BBVA Review: No-Frills Checking, Savings, and CDs

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Picking a bank is never easy.

You want to find somewhere that makes accessing your account information easy, allows you to withdraw or transfer funds when you need to, and somewhere you feel comfortable your money is secure. Good interest rates, a large selection of products, and low fees are also important. And if you travel often or live far from a branch, you want to make sure you have online access to your accounts.

There’s a lot to think about. 

If you’re looking for a full-service bank, you might come across BBVA Bank during your research. But is this the right bank for you? 

Let’s take a look. 

What is BBVA?

BBVA Bank is an FDIC-insured regional bank that operates more than 600 branches across seven states. The majority of the bank’s locations are in Texas, but it also operates in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and New Mexico. Since it’s such a small bank, it’s easy to get in touch with a customer service representative if you need help. 

If you’re looking for simple, easy-to-open accounts and you live in their service region, BBVA is a solid choice. However, if you’d prefer to optimize your accounts and earn the highest interest rates possible (with the lowest fees), there are better alternatives.

 

BBVA Banking Options

If you want to switch to banking with BBVA, there are several options for what to do with your money. 

Checking accounts

If you live in their primary service area, BBVA offers three main checking accounts for customers to choose from. All accounts require a $25 minimum opening deposit, offer both online and mobile banking options, and come with a Visa debit card with cash-back rewards.

  • Online checking. This is their online-only option and works best for those who don’t live near a BBVA branch. There is no monthly service charge and no ATM fees if you use an in-network ATM for withdrawals. There is a $3 monthly fee for paper statements, but you can opt for e-statements and have the fee waived. 
  • Free checking. This account has the same features as the Online checking account but comes with other features like customizable alerts, free unlimited check writing, and a bill pay option. For an additional monthly fee, you can add a safe deposit box, unlimited cashier’s checks, and a rebate for up to four transactions at out-of-network ATMs.  
  • Premium checking. This is their interest-earning account, but the rate is quite low (currently 0.05%). However, it could be a good choice if you want to earn a little extra money on your account balance. This account also offers a rebate of two out-of-network ATM fees, free personalized debit card, and all the features of both the Online and Free checking options. There is a $19 maintenance fee, but that can be waived by meeting certain conditions ($4,000 in monthly direct deposits or a $4,000 average daily balance across all BBVA accounts). 

BBVA is currently running a special offer that allows you to earn a $200 bonus by opening an online checking account before August 21, 2020 and receiving a qualifying direct deposit of at least $500 by October 31, 2020. 

Related: Best Checking Accounts with High Interest Rates and Low Fees

Savings accounts

BBVA Savings Account Screenshot
Source: BBVA Bank

If you’re looking for a savings account, BBVA has two options: the BBVA Savings Account and the BBVA Online Savings Account. Like their checking accounts, you’ll need a $25 minimum opening deposit.

Both accounts earn interest, although the rate is low at 0.05% APY, and give you access to their mobile banking app. You will also get four free withdrawals per statement cycle and pay no ATM fees if you need to take out cash. You can link your checking account to your savings accounts for overdraft protection, but it will cost you $12 ($7 in California) each day you need to transfer money from savings to your checking account. 

The Online Savings Account has no quarterly service charge while the standard Savings Account comes with a $15 quarterly fee. You can bypass this fee by setting up a recurring $25 monthly transfer from your BBVA checking account to your savings or maintaining a $500 or more daily balance in your savings account.

There is also a $3 quarterly paper statement fee, but you can waive that by opting into electronic statements. 

Related: Best Online Savings Accounts with the Highest Interest Rates

Certificates of Deposit

If you prefer to save money using CDs, BBVA does offer that option. 

For a $500 opening deposit, you can choose an 11- 12-, 18-, or 36-months CD. The interest rates are competitive, and all of BBVA’s CDs are fee-free and eligible for up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance. You can also monitor the status of your CD at any time, thanks to their mobile banking options. 

Related: What is a Certificate of Deposit and When Should You Use One?

Other ways to save with BBVA

BBVA also provides other ways to save money and plan for retirement: 

  • Money market accounts. With a $25 opening deposit, you can get a promotional interest rate of 0.40% for three months. After that, the rate varies based on your account balance (their website is unclear what those rates are). You will get six free withdrawals per month and you can link your BBVA checking account for overdraft protection. However, there is a $15 monthly service charge on BBVA money market accounts.  
  • IRAs. You can open a traditional, Roth, Coverdell Education Savings Account, or rollover IRA with BBVA. Each account comes with its own criteria for contributions and withdrawals.
  • Build My Savings account. This is their interest-bearing savings account that rewards account holders with a match bonus (up to 1% of the total transfer amount) when they complete their six or twelve-month savings plan. 

Before signing up for these products, make sure to research some competitors as BBVA consistently offers lower rates. 

Digital Banking

BBVA offers several digital banking options for their customers: 

  • ATM-only. Customers conduct all of their transactions from depositing paychecks, transferring money across accounts, obtaining a paper statement, and withdrawing cash via a BBVA ATM. They state that their ATMs are available for both English and Spanish speakers, as well as have accommodations for the visually impaired. 
  • Online banking. Rather than using an ATM, you can conduct all of your financial transactions via their website. This includes paying bills, setting up account alerts, and using their financial tools for things like budgeting, tracking your spending, and meeting savings goals.
  • Mobile banking. With mobile banking, you’ll manage your accounts through their award-winning app you can put on your smartphone or tablet. You can deposit checks, send or transfer money, and download PDF statements for all your BBVA accounts. 

If you live out of their service area but would like to bank with BBVA, you can take advantage of these options as well. 

Related: Online Banking Pros and Cons: Here’s What You Need to Know

Other BBVA Banking Features

BBVA Clear Benefits Program Screenshot
Source: BBVA Bank

In addition to checking and savings accounts, BBVA offers a large suite of products for its customers including credit cards, mortgages, auto, personal, and home loans, and a host of money management and educational tools via their Money Fit program.

There’s also the ClearBenefits Program which costs $4 per month and offers cell phone insurance, identity theft restoration, and roadside assistance. BBVA also offers commercial, corporate, small business, and wealth management banking services. 

Specialty accounts

One thing that sets BBVA apart is their specialty accounts. There are a number of different accounts that offer discounted or extra features for professionals like physicians, CPAs, attorneys, students, first responders and healthcare professionals, and customers with multiple BBVA accounts.

They also have second-chance banking accounts for those recovering from financial mistakes and aiming to rebuild their credit, as well as opportunity accounts for those starting over, who are on their own for the first time, or are new to the U.S.

Fees

Unfortunately, many of BBVA’s accounts come with significant fees. Although many can be waived under specific conditions, you need to pay extra for account add-ons and account maintenance, and the overdraft fees are quite steep. In fact, BBVA’s are higher than average — $38 ($32 in California), with a maximum of six fees assessed each day. 

This means if you overdraw your account, you can pay as much as $228 in a single day.  Other online banks have fewer and less expensive fees and may be a better choice if you’re worried about over drafting your account.

BBVA Review Summary

BBVA Bank can be a good option for those who live in their limited service area or who want to bank exclusively online. They offer a large suite of financial products and accounts and cater to all populations, including those who might need a little help rebuilding their financial life.

However, although there are ways to waive them, their fees are quite steep and you might find yourself nickel and dimed if you want to add extra features to your accounts. Additionally, their interest rates are often lower than their competitors.

If you’re looking for a full-service bank, BBVA is a solid choice. But if you’re looking for a bank that provides low fees, high interest rates, and has branches in your area, you might want to consider a different option. 

0.5% APY Accurate as of August 2020
$25 Min. Opening Deposit For checking and savings
DollarSprout Rating

BBVA Bank is a U.S.-based regional bank offering a full suite of financial products. Known for their excellent customer service and award-winning mobile apps, it's a good choice for someone looking a bank for checking, savings, and retirement accounts.

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Pros

  • Easy-to-open accounts
  • Wide array of banking options
  • Excellent customer service
  • Multiple digital banking options

Cons

  • Low interest rates
  • Steep fees
  • Limited service area

Author
Jana Lynch

A tireless advocate for financial abuse survivors, Jana spent over a decade working in the social services sector after obtaining her Master's in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware. Since making the switch to freelance writing and editing Jana has worked with a number of high-profile websites including The Penny Hoarder, ChooseFI, Frugal Rules, The Dollar Stretcher, and more. She also works closely with The Plutus Foundation, where she served as the Director of Grants and Programs for four years.

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