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Santander Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CDs

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Santander Bank Review

Santander Bank
NerdWallet’s rating: 3.0 / 5.0

3.0 stars out of 5

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Santander Bank has good options for people with high savings balances as well as basic options for those seeking checking accounts with low or no fees and no monthly minimums.

Santander is a full-service bank with branches in eight Northeastern states. In addition to checking and savings accounts, it offers certificates of deposit, home and auto loans, credit cards and, through its securities arm, investment accounts.

Santander Bank may be right for you if:

  • You live in the Northeast and prefer access to physical branches
  • You want checking and savings account options with low or no monthly fees, even if they don’t offer many perks
  • You can deposit a minimum of $75,000 in combined accounts, or make at least $6,000 in direct deposits each month, to open an interest-bearing checking account and access personal banking services

» MORE: Best banks and credit unions in the Northeast

OUR RATINGS
Checking 3.5 stars out of 5
Savings and money market accounts 3.0 stars out of 5
Certificates of deposit 3.5 stars out of 5
Bank experience 3.5 stars out of 5
Other fees 2.0 stars out of 5
Overall 3.0 stars out of 5

Read on for more details about Santander’s checking and savings accounts, CDs, customer experience and fees.

Checking accounts

3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

You can open a Simply Right Checking account at Santander with just $25. This account has a $10 monthly fee, which you can avoid if you use the account for at least one transaction — deposit, transfer, withdrawal or payment — per month. It’s no-frills and doesn’t earn interest. If you travel abroad, a Simply Right Checking account has a relatively high international ATM fee.

Santander also has a Basic Checking account with a $3 monthly fee that the bank won’t waive but that has no transaction requirements.

Premier Plus Checking earns a tiny bit of interest — 0.01% annual percentage yield — but has a $35 monthly fee. The account offers access to a personal banker and no extra charge for using out-of-network ATMs, although the ATM’s owner might charge a fee. However, to avoid the monthly fee and get those benefits, you’ll need at least $75,000 in combined account deposits and investments or $6,000 in monthly direct deposits.

ProsCons
  • It's easy to avoid Simply Right Checking's $10 monthly fee; just use the account to make one transaction per calendar month

  • Customers in the Northeast have access to about 2,000 Santander ATMs

  • Premier Plus Checking pays a little interest (0.01% APY), but it requires $75,000 in combined deposits and investments or $6,000 in monthly direct deposits to avoid the $35 monthly fee

  • Basic Checking and Simply Right Checking account holders are charged $3 for out-of-network domestic ATM transactions

  • Santander charges $6 for both network and out-of-network international ATM transactions, except for Santander ATMs in Mexico

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Savings and money market accounts

3.0 stars out of 5
3.0 / 5.0

For people with at least $10,000 to deposit, Santander’s money market savings accounts shine. They have comparatively high APYs, ranging from 0.9% to 1.2%, depending on your location.

Santander also offers a basic savings account that charges no monthly fee if your balance is at least $100; however, the APY is only 0.03%, half the national average.

ProsCons
  • Santander's money market savings account starts with a 0.10% APY, but if you have a $10,000 minimum balance, the account earns an above-average APY that ranges from 0.90% to 1.20%, depending on your location

  • The bank's basic savings account doesn’t charge a monthly fee if you have a Santander checking account or a $100 average account balance; otherwise, it costs $1 per month
  • Customers with money market savings balances below $10,000 pay a $10 monthly fee unless they have a Santander checking account

  • Santander's basic savings APY is only 0.03%, half the national average

Certificates of deposit

3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

Santander provides a selection of CDs with terms ranging from three months to five years. Rates range from 1.0% APY for a two-year term to 2.0% APY for a five-year term.

ProsCons
  • Relatively low initial minimum deposit of $500

  • Term lengths as short as three months

  • APYs as high as 2.0% for five-year CDs
  • Website makes it hard to figure out most CD rates

Bank experience

3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

Santander’s website has a clean, usable design, but it’s missing some crucial pieces of information. In many cases, it’s hard to pin down the interest rates, monthly fees and other essential features of specific accounts. You’ll need to speak with the bank to find out interest rates on its deposit accounts.

For those and all other questions, you can reach customer service by phone or email. Representatives are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time, seven days a week.

Santander Bank also has mobile banking apps for iOS and Android devices, but they tend to receive average to poor reviews in the app stores. Some users complain that they have a hard time using the check deposit feature.

Other fees

2.0 stars out of 5
2.0 / 5.0

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Santander charges $35 for overdrafts, which is about equal to the national median, up to six times a day. It charges another $35 for accounts that have a negative balance for five consecutive business days.

When you open your account, go with Santander’s “some overdrafts” option; this allows ATM withdrawals and one-time debit purchases to be declined at no charge to you.  Santander also offers the option of linking to another Santander account or line of credit, but overdraft transfers still carry a $12 fee, plus any interest that might be charged on your line of credit. 

Santander also charges $3 per month for paper statements, but you can sidestep that by choosing electronic delivery.

Next steps

If you think overdraft fees would be a problem for you, consider more affordable options, such as Capital One’s 360 Checking. That account has no overdraft fees and offers free transfers from a linked savings account.

But if Santander’s fees aren’t a stumbling block and you like the bank’s offerings, it’s a decent choice for basic accounts.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburnette@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @margarette

Updated Aug. 3, 2017


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, customer 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.