[Update January 2021: Popular Direct lowered the APY on their online savings account by 0.05% to the current rate of 0.60% APY. CD rates remain unchanged from December.]
Popular Direct is the online division of Popular, Inc. – a global financial services provider headquartered in Puerto Rico.
Depending on where you live you may see variations of this name. For example, they operate as Banco Popular in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and as Popular Bank in the U.S.
In this article, however, we’ll just be discussing the online division, Popular Direct, and their FDIC-insured savings products.
Like most online-only banks, Popular Direct is open membership and easy to join from a computer or mobile device.
Popular Direct is able to provide better rates on its savings products than most traditional banks, but its product suite is minimal. They offer just an “Ultimate Savings” account and standard CDs at this time. Both of which come with steeper than usual minimum deposit requirements.
We’ve also learned that Popular Direct will place a 60 day hold on any withdrawals for new accounts. So if you planned on moving funds in or out of their high yield savings account within 60 days of opening it, you may want to look elsewhere. Popular Direct notes that this is a security measure and your funds will still accrue interest during the holding period.
Popular Direct “Ultimate Savings” account APY + Details
Popular Direct savings accounts are federally insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 and direct deposit products with this bank are opened through Popular Bank.
Popular Direct Ultimate Savings account
A Popular Direct Ultimate Savings account will earn you an APY of 0.65%. To put this in perspective the average yield for a savings account nationwide is hovering around 0.06% APY.
You’ll want to note all potential fees before opening a savings account with Popular Direct.
- If you close your account within 180 days of issuance, you’ll be charged a $25 fee.
- A monthly dormancy fee of $5 is applied to accounts that have been inactive for 12 months.
- A excessive withdrawal fee of $5 is charged for every deposit or transfer over the federally-enforced 6 transaction limit.
- A low balance fee of $4 is charged if account balances dip below $500.
Interest is compounded daily and credited monthly.
To transfer money into this account, you will need to link an external account with another bank. You can then initiate an ACH electronic transfer or set up direct deposit. From there, you may transfer funds electronically from a savings account to a certificate account as long as this doesn’t cause you to exceed the monthly transaction limit.
Popular Direct CD Rates + Account Details
Popular Direct certificate accounts are currently providing much lower yields than its variable rate savings account, however they still beat the national average(s) for their respective terms.
Popular Direct CD Rates
To give the annual percentage yields above some context, the national average for 1 year CDs and 5 year CDs sit at roughly 0.22% APY and 0.47% APY, respectively at the moment.
A steep minimum deposit requirement of $10,000 is required to open an account. Interest is compounded daily and credited monthly. Unfortunately with Popular Bank CDs, you may not withdraw credited interest prior to maturity.
The automatic renewal grace period on one of these accounts is 10 days after the date of maturity. Fees for early withdrawal from a Popular Direct certificate of deposit account are quite high.
Early Withdrawal Penalties
- from a term of less than 91 days will cost you 89 days’ interest,
- from a term of 91 days to 12 months will cost you 120 days’ interest,
- from a term of 12 to 36 months will cost you 270 days’ interest,
- from a term of 36 to 60 months will cost you 365 days’ interest, and
- from a term of 60 months or more will cost you 730 days’ interest.
Banking Experience and Customer Sentiment
There aren’t a lot of customer reviews for Popular Direct, but don’t expect too much from this institution based on the reviews that have been left. Out of 90 ratings on DepositAccounts, Popular Direct scored an average rating of 2 stars and 53 of the user reviews left were paltry 1-star ratings.
Most customer complaints seem to be about untrustworthy service with some users reporting deceitful representatives and broken contracts. Aside from that, the majority of customers are displeased with the dropping interest rates on Popular Direct deposit products and inexplicably frozen accounts. As for positive reviews, people like the competitive rates—especially those available a couple of years back.
Overall, people aren’t happy with Popular Direct’s web and mobile banking platforms either. The Popular Direct app has 2.1 stars on Google Play and 1.5 stars on the App Store. The online banking portal and apps have been described as “astonishingly terrible,” and “buggy.”
Other online-only banks that offer ATM or branch access to their customers have an edge over Popular Direct, as Popular Direct accounts can only be managed via online banking, mobile banking, and ACH authorizations through linked external bank accounts.
There is no Popular Direct ATM network in the U.S., but even if there were, members wouldn’t be able to use it. As of right now, Popular Direct doesn’t have a checking account in its product suite and might not any time soon. This means no debit or ATM cards.
To contact customer service and get the most appropriate service or answers, visit the Popular Direct website and find the link that most closely relates to your needs. The general customer care line is 1-(800)-274-5696 and representatives can be reached in this way 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also get help by selecting the “Contact Us” link via “Support” through the website and sending a service request or sending mail to the address below: Popular Bank Attn: Popular Direct Products P.O. Box 4884 Miami Lakes, FL 33014
You will not be able to get the help you need through Popular Bank or Banco Popular if you are an online-only user, so be mindful of this.
Popular Direct CD accounts are undesirable for a number of reasons, but a Popular Direct Ultimate Savings account might work for you. Just remember, this bank charges customers a high number of fees for various account services on top of requiring high minimum opening deposits.