PNC STRIKES AGAIN: It’s not 2%, but did you know there’s a no-fee card that lets you earn 1.75% cash back? The PNC Cashbuilder pays you a base rate of 1.25%, but you can increase that to 1.75% via your spending levels and your balances with other PNC products.
There are changes to the program coming on March 22. And since this is PNC–home of the nation’s second-most needlessly complicated banking rewards program (Key Bank, as it happens, is first)–I can’t easily tell you how you’ll be able to get 1.75%. Here’s how PNC puts it:
Your First Billing Cycle: You will earn Rewards of 1.75% of the amount of Net Purchases you make during the first Billing Cycle after your CashBuilder Account is opened. In subsequent Billing Cycles, you will earn Rewards as follows:
Tier 1: If you make $1,999.99 or less in Adjusted Purchases on your CashBuilderAccount in a Billing Cycle, you will earn Rewards of 1.25% of the amount of Net Purchases you make in your next Billing Cycle.
Tier 2: If you make $2,000.00 through $3,999.99 in Adjusted Purchases on your CashBuilder Account in a Billing Cycle, you will earn Rewards of 1.50% of the amount of Net Purchases you make in your next Billing Cycle.
Tier 3: If you make $4,000.00 or more in Adjusted Purchases on your CashBuilder Account in a Billing Cycle, you will earn Rewards of 1.75% of the amount of Net Purchases you make in your next Billing Cycle.
Tier 4: If, as of the last day of a Billing Cycle, you have a Qualifying Performance Deposit Account, you will earn Rewards of 1.50% of the Net Purchases you make in your next Billing Cycle.
Tier 5: If, as of the last day of a Billing Cycle, you have a Qualifying Performance Select Deposit Account, you will earn Rewards of 1.75% of the Net Purchases you make in your next Billing Cycle.
Each Billing Cycle you will earn Rewards at the highest Reward tier for which you qualify. If the PNC CashBuilder Visa account is in the name of more than one individual, all such individuals must be owners of the checking account in order to earn Rewards at Tier 4 or Tier 5.
Got that? There are also several more paragraphs defining what counts as a ‘qualifying performance select deposit account’
Question: is PNC’s marketing department deliberately trying to befuddle customers, or is it merely incompetent? This is why you have to respect something like what Amex has done with its new Everyday card, which boasts a clear, compelling (for some, anyway) value proposition. This monstrosity from PNC is what you get from people who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s the rewards card by and for contract lawyers.
Nonetheless, 1.75% is still pretty good if you’ve been blacklisted by the Fidelity Amex for some reason. An even more obscure option for a decent cashback card: the NASA Platinum Cash Rewards card offers 2% back on purchases above $2,000 each month. And it would be kind of cool to have a NASA card in your wallet:
MONEY SALE AT OFFICEMAX: In case you haven’t heard, OfficeMax is offering $15 when you buy $250 worth of Visa gift cards. The official limit is 2 offers per customer (i.e. $30 back for $500), but keep in mind the offer limit is at the discretion of whoever’s ringing you up. Some stores are stricter than others. There was a snafu on Sunday and part of Monday where the deal wasn’t working, but OfficeMax corporate solved it around lunchtime Monday, so the deal’s on.
On a related note, Mrs. PFD and I had a lunch date at OfficeMax yesterday. Since it’s two offers per customer, it’s good to take along a date for this sale, especially if the date also has an Ink Bold.
THANKS RAPID TRAVEL CHAI: I just wanted to single out Rapid Travel Chai for a couple of interesting posts about off-the-beaten-path locales: Abkhazia and Transnistria. Neither one is located in or near the Maldives, and there are few, if any, pictures of luxurious accommodations or first-class food… but both posts are still worth a look.
REAL ESTATE: A man living in a rent-stabilized apartment was offered $17 million to move out:
Rent-stabilized tenants in the outer boroughs are increasingly facing malign neglect from greedy landlords who try to pressure them to leave through tactics such as setting the freaking building on fire. But sometimes a developer has no choice but to use legal means to persuade long-time rent-stabilized residents to move along. This usually involves writing a fat check, and in particularly desirable districts, the checks can be fantastically fat—the record appears to have been set by one reclusive Central Park West resident who shook down a pair of developers for $17 million.
Suitably, the site is now home to the city’s most expensive apartment, an $88 million dwelling now owned by a Russian robber-baron.