Santander Bank is a full-service bank with branches in eight Northeastern states. It offers solid options for people with high savings balances as well as those looking for basic checking accounts with low or no monthly fees. But its basic savings rates are low and its overdraft fees are costly.
The bottom line
- Santander has a large network of ATMs and branches across the Northeast
- Checking and savings account options have low or no monthly fees, but they don’t offer many perks
- High rates available on certificates of deposit as well as the basic money market account if you can keep $10,000 in the account
» Interested in more money market options? Compare rates among the best money market accounts
4.0 / 5.0
Most monthly fees low or easy to avoid: The Simply Right Checking waives its $10 fee if you make one transaction each month, which can be a deposit, withdrawal, transfer or payment. There’s no minimum balance requirement, but you need $25 to open the account. The Basic Checking has a $3 fee, and there’s no way to waive it. The Student Value Checking, available to students 16 to 25 years old, has no monthly fee.
Extensive ATM network: You get access to more than 2,000 ATMs, including ones at CVS Pharmacy locations.
High fees for out-of-network ATMs and international purchases: Simply Right and Basic Checking accounts charge $3 to withdraw from domestic ATMs and $6 plus 3% of the withdrawal amount at an international ATM. There are two exceptions: It’s free to withdraw from Santander ATMs in the U.S. and Mexico. In addition, when you pay with your debit card abroad, Santander charges 4%.
No interest on standard checking options: You won’t earn interest on the checking accounts that have low or no monthly fees. Santander Premier Plus Checking earns some interest from its 0.03% APY, but you need $6,000 in monthly direct deposits or a minimum of $75,000 across Santander accounts to avoid the $35 monthly fee.
Account reviewed for rating: Simply Right Checking
» See cheaper and better interest-earning options: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts
Savings and money market accounts
3.5 / 5.0
High rates for high balances: For people with at least $10,000 to deposit, Santander’s money market savings account shines. The rate for the first six months is 1.70%, but drops to 1.35% after that, though rates may change depending on location. Those high rates are only for balances at or above $10,000; otherwise, the rate is 0.25% APY.
Easy to waive monthly fees: All it takes to avoid the $10 fee on the money market savings account and the $1 fee on the regular savings option is having a Santander checking account. But you can also waive the fees by having enough money to meet the average daily balance: $10,000 for the money market and $100 for the regular Santander Savings account.
Low rate on the regular savings account: The APY on all balances is only 0.03%, half the national average.
Account reviewed for rating: Santander Savings
» Want higher rates for low or no minimum balances? Check out NerdWallet’s best savings accounts
Certificates of deposit
4.0 / 5.0
Excellent rates on some terms: The best you can get with Santander CD rates is 2.40% APY for a 5-year term. Other terms might not be as competitive. Promotional rates for some terms, such as 15- and 18-month CDs, are available. Click here to compare Santander’s CDs with other providers.
» Want the best CD rates? Find out what’s available this month
Low minimum deposit: You need just $500 to open a CD. Some banks make the minimum $1,000 or more.
Finding CD rates online isn’t possible: You have to call or email the bank to find out the rates.
Account reviewed for rating: Choose-Your-Term CDs
4.0 / 5.0
Extensive customer service: You can reach representatives by phone from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time, seven days a week, excluding Dec. 25. Other channels include emailing, contacting Santander on Twitter or visiting one of its over 650 branches.
Solid mobile app ratings: Santander’s current iOS app gets 4.7 stars and its Android counterpart receives 3.7 stars. However, there’s a pattern in recent user reviews noting an inability to log into the app, among some other usability issues.
Most interest rates aren’t shown online: As clean and usable as Santander’s website is, it doesn’t provide crucial information that many bank websites do, such as interest rates on the interest-bearing checking option, savings and money market accounts and CDs. The bank encourages you to call, email or visit a branch to find out.
2.0 / 5.0
High costs across the board: Santander charges $35 for overdrafts, which is about equal to the median amount at big banks, and you can be charged up to six times a day if you keep making transactions. The biggest national banks’ limit is four or fewer in one day. Leaving an account with a negative balance for five consecutive business days results in an additional $35 fee. Not every bank charges this fee.
If you opt into overdraft protection transfers from a linked savings account, there’s a $12 fee per day. And the bank’s overdraft line of credit has an annual fee of up to $50, plus any interest charged on overdrawn amounts.
If you think overdraft fees would be a problem for you, consider more affordable options, such as Capital One’s 360 Checking. That account charges no overdraft fees as the default option and it 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 checking and savings as well as high-yield money market accounts.
Updated Jan. 12, 2018.
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.