BBVA Bank Review

Formally known as BBVA Compass, BBVA was initially founded in 1964 and has grown to be the 30th largest bank in the U.S. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, BBVA operates primarily out of the southwestern states and offers a wide range of personal and business banking options to its client base.

While the accessibility of BBVA’s branches is quite limited when compared to other financial institutions, BBVA has put a tremendous amount of resources into developing its online and mobile banking applications. It currently offers a full suite of bank accounts and service, including credit cards, loan programs, CDs and money market accounts.

BBVA at a glance

Pros
  • Intuitive, bilingual mobile banking app
  • High APYs for money market accounts
  • Several personal and business banking options
Cons
  • Low APYs for savings
  • Only located in seven states
  • Early account closing fee

 

What’s interesting about BBVA

What BBVA lacks in physical branches it makes up for tenfold with its ability to deliver a seamless online banking experience. BBVA’s mobile banking app has won several awards and has been consistently recognized as a leader in its category. This is especially apparent when recognizing BBVA’s dedication to superb customer service and simplicity of the application process. Another defining feature of BBVA is the amount of personal and business banking options it provides, including high-interest money market accounts with some of the best interest rates in the nation.

Things to consider

Currently, BBVA only operates physical branches in seven states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. While the bank has made several significant strides in improving its online banking accessibility and functionality, the lack of local branches may make it difficult for some businesses or customers to manage their finances efficiently.

Another downside to BBVA is its meager interest rates on online savings accounts. While interest rates for the money market accounts are close to the top of the nation, BBVA’s interest rates on personal savings accounts earn interest at half of the nation’s average.

Checking and savings accounts

Currently, BBVA offers four types of checking accounts and two types of savings accounts for its customer base. The checking account options offered by BBVA are:

  • Free Checking — BBVA offers a free checking account — just like the name suggests — that doesn’t have a monthly service charge and claims to save customers over $144 a year in traditional banking costs. Customers can open these accounts with only a $25 deposit and still have access to full service and customized banking features.
  • ClearConnect Checking — BBVA’s ClearConnect Checking gives customers access to complimentary online and mobile banking as well as mobile deposit and bill pay. ClearConnect has no monthly service charge, and it offers Simple Cash Back rewards and no ATM fees at more than 64,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide.
  • Interest Checking — Interest Checking accounts pay 0.15% APY on any account balance up to $24,999.99 and 0.01% on balances over that amount. Accounts are free if you maintain a balance of at least $5,000; if you don’t, a monthly service charge of $25 is assessed.
  • Easy Checking — Also known as BBVA’s second chance accounts, Easy Checking accounts are specifically designed for customers who aren’t able to apply for other accounts due to poor credit ratings. Clients can request an upgrade to another BBVA checking account after maintaining a positive account balance for 12 or more months.

The savings accounts offered by BBVA are:

  • ClearConnect Savings — ClearConnect Savings accounts are insured up to $250,000 per person by the FDIC. They offer an APY of 0.05% and do not charge a monthly maintenance fee.
  • ClearChoice Savings — ClearChoice Savings accounts also offer a 0.05% APY and have a $15 quarterly service fee that’s waived if you maintain a daily balance of at least $500.

Money market accounts

BBVA offers the ClearChoice Money Market account that provides customers with all of the features and benefits of a traditional savings account, but with higher interest rates to help clients grow their money faster. BBVA makes it fast and easy to establish money market accounts in just a few clicks, and it provides 24/7 account access through its award-winning mobile app. Interest rates and annual percentage yields are variable. However, if your account balance is at least $10,000, you could enjoy 1.50% APY. There is a monthly service charge of $15 for BBVA’s money market accounts, but this fee can be waived by maintaining a minimum balance or setting up automatic, recurring transfers from a BBVA checking account.

CDs

While BBVA doesn’t offer a ton of CD term options, there are currently four different term formats available. BBVA offers CD accounts in 1-year, 18-month, 3-year, and 5-year formats. BBVA currently offers some of the more competitive rates for online CDs compared to other banks and currently provides 1.50% APY on a 12-month CD.

Credit cards

BBVA offers three different credit card options to its customers, including a card to help build or repair credit.

  • BBVA Rewards Card — BBV’s Rewards card gives customers unlimited hassle-free rewards on a variety of products in multiple purchase categories. The card features no annual fee, a 0% introductory APR for the first 60 days, and a $100 account credit with $1,500 in purchases made in the first three months.
  • BBVA ClearPoints Card — BBVA ClearPoints is a flexible rewards card that allows customers the ability to customize their rewards preferences. Clients choose whether they earn 2x or 3x the points in various product categories and will enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 13 months of purchases.
  • Optimizer Credit Card — For customers who are focused on building or repairing their credit, BBVA’s Optimizer card is a great option. With competitive interest rates and flexible credit lines, this card gives clients the financial freedom and convenience they need to help build their credit history. This card features a 23.74% APR on purchases.

Personal loans

This bank offers express personal loans with the possibility of same-day funding. If you apply online with a code, you can secure up to $35,000 in a personal loan with rates between 4.99% and 28.99%. However, those who apply in person at a branch can have that limit extended to $100,000. Terms are 12 to 72 months and customers can get a 1% rate discount when automatic payments are set up from a checking account. It’s pretty competitive compared to other, larger banks, and loan customers have the added benefit of using a BBVA personal loan for anything they want — debt consolidation, travel, weddings, you name it. Be aware that a personal loan for a car may not have the best rates attached and it could be smarter to research auto-specific loans.

BBVA mortgage loans

Like most other large banks, BBVA also offers mortgage loans. The rates are fairly competitive; coming in under 4% with rates between 3% and 3.625%. To help the first-time homebuyer or a family with low savings, BBVA also offers its customers low- and no-down-payment loans along with the standard fare of mortgages and government-backed loans.

Mortgage refinancing

If you’re trying to refinance your mortgage, you’re in luck, because BBVA offers several different mortgage refi options, including fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, jumbo loans and government-backed loans. If your budget is tight and the goal is to keep your payments the same from month to month, look into BBVA’s fixed-rate options. The interest rates offered by this bank are pretty low, and your payments will stay the same throughout the life of your loan. If you’re not planning to stay in your home long term, BBVA’s adjustable-rate mortgages may be a good option, since the interest rates and payments are lower on the front end of the loan. If you’re in your forever home, though, you may want to steer clear of ARM loans since the interest rates will rise as your loan ages. BBVA’s other mortgage refi options — jumbo loans and government-backed loans — are also worth looking into, but you’ll want to talk to a loan officer at the bank to figure out what type of loan would work best for your situation.

Home equity loan and HELOC

BBVA offers home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, to customers who meet the qualification requirements. If you’re looking for a HELOC with a good rate and good terms, BBVA may be a good option for you. It’s HELOC interest rates are generally variable APRs that range from 5.30% to 10.75%, but this bank also regularly offers promotional rates to well-qualified customers, which can lower your rate an entire point (to 4.30%) if you qualify.

Car loans

For new and used car loans, BBVA offers rates of 5.24% and 6.74%, respectively. A minimum loan amount of $5,000 is required to qualify, but customers can enjoy the loan term flexibility of anywhere between 12 and 72 months. With fixed-rate loans, customers will know exactly how much they pay every month, making budgeting with a BBVA car loan quite easy and straight-forward.

The final word

If you’re a customer who prefers the personal touch and service of local banking and in-person financial planning, BBVA may not be the right choice for you. However, if mobility and flexibility is an essential deciding factor for your banking experience, BBVA may offer what you’re looking for. Overall, BBVA is capable of doing everything most major banks do, but it does offer less-than-ideal interest rates for basic savings accounts.