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PNC Personal Loan - 2020 Review

| Money Rates Columnist.
min read

PNC-BankIf you want a personal loan from a large bank, PNC may be right for you. (Keep in mind that three of the country's largest lenders - Bank of America, Chase and Capital One - don't offer personal loans.) This PNC personal loan review contains the fast facts, pros and cons, and in-depth evaluation so you can confidently choose the best personal loan for your needs.

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Why Should I Apply With PNC?

Should you apply for a personal loan from PNC? Here are some quick FAQs and pros and cons that could help you decide whether to read on:

  1. Annual percentage rates (APRs) that aren't bad but also aren't excitingly low - They start at 7.49% for larger loans to top-tier borrowers as of this writing. Rates may be higher or lower, depending on the state in which you live
  2. May not be able to help in all states*
  3. Unusually for a bank, you can get a quote without affecting your credit score
  4. Co-signers are allowed
  5. There's no origination fee but late fees are higher than most
  6. You can probably get your money quickly
  7. Does OK in a compilation of national surveys - just slightly below average

*PNC doesn't make clear where it offers personal loans. But it asks for your ZIP code when you visit its website. And, elsewhere, it says, "PNC's Retail Bank currently operates in all or part of the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia and Wisconsin." That may be the case for personal loans, too.

Like what you see? Well, read on.

How Does PNC Work?

With more than 8 million consumer and small-business customers, PNC is one of America's Top-10 banks. That means it's a traditional, mainstream lender rather than one of the new peer-to-peer (P2P) ones.

P2P lenders act like financial versions of online dating websites, introducing mostly private, individual borrowers to private, individual investors. So you're borrowing from those investors rather than the lender itself.

Unlike most P2P lenders, PNC doesn't charge an origination fee, which is good. And it may be able to get your money to you sooner than some P2P sites.

What Kind of Loans Does PNC Offer?

Still not decided? Here are the headline facts you need to know:

  • Minimum loan amount of $1,000, rising to a maximum of $35,000
  • APRs of 7.49% to 17.49% on 36-month loans as of this writing - That range may be higher for longer or shorter ones. And rates also vary by state
  • Unhelpfully, PNC only says, "Various repayment terms available" - But other sources suggest those are 12, 24, 36, 48 or 60 months
  • Minimum credit score not published - Expect to need at least a fair or good score
  • Maximum DTI* is not published - Again, expect the bank to prefer your debts to be less than burdensome
  • No prepayment fee -- So you can repay your loan early without penalty
  • Co-signers welcome
  • You can prequalify -- Meaning you can get a quote without harming your credit score
  • Fixed rates
  • Lender fees -- No origination fees. But late fees kick in after a 15-day grace period and those are a minimum of $40 (more for big balances), which is way higher than most

*DTI is your debt-to-income ratio. It's the percentage of your monthly gross (before tax) income you pay for housing (rent or mortgage) and payments like auto loans and credit card minimums. Household expenses and utilities don't count.

That's not a bad offering. And the fact you can get a quote without affecting your credit score means there's no harm in asking for one. Your score is likely to be impacted later in the process (that's the case with all lenders) but only if you decide to proceed.

How Do I Apply With U.S. Bank?

You want to know how to apply? The process is fairly old-fashioned.

You won't find all information about applicable fees, terms and conditions online. However, you can get a copy of the Consumer Pricing Information brochure by calling a number or visiting a branch. You can apply online. But you may have to call into a branch to complete the process. Some might find such 20th-century practices endearing and nostalgic. Others may not.

U.S. Bank's website says it's going to want your social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to get started, plus your home address and employment information. It will pull your credit immediately with a "hard" inquiry that drops your FICO score temporarily a few points.

How Soon Can I Get My Money With U.S. Bank?

How long does it take to get your money? Once your application is approved, you should get funded quickly. U.S. Bank promises the proceeds "within one business day of loan closing." Given that you have to be an existing customer and the money is moving within the same organization, you might expect that.

You can speed up the approval process by assembling the supporting documents the bank's likely to request. And you should take care when completing your application. It won't be the bank's fault if it has to raise time-consuming queries because you made an error.

As with all lenders, it's probably a good idea to avoid applying during periods of peak demand. Of course, that's when you're most likely to need money. But expect things to take longer during busy times, such as the holiday season.

Finally, be ready to answer questions if you've bounced a check or allowed an account to slip into delinquency recently. These things matter to lenders. So get your story straight before you're asked.

U.S. Bank BBB Rating

U.S. Bank is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and gets a creditable A rating, just one notch down from the BBB's best, A+. For a big bank, that's very good indeed.

However, the bank's customer reviews on the BBB website are less kind. From 206 reviews when this was written, the average rating was one star out of five.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Bank

In 2019, federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) logged 1,874 complaints from U.S. Bank customers relating to installment loans, which include personal loans. This is significantly higher than the numbers for many of its competitors.

The Top-5 issues customers complained about that year were:

  1. Charged fees or interest you didn't expect
  2. Problem when making payments
  3. Struggling to pay your loan
  4. Getting the loan
  5. Problem with the payoff process at the end of the loan

The number of complaints in those categories ranged from 191 up to 477.

MoneyRates Editorial U.S. Bank Rating

Star rating - 3 stars

Some big banks give the impression they don't really like personal loans and would prefer not to have to offer them. And U.S. Bank is one of those.

Assuming you're already one of its customers, there's nothing particularly bad about its personal loans. But its interest rates and general terms are average rather than attractive. So you may do better elsewhere.

And you're bound to have concerns about its customer service. True, many surveys don't rate it disastrously low but it does come in below average. And the numerous complaints on the BBB and CFPB websites are worrying. And, at the time of writing, 74% of online reviews compiled from several sites (for all products and services, not just personal loans) rate it "bad," which is the lowest category available. Only 15% rate it excellent or good.

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What Are the Alternatives to U.S. Bank?

Given the small hit to your credit score that applying to U.S. Bank is pretty much bound to bring, you're may want to apply only once you've exhausted other opportunities. Here are some that allow "prequalification," meaning asking for an initial quote shouldn't affect your score. LightStream is the only exception to that. It works in the same way as U.S. Bank, although its best deals (only for top borrowers) are much better.

LendingClub

Similar lowest APR to U.S. Bank, although its rates go much higher for less creditworthy borrowers. And LendingClub welcomes those with a minimum score of just 600. Co-signers are allowed, but expect to pay an origination fee, as is the case with most of the following lenders. Good for those wanting to consolidate debts.

Payoff

Another lender that often helps with debt consolidations, though Payoff specializes in credit card balances. It wants you to have at least fair credit. But its interest rates are often lower than those of similar lenders and it doesn't charge late fees. You can access online educational resources to help get you free of debt and keep you that way.

Best Egg

There's a good chance you could get your money quickly with Best Egg because it's known for its fast turnarounds. Expect to need a credit score of 640 or higher.

Upgrade

Upgrade wants you to have fair credit or better. But it allows you to bring on board a co-signer to help get you there. And it has a hardship program in case you find yourself in financial trouble later in your loan term.

Prosper

Prosper is a big, solid P2P lender. And it accepts joint applications, allowing a co-signer to improve the chances of your getting a loan and perhaps being offered a better deal.

SoFi

SoFi's great for those with good or excellent credit - or with a co-signer who takes your application into the super-prime zone. Your stellar score could see you paying a low rate and zero fees. And you could borrow up to $100,000. Unemployment protection is thrown in.

LightStream

This lender is similar to SoFi in many respects: loans of up to $100,000 with uber-low rates and zero fees. But you'll need fantastic credit or an amazing co-signer to get the best deals. And it's owned by a bank (Truist, formerly SunTrust) so your score's going to take a small hit when you apply.

How to Find Your Best Personal Loan

Which of those is going to be best for you? You won't know until you shop around and compare personal loans. You can do that freely with most lenders because simply requesting a quote from those won't affect your credit score.

But watch out for those we've flagged as not letting you prequalify, because every time you apply, your credit score will take a small hit. That doesn't mean you shouldn't apply to them at all, because some offer the very best deals out there. But just wait until you've checked some others.

Which? Well, ones that cater to borrowers like you. If you have a great score and apply to a lender that specializes in applicants with fair credit, you're unlikely to get as low a rate as you would with a super-prime specialist. Equally, you're going to get knocked back a lot if you have fair credit and keep applying to lenders that demand high scores.

One last thing: Try to get the length of your loan to correspond to the period over which you're going to enjoy the benefit that it delivers. So you don't want to still be paying for your kid's high school graduation party a year after she's graduated college. But it's fine to borrow for five years or more for something that will bring you long-term joy or satisfaction. Or prove to be a good investment like home improvements, education or business investments.

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