BBVA Bank Review: Good Mobile Banking, But Watch Out for Those Fees

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With control of more than $90 billion in assets, BBVA is not a Big Four bank, but it’s pretty big. 

That said, we found its offerings to be surprisingly mediocre for such a powerful financial institution.

Although a free checking account is available, there’s not really any incentive to bank with BBVA specifically — especially since it still carries a $25 minimum opening deposit. Its interest-bearing checking account carries a monthly service fee of a whopping $19 per month (and requires $4,000 in qualifying monthly direct deposits or average daily balance to waive), and only earns 0.05% APY — which is less than the average for such accounts, per the FDIC.

The savings accounts aren’t much better, earning the same low rate, and insufficient funds fees of $38 per transaction can be charged up to six times per calendar day. 

While its mobile banking options are well-rated and many customer service channels are available, these positives may not be enough to make up for the bank’s high fee structures.

BBVA Bank Review: The Pros and Cons

What we like:

  • A free checking account is available, though it still has a minimum opening deposit requirement.
  • The mobile banking apps are well-rated.

What we don’t like:

  • Lots of fees, and they’re high ones.
  • Lower-than-average interest rates on both savings and interest checking options.
  • Minimum opening deposits on all accounts.

Checking

Grade: C-

BBVA offers three main checking account options. While specifics may vary slightly depending on which state you live in, the basics are as follows:

Free Checking, which carries no monthly service fee and no ATM fees at U.S. BBVA ATMs.

Convenience Checking, which carries a $9 monthly service fee that is waivable with a qualifying $500 monthly direct deposit or by holding a $1,500 average daily collected balance. This account also carries a $3 paper statement fee (which can be avoided by moving to paperless statements only). You won’t be charged ATM fees at U.S. BBVA ATMs; and you’ll receive one automatic ATM fee rebate per month for out-of-network ATMs.

Premium Checking, which carries a $19 monthly service fee that is waivable with $4,000 in qualifying direct deposits per month or by holding a $4,000 average daily collected balance. Premium checking account holders get free standard checks and, again, are not charged ATM fees at U.S. BBVA ATMs. You’ll also receive two automatic ATM fee rebates per month for out-of-network ATMs — and the option to personalize your debit card.

The premium checking account does earn interest at a rate of 0.05% APY at all tiers, including $20,000+ at the time of this writing. This rate is the same you’ll earn with a BBVA savings account, and is lower than the national average for interest-earning savings accounts (0.07% APY) but is slightly higher than the average for interest-earning checking accounts (0.04%), according to the FDIC.

BBVA’s network of ATMs includes Allpoint and 7-Eleven locations, though certain 7-Elevens in Oklahoma, Hawaii and Alaska may charge third-party fees. 

All accounts carry a minimum opening deposit requirement of $25 and include free access to mobile and online banking as well as a Visa debit card with cash-back rewards. However, these rewards are offered on a per-deal basis, and you must activate the offer beforehand, meaning they don’t quickly stack up the way the rewards from cards with blanket cash-back percentages often do.

Savings

Grade: C-

BBVA also offers a couple of different savings account options, as well as money market accounts and CDs for longer-term financial goals.

The two main savings accounts available are as follows:

The BBVA Savings Account, which carries a $15 quarterly service charge, waivable with a minimum daily collected balance of $500 or more or by setting up a recurring monthly transfer of $25 or more from your BBVA checking account. The account also comes with a $3 paper statement fee per quarter, which can be avoided by opting for paperless statements.

The BBVA Online Savings Account, which doesn’t carry a service charge but which does also come with the paper statement fee.

Each comes with a $25 minimum opening deposit and carries an interest rate of only 0.05% APY, which many other banks eclipse even without charging monthly fees.You’ll also be subject to a $3 excess transaction fee if you make more than four withdrawals per statement.

It is possible to link your BBVA savings account — or money market account, or secondary checking account, or line of credit — to your primary checking account in order to cover overdrafts. However, you’ll be charged $12 per day each day the bank has to make such a transfer. (Without overdraft protection, BBVA’s insufficient funds fee is $38 per item, whether paid or returned, and they can charge the fee up to six times per calendar day.)

Small Business Banking 

Grade: B-

BBVA offers a full range of small business banking services, including checking and savings accounts as well as loans, credit cards and other merchant services. There is one checking account with no monthly service charge (BBVA Business Connect Checking), though it still carries BBVA’s ubiquitous $3 paper statement fee (and $5 for paper statements with check images).

The Business Connect Checking Account allows holders to process up to $5,000 in cash and make five check or in-branch withdrawals and two in-branch deposits per month. All other transactions are unlimited. Higher level business checking tiers allow more transactions, but come with monthly service fees of up to $25; all small business checking accounts require a minimum deposit of $100.

BBVA’s Business Savings account carries an easily waivable $5 monthly service charge and the same $100 minimum opening deposit. Rates aren’t published, though BBVA describes them as “competitive.”

Convenience

Grade: B

BBVA does have the advantage of offering digital banking options with the convenience of in-person branches. The bank has more than 600 brick-and-mortar locations, which are found in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • New Mexico
  • Texas

BBVA also offers customers a wide variety of contact lines for different customer service issues, including 24/7 telephone access to certain services and only a select few holiday closures. 

Mobile Banking

Grade: B+

Although BBVA’s actual banking products may be lackluster, their mobile management tools are well-rated. The BBVA app on Apple’s App Store boasts a 4.8-star rating, while Android users give it 4.2 stars on Google’s Play Store.

The apps include the basics most digital banking programs offer, like mobile deposit, account overviews and card management, as well as useful extras like a voice-activated search function and an intuitive “I want to…” menu.

Our Bank Review Methodology

The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features. 

To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you. 

For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.

Ratings are assigned across the following categories:

  • Personal checking accounts
  • Personal savings accounts
  • Small-business banking
  • Convenience
  • Mobile banking

Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.

Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.



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