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Santander Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CDs

Aug. 30, 2018
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, CDs, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
Santander Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CDs
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Santander Bank

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5.0

Santander Bank, National Association

at Santander Bank, National Association,

Member, FDIC

Santander Bank covers eight 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.
  • High rates available on certificates of deposit.

» 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

4.5 / 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 Sept. 30. (See the full details.)

Most monthly fees low or easy to avoid: The Simply Right Checking waives the $10 fee if you make one transaction each month, whether that’s a deposit, withdrawal, transfer or payment. There’s no minimum balance requirement, but you need $25 to open the account. The Basic Checking account 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 over 2,000 ATMs, including at CVS Pharmacy locations.

DOWNSIDES

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 4% of the withdrawal amount at an international ATM when using a debit card. 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 measly annual percentage yield of 0.01%, 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

3.0 / 5.0

UPSIDES

High promo rate 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 after that, it drops to 1.35% or just above that depending on the balance. The high rate is only for balances at or above $10,000; otherwise, the rate is 0.30% for six months and 0.25% after that.

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.

DOWNSIDE

Low rate on the regular savings account: The APY on all balances is only 0.03%, half the 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

4.0 / 5.0

UPSIDES

Excellent rates on some terms: The best you can get with Santander CD rates is 2.50% APY for a 5-year CD. The 1-year and 3-year terms earn 2.10% APY and 2.40% APY, respectively. But you can find several even higher rates elsewhere. (Compare Santander’s CDs with other banks’ rates.)

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

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

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, excluding Dec. 25. 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 4.0 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.

Overdraft fees

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. 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.

Next steps

Santander Bank, National Association

at Santander Bank, National Association,

Member, FDIC

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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