How PNC Bank Overdrafts Work

What happens when you overdraw a PNC Bank account? Well, it depends on the type of transaction, and whether you’re enrolled in an overdraft service. Here’s how PNC Bank overdrafts work—that is, what their overdraft policies are—and some tips you can follow to avoid overdrawing your account.

How does PNC Bank handle overdrafts?

How PNC Bank Overdrafts Work

Generally, PNC Bank covers overdrafts for these transactions:

In this regard, PNC Bank authorizes payments on a case-by-case basis. Whether you accept or decline the transaction, these fees and maximums apply:

  • A $36 overdraft fee if the transaction is accepted or a $36 return fee if the transaction is declined.
  • A maximum of $144 in overdraft or returned item fees, or $4 per day.
  • A maximum of $98 in ongoing overdraft fees (or $7 per day for up to 14 days), if the account remains in the red for more than five consecutive calendar days.

Now, PNC Bank normally declines the following transactions free of charge if your balance is too low:

Overdraft Protection Services

Now let’s take a look at the different overdraft services offered by the PNC.

Optional Service: PNC Bank Overdraft Coverage

If you want the bank to pay overdrafts on ATM and debit card transactions on a case-by-case basis, you should opt for overdraft coverage. To sign up for this service, call 1-877-588-3605 or go to You can reverse this option at any time.

However, standard overdraft fees still apply.

Optional Service: Overdraft Protection

By choosing this service, you can link one of these accounts to your PNC checking account:

  • A secondary PNC checking account.
  • A savings account or one of PNC money market.
  • A PNC credit card.
  • A PNC personal line of credit.

The linked account provides a kind of backup for your primary checking account. When your balance gets too low, the bank automatically transfers funds to your checking account from the linked account, as long as it has money available. Likewise, the bank will charge you 10 dollars per transfer. And if you link a credit card or personal line of credit, the bank will round the amount to the nearest dollar and transfer a minimum of $50, plus the $10 transfer. However, the final amount is subject to interest.

Keep reading: How to open an account at PNC Bank

The 5 dollars of cushioning of the PNC

PNC Bank allows a margin of error of $5, so if you’re overdrawn by that amount or less, they’ll refund any fees. Also, if you overdraw your account but then deposit enough money to be within the $5 range at the end of the business day, you will not be penalizedor. And just like in the previous case, the bank will automatically refund the charges.

Overdraft Policies for PNC Virtual Wallet

The PNC Virtual Wallet comes with overdraft protection service included. In fact, the bank automatically links the “Spend” account with the “Reserve” short-term savings account for this purpose.

Likewise, the expense account is also linked to the long-term savings account “Growth”, which serves as a secondary overdraft account in case you do not have enough money in either of the other two to cover the expense.

Now, it is necessary to note that the Reserve and Growth accounts do not have coverage or overdraft protection.

What exactly happens when I overdraw my account?

Simply put, if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover a transaction, PNC Bank, like all banks, can simply decline it. However, that is not all that can happen.

  • Fees accumulate. When you don’t have enough funds, your bank will charge you a fee, $36 in the case of the PNC. Also, whoever you tried to pay will probably also charge you a commission. In fact, a business that deposits your bad check will be fined by the bank, so you will most likely be charged the additional fees. There is also usually a fee for failed electronic payments.
  • Your reputation is damaged. Banks don’t like customers who overdraw their accounts (although those customers generate a lot of revenue), so if you overdraw yours too often, your name could end up in a database of consumers with bounced check histories.
  • Legal and credit problems. Unpaid bills can go to collection and cause you problems in the future. If you’re in the habit of overdrawing your account and you don’t have overdraft protection, you can end up hurting your credit score, and you may even get into legal trouble if you appear to be intentionally spending more than you can afford.

What can I do to avoid overdrawing my account?

Ask the bank to exempt you from the penalty

Your bank may charge you the full overdraft fee even if you are only a few cents short of the total transaction amount. If you’ve been a good customer and rarely, if ever, overdraw your account, one option is to call the bank and ask them to waive the fee.

Get an overdraft line of credit

If you don’t want to pay high overdraft fees, but still worry about spending more than you have, you can sign up for an overdraft line of credit.

These lines of credit are less expensive than per-item overdraft fees, and instead of a flat fee, you’ll pay interest on the amount you “borrow,” which is typically less than common fees.

Link your bank accounts

Another way to avoid costly overdraft fees is to link a savings account to your checking account. In this case, if you overdraw your primary account the bank will draw the necessary funds from the other account. There may still be a fixed fee with this option, but it’s typically $10 or less than traditional overdraft fees.

Set up bank alerts

Keep in mind that whether or not you sign up for overdraft protection, the bank may still allow the transaction to go through (and thus charge you non-sufficient funds fees). In fact, automatic recurring payments, like for utilities or insurance premiums, will likely be made even if you’ve told the bank to decline transactions when you’re out of money. Therefore, we recommend that you set up alerts with your bank so that they notify you before those transactions take place, giving you enough time to deposit money into your account or cancel the payment.

Keep track of your balance

It is important that you know how much money you have available in your account, for which you need to check it frequently. In this sense, by keeping track of your balance, your next automatic payments, and any holds or freezes on your account, you will know for sure how much you can spend. In addition, checking your account regularly also helps you detect any fraudulent activity.

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