Updated November 08, 2017
With about 2,800 branches in 19 states and the District of Columbia, PNCis the fifth largest bank in the United States. It’s primarily located in the eastern half of the US, with most of its branches and its headquarters being in the northeast.
If you’re looking for a personal loan from a trustworthy, familiar source, PNC might be your answer. It offers an unsecured personal loan on par with most lenders, as well as a secured loan that allows up to $100,000 to be borrowed.
Most traditional banks haven’t been able to compete with online-only lenders in the personal loan space, so let’s see how PNC compares.
Personal Loan Details
PNC has three personal loan options – secured and unsecured installment loans, and a line of credit. For the purpose of this review, we’ll be focusing on the installment loans.
Most online lenders only offer unsecured loans. In case you’re not sure of the difference:
- Secured loans require an agreement to let your creditor use your assets as collateral in the event you default on your loan. This protects the creditor as it can sell your assets and recoup the cost of the loan.
- Unsecured loans are the exact opposite – there’s no collateral involved. There’s less risk for the borrower and more for the creditor.
While secured loans seem to take the creditor’s side, the bonus is they often have more favorable terms because creditors are taking on less risk. You may have access to better interest rates or more money.
A simple example of a secured loan is a mortgage loan. Your home (property) is used as collateral. If you don’t pay your mortgage, your mortgage lender can seize the property and sell it.
Now that you know what it means to have a secured or unsecured loan, we’ll take a look at the differences between the details.
PNC’s unsecured personal loan allows you to borrow between $1,000 and $25,000 on a variety of terms: 6 months, and 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5-year options are available.
PNC’s secured loan allows you to borrow much more – between $2,000 and $100,000. The collateral required for this loan is non-real estate (a vehicle, for example).
Both the unsecured and secured loans have fixed interest rates.
Unfortunately, you can’t check APRs or sample payments for secured loans online, and when we called, we were told they vary based on your credit. They were unable to give any APR range.
The APR for unsecured loans varies by the loan amount:
- For a $5,000 loan, the APR ranges from 9.49% – 21.99%
- For a $10,000 loan, the APR ranges from 6.74% – 19.24%
- For a $15,000 loan and up, the APR ranges from 5.99% – 18.49%
A payment example: if you borrow $20,000 on a 5-year term with an APR of 7.74%, your monthly payment will be $403.04.
The Pros and Cons
Applying for a personal loan with a bank is typically a bit more time consuming than applying with an online-only lender. This is because banks are thorough with the documentation they request.
However, PNC states the application should take no longer than 15 minutes online.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking at the secured loan option, you can’t apply online. You can only apply by phone, or in person at a branch. You can apply online with the unsecured loan option.
PNC’s APRs are also quite high, especially for the loan amounts. Many online-only lenders are offering better rates starting in the 5% range.
An additional negative might be that PNC only offers fixed rates. While variable rates aren’t stable, they’re usually lower than fixed rates. If you’ll have the ability to pay the loan off soon after it’s disbursed, having the lower variable rate can be beneficial.
If you fall on hard times, there’s a possibility that PNC will allow you to defer your payments, but this is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
PNC urges borrowers to contact the bank at the first sign of trouble – before their payment is due.
Application Process and Documents Needed to Apply
If you’re applying for an unsecured loan, you can easily apply online and be done within 15 minutes. PNC recommends having the following information ready:
- Your photo ID
- Annual income, plus any other sources of income you have
- Employer information (if you’ve been working there for less than 2 years, have your previous employer information as well)
- Address/proof of residence (if you’ve been living there for less than 2 years, have your previous address ready)
- If you’re applying with a co-applicant, you’ll need the same information for them
- If you’re applying for a personal loan to consolidate debt, you’ll need account statements as PNC needs to know your account number, monthly payment, and outstanding balance
PNC’s application is straightforward, and it also has a checklist available for you on the application in case you need to reference it.
PNC will use a hard credit inquiry when applying for a loan with them.
Who Qualifies for a Personal Loan With PNC?
To have the best chances of being approved for a loan with PNC, you need very good and established credit, along with a reasonable debt-to-income ratio. Your loan terms greatly depend on these two factors. Being a customer with PNC doesn’t increase your chances of getting approved.
Just a note – if you choose the secured loan and want to use your vehicle as collateral, it must be less than 8 years old and have less than 80,000 miles on it.
Who Benefits the Most from a Personal Loan With PNC?
Borrowers looking for a larger loan amount would benefit from the secured personal loan with PNC.
SoFi is the only other personal loan lender offering that much money, and while the loan is unsecured, it doesn’t have any physical locations. If you feel more secure applying in-person and receiving assistance from a trusted bank, you might prefer to go with PNC.
However, most borrowers will benefit from going elsewhere to get an unsecured personal loan.
The Fine Print
There is no prepayment penalty for either loan, so you can pay your loan in full at any time.
There’s no origination nor annual fee for the unsecured personal loan.
When called, a PNC representative wouldn’t disclose any other fees associated with the loan (late fees, returned payment fees, etc.).
Since there is so little information on its website about the secured loan, it was important to find out as many details as we could from a call.
Unfortunately, the PNC representative that answered the call wasn’t very helpful. The most she could offer was that the loan rates and terms were dependent upon credit, and that the credit score and debt-to-income ratio of an applicant was extremely important.
When asked about late fees for the loan, she said “another department” handles that, and was unable to transfer the call to the appropriate personnel, as you need to have a loan with PNC before fees can be discussed.
This was rather disappointing. Most lenders are open to discussing these details with potential borrowers – fees can make a huge difference when considering loan options. To be one of the few lenders unwilling to discuss fees and rates beforehand kicks PNC’s transparency down a notch.
Alternative Personal Loan Solutions
As mentioned, SoFi* is the closest competitor as it allows borrowers a maximum of $100,000 as well. The minimum you can borrow is $5,000. Most personal loan lenders have limits of around $25,000 – $35,000.
SoFi offers fixed rates and variable rates, while PNC only offers fixed rates for its installment loans. SoFi’s fixed APR ranges from 5.49% – 14.24%, and its variable APR ranges from 5.19% – 11.34%, if you’re enrolled in autopay (with a cap of 14.95%).
There are no fees associated with SoFi’s personal loan except for a late fee, which is 4% of the amount due or $5 – whichever is less.
You can borrow funds on 3, 5, or 7-year terms, and personal loans are available in 46 states, including the District of Columbia.
SoFi also offers unemployment protection. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you can apply for payment assistance.
SoFi uses a soft credit inquiry when you first apply to get your rates, which means your credit score won’t be affected. If you choose to move forward with the loan, a hard credit inquiry will be used.
If you’re looking for good alternatives to PNC’s unsecured loan, take a look at Earnest. You can borrow between $2,000 and $50,000 on a 1, 2, or 3-year term.
There are no hidden fees associated with Earnest’s personal loan, and it’s offered in 23 states plus the District of Columbia.
You’ll need a minimum credit score of 720 to be eligible for approval with Earnest, and a minimum of 700 to be approved with SoFi, but both lenders take other factors into account, unlike PNC. Your employment history, education, and salary matter as well.
It Pays to Shop Around
While it would be convenient to have the first lender you apply with be the best solution, that’s not always the case, even with a trusted lender like PNC. Personal loans from bigger banks are falling by the wayside as online-lenders are offering much better rates and terms. Do yourself a favor and shop around to get the best rates, even if you have a prior relationship with the bigger names out there. If you shop around within a 30-day window, your credit won’t take a big hit.
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