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.
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).
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:
|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:
- Maintain a $1,500 combined average monthly balance in your Performance Spend and/or Reserve accounts OR
- 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
- 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.
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.
Category: Personal Finance