Commuters and diners: You should check out this PNC rewards card


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The Steel City’s PNC Bank launched its Cash Rewards Visa credit card this week, offering some of the highest rewards among cash-back cards available today.

Its rewards for gas and dining purchases outpace those given by other popular cash-back cards that charge no annual fee, including Blue Cash Everyday from American Express and Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card.

There are two important caveats, however. The Cash Rewards Visa caps the amount of rewards you can earn at the top rewards rate. And this card is only available to consumers who live in states where PNC Bank has a retail footprint.

Rewards, bonus details

Here are the highlights of this no-fee card:

  • Earn 4 percent back on gas stations purchases.
  • Earn 3 percent on dining purchases, including fast food.
  • Earn 2 percent on grocery store purchases.
  • All other spending earns an unlimited 1 percent in rewards.

Note that the 4 percent, 3 percent and 2 percent categories are capped at a combined $8,000 in annual spending, after which those categories will continue to earn an unlimited 1 percent.

For heavy commuters or road warriors who spend a lot of time and money at the pump, this could mean cash-back earnings of up to $320 if you max out the $8,000 limit.

PNC also offers a sign-up bonus on this card. You’ll earn $100 when you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first three billing cycles after you open the card account. This offer is valid through Aug. 31, 2017.

If you’re considering a balance-transfer credit card, the Cash Rewards Visa comes with a 0 percent APR introductory offer on balance transfers. The interest-free period lasts for 12 billing cycles on balances transferred within 90 days of account opening.

Who can get this card

The Cash Rewards Visa is available to residents of 19 states and the District of Columbia, including Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Existing PNC customers also may apply, no matter which state they live in.

If you don’t live in one of these states, consider another no-annual fee credit card.

How to boost your rewards

In some instances it’s possible to earn even higher rewards through PNC’s Purchase Payback program, says Tammy McIntosh, who manages the bank’s credit card rewards programs. Anyone who uses a personal or business PNC debit or credit card is eligible to receive these offers, which are targeted based on consumer spending patterns and preferences.

For example, Boston Market currently has a promotion offering 5 percent cash back to customers who use a PNC card to pay for their order. But, if you receive this offer and you use the Cash Rewards card to pay for your meals, that 5 percent can be stacked with the 3 percent from dining purchases, earning a total of 8 percent cash in rewards, McIntosh says.

Rewards can be redeemed several ways — as a statement credit toward your balance, or if you hold other PNC accounts, as a deposit into your savings, checking or towards a PNC Bank-held loan.

The card replaces PNC’s Cash Builder card, which remains active for current holders but will no longer be offered to new applicants.

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