Popular Direct Bank Review

Is Popular Direct a good bank?

Couple banking online
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Popular Direct is an online-only, FDIC-insured bank and a subsidiary of Popular Bank. While Popular Bank has been around for over 120 years and offers checking accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, and more, Popular Direct offers just two accounts: savings and CDs. This in-depth review can help you decide if Popular Direct is the best place to keep your money. 

What We Like
  • Competitive APY on savings

  • Open an account online in minutes

What We Don't Like
  • Higher minimum balance requirement to start saving

  • Monthly maintenance fee on balances under $500

  • No ATM or physical branch access for savers

Who Is Popular Direct Best For?

Popular Direct may be a good fit for established savers who have more money to fund a savings or CD account and are comfortable opening an account with an online bank.

Overall, it may be best suited for people who:

  • Are looking for competitive interest rates on savings accounts
  • Have at least $5,000 to open a savings account or $10,000 to open a CD
  • Don't mind not having ATM or branch access to their money 

What Does Popular Direct Offer?

Like many online banks, Popular Direct offers a narrow range of banking products and services.

You're out of luck if you're interested in opening a checking account or getting a loan or credit card. But here's a look at the accounts you can open with Popular Direct:

Accounts

  • Savings account
  • Certificates of deposit

Services

  • Mobile and online banking
  • 24/7 customer service phone line

Popular Direct Ultimate Savings Account

The Popular Direct Ultimate Savings Account is a high-yield savings account that could help you grow your money quickly, thanks to its annual percentage yield.

Key account features include: 

  • 0.75% APY, as of July 28, 2020 
  • 24/7 online and mobile banking 
  • Linking to external banks for easy deposits and withdrawals
  • Mobile check deposit


The savings account’s 0.75% APY is among some of the best in the industry and doesn’t require huge deposits or balances. Several banks with higher APYs only give you the best APY if you make deposits and/or have much higher balances than what Popular Direct requires.

There are, however, a few things to keep in mind about this account.

You'll need at least $5,000 to open a Popular Direct Ultimate Savings Account. That means it’s not the best choice if:

  • You want to start a savings account with small deposits 
  • You don't want to tie up a large chunk of your cash in a single bank account 

Besides that, Popular Direct charges a number of fees that could detract from the interest you're earning on savings. The main fees to be aware of include: 

  • Conditional monthly maintenance fee: $4 per month if your balance falls below $500
  • Early account closing fee: $25 if closed within 180 days of opening
  • Dormancy fee: $5 per month after no account activity for 12 months
  • Overdraft and returned item fee: $10 each

It's a little unusual to see a monthly service fee with a savings account from a direct bank. Many online banks offer online savings accounts without charging monthly maintenance fees.

This fee applies when your balance falls below $500 on any day of your statement period. In other words, you can avoid it by maintaining a $500 average minimum daily balance.

That might not be difficult if you deposit the $5,000 minimum and then add money consistently. But, if you need to withdraw a large chunk of your savings, it's important to be aware of the fee.

Federal regulations limit you to six withdrawal transactions from a savings account per month. If you go over that limit, Popular Direct can charge you a $5 fee for each excess transaction. 

Popular Direct CDs

Opening a certificate of deposit account is one way to save for short- and long-term goals. Popular Direct offers CDs with terms ranging from three months to five years.

You'll need a minimum of $10,000 to open a CD with Popular Direct. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the CD term, the better your APY. Here are the rates you can earn for Popular Direct CDs as of July 28, 2020.

CD Account Offers
Term APY
3 Months 0.20%
6 Months 0.25%
1 Year 0.30%
18 Months 0.40%
2 Years 0.50%
3 Years 0.60%
4 Years 0.75%
5 Years 1.00%

While there are no monthly maintenance fees associated with Popular Direct CDs, you could be penalized for withdrawing money from your account before it matures. Popular Direct charges between 89 and 730 days of simple interest if you withdraw money from the account before the CD matures. The penalty is based on your CD term.

If you'd like to try a CD ladder, you could open multiple CDs with varying maturity terms and rates. With a CD ladder, you can take advantage of higher interest rates while having the option to renew or withdraw CDs once they mature.

Popular Direct Bank Customer Service

Popular Direct gives you both online and mobile banking access to your money. However, there are no ATM or physical branch locations for you to visit.

If you need help with your account or have questions, you can contact customer service 24 hours per day, seven days per week by phone at 800-274-5696. You can log into your account and send an online message, too. 

How to Bank With Popular Direct 

You can open an account with Popular Direct in just a few minutes via its website. Remember, you'll need to provide certain personal information (Social Security number, driver’s license, address) when opening an account. 

The Bottom Line

BENEFITS

A Popular Direct savings account could be a good option for super savers who want to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to earning interest. The bank offers a competitive rate on its high-yield savings account and mobile banking makes it easy to keep track of your savings, too.

DRAWBACKS

Popular Direct requires high account minimums to open a savings account or CD. And if your savings account average daily balance dips below $500, you’ll incur a fee. Coming up with $5,000 or $10,000 to save may be challenging if you're brand new to saving, or you're working on finding the money in your budget to save regularly. The average APYs for CDs are also not great. If you have the money, there are likely better CD rates.

Article Sources

  1. Popular Direct. "Savings Account." Accessed April 3, 2020.

  2. Popular Direct. "Popular Direct Product Guide for Popular Direct Ultimate Savings." Accessed April 3, 2020.

  3. Popular Direct. "Certificate of Deposits." Accessed April 3, 2020.

  4. Popular Direct. "Popular Bank Product guide for Popular Direct Certificates of Deposit." Accessed April 3, 2020.