What we like:
No origination fees
|Rates (APR)||As low as 6.99%|
|Loan Terms||2 – 5 years|
|Loan Amounts||$5,000 – $35,000|
|Fees||Origination fee: None|
Prepayment penalty: None
Annual fee: $0
As alternative online personal loan lenders have come to dominate the personal lending space in recent years, those who prefer a more traditional brick-and-mortar experience may find that Santander personal loans can meet their needs.
Santander is a full-service bank offering a range of retail services, including checking, savings, mortgages, wealth management, insurance products, and credit cards. It also offers unsecured personal loans with some of the more competitive rates and flexible terms available among big banks.
Founded in 1902, Boston-based Santander is a wholly owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Santander Group, a global financial institution with a heavy presence in Europe and Latin America. Santander’s footprint in the United States is limited to around 700 bank branches in the Northeast states and Washington, D.C. Although consumers can apply online for a Santander personal loan, they must visit a physical branch to sign for it.
In this review:
- Applying for a Santander Personal Loan
- Santander Loan Rates, Terms, Fees, and Limits
- Santander Personal Loan Benefits
- Santander Personal Loan Downsides
Applying for a Santander Personal Loan
Like most unsecured personal loans, a Santander loan can be used for any purpose, such as credit card debt consolidation, emergencies, home improvement, or funding a business.
To apply, you can visit the Santander website for an online application. Expect to be asked the standard questions you would see on any loan application, including information about your income, current debt, and employment, as well as providing your Social Security number. Its underwriting department will also pull a hard credit inquiry, which could put a temporary ding on your credit report.
According to Santander’s website, only the most creditworthy borrowers will qualify for Santander personal loans, which implies its lowest rates are reserved for borrowers with impeccable credit. It also implies that those with less than excellent credit need not apply. If you have bad credit and need a personal loan, you can check out our guide to bad credit loans.
Santander takes a broader approach to assessing creditworthiness. In addition to your credit score, Santander considers other factors such as your debt-to-income ratio. Based on the language on its website, it would seem that you would need a minimum 680 credit score to qualify.
Terms and Eligibility
Unlike online lenders, which often allow you to check your projected interest rate before you even complete the application process, Santander requires you to first complete a full loan application, after which you’ll be notified of your approval status and what terms and rates you qualify for.
In addition, because you must visit a branch in person to complete your final loan paperwork, Santander Bank personal loans are only available to residents of the following states:
- New Hampshire
- District of Columbia
- Rhode Island
- New York
- New Jersey
Once you’ve been approved, loan funds are disbursed up to a week later, which is longer than many online lenders but still shorter than some large brick-and-mortar banks.
Santander Loan Rates, Terms, Fees, and Limits
The most creditworthy borrowers can usually benefit from Santander’s best rates, which currently carry an annual percentage rate as low as 6.99% APR. The actual APR you’re assigned is based on the size of the loan and the loan term. Borrowers can obtain a discount by opting into automatic payments.
A typical loan of $5,000 to a borrower with excellent credit and automatic payments from a Santander Bank checking account will incur a monthly payment of slightly less than $100 over a 60-month term. You can also choose a repayment period as short as 24 months; loan amounts for an unsecured personal loan range from $5,000 to $35,000.
Many lenders have origination fees, which are a percentage of the loan charged at the time of disbursement and deducted from the overall loan proceeds. Santander, however, charges no such fees.
Santander Benefits and Downsides
- Competitive rates: They’re as low as you can find on a personal loan, if you can get them. It would be interesting to know what percentage of applicants actually receive the 6.99% APR. But, even if you can only qualify for Santander’s mid-range APRs, that’s better than you might receive from some bank competitors.
- Physical locations: Definitely a plus for people who still like to talk to a live human in person.
- Flexible loan terms: With terms from 24 months, you can structure a loan that best fits your needs.
- No fees: When it comes to origination and prepayment fees, Santander is now in line with the industry.
- Strict credit requirements: If your credit score is much below 700, you may be wasting a hard credit pull for nothing. If you don’t fit this range, check out our picks for the best personal loans to see lenders catering to all credit ranges.
- Limited availability: To obtain a personal loan from Santander Bank, you will need to live in one of 11 states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and Washington, D.C.
- Checking account required: Based on the somewhat limited details available on its website, it appears borrowers will need to set up a Santander checking account to opt into automatic payments.
All of this combines to offer a solid option for customers with more traditional ideas of what a bank should be. When it comes to interest rates and payment flexibility, Santander is hard to beat among some online lenders.
However, even with the benefits above, Santander’s customer service ratings leave much to be desired. In fact, Trustpilot gives the bank a one-star rating, with 88% of the total reviews by current and former customers rating Santander’s service as “bad,” with some even using phrases like “truly awful” to describe their experiences.
Some of the reviews outlined multiple instances of condescending or even rude representatives, changes to loans, long hold times, and other issues. Santander’s telemarketing practices have also resulted in customers complaining about repeated calls and texts per day.
While Santander Bank does offer some very competitive rates on its personal loans, one has to wonder how many people who need personal loans can actually qualify for its best rates. As far as big banks go, Santander falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum as far as rates, terms, and fees. If you live in the Northeast and need another personal loan, Santander could be a good choice for you.
A Santander Bank personal loan might also be a good fit for someone who already has a checking account with the bank and is familiar with its online banking and service. If, however, you’re not already a customer — and top-notch customer service is also important to you — Santander may not be your best choice.