A Guide to Overdraft Fees at PNC

A Guide to Overdraft Fees at PNC
••• MoMo Productions/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Overdrawing your bank account and getting hit with expensive overdraft fees is always a painful experience. However, if you understand your bank's guidelines and keep up with your spending, you can usually avoid these charges.

Suppose you have an account with PNC Bank. Let's look at its guidelines and see how best to manage your money and avoid costly overdraft fees.

What Is PNC Bank?

PNC Bank, part of the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., is a large regional bank based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It offers a full range of retail banking solutions, such as checking accounts, personal loans, mortgages, auto loans and online banking. PNC operates over ‌2,600‌ branches in ‌28‌ states and the District of Columbia and around ‌60,000‌ ATMs without surcharges in its network.

How Much Overdraft Will PNC Allow?

PNC bank will allow an overdraft according to your overdraft limit. So, you may want to call the customer service representatives to inquire about what your limit is if you can’t see the number in your account opening documentation.

When Does PNC Bank Charge an Overdraft Fee?

Like most banks, PNC charges an overdraft fee whenever you have insufficient funds and your account balance is not enough to cover a transaction, explains the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. However, Bloomberg reports PNC eliminated the nonsufficient funds fees (NSF fees) after a recent overdraft policy overhaul.

PNC Bank will authorize and pay overdrafts for checks and other transactions that use your checking account number. The bank also will overdraw your account to cover automatic bill payments.

However, PNC pays these overdrafts at its discretion. The bank does not guarantee that it will always authorize and pay all transactions that overdraw your account. PNC Bank will usually not authorize and pay overdrafts for ATM transactions or normal debit card charges. The bank does not charge you for declining a transaction.

Is There an Overdraft Grace Period?

Fortunately, PNC gives you some leeway. The bank will not charge you an overdraft fee if your account is only overdrawn by ‌$5‌ or less.

So, how long does it take PNC to charge overdraft fees? Well, if you catch the overdraft during the day and make a deposit to cover the deficit before the end of the same business day, PNC will not penalize you and will refund any overdraft charges.

What Is the Fee for Overdrafts at PNC?

Per PNC's policies, the standard fee for an overdraft is ‌$36.‌ The bank will charge you ‌$36‌ for each overdraft up to a maximum of ‌four‌ transactions per day. If the bank does not authorize the overdraft, you could still be charged ‌$36‌ as a returned item fee for it declining the transaction.

How Many Times Can You Overdraft at PNC Bank?

You can overdraft at PNC Bank up to ‌four‌ times in a day. This means you could incur a maximum charge of ‌$144‌ for overdrafts in a single day‌.‌ However, most people pay at most ‌$36‌ per day due to the overdraft policy overhaul.

How Can You Avoid Overdraft Fees?

In addition to keeping enough funds in your account, another way to prevent overdrafts is to link your checking account to another account with PNC. You can link your checking account to the following PNC accounts:

  • Another PNC checking account
  • A savings or money market account
  • Credit card
  • Personal line of credit

If you do not have enough funds in your primary checking account, PNC will make automatic transfers to your checking account from the linked account provided that the linked account has available funds. The bank charges ‌$10‌ for each transfer. If your primary backup is a PNC credit card or personal line of credit, the bank will make transfers with a minimum of ‌$50‌ plus a transfer fee of ‌$10.

You can also avoid overdraft fees by signing up for PNC Bank’s Low Cash Mode program.

How Does PNC’s Low Cash Mode Program Work?

PNC’s Low Cash Mode is a technological feature offered by the bank for any Virtual Wallet product or virtual account that it offers. The feature sends out personalized notifications to you when your balance is low and gives you an extra 24 hours to bring your balance to zero when you overdraw. By doing so, it provides you with the chance to completely avoid overdraft fees.

What Is the PNC Virtual Wallet?

PNC's Virtual Wallet is a convenient mobile banking tool to manage all of your budgeting and expenses in one place. One way to avoid or minimize overdraft fees is to set up a PNC Virtual Wallet, which comes with three types of accounts: Spend, Reserve and Growth.

  • Spend:‌ Virtual Wallet Spend is your primary checking account that is used for everyday transactions. This includes checks, ATM withdrawals, online bill payments and debit card purchases. Any overdrafts that you incur in your Spend account will be automatically covered with funds in the Reserve account.
  • Reserve:‌ The Reserve account is a short-term savings account that you can use to accumulate money for budgeting and paying upcoming expenses. Reserve is the primary overdraft protection for your Spend checking account.
  • Growth:‌ Long-term savings are placed into the Growth account. This account is used as a tool to accumulate funds for major purchases, such as a down payment for a house. The Growth account pays a higher interest rate that is more competitive with certificates of deposit. This account can also act as a secondary source of overdraft protection in case you do not have enough funds in your Reserve account to cover overdrafts.

Does PNC Forgive Overdraft Fees?

PNC bank forgives overdraft fees if you have overdrawn by ‌$5 or less‌ and will refund you the money it charged.

What About ATM and Debit Card Transactions?

PNC gives you the option to activate overdraft coverage for ATM and debit card transactions. Typically, you can do this by signing in to PNC online banking, editing your overdraft solutions under Account Services and then opting in to overdraft protection.

Also, to receive this service, you have to contact the bank and give the authorization to cover any overdrafts. Otherwise, according to bank policy, any ATM and debit card transactions that would overdraw an account would be automatically declined.

Giving the bank the authorization does not mean that it will automatically pay and cover the overdraft. It just means it will look at each transaction on a case-by-case basis but still retain the discretion to pay or not pay. You can cancel this option at any time.

How to Reverse Overdraft Charges

If you've incurred overdraft charges, there's a chance the bank might waive a fee and give you a refund. It understands that people will occasionally make a mistake.

The first step is to contact customer service and ask about the possibility of reversing an overdraft fee. If this is your first time, the bank representative will usually waive one of the overdraft charges. However, don't expect the bank to reverse a series of charges or waive a charge if you have a history of being a repeat offender. About one reversal a year is all that the bank may allow.

Strategies for Better Money Management

The key to managing and preventing overdrafts is to become more proactive in managing your finances. The days of balancing a checkbook every month have been replaced with the convenience of mobile banking. PNC Bank offers several tools to help you better manage your finances.

When you are enrolled in the Virtual Wallet, you can check your balances easily and quickly on your smartphone each day. If you see that your checking account does not have enough funds for the expenses that you plan for the day, you can transfer money to the Spend account in advance to cover your needs and avoid overdrafts.

The best strategy to avoid overdraft fees is to make sure your account always has a comfortable balance. For example, keeping ‌$100‌ in your account at all times might work for you, or maybe you would feel more comfortable with a ‌$300‌ balance. If you're checking your balance every day, you can make sure that you stay above your minimum target.

The next step is to take advantage of PNC alerts. For example, if you want to keep your minimum balance above ‌$100‌, you can set up an alert to be notified by text or email whenever your balance dips below that amount. This will be a warning to either stop spending or make transfers from your Reserve account to cover expected expenses.

The goal is to better manage your cash flow to prevent unexpected and expensive overdraft charges. Understanding PNC's guidelines for overdraft fees will help you avoid these unnecessary and wasteful charges.