Santander Personal Loans: 2023 Review
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Santander personal loans may be a good option for excellent-credit borrowers looking for large loans and flexible terms, but they're available in a limited number of states.
Pros & Cons
- No origination fee.
- Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
- Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
- Mobile app to manage loan.
- Late fee.
- No option to choose initial payment date.
- No co-sign or joint loan option.
- No hardship program.
Compare to Other Lenders
Full Review of Santander Personal Loan
Santander is a global bank that offers unsecured personal loans in select states across the U.S. The lender is ideal for borrowers with good to excellent credit (scores above 689) who have an existing relationship with the bank. Non-account holders must receive an offer code in the mail or visit a bank branch to apply for a loan.
The lender offers a wide range of loan amounts and a rate discount for automatic payments from a Santander checking account. Plus, with no origination fee and direct payment to up to five creditors, it’s a strong option for debt consolidation.
» COMPARE: Best bank loans
Table of Contents
SoFi personal loans at a glance
Minimum credit score
6.99% - 24.99%
Late fee: $20 or 10% of loan payment.
$5,000 to $50,000.
3 to 7 years.
Time to fund after approval
1 to 3 business days.
Loans not available in AL, AK, HI, ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, MS, MT, NE, NV, NC, ND, OK, SC, SD, UT, WI and WY.
Where Santander personal loans stand out
No origination fee: Santander does not charge an origination fee on personal loans, unlike some online lenders. Origination fees typically range from 1% to 10% of the loan amount and are taken from the loan proceeds before disbursement or during the course of the loan term.
Soft credit check to pre-qualify: Santander lets existing account holders pre-qualify for a personal loan online. If you don’t have an account with the bank, you can only pre-qualify online if you have received an offer code. Pre-qualifying lets borrowers view potential loan terms, including what interest rate they may qualify for, before submitting to a hard credit inquiry.
Offers direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans: For borrowers who want to consolidate debt, Santander can send personal loan payments directly to creditors. Borrowers can have the payments sent to up to five different creditors with a minimum payoff of $1,500. Overall, this feature streamlines the process of paying back individual creditors and eliminates the temptation of spending the money elsewhere.
» COMPARE: Best debt consolidation loans
Mobile app to manage the loan: Santander's mobile app allows borrowers to manage their personal loan, contact customer service and make payments from their phones. Mobile apps are increasingly more available, but not all lenders offer this convenience.
Where Santander personal loans fall short
Charges a late fee: Santander charges a late fee of 10% of the loan payment or $20, whichever is greater. To avoid late fees, borrowers can set up automatic payments with the bank’s payment feature, ePay, although you must visit a bank branch to do so.
No co-signer, joint or secured loan options: Santander only offers unsecured personal loans for one applicant. This means you cannot add a co-borrower or co-signer to the loan, or secure it with collateral, like a house or car. These options, which other lenders offer, can help borrowers get approved or receive a lower rate or larger loan amount.
» MORE: Best secured personal loans
No option to choose your payment date: Borrowers can’t select their loan payment date before finalizing their Santander loan. You can change your payment date multiple times during the term to align loan payments with your payday or balance it with other monthly obligations.
No hardship program: Santander does not offer a hardship program for borrowers who become unemployed or face financial difficulty. Other online lenders have programs that allow borrowers to place their loan in forbearance, providing short-term relief from payments.
» MORE: Best personal loans
Do you qualify for a Santander personal loan?
Santander personal loans are an option for borrowers with good or excellent credit, with the average borrower having a credit score above 700. You must have a Santander account or offer code to apply online; otherwise, applicants need to visit a bank branch.
To apply for a Santander personal loan, you must:
Be 18 years or older.
Have a primary residence in a qualifying state.
Provide a valid Social Security number.
Here are the lender’s minimum requirements to qualify for a loan. (Meeting these requirements doesn’t guarantee approval.)
Minimum credit score: 700.
Minimum credit history: 12 months and 1 account.
Minimum annual income: None.
Maximum debt-to-income: 75%.
Here are details about Santander’s average borrower, according to the lender:
Average credit score: 730.
Average annual income: $100,000.
Average loan amount: $20,000.
Average debt-to-income ratio: 42%.
Average loan term: Five years.
Most common loan purpose: Debt consolidation.
Before you apply
Calculate your monthly payments. Use a personal loan calculator to determine what APR and repayment term you’d need to get a loan with affordable monthly payments.
Make a plan to repay the loan. Review your budget to see how the loan’s monthly payments impact your cash flow. If you have to cut other expenses in order to repay the loan, it’s better to know that before you borrow.
Gather your documents. Santander requires proof of income, which can be a W-2 or pay stubs, as well as proof of employment and a Social Security number. Having these documents handy can speed up the application process.
How to apply for a Santander personal loan
Here are the steps to apply for a Santander loan online. Borrowers without an existing or prior relationship with the bank will have to apply in person at a Santander branch.
Pre-qualify on Santander’s website. You’ll be asked if you are a current or prior Santander account holder. Non-account holders must enter a 10-digit offer code, while existing account holders will enter name, birthdate and ZIP code. Both types of applicants will need to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number. Next, the lender will ask for information about your income and employment before you can preview loan offers. There’s no hard credit pull at this stage.
Preview loan offers and accept the one that fits your budget. Once you accept a loan offer, you’ll submit a formal personal loan application. This could require more documents, like W-2s, pay stubs and employment details to confirm the information you gave during pre-qualification. Santander will also do a hard credit check when you apply, so your credit score could temporarily dip.
Stay on top of your loan payments. Santander reports payment to all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), so on-time payments will help build your credit score, but missed payments will hurt it. Setting up automatic payments and keeping an eye on your budget are two ways to manage your loan payments.
Compare Santander to other lenders
Personal loan lenders offer different rates, loan amounts and special features, so it pays to weigh other options. The best personal loan is usually the one with the lowest APR.
For borrowers with excellent credit, Discover and LightStream are online lenders that don’t require an existing relationship before applying.
Santander vs. Discover
Discover offers loans nationwide and fast approval and funding. Both Discover and Santander allow applicants to pre-qualify for a loan before submitting an application and are popular for debt consolidation. However, Santander can be a better option if you need a larger loan amount and you have an existing relationship with the bank.
» MORE: Read our review of Discover
Santander vs. LightStream
Like Santander, LightStream targets borrowers with good to excellent credit. Unlike Santander, borrowers cannot pre-qualify or choose direct payment to creditors with LightStream. However, LightStream offers a higher autopay discount to borrowers and no fees when compared to Santander.
» MORE: Read our review of LightStream
How we rate Santander personal loans
NerdWallet writers rate lenders against a rubric that changes each year based on how personal loan products evolve. Here’s what we prioritized this year:
- Category definitions
Affordability (30%) An affordable loan has low rates and fees compared to other similar loans and may offer rate discounts.
Underwriting and eligibility (25%) The lender reviews borrowers credit reports and credit history, and tries to understand their ability to repay a loan, before making a final application decision.
Loan flexibility (20%) A flexible loan is one that lets users customize terms and payments. That means offering a wide range of repayment term options, allowing the borrower to change their payment date, offering loans in most states and funding it quickly.
Customer experience (15%) A good customer experience can include a fully online application process, financial education on the lender’s website and a customer service team that’s available most of the time and can be reached multiple ways.
Transparency (10%) A transparent lender makes information about the loan easy to find on its website, including rates, terms and loan amounts. Transparency also means allowing users to pre-qualify online to preview potential loan offers and reporting payment information with the major credit bureaus.
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NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.
Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.