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Santander Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CDs

Oct. 15, 2019
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
Santander Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CDs
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Santander Bank

3.5 NerdWallet rating

Santander Bank covers fewer than 10 Northeastern states with a host of financial products. The full-service bank 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 rates for basic savings accounts are low and its overdraft fees are costly.

The bottom line

  • Santander has over 2,000 ATMs and more than 600 branches across the Northeast.
  • Most checking and savings accounts have low or no monthly fees, but they don’t offer many perks.
  • Solid rates available on money market accounts.

» Interested in more CD options? Compare rates among the best CDs this month

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

Checking accounts

4.0 / 5.0

UPSIDES

Sign-up bonus available: You can get $225 for opening a Santander Simply Right Checking account if you’re eligible. This offer expires Dec. 31. (See the full details.)

Monthly fees easy to avoid: The Simply Right Checking waives the $10 fee if you make one transaction every month, whether that’s a deposit, withdrawal, transfer or payment. There’s no minimum balance requirement, but you need $25 to open the account.

Extensive ATM network: You get access to over 2,000 ATMs, including those in many CVS Pharmacy locations.

DOWNSIDES

High fees for out-of-network ATMs and international purchases: Simply Right accounts charge $3 to withdraw from domestic non-Santander ATMs and $6 plus 4% of the withdrawal amount at an international ATM when using a debit card, with one exception: It’s free to withdraw from Santander ATMs in 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 Simply Right Checking. The bank’s premium checking accounts do pay interest, but not very much.

Account reviewed for rating: Simply Right Checking

» See cheaper and better interest-earning options: NerdWallet’s best checking accounts

Savings accounts

3.5 / 5.0

UPSIDES

High promo rate for high balances: It is possible to find competitive rates at Santander. For people with at least $10,000 to deposit, Santander’s Select Money Market Savings account pays 1.75% for the first six months (depending on your ZIP code), and 1.50% after that.

Easy-to-waive monthly fees: All it takes to avoid the $1 fee on the regular savings option is having a Santander checking account. A $100 average daily balance also does the trick.

DOWNSIDE

Low rate on the regular savings account: The APY on all balances is only 0.03%, lower than the already poor national average of 0.09%.

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

1.5 / 5.0

UPSIDE

Low minimum deposit: You need just $500 to open a CD. Some banks set the minimum at $1,000 or more.

» Want to see more short-term CDs? See the best 1-year CDs this month

DOWNSIDE

Generally low rates: While you can find reasonable promotional rates on some Santander term lengths, most rates aren’t competitive. You’ll earn 0.10% APY for a one-year CD and 0.30% APY for a five-year CD. (Compare Santander’s CDs with other banks’ rates.)

Account reviewed for rating: Choose-Your-Term CDs

Bank experience

4.0 / 5.0

UPSIDES

Extensive customer service: You can reach representatives by phone from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time, seven days a week. Other options include emailing, contacting Santander on Twitter or visiting one of its more than 600 branches.

Solid mobile app ratings: Santander’s current iOS app gets 4.7 stars and its Android counterpart receives 4.5 stars.

DOWNSIDE

Some interest rates aren’t shown online: As clean and usable as Santander’s website is, some of the rates for CDs are missing. The bank encourages you to call, email or visit a branch to find out more.

Overdraft fees

2.0 / 5.0

High costs across the board: Santander charges $35 for overdrafts — which is typical for a big bank, according to a recent NerdWallet study — and you can be charged up to six times a day. And 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 in for 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. The annual fee is waived for those with premium checking accounts.

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 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.


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.

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