Popular Direct Review: Grow Your Money Here

Popular Direct has products to grow your savings.

Popular Direct is a digital bank that offers savings and CD products at a high APY rate. It is the online banking arm of Popular Bank, the U.S. banking subsidiary of Puerto Rico-based Popular, Inc.

Popular Direct promises to keep things simple and transparent with two banking products focused on savings, and clear rates and fees. Learn more about the specifics of these products before investing your money with Popular Direct.

Who Is Popular Direct Best For?

Popular Direct is best for customers who want to grow their money through digital, high APY saving accounts. If you are looking to open a new bank account or change your financial institution, consider the pros and cons of banking with Popular Direct.

Pros and Cons of Banking With Popular Direct

Pros Cons
24/7 access to your account with Popular Direct’s mobile app and online banking platform You can only transfer funds to external accounts online — not on your mobile app.
FDIC-insured You can’t access e-statements on your mobile app.
The ability to transfer funds to and from external bank accounts You need a $5,000 minimum deposit to open a savings account.

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Who May Want To Skip Popular Direct?

Customers who enjoy in-person banking at physical branch locations should skip Popular Direct because of its focus on digital banking. While its APY rates are high compared with other banks, your banking habits might not align with a digital experience.

Get to know what Popular Direct is best and worst for to see whether you should open an account there or take your business to other financial institutions.

Who Is Popular Direct Best For and Worst For?
Best For Worst For
Those who prefer the online banking experience Customers who don’t have $5,000 available to make an initial savings account deposit
Earning high returns with daily compound interest Customers who are afraid of getting hit with monthly maintenance fees if they don’t keep their balances above $500

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Types of Accounts Available

Popular Direct has two types of accounts available to its customers: a savings account and a CD account. The company’s fees and features are comparable to other top banks.

Consider the account types, features, fees and rates before opening an account.

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Types of Available Popular Direct Accounts Available
Account Type Features Rates Fees Comparative Rates
Online Savings Account Popular Direct Ultimate Savings Account 1.90% APY
  • $4 monthly service fee if your daily account balance goes below $500
  • $25 early account closure fee if account is closed within first 180 days
  • $5 dormancy fee if the account has not seen any activity for a full year
Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account has an APY of 1.70% on all account balance tiers.
CD Popular Direct CDs, ranging from 3-month term to 5-year term
  • 2.15% APY on 5-year CD
  • 2.10% APY on 4-year CD
  • 2.05% APY on 3-year CD
  • 2.00% APY on 2-year CD
  • 1.90% on 18-month CD
  • 1.80% on 1-year CD
  • 1.75% APY on 6-month CD
  • 1.50% on 3-month CD

 

All account tiers need a minimum of $10,000 to open a CD. There are no fees. Discover Bank offers a 2.00% APY on a 12-month term CD and 2.05% on 24- and 30-month CDs.

Expand Your Banking: 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2019

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Online Savings Account

The Popular Direct Ultimate Savings account offers a high APY and compounds interest daily, making it competitive with some of the top savings accounts available. The Ultimate Savings account is ideal for customers who seek high interest rates and the ability to transfer money to other accounts.

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Features

  • FDIC-insured
  • Accessible via mobile app and online banking
  • Official bank checks are free

Pros

  • High APY rate
  • Access to the Product Selector Tool, which lets you find the banking product that can help you reach your financial goals

Cons

  • $5,000 minimum deposit to open account
  • $4 monthly service fee if your daily account balance dips below $500. Digital banks don’t typically charge a monthly service fee.

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CDs

Certificates of deposit, or CDs, are a good way to earn extra savings by growing your money with locked-in, high APY rates. You can choose your CD term and fixed interest rate when starting an account at Popular Direct.

Features

  • The CD automatically renews when the CD hits the end of its term or maturity.
  • Available CD terms are 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years and 5 years.
  • 10-day grace period after your CD matures to decide if you want to renew it

Pros

  • FDIC-insured deposits
  • Daily compounded interest

Cons

  • $10,000 minimum balance

Invest Wisely: Best CD Rates and Accounts of 2020

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How To Bank With Popular Direct

Banking with Popular Direct is simple and accessible with the following options:

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  1. The mobile app
  2. Online banking

Technology

You can use either Popular Direct’s online banking platform or its mobile app. Both give you 24/7 access to your funds from anywhere in the world. The mobile app lets you access your funds, transfer money within Popular Direct accounts and deposit money remotely. With online banking, you can set accounts, get e-statements, transfer funds with external accounts and check your account balances. However, you can’t make remote deposits with online banking.

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Fees

Popular Direct’s savings account has multiple fees you should be aware of before opening an account. The CD products do not have monthly service fees, but there are penalties for early withdrawal. The following fees are for the savings account:

  • $4 monthly service fee
    • You can waive this fee if you keep a daily account balance above $500.
  • $25 early account closure fee
    • This applies if you close your account within 180 days of opening it.
  • $5 dormancy fee
    • This fee only occurs if your account is inactive for 12 months. You can avoid this fee by making a small deposit each year, even if it’s only $1.
  • $5 excessive withdrawal fee
    • This is imposed for each additional transfer or withdrawal above the legal limit of six per statement cycle.
  • $10 overdraft fee
    • You can waive this fee by not overdrafting above $5; there is no fee if you overdraft less than $5.

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Availability of Funds

The availability of funds depends on how you deposit money into your account, when you deposit it and how much you deposit. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Immediate, same business-day availability when you make an electronic direct deposit into your account.
  • Next-day availability of receiving deposit for the following:
    • U.S. Treasury checks that are made out to you
    • Checks drawn on Popular Bank, such as a cashier’s check
    • The first $200 of your check deposit
  •  Multiple-day holds for the following:
    • Checks that Popular Direct suspects might not be paid
    • Checks that are above $5,000 on any single day
    • A check that has been redeposited after it had been returned unpaid

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Popular Direct Breakdown

Popular Direct is a good option if you like modern, digital banking and find yourself doing a lot of banking on your computer or phone. But because CDs and savings accounts don’t usually require that much activity, you might not need to check these accounts very often.

Before opening an account with Popular Direct, take a look at its benefits and drawbacks.

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Drawbacks and Benefits of  Popular Direct
Benefits Drawbacks
Readily accessible digital banking Some digital banks offered higher APYs and interest rates as of December 2019.
Popular Direct has 24/7 online customer service available. Monthly savings account fees unless you meet certain requirements

Popular Direct is an ideal bank for anyone looking to grow their money with a modern banking experience, similar to that of Capital One or Chime Bank. If you want a more traditional bank, consider a larger one like Chase Bank, which has branches across the U.S.

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Rates and fees are accurate as of Dec. 18, 2019, and are subject to change. This content is not provided by Popular Direct. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by Popular Direct.

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About the Author

Jared Nigro

Jared Nigro is a writer based in Los Angeles. His experience includes covering a range of personal finance topics for GOBankingRates, specializing in offering actionable advice for banking customers. In addition to writing about personal finance, he has written for environmental and socioeconomic organizations like The Daniel & Susan Gottlieb Foundation and InsideOUT Writers.

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