Today another “review”. As usual, I invite you to consider this as my personal opinions, and if someone wants to criticize or comment, please do it!
So, today we talk of Santander Consumer Bank (http://www.santanderconsumer.it), probably not known as ING Direct “Conto Arancio” of which we have already spoken: this is not a surpirise, since Santander isn’t advertising that much its saving account. I do not think I’ve ever seen commercials on television, just some ads on the newspapers and on the Internet, but it’s quite a soft campaing compared toING Direct’s massive one.
Santander Consumer belongs to Grupo Santander, the Spanish banking group, one of the largest in Europe (currently third in size). The deposit account is probably overshadowed, at least my impression is that Santander Consumer is more interested in consumer credit and small loans rather than act as “deposit collector”. Moreover, I think they do not promote their saving account also to avoid too much competition whit traditional banks (as a matter of fact, Grupo Santander has a relevant partecipation in a big “traditional” italian banking group).
Yet, in my opinion, the Santander Consumer Bank’s saving account is a very interesting service, which I personally find quite profitable. Definitely, it offers higher interest rate than ING Direct’s Conto Arancio (at least if one is not interested in the fund investment services of the latter “Investimenti Arancio”).
Here’s a little summary:
- High interest rates (3.50% gross rate, compared to 3.00% of “Conto Arancio”
- Quarterly capitalisation of interest (i.e. interest are paid every three months instead of every 12: hence the actual rate is even a little higher than the nominal, but also this way earned interests became “spendable” in a shorter time).
- There are also offers for those who are already customer, and not just for new entrants. For instance, by now, for all new sums deposited (“new” means in excess of account balance at February 28 2007), up to 50,000 euros, Santander Consumer will apply a bonus interest rate of 4.35% (gross). Now, it’s ture that promotional offers rarely bring substantial benefits (this applies not only to Santander Consumer Bank, which indeed was perhaps the exception with its “6% for 6 months”), however, to me it’s appreciable to show attention also to those who are already customer.
- As I said before, the saving account is a little “overshadowed” by other services offered, and this can make a little difficult to retrieve information you may need on how the account works.
- Website interface of account service should be improved, making it more usable and user-friendly. And even more “reassuring”: the site is certainly safe, but if it was given more evidence on this, it wouldn’t be bad, especially for users with no or little experience of online bank accounts.
- Money transfers management between the saving account and your bank account cumbersome, as it should be done manually entering data: for example the approach of ING Direct, to me, is easier for the user, who need only press a button to perform the operation, minimizing the risk of a misspelled word (which may not allow you give money to some stranter, but would prevent the success of money transfer) . In fact, it should be noticed that you can only move money to and from (the same as ING’s “Conto Arancio”)
- With the saving account comes a Cirrus debt card to draw money using ATMs. It can be an advantage because you can access the capital of deposit account fast and easily, but I don’ consider this a that-much useful option, since you shouldn’t withdraw money from a saving account for normal expenses, and it increase (a little) security risks.
Italian translation of this post: Santander Consumer Bank
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