal finance programs so look for more to come on that subject. In the mean time, I would urge you to reconsider switching from your Virtual Wallet growth to a PNC Money Market account. The APY for the Virtual Wallet Growth account is actually higher than the Money Market.
      Thanks for dropping by!

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