Popular Direct Unveils Ultimate Savings Account, 2.55% APY


Deal Summary: Ultimate Savings, 2.55% APY on all balances, $5k minimum opening deposit

Availability: Nationwide (internet bank)

As DA reader, IvoryMale, noted in a Forum post yesterday, Popular Direct has unveiled yet another savings account, the Ultimate Savings Account, which currently earns 2.55% APY. The minimum opening deposit is $5k, although the minimum balance to earn the stated APY is only $0.01.

Popular Direct has a history of creating a new savings account with a higher rate to attract new customers and/or new money, leaving the owners of the phased-out accounts stuck with a lower rate. The Ultimate Savings Account is the fifth savings account Popular Direct has introduced in the last three years. In May 2018, Popular Direct discontinued its Exclusive Savings Account, only five months after being introduced. Its replacement was the Plus Savings Account, the very account the Exclusive Savings Account displaced in January 2018. (I know – it’s hard to keep the players straight.) The Plus Savings Account (2.36% APY) was available until the Ultimate Savings Account made its debut this week.

Opening an Ultimate Savings Account

Getting the “true” facts about opening a new account is always challenging. I spoke to several different CSRs over the past two days and received some conflicting information, but every CSR stated that new money is NOT required to open an Ultimate Savings Account (USA) and funds from an existing Plus Savings Account (PSA) can be used. I was told that the way to transfer PSA funds is to “fast track” those funds. The USA online application asks if you have funds in an existing Popular Direct account. If you reply “yes”, the next step is to provide the PSA account number and the dollar amount in the account as of the last statement. You may “fast track” the PSA funds into the new USA, but a minimum of $500 must be left in the PSA. After the USA is established, you can then close the PSA and transfer the remaining $500 to the USA.

Ultimate Savings Account Facts

The Ultimate Savings Account Disclosure provides important information about fees and policies. FYI – even though the name of the savings account has changed, the information stated in the Account Disclosure has not changed since I cited it in a February 2018 blog post.

  • Minimum opening deposit is $5k
  • $4 monthly service fee if the balance on any day is below $500.
  • $25 early closing fee if account is closed within 180 days of opening.
  • $5 monthly dormancy fee if there has been no activity for 12 months.
  • Withdrawals only allowed via an external account, internal transfer to another Popular Direct account, or ACH.
  • $5 fee for each additional debit exceeding the limit of six per statement cycle.
  • Deposits only allowed via an external account, internal transfers to another Popular Direct account, ACH, or Popular Direct mobile app.

There’s one fact that seems to contradict the information I received about opening a new Ultimate Savings Account. The “Transaction Limitations on the Account” section states,

As part of the account opening process, you must make a deposit into your Popular Direct account from an External Account.

Taken at face value, it would seem to imply that only new money can be used. CSR explained it this way: the establishment of a validated external account is the intent of that statement, not the origin of funds being used. If you already have an account with Popular Direct, you have a validated external account in place. If you are new to Popular Direct, a required part of the application process is establishing a link to an external account.

Last year, Popular Direct announced a new policy that prevented new customers from accessing money in their accounts for 60 days, effectively freezing accounts for two months. There has been a slight improvement made in this unpopular policy. If you hover your mouse on the “Apply Now” button, a pop-up window displays the following:

Effective January 2, 2019, Automated Clearing House (ACH) debits that originate from external financial institutions, other than from the deposit account that you have successfully validated through the “External Transfers” function in Popular Direct Online Banking (the “External Account”), will not be permitted during the first 70 calendar days after opening your Popular Direct Ultimate Savings Account. During such 70-day period you will only be permitted to complete online transfers from the External Account or from your other Popular Bank accounts.

While the account freeze has been lifted, you can only withdraw funds using ACH to the validated external account. As DA reader, SYC, noted in a Forum post today, “the External Account” means one account.

Beware: Only one external bank account is allowed to be linked to your Popular Savings account.

Many thanks to IvoryMale and SYC for their helpful Forum posts.


An online division of the New York-based Banco Popular North American (BPNA), Popular Direct’s website states,

All Popular Direct deposit products are offered by, and will be opened through, Banco Popular North America (BPNA). BPNA is a Member FDIC institution and a New York state chartered bank.

Opening any type of account with Popular Direct, including the Ultimate Savings Account, must be done online.

Bank Overview

Popular Direct/BPNA has an overall health grade of "A+" at DepositAccounts.com, with a Texas Ratio of 5.74% (excellent) based on March 31, 2019 data. In the past year, the Bank has increased its total non-brokered deposits by $584.9 million, an excellent annual growth rate of 9.42%. Please refer to our financial overview of Popular Direct/BPNA (FDIC Certificate # 34967) for more details.

BPNA is currently the 11th largest bank headquartered in New York, with assets in excess of $9.5 billion and more than 208,000 customer accounts.

In June 2017, The New York Times published an article about Santander’s takeover of the failed Spanish bank, Banco Popular. The similarity in names caused some concern for a few DA readers about BPNA. To quote myself from a Forum post,

Popular Direct is a division of Banco Popular North America, which is a subsidiary of the Puerto Rico-based bank holding company, Popular, Inc. I can find no connections between Popular, Inc. and the Spanish Banco Popular.

How the Ultimate Savings Account Compares

When compared to 218 Personal Savings accounts tracked by DepositAccounts.com that are available nationwide, Popular Direct’s Utlimate Savings APY currently ranks second.

The above rates are accurate as of 7/31/2019.

To look for the best Savings account rates, both nationwide and state specific, please refer to our Savings Account Rates Table page.

Related Pages: savings accounts, nationwide deals, Internet banks

  |     |   Comment #1
Thanks for the review. Seems to me there are a lot of pitfalls or gotchas.
Michael RJM
  |     |   Comment #2
Some of these accounts do have odd requirements, but I do think we should reward FI's which are raising rates. Together, we can pressure companies to do the right thing. Every basis point matters. Together, forward.
  |     |   Comment #17
I just created a new "Popular Direct Ultimate Savings" account. Very easy when you use an existing savings account number and its last statement balance. Then all you need is first and last name and email and security information (secret word,hint,name) from that account. Just choose "Transfer from another Popular Bank Account" when asked for the "Source of initial deposit". Then when you are asked "How do you want to fund your new account?" you can choose to transfer money (at least 5000) from that account. On completion it will say:

Popular Direct Ultimate Savings
Account number: ##########
Interest Rate: 2.519%
APY: 2.55%
Deposit amount: $...

We will immediately transfer money from your existing account *### to make a deposit into your new account.

You can finish up and login to check that the account is there and set document delivery to Online. The default is Paper. Under "Account Activity" it shows that the amount funded is the balance and all of it as available. You will also get an email confirmation. Real simple.
  |     |   Comment #3
Anyone considering this might want to read the old threads re. this bank. Serious problems. A rate guarantee might have made the problems fade - but there is no rate guarantee.
  |     |   Comment #4
One strategy I use is to put a dollar value on what it costs to avoid gimmicks, gotchas, and other assorted crap.

For example, Marcus isn't a golden child by any stretch but they currently have a 2.35% APY No Penalty CD w/ minimum $500 deposit (1/10 of the opening here and the same as the amount to avoid the monthly fee).

$10,000 will generate $20+/year or ~$1.66/month at Popular over Marcus* so I ask myself if I would "pay" $2/month to avoid this crap. YMMV as the principal greatly determines what threshold you should be comparing it to as if you're bucking up against the FDIC limit, $250,000 (25x more) will generate $500+/year or ~$41.66/month. At some point you need to place a value on your time, your understanding of the rules, and any extra work you need to do to make these restricted accounts work out for you. This is why the bite of rate drops or a previously leading great bank like Ally dropping to the middle of pack sucks so much for savers. You end up losing money, and time, … and sanity.

*The numbers are very close but not exact. Yearly interest can be calculated very easily assuming no additional deposits via `amount * APY`. Divide that by 12 to get a reasonable approximation of monthly interest.
  |     |   Comment #5
Yah but what about someone with $250k. That's about $50 more in interest per month, just for taking 5 minutes and fill out an application.
  |     |   Comment #6
@Tazz I think I covered that.
YMMV as the principal greatly determines what threshold you should be comparing it to as if you're bucking up against the FDIC limit, $250,000 (25x more) will generate $500+/year or ~$41.66/month.
You're not wrong that it almost is easy money considering it doesn't take long to fill out an application but all the hidden additional costs need to be illuminated as there are plenty of opportunities for the bank to reduce your earnings. You need to work or plan around all of them in order to achieve that additional money which takes non-zero time and effort.

We can make up contrived examples all day like the rate plummeting the day after you open the account and how many days of lost interest you'd have if you must transfer it back to the originating bank (due to their unnecessarily limited ACH system) and then wait again for it to clear before being able to put it in a more optimal location. There's the additional $25 closing fee if you want to do this within 6 months of opening or you must leave $500 in there to avoid a monthly service fee. I'm also sure there isn't a single useful reminder of that in their online banking software or anything that mentions the completely bull**** dormancy fee.

My point is that I've started to evaluate banks on more than just basis points. It depends greatly on how much money you have available to move and how much work/planning you're willing to do, but I've gotten to the point where it's not worth it for me to deal with a bank that
has a history of creating a new savings account with a higher rate to attract new customers and/or new money, leaving the owners of the phased-out accounts stuck with a lower rate.
I've played that stupid game with the criminals at UFB / BofI and won stupid prizes.
  |     |   Comment #18
#11 Marcus has the 1% bonus up to $50,000 deposit payable after 90 days. That would add $500 to your CD. I believe it is available for CDs
  |     |   Comment #19
The Marcus 1% bonus ends tomorrow.
  |     |   Comment #21
Enrollment ended 7/29. We get 10 more business days to fund the account.
  |     |   Comment #23
#21 Mixed up with my funding due date which is 8/2.
  |     |   Comment #26
Plus, it wasn't available for Marcus CDs anyway. Just for the Marcus Online Savings Account.
  |     |   Comment #42
youre math is a bit off!
250k earns over $400 a month, they pay monthly and all you need is a mininum of $500 for up to 6 months to avoid $25 Penalty.
  |     |   Comment #7
Once you destroy your reputation with account games and CSRs who regularly give you inaccurate and ambiguous information it's very hard to get it back.

It makes it look like they rely on uninformed investors, the opposite of what this website represents.
  |     |   Comment #8
If I want to play games I'll load up Steam.
  |     |   Comment #9
bankingar, It appears you incorrectly interpreted my comment as being about you.

In fact my comment was about Popular Direct.
  |     |   Comment #11
Sorry, that's on me. I was unclear while trying to be clever. I was saying that if I felt like playing games I'd play video games instead of dealing with banks that have reputations of playing around with my money.
  |     |   Comment #12
Agreed. Where is that thumbs-up motie? :)
  |     |   Comment #13
Frankly I don't mind so much when the FI "plays games."

After all, we play games with them too. That's all part of a fair relationship to maximize your profit on both sides.

What I find unacceptable though is to obfuscate the rules of the game so that you can't even know what they are. Or worse, give misleading information about the rules.

FIs that consistently do this, should be avoided. I'm sure there's enough uninformed investors out there to keep them in business though since this isn't the only FI that does these same kinds of things. I could name several others but I won't.
Unusual Activity
  |     |   Comment #10
Taking some business to NFCU 5 yr and lay down some dough and probably take some more dough and slid it into the 18 month.
  |     |   Comment #14
Been there, done that, closed after 180 days, never again. Certainly not for .005% over my current rate. The ONLY FI that ever unilaterally decided to do an account freeze without notice.

I had an ACH transfer REJECTED because of it. The other bank mistakenly listed it as per OFAC which scared me. I thought the government froze my funds.

For the record, NOBODY tried to warn me.
Unusual Activity
  |     |   Comment #16
Locked in a big 5 yr at NFCU and when more funds show up tomorrow plan on doing another one if available and if not will do the 18 mo.
  |     |   Comment #27
Very user friendly way to transfer funds from old account into the new. It took less than 3 mins. The old rate held fairly steady and was better than VMXX so I suspect the new SA will be a good place to park relatively short term funds. I for one have never had any issues in dealing with this bank.
  |     |   Comment #30
Wealthfront cash account is now 2.32%
  |     |   Comment #31
This rate will last all of about 5 minutes......No thanks.
  |     |   Comment #38
Any time guarantee on the 2.55% once u open the account at 2.55%?
  |     |   Comment #39
"Mikey1 | Aug 13, 2019

Sound like the rate can be cut quickly with no notice. I’ll post any changes I spot and encourage others to do the same."

so no time guarantee on the 2.55apy for new accounts? I am trying to verify this on their... if anyone know where to see this, pls post
  |     |   Comment #32
It looks like this site isn't the only one wise to Popular's shifting accounts:
I don’t like this bank because they always create a “new” account instead of giving old customers the higher rate automatically, but it’s the top rate.
From https://www.mymoneyblog.com/best-interest-rates-cash-august-2019.html
  |     |   Comment #33
I've had this account for over a year with no problems at all. Getting 2.36% which is very good.
  |     |   Comment #34
Does Popular Bank do a soft or hard pull?
  |     |   Comment #35
They did not do a hard pull on me last year. But plenty of other reasons to avoid this bank.
  |     |   Comment #40
That was quick, rate dropped to 2.50% already!
deplorable 1
  |     |   Comment #41
I see they dropped the rate already. I usually take bad reviews with a grain of salt but this bank has had so many bad reviews that I decided to pass on this recent deal. The only issue I had with them in the past is them dropping the rate for existing customers and creating a new account with a higher rate. After reading some of the awful reviews I'm glad I stayed away. Hopefully they grandfather you guys that signed up.
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