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Popular Direct Bank Review: Savings and CDs

Aug. 1, 2019
Banking, Banking Basics, Banks & Credit Unions, Savings Accounts
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3.5 NerdWallet rating

Where Popular Direct shines:

  • Top-of-the-line rates on savings and CDs.
  • 24/7 customer support.

Where Popular Direct falls short:

  • Steep minimum opening requirements.
  • No branch or ATM network.
  • No checking account.
  • Must have an external bank account and can’t use a different one to transfer within the first 70 days.

Where Popular Direct shines:

  • Top-of-the-line rates on savings and CDs.
  • 24/7 customer support.

Where Popular Direct falls short:

  • Steep minimum opening requirements.
  • No branch or ATM network.
  • No checking account.
  • Must have an external bank account and can’t use a different one to transfer within the first 70 days.

Where Popular Direct shines:

  • Top-of-the-line rates on savings and CDs.
  • 24/7 customer support.

Where Popular Direct falls short:

  • Steep minimum opening requirements.
  • No branch or ATM network.
  • No checking account.
  • Must have an external bank account and can’t use a different one to transfer within the first 70 days.

The bottom line

Popular Direct is an online bank that offers some of the best annual percentage yields, or APYs, on the market. The bank, a division of the international company Popular and New York-based Popular Bank, offers excellent rates on savings and certificates of deposits for customers who are able to meet the steep minimum deposit requirements. You need to have a bank account at another bank in order to fund a Popular Direct account.


Here are more details about the bank’s savings account, CDs and bank experience.

» Need a home for your spending money? Take a look at NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Popular Direct Savings: 4.5/5.0

 

Upside:

Top rate: Popular Direct’s Ultimate Savings account has one of the highest rates out there at 2.55% APY. This rate applies to all balances.

Downsides:

High minimum opening requirement: You need at least $5,000 to open this account.

Two fees to watch out for: Many online savings accounts don’t have a monthly fee, but Popular Direct charges $4 a month if your balance drops below $500 any day in the month. Also, if you take out money more than six times a month, there’s a $5 excessive withdrawal fee.

You can fund from just one external account for the first 70 days. Popular Direct has an unusual policy: Once you set up your funding account, you must stick to transfers using only that account during the first 70 days a Popular Direct account is open. You can still make withdrawals during this period.

» Want access to your accounts sooner? Check out other high-yield savings options

Popular Direct CDs: 4.0/5.0

 

Upside:

Stellar rates: All Popular Direct’s CDs are competitive across the board from three-month to five-year terms. A one-year CD rate earns 2.25% APY; a three-year rate gets 2.40% APY; and, a five-year CD has 2.55% APY.

Downside:

High opening deposit: $10,000 is the minimum to open a CD, which is higher than many banks.

» Find lower minimums on our list of best CD rates for the month

Bank experience: 3.0/5.0

 

Popular Direct’s website clearly lays out rates and minimum deposits, but you have to dig into the disclosures to see the fees. Live customer service is available 24/7 by phone and you can email or message the bank. The bank lacks some support channels, such as live chat, that some other online banks have.

The no-frills mobile apps are mainly there to help you monitor accounts and deposit checks.

High rates, but high minimums, too

Popular Direct is a bank designed for stashing your money and letting it grow. Its minimum opening requirements are higher than many online banks, and its policy of allowing transfers using just one external account during the first 70 days is unusual.

But if rates are all-important, a savings account or CD at this bank might work. Otherwise, check out other solid options on our list of best high-yield savings and best CD rates.


Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, bank experience and overdraft fees.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

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