PNC Bank will charge an overdraft fee (overdraft item fee) when you do not have enough money in your checking account to cover a purchase or withdrawal. Instead of declining the transaction, the bank will allow the purchase or withdrawal to go through and charge you an overdraft fee for covering it.
The bank allows overdrafts on specific transactions, including:
PNC will not automatically allow you to overdraw your account on ATM and debit transactions unless you opt in, and is also not obligated to cover any transactions that overdraft your account, regardless of transaction type or overdraft protection status. The decision is ultimately at the bank’s discretion.
PNC charges a $36 fee per item that overdraws your account by more than $5.
For example, if you make a purchase and your account only falls to -$4.50, PNC will waive the fee.
If you overdraft your account, a number of scenarios could occur.
Overdraft item fee
Overdraft item fees most often occur when you are not opted into overdraft protection and the bank allows you to overdraft your account on automatic bill payments, checks, and other payments made using your checking account number.
Returned item fee
A returned item fee — also called a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee — occurs when you make a purchase but there are not enough funds in your account to cover the transaction. Instead of covering for you, the bank will decline the transaction, or return the item unpaid. PNC charges $36 for each transaction that causes you to overdraft your account by more than $5. You can receive a returned item fee on the same types of transactions that would cause you to incur an overdraft item fee.
Overdraft protection transfer fee
Overdraft protection transfer fees most often occur when you are opted into overdraft protection and the bank allows you to overdraw your account by transferring funds from a qualifying linked account. Rather than a $36 overdraft fee, PNC will charge a $10 overdraft protection transfer fee if you are opted into the program.
To enable overdraft protection, you must link a qualified account so that the bank can transfer funds from one account to another in the event of an overdraft. Qualified accounts include:
PNC limits the number of overdraft fees — including both overdraft item fees and returned item fees — to four on a single day.
You can sign up for Low Cash Mode via PNC’s Virtual Wallet, which provides real-time alerts when your balance is low. This feature also gives you a 24-hour window to bring your account balance back positive before receiving an overdraft fee.
By signing up for overdraft protection, you can have peace of mind knowing that your transactions can be covered even if you don’t have sufficient funds in your account. However, one study found that account holders who opt into overdraft protection actually end up paying more in bank fees than account holders who are not opted in. Make sure that you do your research and consider your unique financial situation before deciding whether or not to opt into the service.
Overdraft fees are one of the most common charges detected on Cushion customers’ accounts, but there are small actions that you can take to avoid them:
Even if you get hit with an overdraft fee, there are still ways to get a refund. By signing up for Cushion’s ⚛️ Fee Genius and optional 💭 Fee Negotiation, you can receive 24/7 account monitoring, alerts on bank and credit card fees, and even automatic negotiations on fees with high refund probability.
If you’d like to negotiate your fees on your own, make sure that you prepare properly before reaching out to a PNC bank agent.
Gather your information
Name, address, bank account number, and the fees that you’d like to negotiate.
“Hello. My name is [your name], and I recently received an overdraft fee. I’m contacting you to see if you would be willing to refund this fee.”
Prepare your points of leverage
Are you experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19? Are you a loyal customer who has banked with PNC for an extended period of time? Is this overdraft a rare occurrence? Do you have multiple accounts with the bank? Do you make regular deposits?
Be patient, persistent, and prepared not to get a refund every time
Remember that the representative likely didn’t write the rules on refunds, so kindness and patience can go a long way in these situations.
You should also remember that it’s okay to press the issue if you initially hear “no.” You’re the only person who can fight for your money, which is why you’ve worked hard to prepare your points of leverage. Sometimes, success depends on the representative that you speak with, so consider asking to speak with higher level management or try calling back a few days later to speak with someone new.
Finally, you have to be willing to lose some negotiations. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on avoiding future fees.
Find PNC’s full fee schedule here.